The Great Upheaval #OnThisDay

On June 4th 1760 planters from New England arrived in Nova Scotia to claim land from the cleared Acadians.

“That your Land & Tennements, Cattle of all Kinds and Livestocks of all Sorts are forfeited to the Crown with all other your effects Savings your money and Household Goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this Province.” decree Friday, September 5, 1755 

painting shows families gathered on the shore as soldiers order them about to boats in the bay
The Deportation of the Acadians, by Henri Beau (1863-1949).

The sanitised title of this period in British Colonial history ‘The Great Upheaval’ covers up an horrendous expulsion of people of a distinct culture from their lands and homes. This was ethic cleansing.

The Acadians had lived on Nova Scotia’s territory since the founding of Port-Royal in 1604. They established a small, vibrant colony around the Bay of Fundy, building dykes to tame the high tides and to irrigate the rich fields of hay. Largely ignored by France, the Acadians grew independent minded. With their friends and allies the Mi’ kmaq, they felt secure, even when sovereignty over their land passed to Britain after 1713 (see Treaty of Utrecht).

The British, together with New England legislators and militia, carried out the Great Expulsion (Le Grand Dérangement) of the Acadians between 1755 and 1764. They forcefully deported approximately 11,500 Acadians from the maritime region. Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning.

The people cleared from their land were sent to different places. Some ended up in British/American colonies, England, France, the Caribbean where they were used as forced labour. Eventually a few were able to return to New Brunswick, but not to the lands where they had lived and cultivated for generations.

The Acadians today live predominantly in the Canadian Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia), as well as parts of Quebec, Canada, and in Louisiana and Maine, United States.

a city of fire and several sailing vessels attacking
A View of the Plundering and Burning of the City of Grimros By Thomas Davies 1758, National Gallery of Canada

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