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Forged in war

Acadian Expulsion

The Acadian population grew from a few immigrant families established at Port-Royal after 1640. A high birth rate and low infant mortality led to rapid population growth. In 1671 there were approximately 500 Acadians: 350 in 70 farm families near Port-Royal, the rest fishermen over-wintering along the Atlantic coast. Settlement occupied all the marshes along the Rivière au Dauphin above Port-Royal, then expanded in the 1680s to the larger marshes near the head of the Baie Française (Bay of Fundy). In 1707 there were about 1,400 Acadians; almost all of them, raised beside the marshes in settlements of closely related kin and out of range of the principal fisheries, were farmers.

In 1713, when the Treaty of Utrecht confirmed British control of peninsular Nova Scotia, most Acadians found themselves in British territory.

For more than thirty years they were left alone; their settlements filled the Fundy marshes. Then, during most of the 1740s, Britain and France were again at war. Louisbourg fell to New England militiamen in 1745, and when the British returned it after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, they embarked on a rival fortification at Halifax. The French strengthened Louisbourg. In 1755, at the start of the Seven Years War, nervous British officials in Nova Scotia, suspecting Acadian claims of neutrality, decided to deport the Acadians, who by then numbered almost 13,000 people.

Deportation began without consultation with the British government or notification of officials in the colonies to which the Acadians were being sent. Before the end of 1755 more than half of the Acadians had been sent to British colonies south of Acadia. Authorities in Virginia, fearing that the Acadians would be a public expense, rerouted them to England. Refugees from the deportation of 1755 escaped to the south shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence, Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), or the French settlements along the St Lawrence River. In 1758, when Louisbourg was captured for the second time and the French could no longer protect the Gulf, the British rounded up another 2,500 Acadians, sending them to England or France. Others fled to the Miramichi River or to the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon where, before 1763, most were caught and deported. Finally, during the American Revolution the remaining Acadian refugees on Saint-Pierre and Miquelon were sent to France.

On a visit from Canada in 1803 Bishop Denaut enumerated some 7,500 Acadians in what once had been Acadia-not much more than half the population fifty years before. Most of them lived in tiny fishing-farming settlements along the south shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence. Most of the marshlands once occupied by the Acadians were now farmed by English settlers.


This piece tells the story of Acadian Expulsion in the 1700s. Users can choose to hear various aspects of Acadian history, including deportations, migrations, and for some, the eventual return to the Maritimes.


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