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Acadian regions

The Acadians (French: Acadiens ) are descendants of French settlers from Poitou , Brittany and Normandy , who settled in the 17th century mainly in the coastal areas of what was then the French colony of Acadia . This territory was a region in northeast North America and roughly comprised the area of ​​the present-day Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia , New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island as well as the north of the US state of Maine .


Le Grand Dérangement - The deportation of the academics

Both Acadians and Quebecers are counted among the French Canadians. Nevertheless, in the course of time they have formed their own and very specific cultures. Responsible for this were their spatial separation, different geographical conditions in their respective settlement areas, but above all a completely different historical development of these two ethnic groups. While the Quebecers only had to accept a relatively mild English colonial rule after the conquest of Canada by the British, the Acadians were uprooted from their historic homeland in 1755 by an unusually harsh deportation measure by British military authorities. Only a minority of the Acadians managed to return to the historic Acadia over the course of decades. Their settlements are found there today in some remote areas of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Iceland, the north and east of New Brunswick, on the south coast of the province of Quebec belonging Gaspé Peninsula , and to the which also belongs to Quebec Magdalen Islands and in the extreme north of the US state of Maine .

After 1755, however, the greater part of the Acadians was dispersed into a worldwide diaspora : Many found a new home in the Quebecian heartland on the Saint Lawrence River or they ended up in the country of origin of their ancestors, France. Others ended up in the then Spanish colony of Louisiana in the following decades , where they are known today as Cajuns - a corruption of (A) cadiens  .


After the dramatic events of the 18th century, the Acadians apparently disappeared into the darkness of history for a century. As a result of the deportation measures, circumstances were forced upon them that did not offer them any opportunities to make themselves known in the public eye. And neither French nor Canadian literature took up their fate during this period. It was only in the course of the 19th century that there was an Acadian renaissance, which brought the Acadians and their tragic history back into the public eye. A major impetus for this development came from the publication of the verse epic Evangeline (1847) by the American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . In this work, the Acadian expulsion trauma was thematized and a tragic figure of identification was created with the fictional heroine Evangeline . The expulsion of 1755 still serves as a negative founding myth of the Acadian people.

Settlement areas

The Acadian Peninsula

The Atlantic-Canadian Acadians are now predominantly at home in the northern and eastern coastal regions of New Brunswick, especially on the Acadian Peninsula and the islands of Miscou and Lameque off the coast . Other significant Acadian settlement areas are the upper valley of the Saint-Jean River (French: Fleuve Saint-Jean ), the south coast of the Gaspésie Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands and the north coast of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence (French: Basse-Côte- North ). Numerous other Acadians live scattered in all parts of the province of Québec, most of them (well over a million) in the middle of the main settlement area of ​​Quebec in the river valley of the Saint Lawrence River. There are still relatively closed, but small Acadian regions in the south-western coastal areas of Prince Edward Island (around the towns of Abram-Village and Mont-Carmel ) and on Nova Scotia (in the coastal section of the so-called French shore between Digby and Yarmouth ), as well as in South-east and north-west (around Chéticamp ) on Cape Breton Island.

With the onset of industrialization, many academics emigrated from their home areas to the English-speaking regions of the Canadian Atlantic provinces, especially to the south and west of New Brunswick. Like many Quebecers, numerous academics eventually emigrated to the US states of New England in search of job opportunities . Due to the foreign language environment, their scattered settlement style and the lack of public French-speaking educational institutions, these migrants have meanwhile been assimilated to a large extent by their new environment. In the English-speaking areas, French has now been superseded by English as a colloquial language in many families, especially in the younger generations.

Statue of Evangeline, heroine of the Acadian deportation to St. Martinville, Louisiana

The descendants of the Acadians, who settled in the southwestern areas of today's US state Louisiana after 1764 - but mainly in 1785 - were formed into a new ethnic group, the Cajuns, through a decades-long cultural transformation process. They have had a formative and lasting cultural influence on their settlement area. This region of Louisiana is known today as Acadiana (or Cajun Country ), the Cajuns make up the majority of the population here. The prohibition of the French language in 1921 and further compulsions to assimilate, however, contributed to the extensive Anglicization of the Cajuns. This development was not reversed by the official recognition that took place in the 1960s; French is only used as a colloquial language by a minority of the Cajuns today.

Traces of the Acadian diaspora can still be found in Europe today. For the Acadians who had been repatriated by the British to France, the French government planned and partially implemented several settlement projects. Most of these projects, however, failed. Because the Acadian expellees could not come to terms with the feudal conditions of pre-revolutionary France, so that many of them emigrated again to overseas territories. One of the few successful resettlement projects took place on the Breton island of Belle-Île-en-Mer . Many families on the island have their roots in these settlers and their Acadian origins have not been forgotten to this day.


Acadians are now a minority in all three Canadian provinces that arose in the area of ​​historical Acadia. They have the largest proportion in New Brunswick, where they make up 37 percent of the total population. French as a colloquial language is still used by 35 percent and New Brunswick is also the only officially bilingual province in Canada. In the other two provinces, the Acadians were largely Anglicized. Although 10 percent of the population in Nova Scotia have Acadian ancestors, only 5 percent speak French. A similar picture emerges on Prince Edward Island, where 14 percent of the population is of Acadian origin, but only a good 6 percent still use French in everyday life. The majority of the Acadian population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church .


The Acadians speak a French dialect known as Acadian French . In the region in the southeast of New Brunswick around the city of Moncton , Chiac is also widely spoken, a variant of Acadian French strongly influenced by the English language. In many smaller and isolated Acadian settlement areas of Atlantic Canada, however, French has largely been replaced by English as a result of steadily increasing assimilation. The Acadians, on the other hand, who settled in the heart of Quebec on the Saint Lawrence River after their escape or expulsion, now speak Quebec French .


Today the Acadians are an active and agile minority, especially in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and in the US state of Louisiana (there as Cajuns). The World Acadian Congress , which has been held every five years since 1994 , created an institutional framework for the cultural reunification of Acadian communities scattered around the world.

The Official Language Act (1969) and its amendment (1987) led to a boom in Acadian cultural life. This included the establishment of the first regional publishing house, Éditions d'Acadie , which published over 200 academic authors between 1972 and 2000. The legal strengthening of the Canadian minority languages ​​(1987) is also reflected in the use of Acadian French in literature and pop music. The authors who now also write on Chiac include a. Herménégilde Chiasson and France Daigle ; to the musicians of the folk rocker Fayo and the hip-hop band Radio Radio .

The best-known representative of Acadian culture is the New Brunswick-born writer Antonine Maillet , who in 1979 was the only non-European to receive the Prix ​​Goncourt literary prize .


Flag of the Acadians

The flag of the Atlantic-Canadian Acadians is based on the basic pattern of the French tricolor flag, with the basic colors blue-white-red and an additional gold star in the upper part of the blue field. The blue field also stands for the Virgin Mary , the patron saint of the Acadians. The star, as figure de Maria, also represents the Stella Maris (the star of the sea ) and thus Saint Mary . The golden color of the star also ties in with the flag of the Vatican City to underline the solidarity of the Acadians with the Roman Catholic Church.
The flag was
chosen as the official flag of the Acadians at the second National Convention in Miscouche (Prince Edward Island) in 1884 and goes back to a proposal by the New Brunswick priest Marcel-Francois Richard.

Flag of Acadiana

The descendants of the Acadians who are now at home in Louisiana - the Cajuns - have chosen different symbols for their flag. The blue-white-red colors were also used as basic elements, but with a different geometric arrangement compared to the tricolor, the shape of which is remotely based on the US national flag. The blue field is now at the top right and contains three silver Bourbon lilies (the fleur-de-lys ). These stand for the French heritage and the origins of the Acadians. A castle is inserted in the lower right-hand corner of the red field which, as a heraldic representation of Castile, represents the former colonial power of Spain. The gold star inserted in the left white field has the same meaning as in the flag of the Atlantic-Canadian Acadians. The flag was designed in 1965 and recognized by the State of Louisiana as the official symbol of the Acadiana region in 1974.


In 1604 the French Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Dugua de Mons visited academies and founded a colony on Dochet Island (French Île Sainte-Croix ). The region has long been the subject of controversy in the wars between France and England, and after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), the Acadia became the property of the English. The impending war with France, the unresolved neutrality of the Acadians and the possibility of an Acadian revolt led to the violent deportation of a large part of the Acadian population in 1755 . This event, known among the Acadians as "the great upheaval," later served as the subject of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline .

The Acadians were distributed to the English colonies and their land confiscated. A significant group settled in the bayous in southern Louisiana , where they would later become known as the Cajuns . After Canada became the undisputed possession of the British through the Peace of Paris in 1763 , Acadia ceased to exist as a political entity and many Acadians returned to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick . Their descendants continued to form a distinctive part of the population, and interest in the country's history and culture sparked in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II passed a Royal Proclamation , in which she apologized for the forced deportation of the Acadians.


  • In 1605, the French settlement of what was then Acadia began with the founding of Port Royal (today Annapolis Royal ).
  • 1622 - Conquest by the British; Renamed Nova Scotia
  • 1632 - Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye: Acadia becomes French again
  • 1635–1654 - Settlements founded
  • 1654 - Acadia British again
  • 1667 - Peace of Breda : Acadia becomes French again
  • 1690 - Acadia British
  • 1697 - Peace of Rijswijk : Acadia French again
  • 1710 - British conquest
  • 1713 - Acadia is added to Great Britain in the Peace of Utrecht
  • 1720 - Acadians and French establish first permanent settlement on Prince Edward Island; the island develops into a refuge for Acadians and grows to 5,000 European settlers
  • 1755–1762 - all Acadians who do not want to take an oath to the British crown are expelled (the reason was the looming Seven Years' War )
    • 11,000 to 12,000 Acadians are deported; about 2,000 Acadians survive in the forests
    • Today's Cajuns Louisianas descend from displaced Acadians
  • 1763 - France loses the Seven Years' War and has to give up all North American possessions; Prince Edward Island also becomes British
  • In the 1760s, many Acadians came back and settled between Digby and Yarmouth
  • 1803 - the number of Acadians increases rapidly: A census counts 8,432 francophones in all Atlantic provinces
  • 1871 - Census: 80,000 Acadians
  • 1931 - Census: approx. 137,000 Acadians in New Brunswick (34%), approx. 56,000 in Nova Scotia (11%), approx. 13,000 on Prince Edward Island (15%)
  • 1961 - Census: approx. 232,000 Acadians in New Brunswick (39%), 87,000 in Nova Scotia (12%), approx. 17,000 in Prince Edward Island (17%)
  • 1963 - The first francophone university in the Atlantic provinces opens in Moncton (New Brunswick)
  • 1969 - New Brunswick officially becomes bilingual
  • 1971 - Census: approx. 235,000 Acadians in New Brunswick (37%), approx. 80,000 in Nova Scotia (11%), approx. 15,000 on Prince Edward Island (14%)
  • 1994 - The Congrès Mondial Acadien in New Brunswick took place for the first time.
  • 2003 - December 13th was set as the day of remembrance for the deportations.


  • Ingo Kolboom , Roberto Mann: Acadia: a French dream in America. Four centuries of academic history and literature . Synchron scientific publishing house of the authors, Heidelberg 2005 ISBN 3-935025-54-8
  • Klaus-Dieter Ertler , Andrea Maria Humpl, Daniela Maly: Ave maris stella. A cultural and scientific introduction to the Acadie. Series: Canadiana, 2. Peter Lang, Bern 2005 ISBN 978-3-631-53407-6

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Yves Bolduc and Nicolas Niçaise, Littérature acadienne at:, accessed on September 17, 2015 (French, English ).
  2. a b Acadian. In: Encyclopædia Britannica . Accessed June 1, 2019 .
  3. ^ Historical outline since 1604, as well as the naming. The German National Library shows the table of contents online
  4. detailed introduction to Acadia