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- The Acadian Exiles - 2/21 -

by Sir William Alexander, who took up their quarters at Port Royal and named it Scots Fort. The French described these settlers as 'all kinds of vagabonds, barbarians, and savages from Scotland'; and the elder La Tour went to France to procure stores and ammunition, and to petition the king to grant his son a commission to hold Acadia against the intruders. But the elder La Tour was not to come back in the role of a loyal subject of France. He was returning in 1628 with the ships of the newly formed Company of One Hundred Associates, under Roquemont, when, off the Gaspe coast, appeared the hostile sail of the Kirkes; and La Tour was taken prisoner to England. There he entered into an alliance with the English, accepted grants of land from Sir William Alexander, had himself and his son made Baronets of Nova Scotia, and promised to bring his son over to the English side. Young La Tour, when his father returned, accepted the gift, and by some means procured also, in 1631, a commission from the French king as lieutenant-general of Acadia. Later, as we shall see, his dual allegiance proved convenient.

The restoration of Acadia to France in 1632, by the Treaty of St Germain-en-Laye, was to Cardinal Richelieu the signal for a renewal of the great colonizing project which he had set on foot five years earlier and which had been interrupted by the hostile activities of the Kirkes. [Footnote: See The founder of New France, chap. v, and The Jesuit Missions, chap. iv.] Richelieu appointed lieutenant-general of Acadia Isaac de Razilly, one of the Company of One Hundred Associates and commander of the Order of Malta, with authority to take over Acadia from the Scots. Razilly brought out with him three hundred settlers, recruited mainly from the districts of Touraine and Brittany--the first considerable body of colonists to come to the country. He was a man of more than ordinary ability, of keen insight and affable manners. 'The commander,' wrote Champlain, 'possessed all the qualities of a good, a perfect sea-captain; prudent, wise, industrious; urged by the saintly motive of increasing the glory of God and of exercising his energy in New France in order to erect the cross of Christ and plant the lilies of France therein.' He planned for Acadia on a large scale. He endeavoured to persuade Louis XIII to maintain a fleet of twelve vessels for the service of the colony, and promised to bring out good settlers from year to year. Unfortunately, his death occurred in 1635 before his dreams could be realized. He had been given the power to name his successor; and on his death-bed he appointed his cousin and companion, Charles de Menou, Sieur d'Aulnay Charnisay, adjuring him 'not to abandon the country, but to pursue a task so gloriously begun.'

Years of strife and confusion followed. Razilly had made La Heve his headquarters; but Charnisay took up his at Port Royal. [Footnote: Charnisay built his fort about six miles farther up than the original Port Royal, and on the opposite side of the river, at the place thenceforth known as Port Royal until 1710, and since then as Annapolis Royal or Annapolis.] This brought him into conflict with Charles de la Tour, who had now established himself at the mouth of the river St John, and whose commission from the king, giving him jurisdiction over the whole of Acadia, had, apparently, never been rescinded. The king, to whom the dispute was referred, instructed that an imaginary line should be drawn through the Bay of Fundy to divide the territory of Charnisay from that of La Tour. But this arrangement did not prevent the rivalry between the two feudal chiefs from developing into open warfare. In the struggle the honours rested with Charnisay. Having first undermined La Tour's influence at court, he attacked and captured La Tour's Fort St John. This happened in 1645. La Tour himself was absent; but his wife, a woman of heroic mould, made a most determined resistance. [Footnote: This follows the story as told by Denys (see p. 18 note), which has been generally accepted by historians. But Charnisay in an elaborate memoir (Memoire Instructif) gives a very different version of this affair.] La Tour was impoverished and driven into exile; his remarkable wife died soon afterwards; and Charnisay remained lord of all he surveyed. But Charnisay was not long to enjoy his dominion. In May 1650 he was thrown by accident from his canoe into the Annapolis river and died in consequence of the exposure.

In the year following Charnisay's death Charles de la Tour reappeared on the scene. Armed with a new patent from the French king, making him governor and lieutenant- general of Acadia, he took possession of his fort at the mouth of the St John, and further strengthened his position by marrying the widow of his old rival Charnisay. Three years later (1654), when the country fell again into the hands of the English, La Tour turned to good account his previous relations with them. He was permitted to retain his post, and lived happily with his wife [Footnote: They had five children, who married and settled in Acadia. Many of their descendants may be counted among the Acadian families living at the present time in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.] at Fort St John, so far as history records, until his death in 1666.

By the Treaty of Breda in 1667 Acadia was restored to France, and a period ensued of unbroken French rule. The history of the forty-three years from the Treaty of Breda until the English finally took possession is first a history of slow but peaceful development, and latterly of raids and bloody strife in which French and English and Indians were involved. In 1671 the population, according to a census of that year, numbered less than four hundred and fifty. This was presently increased by sixty new colonists from France. By 1685 this population had more than doubled and the tiny settlements appeared to be thriving. But after 1690 war again racked the land.

During this period Acadia was under the government of Quebec, but there was always a local governor. The first of these, Hubert de Grandfontaine, came out in 1670. He and some of his successors were men of force and ability; but others, such as Brouillan, who issued card money without authority and applied torture to an unconvicted soldier, and Perrot, who sold liquor by the pint and the half-pint in his own house, were unworthy representatives of the crown.

By 1710 the population of Acadia had grown to about twenty-one hundred souls, distributed chiefly in the districts of Port Royal, Minas, and Chignecto. Most of these were descended from the settlers brought over by Razilly and Charnisay between 1633 and 1638. On the whole, they were a strong, healthy, virtuous people, sincerely attached to their religion and their traditions. The most notable singularity of their race was stubbornness, although they could be led by kindness where they could not be driven by force. Though inclined to litigation, they were not unwilling to arbitrate their differences. They 'had none who were bred mechanics; every farmer was his own architect and every man of property a farmer.' 'The term Mister was unknown among them.' They took pride in their appearance and wore most attractive costumes, in which black and red colours predominated. Content with the product of their labour and having few wants, they lived in perfect equality and with extreme frugality. In an age when learning was confined to the few, they were not more illiterate than the corresponding class in other countries. 'In the summer the men were continually employed in husbandry.' They cultivated chiefly the rich marsh-lands by the rivers and the sea, building dikes along the banks and shores to shut out the tides; and made little effort to clear the woodlands. 'In the winter they were engaged in cutting timber and wood for fuel and fencing, and in hunting; the women in carding, spinning, and weaving wool, flax, and hemp, of which their country furnished abundance; these, with furs from bears, beavers, foxes, otters, and martens, gave them not only comfortable, but in some cases handsome clothing.' Although they had large herds of cattle, 'they never made any merchantable butter, being used to set their milk in small noggins which were kept in such order as to turn it thick and sour in a short time, of which they ate voraciously.' [Footnote: Public Archives, Canada, Brown Collection, M 651a, 171.]

The lands which the Acadians reclaimed from the sea and cultivated were fertile in the extreme. A description has come down to us of what was doubtless a typical Acadian garden. In it were quantities of 'very fine well-headed cabbages and of all other sorts of pot herbs and vegetables.' Apple and pear trees brought from France flourished. The peas were 'so covered with pods that it could only be believed by seeing.' The wheat was particularly good. We read of one piece of land where 'each grain had produced six or eight stems, and the smallest ear was half a foot in length, filled with grain.' The streams and rivers, too, teemed with fish. The noise of salmon sporting in the rivers sounded like the rush of a turbulent rapid, and a catch such as 'ten men could not haul to land' was often made in a night. Pigeons were a plague, alighting in vast flocks in the newly planted gardens. If the economic progress of the country had been slow, the reason had lain, not in any poverty of natural resources, but in the scantiness of the population, the neglect of the home government, the incessant turmoil within, and the devastating raids of English enemies.



Almost from the first England had advanced claims, slender though they were, to the ownership of Acadia. And very early, as we have seen, the colony had been subjected to the scourge of English attacks.

Argall's expedition had been little more than a buccaneering exploit and an earnest of what was to come. Nor did any permanent result, other than the substitution of the name Nova Scotia for Acadia, flow from Sir William Alexander's enterprise. Alexander, afterwards Lord Stirling, was a

The Acadian Exiles - 2/21

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