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of Acadian Life:
important to Acadians, since they spent about 60% of their time indoors.
in the Maritimes, p. 440] Stone and wood were used,
borrowing from the half-timbered method of France. Dovetail joints didn't
come along till after the exile. [Clarence Lebreton, Acadians
in the Maritimes, p.431] Since wood was abundant,
it was the most common substance used ... though a stone foundation may
have been common.
We don't know much about the early Acadian architecture, since the English did such a good job of burning everything down. We do have a few written accounts. Diereville wrote in Relation du voyage de Port Royal de l'Acadie, 1699-1700, that he rented a house that had "served as a church and was the largest in the place. It had three rooms, with lofts above, and a masonry cellar underneath the middle room. I think that I will have quite comfortable lodgings, considerting the country." (p. 36) He also wrote that the spaced-out houses were poorly built cottages and had chimneys made of clay. He couldn’t even tell which was the church, since it looked like a barn.
1687/88) wrote the the houses were low and made of logs one atop the other.
The roofs were made of thatch.
The governor’s home only was made of planks. [Clark,
homes, the main room was dining, living, and bedroom combined. Robert
Hale noted in 1731 (Journal of a Voyage to Nova Scotia
Made in 1731 by Robert Hale of Beverly) that some Acadians
had beds that were boarded all around, making something of a tiny bedroom.
A hole in one side allowed for entry and exit. The attics (garconniere)
were used as sleeping space for boys. Cellars, which were ice-cold
in the winter, would contain the produce harvested in the fall.
The Acadian section of the Archeology website for the Nova Scotia Museum has some paintings representing Acadian homes (inside and out). It also has information on the archeological excavations of an Acadian settlement. Besides the Belleisle settlement described at that website, archeological digs have been conducted on a Melanson settlement.
Jonathon Fowler is working on several Acadian locations in Nova Scotia and has a nice site [Northeast Archaeological Research] describing his work.
after the deportations, we have some indications of their temporary and
permanent homes. Homes were small, rectangular (almost square), made
of a single room and stone fireplace ... constructed of square timbers.
The main tools were cross-cut saws, handsaws, broadaxes, axes, spokeknives,
and pocketknives. Nails were seldom used, except perhaps for shingles.
Oak pegs were sometimes used. Even door hinges were made of wood.
Timbers were squared with a broadaxe. Squared logs might have been used
for the floor. Furniture was simple. The table was made of
planks. Benches were used for seating. There might be a cabinet
against the wall for dishes. The beds served also as rooms and partitions.
Boards were nailed to the wooden beds to form a closed box from the floor
to the ceiling (called sac a housses). There was a single opening,
covered by a curtain. There may have been buckets of water on a bench
in the corner. A mug/cup hung from a nail on the wall for all to
use. Brooms may have been just a bundle of sticks tied around a stick.
Sometimes, nicer ones were made of linden leaves. The musket and
powder horn would be hung on the wall. Notches were made in the window
sill to tell time by the rays of the sun. There would be a hole in
the ceiling next to the wall with a ladder attached to the wall.
Things were stored there; and boys often slept up there on straw mattresses.
Anselme Chiasson, Cheticamp: histoire et traditions acadiennes,
Montcon: Les aboiteaux, 1961, p. 46]
There have been some efforts at excavating Acadian structures, which has shed some light on their homes. Two of these sites have been the Melanson and the Bellisle settlements. The earliest structures date back to the 1800s. The best place to view old Acadian buildings is the Village Historique Acadien. It is set up like an Acadian village of old, with exhibits of the life and culture of the people.
used in house construction were: brace and hit, auger, hatchet (which also
served as a hammer), plane, and braces for the large pine logs of the framework.
An arminette was used to dress the ends of the logs. A triquet was
used to make tongue-and-groove joints after the squared logs had been smoothed
out. The logs were pegged and wedged. Mallets were used to
pound the logs into the corners. [Clarence Lebreton, Acadians
in the Maritimes, p.457]
For additional information on Acadian architecture, check out the following printed publications.
History Timeline | Maps | Additional Resources | Encyclopedia
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