The British decision, in 1755, to expel allegedly disloyal Acadian (French) settlers from the Bay of Fundy region is a blot on Canada's image as a welcoming land where immigrants could make new beginnings. By 1800 many Acadians had returned to Maritime Canada, and today the experience still resonates through story, song and memorials.
Britain had established sovereignty over the former French colony of Acadia in 1713. The interactive map: Acadian Population; 1750, 1803 shows the substantial French population that continued to live there in 1750. Britain 's exasperation with subjects determined not to accept British rule had reached the breaking point after 42 years. But physical removal, allegedly done in a rough and inhumane manner, was new to North American colonists. For more than two centuries French and English had routinely put to flight First Nations peoples but, until now, not “fellow” Westerners.
The interactive map: Acadian Deportation Experience, 1755-1785 focuses on the experience. The first shiploads went to other British American colonies, where the refugees may have found sympathetic anti-British sentiments but an alien culture. Those who made it farthest, to New Orleans , could sustain their traditions, and the Cajun (corruption of “Acadian”) population of modern Louisiana adds a vibrant element to that American region. Few went to Quebec , on the verge of war with Great Britain . Once uprooted, refugees are susceptible to repeated displacement, and later layers in the Acadian Deportation Experience, 1755-1785 map show the West Indies and France among destinations for these increasingly desperate people, caught up in the escalating warfare among Britain , France , and their overseas colonies (also see table: Acadian Population 1763, 1800) By 1803 a half century of wandering had largely ended. The interactive map: Acadian Deportation Experience, 1755-1785 contrast the geography of lands vacated and lands regained. British from overseas and the Thirteen Colonies had taken over much of the old Acadian dikelands, forcing returning Acadians elsewhere.
About 1850 the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a narrative poem based upon the Acadian expulsion. “Evangeline” is the bittersweet tale of a newly-married couple separated on their wedding day in 1755 and their life-long quest to find each other, ending years later with reunion in Philadelphia at the husband's deathbed. Acadians still speak of their homeland as “The Land of Evangeline.”