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- The Acadian Exiles - 1/21 -

CHRONICLES OF CANADA Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton In thirty-two volumes

Volume 9

THE ACADIAN EXILES A Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline




The name Acadia, [Footnote: The origin of the name is uncertain. By some authorities it is supposed to be derived from the Micmac algaty, signifying a camp or settlement. Others have traced it to the Micmac akade, meaning a place where something abounds. Thus, Sunakade (Shunacadie, C. B.), the cranberry place; Seguboon-akade (Shubenacadie), the place of the potato, etc. The earliest map marking the country, that of Ruscelli (1561), gives the name Lacardie. Andre Thivet, a French writer, mentions the country in 1575 as Arcadia; and many modern writers believe Acadia to be merely a corruption of that classic name.] which we now associate with a great tragedy of history and song, was first used by the French to distinguish the eastern or maritime part of New France from the western part, which began with the St Lawrence valley and was called Canada. Just where Acadia ended and Canada began the French never clearly defined--in course of time, as will be seen, this question became a cause of war with the English--but we shall not be much at fault if we take a line from the mouth of the river Penobscot, due north to the St Lawrence, to mark the western frontier of the Acadia of the French. Thus, as the map shows, Acadia lay in that great peninsula which is flanked by two large islands, and is washed on the north and east by the river and gulf of St Lawrence, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean; and it comprised what are to-day parts of Quebec and Maine, as well as the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. When the French came, and for long after, this country was the hunting ground of tribes of the Algonquin race--Micmacs, Malecites, and Abnakis or Abenakis.

By right of the discoveries of Jean Verrazano (1524) and Jacques Cartier (1534-42) the French crown laid claim to all America north of the sphere of Spanish influence. Colonial enterprise, however, did not thrive during the religious wars which rent Europe in the sixteenth century; and it was not until after the Edict of Nantes in 1598 that France could follow up the discoveries of her seamen by an effort to colonize either Acadia or Canada. Abortive attempts had indeed been made by the Marquis de la Roche, but these had resulted only in the marooning of fifty unfortunate convicts on Sable Island. The first real colonizing venture of the French in the New World was that of the Sieur de Monts, the patron and associate of Champlain. [Footnote: See The founder of New France in this Series, chap. ii.] The site of this first colony was in Acadia. Armed with viceregal powers and a trading monopoly for ten years, De Monts gathered his colonists, equipped two ships, and set out from Havre de Grace in April 1604. The company numbered about a hundred and fifty Frenchmen of various ranks and conditions, from the lowest to the highest--convicts taken from the prisons, labourers and artisans, Huguenot ministers and Catholic priests, some gentlemen of noble birth, among them Jean de Biencourt, Baron de Poutrincourt, and the already famous explorer Champlain.

The vessels reached Cape La Heve on the south coast of Nova Scotia in May. They rounded Cape Sable, sailed up the Bay of Fundy, and entered the Annapolis Basin, which Champlain named Port Royal. The scene here so stirred the admiration of the Baron de Poutrincourt that he coveted the place as an estate for his family, and begged De Monts, who by his patent was lord of the entire country, to grant him the adjoining lands. De Monts consented; the estate was conveyed; and Poutrincourt became the seigneur of Port Royal.

The adventurers crossed to the New Brunswick shore, turned their vessel westward, passed the mouth of the river St John, which they named, and finally dropped anchor in Passamaquoddy Bay. Here, on a small island near the mouth of the river St Croix, now on the boundary-line between New Brunswick and Maine, De Monts landed his colonists. They cleared the ground; and, within an enclosure known as the Habitation de l'Isle Saincte-Croix, erected a few buildings--'one made with very fair and artificial carpentry work' for De Monts, while others, less ornamental, were for 'Monsieur d'Orville, Monsieur Champlein, Monsieur Champdore, and other men of high standing.'

Then as the season waned the vessels, which linked them to the world they had left, unfurled their sails and set out for France. Seventy-nine men remained at St Croix, among them De Monts and Champlain. In the vast solitude of forest they settled down for the winter, which was destined to be full of horrors. By spring thirty-five of the company had died of scurvy and twenty more were at the point of death. Evidently St Croix was not a good place for a colony. The soil was sandy and there was no fresh water. So, in June, after the arrival of a vessel bringing supplies from France, De Monts and Champlain set out to explore the coasts in search of a better site. But, finding none which they deemed suitable, they decided to tempt fortune at Poutrincourt's domain of Port Royal. Thither, then, in August the colonists moved, carrying their implements and stores across the Bay of Fundy, and landing on the north side of the Annapolis Basin, opposite Goat Island, where the village of Lower Granville now stands.

The colony thus formed at Port Royal in the summer of 1605--the first agricultural settlement of Europeans on soil which is now Canadian--had a broken existence of eight years. Owing to intrigues at the French court, De Monts lost his charter in 1607 and the colony was temporarily abandoned; but it was re-established in 1610 by Poutrincourt and his son Charles de Biencourt. The episode of Port Royal, one of the most lively in Canadian history, introduces to us some striking characters. Besides the leaders in the enterprise, already mentioned --De Monts, Champlain, Poutrincourt, and Biencourt--we meet here Lescarbot, [Footnote: Lescarbot was the historian of the colony. His History of New France, reprinted by the Champlain Society (Toronto, 1911), with an English translation, notes, and appendices by W. L. Grant, is a delightful and instructive work.] lawyer, merry philosopher, historian, and farmer; likewise, Louis Hebert, planting vines and sowing wheat--the same Louis Hebert who afterwards became the first tiller of the soil at Quebec. Here, also, is Membertou, sagamore of the Micmacs, 'a man of a hundred summers' and 'the most formidable savage within the memory of man.' Hither, too, in 1611, came the Jesuits Biard and Masse, the first of the black-robed followers of Loyola to set foot in New France. But the colony was to perish in an event which foreshadowed the struggle in America between France and England. In 1613 the English Captain Argall from new-founded Virginia sailed up the coasts of Acadia looking for Frenchmen. The Jesuits had just begun on Mount Desert Island the mission of St Sauveur. This Argall raided and destroyed. He then went on and ravaged Port Royal. And its occupants, young Biencourt and a handful of companions, were forced to take to a wandering life among the Indians.

Twenty years passed before the French made another organized effort to colonize Acadia. The interval, however, was not without events which had a bearing on the later fortunes of the colony. Missionaries from Quebec, both Recollets and Jesuits, took up their abode among the Indians, on the river St John and at Nipisiguit on Chaleur Bay. Trading companies exploited the fur fields and the fisheries, and French vessels visited the coasts every summer. It was during this period that the English Puritans landed at Plymouth (1620), at Salem (1628), and at Boston (1630), and made a lodgment there on the south-west flank of Acadia. The period, too, saw Sir William Alexander's Scots in Nova Scotia and saw the English Kirkes raiding the settlements of New France. [Footnote: See The Jesuit Missions in this Series, chap. iv.]

The Baron de Poutrincourt died in 1615, leaving his estate to his son Biencourt. And after Biencourt's own death in 1623, it was found that he had bequeathed a considerable fortune, including all his property and rights in Acadia, to his friend and companion, that interesting and resourceful adventurer, Charles de la Tour. This man, when a lad of fourteen, and his father, Claude de la Tour, had come out to Acadia in the service of Poutrincourt. After the destruction of Port Royal, Charles de la Tour had followed young Biencourt into the forest, and had lived with him the nomadic life of the Indians. Later, the elder La Tour established himself for trade at the mouth of the Penobscot, but he was driven away from this post by a party from the English colony at Plymouth. The younger La Tour, after coming into Biencourt's property, built Fort Lomeron, afterwards named St Louis, at the place now known as Port Latour, near Cape Sable. This made him in fact, if not in name, the French ruler of Acadia, for his Fort St Louis was the only place of any strength in the whole country.

By 1627 the survivors of Biencourt's wandering companions had settled down, some of them in their old quarters at Port Royal, but most of them with La Tour at Cape Sable. Then came to Acadia seventy Scottish settlers, sent hither

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