Oct. 27, 1699
The settlement of Minas, the census of which the Sr. de Villebon sent last
year to Count Pontchartrain, is at the head of the Bay of Fundy.
There is no codfishing in that region, and the settlers can only take advantage,
in summer time, of the shad, which, with a variety of herring named the
gasper-eau, appear in sufficiently large numbers to provide food for everybody.
To compensate for this, their lands are very advantageous for crops, such
as wheat, rye, peas and oats and ail sorts of vegetables, which are found
there in abun-dance. If the people were as industrious as the Canadians,
they would in a short space of time be very well off, but the majority
work only when it is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of their
families. As for the women, they are always busy, and most of them
keep their husbands and children in serviceable linen materials and stockings
which they make skillfully from the hemp they have grown and the wool produced
by their sheep.
Masts may be obtained
in this place, but, as an incentive to ensure a future supply, His Majesty
should first give orders to begin cutting these forests. The Sr.
de Villebon found this to be the opinion of those who lived there when
he spoke to them about it.
There is a saw-mill in Minas, and another is to be built, and, as the settlers
are distributed along the rivers, they have a windmill and seven or eight
water mills. This place will become important as soon as these people
find a market for their produce, and the King has sent laborers into the
country to develop their lands.
Pitch could be made there, for suitable wood2 is available, but someone
with experience should be sent from France to teach the settlers how to
make it themselves. It would be most useful in this country in connection
with the fishing and the numerous boats which will, in future, be employed
in the industry.
About 18 leagues above Minas is a settlement of eight or ten colonists
who dyked a marsh two years ago, and have grown very fine wheat on it this
year. There are still sites in that district for as many more families.
It is some twenty
six leagues from Minas to Port Royal, the route being east, a quarter southeast.
There is no harbor on the coast between the two places. There could
be no finer entrance than that into Port Royal although the distance across
is within musket range. The Basin is at least three leagues around,
and the bottom provides very good anchorage. Inasmuch as M. L'Hermitte,
the engineer, has made a plan of Port Royal and its neighborhood, the Sr,
de Villebon will not describe it, but will set forth in a special Memoir
the things which he believes should be done for the restoration of the
old fort, and the preservation of the facade towards the approach from
the erosion which takes place each year.
More food supplies are to be obtained at Port Royal than at Minas. Settlers,
who had numerous children, established some above Minas and in the direction
of Beaubassin, for they were unwilling to clear the uplands because the
work was too hard, although they are much more reliable than the marsh
lands, which can be cultivated with less trouble, but are sometimes flooded
when high tides are accompanied by strong winds; after such inundations
the lands must be abandoned for two years to allow rime for the salt to
be washed out. These unoccupied and uncultivated uplands will not
remain vacant when colonists have come from France, or soldiers are given
their discharge in order to become settlers. Count Pontchartrain
will have learned from the census-report of last autumn, the number of
people in this place; they are in-creasing daily by marriage and the fecundity
of the women.
The settlers catch codfish for food, and there are small rivers opening
in-to the Basin which yield many fish such as bass, shad, sardines, gaspereaux
and plaice. Large numbers are taken in weirs5 built across the rivers so
that the fish are caught when the tide goes out.
Masts could also be obtained here but with more difflculty than else-where,
because, since the first settlement, nearly eighty years ago, the finest
pines have been taken for dugouts, and many others for planks and timbers
have been cut on the river banks. Tar could be made here in large
quantities as well as at Minas. There are two saw-mills and four
water-mills for grinding grains.
On leaving the entrance to Port Royal, the Petit Passage is 7 leagues east
south-east, and its mouth is within cannon range of the other end which
opens unto Baie Ste. Marie. Vessels can easily make it in a favorable
wind. Cod are found there, but, because the currents are strong, fishing
is only pos-sible at the slack of the tides, and little can be accomplished.
From the Petit to the Grand Passage, the distance is three leagues and
vessels can pass through easily with the same wind. There are more
fish in the latter, and three or four shallops are usually to be seen.
Eleven leagues south
south-east from the Grand Passage is Cap Fouchu. It has a fair harbor and
the cod appear there early, and fishing begins at the end of March.
Good gardens can be made there, and there is plenty of bay for livestock,
and grain sufficient to load more than 100 shallops.
From Cape Fouchu, on the same course, the Isles de Tousquet are 3 leagues
away. Half way is a river with much meadow-land; its entrance 18
suitable for moderate sized vessels, and it has a good beach. Prom
the Isles de Tousquet, tbe Rivière de Pomoncoup is five leagues
east north-east. The soil along this river is fertile, and there
is good fishing within sight of land. One of the sons of the Sr.
d'Entremont lives there with bis wife and eight children. When the Sr.
de Villebon visited him in the spring, the peas and the wheat were well
up; he has 30 horned cattle, 3 sheep and 18 pigs; also a water-mill.
Prom Pomoncoup to Cap Sable it is only five leagues south 1/4 south-east.
There, fishing is abundant. Four or five leagues off shore to the
east-ward, are the Isles aux Loups-marins: only four of them are wooded
and the fourth (sic) is a rock. A fairly extensive killing of seals
can be made on this rock, as well as on the island which lies farthest
out to sea.
Inside the Cap de Sable Islands is the Passage de Bacareau. where a set-tler
lives with his wife and seven children. He grows grain enough for
his own needs, and has six horned cattle. There is land enough there
for five or six more families.
Prom Cap de Sable it is three leagues east north-east to port Latour which
can be entered by vessels of moderate size. There is a good beach
and fine fishing within sight of the harbor.
Following the same course a league from Port La Tour is Cap Nègre
with an island at the entrance; the channel is to the north and is navigable
From Cap Nègro two leagues east ¼ north is the Rivière
des Rochelois; the entrance is good only for small craft; there is an abundance
of red oak. Half-a-league beyond the Rivière des Rochelois east
south-east is Port Razoir, one of the finest harbors on the coast.
Its entrance is suitable for all vessels, and there is abundant fishing.
The soil is suitable for cultivation, and there are many red oaks.
Another of Sr. d'Entremont's sons lives here with his wife and four children,
ten or twelve horned cattle, and some sheep. There is an-other settler
with a wife and two children. He is not prosperous but is a capable
From Poit Razoir to the Rivière des Jardins it is two leagues north
north-east. There is good land on this river. From there to
Port Joli2 it is a league and a half east south-east. The harbor
is formed by islands and the south-east passage is good. On the largest
of these islands is a beach suf-ficient for about twenty shallops, and
good fishing is within sight.
From Port Joli to Port à Ours is three leagues. east north-east;
there is a river but only moderate sized craft can enter it. Five
leagues north-east of Port à Ours is Port Mouton. An island
at the entrance forms a harbor about three leagues around; a good beach
and good fishing.
Following the same course, it is three leagues from Port Mouton to Port
Rossignol. The river has an entrance suitable for vessels.
There are quantities of red oak and tht soil can be cultivated; the beach
is extensive and good fishing is at hand. Two leagues east ¼
north-east of Port Rossignol is Port Maltois, which has a very fine river
with a good channel, and good land which can be cultivated. There
also are many red oaks.
Three leagues from Port Maltois east southeast, lies la Hève, which
has without a doubt the best harbor and the most magnificent situation
on the east coast. Like the others it is surrounded by hills but
has much more land suitable for cultivation. It is true there is
not much beach available for a large fishing industry, but it could be
extended; moreover, flakes7 could be used, and they without question produce
the finest quality of fish. The old fort is at the mouth of the very
beautiful river, and vessels of 50 guns can enter and anchor under its
cannon. Lumber mills could be built, for pine and spruce fir are
plentiful. Two families are at present living there. There
is plenty of hunting. and many good things to eat, such as herring and
mackerel in season, eels at all times, as well as plaice, lobsters, oysters
and other shell-fish.
From la Hève to the fort St Mirliguesche is three leagues east north-east,
and half a league by a convenient portage. Tht soil is fair and there
are a quantity of red oaks.
From Mirliguesche to Chedabouctou is three leagues to the north-east ¼
east. Several islands at the mouth of a river would be suitable for
settle-ment; there is fishing at hand.
Two leagues east ¼ south-east of Chedabouctou is Nechepatagon, a
good fishing base.
Five leagues from there east south-east is Paspêt, with a good channel
From Paspée three leagues east south-east to Cap St. Sambro.
From Cap St. Sambro two leagues east north-east is the entrance to Chibouctou,
it has a fine beach, but is partly covered at high tide when there art
gales off the sta.
Following the same course it is three leagues from Chibouctou to Mag-annechis.
The latter has a good harbor and good entrance for vessels, and fishing
From Magannechis it is three leagues. on the same course to Mouscou-dabouet,
the entrance to which is fit only for small craft. It is an excellent
country for hunting and there is salmon fishing.
One league beyond, on the same course, is Teodore, where there is a river,
and vessels can anchor at it5 mouth. The woods are of fir only.
After Teodore comes tht Baye de Toutes Isles, 50 called because of the
number to be found there. It is 20 leagues in length, running east
north-east, and at the farther end is the Rivière Ste. Marie.
There is fishing as elsewhere.
From the river to Macodomé it is six leagues in the same direction.
The fishing is good but only land enough for gardens.
From Macadomé it is five leagues on the same course to Tarbé
with a good channel and harbor for vessels.
From the Baye de Tarbé to Martingo it is four leagues east ¼
southeast; it is a very good harbor and the fishing is good; flakes are
used for drying because there is no beach.
From Martingo it is four leagues east north-east to Campseaux a place well
known to vessels which, before the present war, went there to fish every
From Campseaux to Chedabouctou is 7 leagues east north-east. It is
at the head of a bay of the same name. The gentlemen of the Company
of Acadia had a fort there with a large fishing-establishment, which was
captured and burnt at the outbreak of the last war. The harbor is
one of the most beautiful and one of the safest on the whole coast,
This would be a very advantageous station for the development of trade
with Canada, and to leave as a depot for provisions for the fishermen along
these shorts. The Passage de Fronsac at Cape Breton, the route used
by vessels coming there, is only twelve short leagues from Chedabouctou.
The land is good for cultivation, and fish can be caught at Camseaux.
The Sr. de Villebon is not able to give an exact description of all the
places In Cape Breton where fishing may be carried on. Ht knows only
the more important harbors, where the French vessels come for fish, such
as Baye des Espagnols. the Havres à la Baltine, à la l'Anglais
and Neiganiche. There are, moreover, in Cape Breton many rivers teeming
with fish, especially salmon. Lime and coal may also be obtained there
in any quantity which may be needed. Fort St. John, 27th Oct., 1699.
Selections from "Observations
of the Situation, Customs and Manners of the Ancient Acadians"
Moses Delesdernier, written in 1790 about his experiences
on a visit to Pisiquit in 1750.
is from an article by Father Clarence d'Entremont; the complete
article can be found at the Acadian GenWeb site.
"The Acadians are the most innocent
and virtuous people whom I have ever known or heard tell of in any history.
They live in a state of perfect equality, without distinction of rank in
society. The title of 'Messieurs' is not known among them. Ignorant of
the luxuries and even of the conveniences of life, they are content with
a simple mode of life, which they easily derive from the cultivation of
their lands. Very little ambition or avarice was seen among them; they
helped each other's wants with benevolent liberality; they required no
interest for loans of money or other property. They were humane and hospitable
to strangers, and very liberal to those who embraced their religion. They
were very remarkable for the inviolable purity of their morals. I do not
recollect a single case of illegitimate births among them, even now. Their
knowledge of agriculture was very limited, although they cultivated their
dyked lands pretty well.
They were completely ignorant
of the progress of arts and sciences. I knew but a single person among
them who could read or write some of them could do so, but very imperfectly,
and no one among them had learned any trade. Each farmer was his own architect,
and each proprietor was a farmer. They lived almost entirely independent
of other nations, except to procure salt and tools, as they exployed very
little iron for any other farming implements.
They raised and made their own
clothing, which was uniform. They were fond of black and red with stripes
down the leg, bunches of ribbons and long streamers.
Notwithstanding their negligence,
their lack of means and scanty knowledge of agriculture, they laid up abundant
stores of provisions and clothing, and had comfortable houses.
They were a strong, healthy
people, capable of enduring great hardship, and generally lived to an advanced
age, although no one employed a doctor. The men worked hard in planting
and at harvest time and the season when the dykes were to be made or repaired,
and on any occasion when work was pressing. They thus secured for half
the year, at least, leisure which they spent in parties and merrymakings,
of which they were very fond. But the women were more assiduous workers
then the men, though they took a considerable part in the amusements. Although
they were almost all entirely illiterate, it was rare to see any one remain
silent long when in company, they never seemed at a loss for a subject
of conversation. To conclude, they seemed always cheerful and light-hearted,
and on every occasion were unanimous. If any disputes arose in their transactions,
etc., they always submitted it to arbitration, and their last appeal was
to the priest. Although I have seen cases of mutual recrimination on returning
from these decisions, you seldom, if ever, discovered among them any thought
of malice or vengeance. In fact they were perfectly accustomed to act candidly
in all circumstances; and really, if there be a people who recall the Golden
Age as described in history, it was the old-time Acadians.
Robert Hale's Journal ... entries on a summertime
1731 journey to Acadia.
is from an article by Father Clarence d'Entremont; the complete
article can be found at the Acadian GenWeb site.
Among the written descriptions dating
from that time, one of the best comes from a medical doctor, who was to
be, for a number of years, a Representative in the Massachusetts House,
and a Colonel. His name was Robert Hale, of Beverly, just north of Salem.
Born in 1703, he graduated in 1721 at Harvard College. In 1731, he made
a voyage to Nova Scotia in the schooner "Cupid," of which he was co-owner
and co-master. He consigned the journey in a journal with minute and very
precise details, jotting down the occurrences of about every hour of the
day, starting on Monday, June 7 (old style) up to the time he "arrived
home on Wednesday 14 (of July) at 3 a.m." He was accocmpanied by three
others, one of whom was the pilot. They were bringing merchandise to Annapolis
and to Chignecto, plus 106 gallons of rum.
After describing everything
that he saw along the Maine coast and everything that happened up to Grand
Manan, when they headed for Long Island, its lower end was sighted on Sunday,
the 20th, at 3 a.m. They were to follow the coast up to Digby Gut, where
they arrived at 1 p.m. that same afternoon. At 4 p.m. "an Indian came off
in his canoe to us, with his squaw, 2 papouses and dog. He was wretchedly
poor." Two hours later, "2 Frenchmen came on board us, one of whom had
wooden shoes on, the first that I ever saw," writes Hale.
He then gives a very accurate
description of Annapolis, but does not tell us anything about the Acadians
there, except that, on his way, he saw here and there groups of 4 to 12
houses that he calls villages, they being of "French people, for no English
live here, but near the Fort." He adds: "I'm informed the French are settled
also for 30 miles up the river." He says that he saw also "a small beach
where the French dry their fish, and upon it, a small cross, they being
allowed the free exercise of their religion though Subjects of the King
of Great Britain."
While in Annapolis, "one of
the Drummers at the Fort was buried, at whose interment--as is the custom--12
men fired three volleys." June 22, "a soldier was whipped 20 Lashes for
Wednesday, June 23, they left
at 11 a.m. for Chignecto, i.e., "to Meskquesh, the Chief Village" (see
sketch No. 58), where they arrived on Friday, the 25th, after navigating
in waters "as thick as mud." Here they were to fetch a load of coal, which
"has been dug here this 30 years." It did not take him long to realize
that "there is abundance of mosquitoes here, so that in calm hot day, tis
almost impossible to live, especially among the trees." The wind being
strong here, "the people build all their houses low, with large timber
and sharp roofs not one house being 10 feet to the eaves."
Sunday afternoon, the 27th,
with his pilot, "being an interpreter, Hale left for "Worshcock," that
is Westcock, close to the mouth of the Tantramar River, two miles south
of Sackville. They were well recieved; "the French entertained us with
much civility and courtesy," says Hale. This was his first contact with
the Acadians of the region. They lodged that night in Meskquesh.
Next morning, Monday, June 28,
he writes that at "5 a.m. I rose and after breakfast walked about to see
the place. There are but about 15 or 20 houses or churches, one of which
they hang out a flag morning and evening for prayers. To the other, the
priest goes once a day only." He then describes how the priest would go
to give communion to the sick, dressed in his cassock or soutane, "habited
like a fool in petticoats, with a man after him with a bell in one hand
ringing at every door, and a lighted candle and lanthorn in other."
In the afternoon he went to
see an Indian trader named Pierre A.....neau[?]. That is when he tells
us that "Money is the worst commodity a man can have here and the people
here don't care to take it." Governor Richard Philipps, by a proclamation,
had decreed that "all in this province are obliged to take Massachusetts
bills in payment"; but here "trade little among themselves, everyone raising
himself what he wants." Hale adds: "When I came to pay my reckoning (or
acount) at the Tavern, the landlord had but 5 pence in money (that is 5
pennies), though he is one of the wealthiest in the place."
This landlord is where he lodged,
he calls him William Sears; this was Guillaume Cyr, 52 years of age, father
of six children. That same evening, he says that "Just about bedtime, we
were surprised to see some of the family on their knees paying their devotions
to the Almighty and others near them talking and smoking. This they do
all of them, mentally but not orally, every night and morning.
Then he goes on, describing
the people. "The women here differ as much in their clothing--besides wearing
of wooden shoes--from those of New England as they do in features and complexion,
which is dark enough by living in the smoke in the summer to defend themselves
against the mosquitoes, and in the winter against the cold. Their clothes
are good enough, but they look as if they were pitched on with pitchforks,
and very often their stockings are down about their heels." With regard
to the houses, he writes "they have but one room in their houses besides
a cockloft (or some small garret), cellar and sometimes a closet. Their
bedrooms are made something after the manner of a sailor's cabin, but boarded
all round about the bigness of the bed, except one little hole on the foreside,
just big enough to crawl into, before which is a curtain drawn and a step
to get into it. There stands a chest. They have not above two or three
chairs in a house, and those wooden ones, bottom and all. I saw but two
mugs among all the French and the lip of one of them was broken down above
two inches. When they treat you with strong drinks, they bring it in a
large basin and give you a porringer to dip it with," which is a low one-handled
metal bowl or cup for children.
Having said this, he goes on
to tell us that the following day, Tuesday, June 29, they left at 3 p.m.
for home. He describes his return with as many details as he had given
us previously, up to the time that they tied up at the wharf at Charlestown,
close to Boston; that was Thursday evening, July 8 at 10:30. It took them
four days, from the 9th till the 12th, to unload "40 Chaldron Seacoal"
they had brought; a caldron was worth 32 bushels in London; by seacoal
is meant pit-coal or mineral coal, by opposition to charcoal.
Two days later, July 14, he
arrived home in Beverly "and found my family in good health."
Jesuit Relations, V. 45
THIRD LETTER OF THE ACADIAN MISSION.
MY REVEREND FATHER,
Here is a third Letter that I write to Your Reverence, to inform you of
what has occurred in the Mission of Acadia, where three of our Fathers
are laboring for the conversion of the Savages on that coast, and for the
salvation of the French who are settled there.
Acadia is that part of New France which borders the sea, extending from
New England to Gasp‚, where the entrance to the great river St. Lawrence
properly begins. All that country, which is fully  three hundred leagues
in extent, bears but one name, having but one language.
The English have usurped all the Eastern coast from Canceau to New England,
and have left to the French that which extends toward the North; the principal
points of the latter are called Miscou, Rigibouctou, and Cap Breton. The
district of Miscou is the most populous and the best disposed, and contains
most Christians. It comprises the Savages of Gaspé, of Miramichy,
and of Nepigigouit. Rigibouctou is a beautiful river, and important for
its trade with the Savages of the river St. John.
Cap Breton is one of the first Islands which one meets on coming from France.
For its size it is fairly well peopled with Savages.  Monsieur Denis
is in command of the principal settlement [page 59] which the French have
in those quarters. Such is the country which our Fathers have cultivated
since the year 1629, and in which Fathers André Richard, Martin
Lionne, and Jacques Frémin are at present laboring.
The last named has had for his portion the coast of Rigibouctou, where
he has wintered among the Savages. With them he has suffered, besides the
scurvy, famine caused by the deficiency of snows, which are the Savages'
riches; for the Moose, Caribous, and other animals are caught in them as
in a snare, when they are deep enough. But the Father has found himself
only too well paid for the toils that he has suffered in those great forests,
by the Baptism which he conferred upon  a little girl in the extremity
of sickness, who received health in those salutary waters. It was also
no small consolation to him to see himself importuned by a poor Savage
named Redoumanat to baptize him, in consequence of a very strongly felt
grace that he had obtained from God shortly before. This man had languished
for two whole years, overwhelmed with severe illnesses, which caused him
very acute pains throughout his body, but especially in the legs. He had
had himself breathed upon again and again by the jugglers of the country;
and, after wearying out all the sorcerers and exhausting all their remedies,
no longer knowing to whom to have recourse, he addressed himself to God,
whose goodness and power he had heard praised. He said to him: " Thou who
hast  made everything, they say that everything obeys thee I will believe
it, provided that my trouble which has not been willing to listen to the
voice of our Demons, will listen to thine. If it obey [page 61] thee when
thou shalt drive it from my body, I promise thee to obey the‚ myself, and
to love the prayer. " God was pleased with this kind of prayer, and restored
him to perfect health, for which he is so grateful that he everywhere publishes
this favor—showing by a great change in his life that his soul has the
best share of this benefit. He has wholly given up drunkenness,—which is
the great Demon of these poor Savages,—as well as the spirit of vengeance,
which he has subdued by an act as heroic as can be found among the best
Christians. For one day one of his daughters, whom he especially loved,
was struck dead  by an insolent fellow before his very eyes. The murderer
was arrested, but the father was far from wishing to revenge himself. On
the contrary, he stopped the arm of those who were about to kill him, saying
that he referred the matter to the Master of life, since he learned that
it belonged only to him to take vengeance for the wrongs committed against
us. And in truth, the divine Justice did not fail to exact retribution
for this murder; for it permitted that this same wretch should be soon
afterward assassinated by a rival, who was aspiring to the same marriage
as he was. This good man is not the only one who has received extraordinory
favors from Heaven; but not all have shown themselves so grateful.
A certain Capisto, former Captain of Cap Breton and greatly attached to
his Superstitions, fell one  day into most violent convulsions, during
which the Savages bethought themselves to apply to his body some Images,
Rosaries, and Crosses; for they make great account of these, using them
against the molestations of the Demons. This man, at the [page 63] climax
of the attack, imagined that Devils threw themselves upon him and dragged
him from side to side, striving to carry him away. In this anguish, he
seized hold of a great Cross planted at the entrance to the river, and
clung to it so fast that it was impossible for the Demons to separate him
from it. The vision touched him; and, although he still continues in infidelity,
he nevertheless values the Faith, and gives hope that finally, after so
many favors which God shows him,—incited, withal, by the example and 
the urgent requests of his brother who was baptized this Spring,—he will
break the bonds which hold him down to his wretchedness.
This brother of Captain Capisto is a good old man, much loved by the French,
to whose interests he is greatly devoted and to whom he has rendered notable
services in trying emergencies. He made so many entreaties to be baptized
that, after having been put off from year to year in order to prove his
constancy, Father Richard at last baptized him, along with his wife and
his sister, in deep feelings of esteem for the happiness for which he had
so much yearned. He urged that his children might have a share in the same
favor; but they were put off until Autumn, in order to call forth stronger
proofs of their good resolutions.
 Two years ago, the Savages of these coasts were at war with the Esquimaux.
These latter are a nation dwelling at the extreme Northeastern end of New
France, at about 52 degrees of latitude and 330 of longitude. It
is wonderful how these Savage mariners navigate so far in little shallops,
crossing vast seas without compass, and often without sight of the Sun,
trusting to instinct for their guidance. [page 65] But in this respect
the Esquimaux arouse even greater wonder. They sometimes make the same
transit, not in shallops, but in small canoes, whose structure and speed
are indeed astonishing. They are not made of bark, like those of the Algonkins,
but of skins of seals, which animals  abound in their country. These
canoes are covered over with those same skins. An opening is left at the
top which gives admittance to the one who is to navigate, who is always
alone in this gondola. Seated and ensconced in the hold of this little
leather boat, he gathers about him the skin which covers him, and fastens
and binds it so well that the water cannot enter. Lodged in this pouch,
he paddles on each side alternately with a single paddle, which has a blade
at each end. He does this so skillfully, however, and causes
his boat to move so lightly, that he outstrips the shallops, which move
by sail. Moreover, if this canoe happens to capsize, there is nothing to
fear; for, as it is light and filled with air enclosed within, along with
half the body of the boatman, it easily rights itself,  and restores
its pilot safe and sound above the water, provided he be well fastened
to his little craft. Nature joined to necessity furnishes great inventions.
These good people further use sealskins to build their houses, and to make
clothes for themselves; for, after thoroughly dressing these skins, they
wear them as coverings for their bodies, making robes from them in the
same fashion for both men and women. They live chiefly on Caribous, which
are a kind of deer, on otters, on seals, and on cod; they have but few
beavers and moose. During the Winter they live underground, in great caves,
where they are so warm [page 67] that, notwithstanding the severity of
the climate, they have no need of fire, except for cooking. The snows
there are  very deep. They are so hardened by the cold that they bear
one as firmly as ice, and, to walk over them, one needs no snowshoes. The
iron which they find near the stages of the cod-fishers serves them to
make arrow-heads, knives, cleavers, and other tools, which they themselves
skillfully devise, without forge or hammers. They are of small stature,
somewhat olive-colored, quite well-formed, thick-set, and exceedingly strong.
Some time ago, our Savages were waging war against these peoples.
Having surprised and massacred some of them, they spared the lives of the
others, whom they took as captives into their own country,—not to burn
them, for that is not their custom; but to hold them in servitude, 
or to cleave their heads upon entering their villages in token of triumph.
One of these captives, a woman whose husband had been killed in the fight,
found her happiness in her captivity. Having been taken to Cap Breton,
she was ransomed from the hands of the Savages; she was subsequently instructed
and baptized, and now she lives in the French manner like a good Christian.
It must be acknowledged that the methods of the divine Providence are adorable,
to seek out in the midst of this barbarism a predestined soul, to choose
it among so many others, and put it on the way to heaven, and—what is truly
very wonderful—to raise this poor woman from her infidelity in order to
employ her to raise a heretic from his error. It happened in this way.
 Our Marguerite (the name that she received in Baptism), when still
an unbeliever, sometimes [page 69] found herself molested by Demons. Thus,
one day, she appeared as if bewitched; she ran about everywhere, uttering
frightful cries and making strange gestures, like those who are possessed.
The French hastened to her and tried to soothe her, but in vain. Her torments
increased to such a degree that she found herself in danger of being suffocated.
They finally be thought themselves to have recourse to divine remedies;
they entreated the Chaplain who then ministered to the settlement to help
her. He had no sooner sprinkled her with holy water than she suddenly stopped,
and became as peaceful as if she had awaked from a quiet sleep. She merely
lifted her eyes on high, and then, turning them toward those present, she
said: " Alas,  where am I ? Whence do I come ? A fiery phantom was
cruelly pursuing me, and was quite ready to devour me, when, at your presence,
I know not what terror seized him and put him to flight. For the second
time I owe you my life; lately, you delivered me from the rage of the Savages,
and now you save me from the fury of the Demons. " The interpreter, who
was a heretic, was seized with astonishment at this occurrence; and, admiring
the potency of the holy water,, he renounced heresy, and by his abjuration
published the wonder whereof he had been a spectator.
If the Demons serve to convert the Savages, and the Savages to bring back
the heretics, what must we not hope to obtain' through the help of the
guardian An gels of these regions :  and especially since these blessed
spirits have brought hither an Angelic Man,—I mean, Monsignor the Bishop
of Petræa. While crossing the border of our Acadia, [page 71] on
the side of Gaspé, he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation to 140
persons, who perhaps would never have received that blessing if this worthy
Prelate had not come to seek them at this end of the world. The country
is beginning to be disquieted by the terror of the Iroquois. They close
the door to the salvation of countless nations, who extend their arms to
the Gospel; and we cannot carry it to them unless these rebels are subdued.
I commend myself and all these peoples to Your Reverence's holy Sacrifices,
and to the prayers of all those who love the conversion of the poor Savages.
Kebec, this 16th of October, 1659.
1755 The Exile Of The Acadian Neutrals, 1755
by William H. Withrow
The deportation and dispersion
of the French Neutrals from their Acadian homes at Grandpre, on the peninsula
that projects into Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, was one of the most pitiful
incidents in the French and Indian war, known as the American phase of
the Seven Years' War. The region is familiar to Americans, through the
epic of the poet Longfellow, as the Land of Evangeline. The district around
Minas Basin was settled in the early years of the seventeenth century by
immigrants from La Rochelle, Saintonge, and Poitou. During the wars between
France and England the Acadians, as a Nova Scotian historian relates, "were
strongly patriotic, and took up arms in the cause of their native land.
Intensely devoted to the Roman Catholic Church, and considering these wars
as in the nature of crusades, they fought valiantly and well. But when
Nova Scotia was finally ceded to Great Britain (in 1713) their position
became very awkward and painful. Many of them refused to take the oath
of allegiance, and for others a modified formula was framed. Emissaries
of the French power at Louisburg and Quebec circulated among them and maintained
their loyalty to France at a fever heat, while their priests pursued the
same policy and kept up the hostility to the conquerors.
The British provincial government
was located at Annapolis, and though its laws were mild and clement, it
could not command respect on account of its physical weakness. Under these
circumstances hundreds of Acadians joined the French armies during every
war between the two powers, and proved dangerous foemen on account of their
knowledge of the region. British settlers were unwilling to locate among
these people on account of their racial hostility, and the fairest lands
of the province were thus held by an alien and hostile population.
The expulsion and exile of the
French Neutrals from their homes in Acadia - the region now included in
the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - are one of the
saddest episodes in history. The occasion for their removal and dispersion
was the alleged charge that they secretly took sides with their French
compatriots against the English in every struggle on this continent between
the two nations, each seeking supreme dominion in the New World, and were
thus a constant menace to the English colonists on the seaboard. The trouble
at this period was complicated by disputed boundary lines, the whole interior
of the continent being claimed by France, while the English were shut in
between the mountain ranges of the Alleghanies and the sea. But the English
colonies would not be hemmed in either by nature or by France. Their hardy
sons sought adventure and gain in the Far West, while not a few for this
purpose pushed their way to the St. Lawrence and the Lakes by the water-ways
and woodland valleys of the continent. The French, resenting this intrusion,
began to erect a series of forts to mark the boundaries of their possessions
and conserve the inland fur trade.
Already, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
the first scene in the opening drama had been enacted at Louisburg. This
stronghold in Cape Breton, which guarded the marine highway to New France,
had surrendered in 1745 to the forces of England and her colonial levies
on the Atlantic. French pride was hurt at this disaster and the loss of
the important naval station in the gulf. To recover the lost prestige,
Count de la Galissoniere was sent as governor to Canada. This nobleman's
extravagant assumptions of the extent of the territorial possessions of
New France, however, offended the English colonists and roused the jealousy
of many of the Indian tribes. Nor was this feeling allayed when France,
by the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, recovered Louisburg, and when her boundary
commissioners claimed all the country north of the Bay of Fundy as not
having been ceded to England by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the inevitable
result followed; hostilities between the two nations were precipitated
in the valley of the Ohio by the persistent encroachment of the English.
English successes in other parts
of the continent in some measure atoned for Braddock's defeat. Beausejour
fell before an expeditionary force sent out from Massachusetts, while Dieskau
was routed and made a prisoner near Lake George by Colonel (afterward Sir
William) Johnson, in command of the colonial militia and a band of Mohawk
The command of the expedition
against Beausejour, in the Acadian isthmus, to which the French still laid
claim, had been given to Colonel Moncton, who, in the spring of 1755, sailed
from Boston with forty-one vessels and two thousand men. Ill-manned by
a few hundred refugees and a small body of soldiers it soon capitulated
and was renamed Fort Cumberland. The Acadian peasants, on the beautiful
shores of the Bay of Fundy, Canadian historians tell us, "were a simple,
virtuous, and prosperous community," though other writers give them less
favorable character, speaking of them as turbulent, aggressive, and meddlesome.
With remarkable industry they had reclaimed from the sea by dikes many
thousand of fertile acres, which produced abundant crops of grain and orchard
fruits; and on the sea meadows at one time grazed as many as sixty thousand
head of cattle. The simple wants of the peasants were supplied by domestic
manufacture or by importations from Louisburg. So great was their attachment
to the government and institutions of their fatherland that during the
aggressions of the English after the conquest of the region a great part
of the population - some ten thousand in number, it is said, though the
figures are disputed - abandoned their homes and migrated to that portion
of Acadia still claimed by the French, while others removed to Cape Breton
or to Canada. About seven thousand still remained in the peninsula of Nova
Scotia, but they claimed a political neutrality, resolutely refusing to
take the oath of allegiance to the alien conquerors. They were accused
of intriguing with their countrymen at Louisburg, with resisting the English
authority, and with inciting, and even leading, the Indians to ravage the
The cruel Micmacs needed little
instigation. They swooped down on the little town of Dartmouth, opposite
Halifax, and within gunshot of its forts, and reaped a rich harvest of
scalps and booty. The English prisoners they sometimes sold at Louisburg
for arms and ammunition. The Governor asserted that pure compassion was
the motive of this traffic, in order to rescue the captives from massacre.
He demanded, however, an excessive ransom for their liberation. The Indians
were sometimes, indeed generally, it was asserted, led in these murderous
raids by French commanders. These violations of neutrality, however, were
chiefly the work of a few turbulent spirits. The mass of the Acadian peasants
seem to have been a peaceful and inoffensive people, although they naturally
sympathized with their countrymen, and rejoiced at the victory of Du Quesne,
and sorrowed at the defeat of Lake George. They were, nevertheless, declared
rebels and outlaws, and a council at Halifax, confounding the innocent
with the guilty, decreed the expulsion of the entire French population.
The decision was promptly given
effect. Ships soon appeared before the principal settlement in the Bay
of Fundy. All the male inhabitants over ten years of age were summoned
to hear the King's command. At Grandpre four hundred assembled in the village
church, when the British officer read from the altar the decree of their
exile. Resistance was impossible; armed soldiers guarded the door, and
the men were imprisoned. They were marched at the bayonet's point, amid
the wailings of their relatives, on board the transports. The women and
children were shipped in other vessels. Families were scattered; husbands
and wives separated - many never to meet again. Hundreds of comfortable
homesteads and well-filled barns were ruthlessly given to the flames. A
number, variously estimated at from three to seven thousand, were dispersed
along the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Georgia. Twelve hundred were
carried to South Carolina. A few planted a New Acadia among their countrymen
in Louisiana. Some sought to return to their blackened hearths, coasting
in open boats along the shore. These were relentlessly intercepted when
possible, and sent back into hopeless exile. An imperishable interest
has been imparted to this sad story by Longfellow's beautiful poem Evangeline,
which describes the sorrows and sufferings of some of the inhabitants of
the little village of Grandpre.