Friday, November 19, 2010

Acadians from a Normandy Frenchman's View

Sieur Diereville was a Frenchman from Normandy who arrived in Port Royal in 1699 and lived among the Acadians for one year. By this time many Acadians had grown up and moved and settled Beaubassin and

Grand Pre. When Diereville landed on the shores of the Dauphin River, there were around 501 settlers living

Along the river close to Port Royal. The following is the explanation he told France:

“Let me begin with, that there are only three settlements to divide so vast a territory ,and that the people of these places have the same occupations. The first is Port Royal ,the second is Grand Pre and Beaubassin is the third. I have never been to these two places and shall therefore give on description of them. I only know that Minas (Grand Pre) provides more wheat than all the rest of the country ,because its marshes, which are quite extensive have been drained and that the people of Port Royal have established their children there on concessions they have purchased in order that the land may be settled and rendered fertile; in this they are very successful. In regard to Beaubassin so called because of its situation it is the least populous settlement and also the least productive. The climate of all this region is like that of France and it lies in almost the same latitude; the summer is warm but the winter is colder; it snows almost continuously at this season ,and the winds are so cold that they freeze one’s face. “ Diereville described the country side around Port Royal as faultlessly beautiful although many of the houses were in poor condition because of the numerous raids and attacks Port Royal had suffered over the years. The parish priest did not live in luxury. Here is what he had to say; “ I asked for the church which I had been unable to identify y,because it differed in no way from the other buildings and I should have been more inclined to take it for a Barn than for the Temple of the true God. While I was on my way there to give thanks to him for his mercy in having brought me here in safety ,I saw Monsieur le Cure coming to meet me, we paid one another compliments after which he conducted me to the Church and honoured me by the offer of Holy Water. I said my prayer ,then Monsieur le Cure took me to his room,which was ill furnished ,and contrary to the rules concerning Presbyteries ,at the end of the church and adjoining it. Diereville did not criticize the Acadians for creating dykes here is what he said “ It costs a great deal to prepare the lands which they wish to cultivate. To grow wheat, the marshes which are inundated by the sea at high Tide, must be drained, these are called Lowlands, and they are quite good, but what labour is needed to make them fit for cultivation! The ebb and flow of the sea cannot easily be stopped, but the Acadians succeed in doing so by means of great Dykes called Aboiteaux.

I found this information in The Acadians of Nova Scotia by Alphonse Deveau and Sally Ross, a very interesting book to read. I do hope you enjoyed reading this little bit of information about the ways of the Acadians so very long ago.

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Have a great day


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