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A REVIEW OF ACADIAN HISTORY UP TO 1763
NOTE: I reviewed Acadia history to determine what effect, if any, it had on the real characters in my novel Intertwined Love. One family (my ancestors) relocated to Downeast Maine before 1769. Often the sources were confusing or conflicting. If you note any errors in this article please let me know in the comment box at the end.
Europeans found piles of shells on the North American coast, evidence of Native American life
Long before the first European settlement in North America the northeast coast was inhabited by Native Americans:
- day Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé peninsula of Québec, and eastern New Brunswick
- the Maliseet inhabited the watershed of the St. John River
- the Passamaquoddy inhabited the area around the St. Croix River
This land was well known in European seaports: France, Spain, the Basque country, Portugal, and West Country England.
In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine explorer serving the King Francis I of France, designated the entire Atlantic coast north of Virginia as Arcadia.
The name Arcadia may have been inspired by classical Greek poetry or it may have come from a Micmac word, rendered in French as “cadie,” meaning a favorable piece of land.
Mt. Desert Island across Frenchman Bay from Lamoine Beach, Maine
In 1534 King Francis I of France sent Jacques Cartier—with two ships and sixty-one men—to seek a northwest passage linking the Atlantic, above the continent of America, with the Pacific. Cartier.
After discovering the inlet of the St Lawrence river, raising a cross with the royal arms on the Gaspé peninsula, and naming the region New France, Cartier returned to France and claimed New France for his king. An attempt to found a colony came to nothing.
To finance colonization, the 1588 French King granted North American fur trade monopolies. Pierre du Gua de Mons (a.k.a. Sieur de Monts) received a trade monopoly between the 40th and 60th parallels (Maryland to Alaska), with the understanding that he establish a colony there.
Samuel de Champlain sailed from France, on April 7, 1604, with more than 100 colonists in a fur-trading expedition led by Francois Grave Du Pont, who received a fur trade monopoly in New France from” King Henry IV. In New France, Champlain selected an island in the St. Croix River, which he named Ile Sainte-Croix (holy cross). There he established the first successful European settlement in the New World. He too claimed this settlement—plus Maine and south to the Hudson River—region for the King of France. Champlain became memorialized as the “Father of New France” and “Father of Acadia.
These French settlers, among the first Old World settlers to identify themselves as North Americans, called themselves “Acadiens” or “Cadiens.”
After nearly half of the colonists died (and others suffered dangerous illnesses) during the first winter, the colony moved to Port-Royal on the Bay of Fundy (in present-day Nova Scotia). There the settlers cleared and cultivated land.
Pierre du Gua’s monopoly, not having sufficient income to justify continuing to supply the colony, was revoked in 1607. The colony was abandoned—the last Acadians left Port Royal in August 1607. Pierre Du Gua (1558-1628), financially ruined, sold his proprietary rights to the Jesuits.
That same year English settlers established Popham Colony at the mouth of (more…)