1764: Return of the Acadians & Other Quebec Curios

Part of “A Colony in Transition”, 1763-1791

The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana" by Robert Dafford, measures 12 x 30 feet.

The British authorities were the ones that ordered the mass deportation of the Acadians starting in 1755, but they would also be the ones to allow their returns. Deportations would continue as late as 1764, but we know that the Acadians were allowed to return this very same year as well. However, this would also come at a price: swearing an oath of allegiance to Britain.

History tells us that the population of the Acadian Peninsula increased by roughly five hundred people between 1758 and 1765 (1200 people to 1700) due to returning Acadians from Massachusetts. Ultimately, when the Acadians who wished to return to their old homes had finally made it back, it would mean a tough road ahead. It would be natural for the Acadians to perhaps seek out their old homes, but the territory had since been given to British colonists who usurped the land where the Acadians used to live; in addition, one of the conditions of their return would be to disperse themselves in their old territory. Returning Acadians would settle in places such as Prince Edward Island, western Nova Scotia, and, it might come as no surprise due to the name, L’Acadie in the newly-named Province of Quebec, in lands that would be impoverished, soil-wise, compared to their old homes. For many Acadians, farming was key to their well-being, and with little help from the British, many Acadians would unfortunately sink into poverty. They would work as helpers to the fisherman in the area,. From 1764 onwards, the growth rate of the Acadians would gradually increase, and starting from 1771, they would start to increase roughly each year by 2.5%.

Acadians would arguably have a better time in Louisiana, where, starting in 1765, they would start emigrating. In comparison to the New England territories, in Louisiana, the Acadians would be able to thrive not as ancestors but as equals. Louisiana was formerly a French territory, but had been ceded to the Spanish after the Seven Years’ War; the Spanish governor let the Acadians keep their religion and their language. Roughly 3000 Acadians would emigrate to Louisiana in the 1760s, with 1500 coming to the area at the end of America’s war for independence. Descendants of the Acadians, the Cajuns (“Cadiens”), still highly influence Louisiana’s culture today.

Think you have Acadian ancestry? Look through Placide Gaudet’s notes on Acadian genealogical research at the Library and Archives Canada here.