This site provides a journey through the memory of Acadians, the French-speakers of Atlantic Canada. In 2004, they celebrated the 400th anniversary of the first effort to create a French settlement in North America, in what was to become their part of the world. A year later, in 2005, they marked the 250th anniversary of their deportation, what they call their Grand dérangement (or Great Upheaval), at the hands of the British. This site provides both images and sounds connected with these two anniversaries, including reference to how they were marked on earlier occasions. Along the way, attention is paid not only to how Acadians marked these anniversaries, but also English-speakers who ended up inhabiting the sites of the earliest Acadian settlements and First Nations People, who befriended both the French settlers in the early seventeenth century and Acadians at the time of the deportation.
This site is designed to to accompany the book Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie: A Historian's Journey through Public Memory, written by Ronald Rudin and published by University of Toronto Press. It also touches on issues that are addressed in the documentary film Life After Île Ste-Croix, produced by Ronald Rudin, directed by Leo Aristimuño, and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada.
In 1604-5, there were two significant efforts to establish French settlements in what would become Acadie. Under the command of Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, a settlement was established on Île Ste-Croix, on today's border between New Brunswick and Maine, and when that colony failed after a single winter, it was transported to Port-Royal, near today's Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. During the twentieth century, there were various efforts to mark the anniversaries of Dugua's settlements.
Until recently, Acadians saw their beginnings as a people in the reconstruction of their society after the deportation. In 2004, the 400th anniversary of the settlement on Île Ste-Croix provided Acadian leaders with the opportunity to create a new founding myth, grounded in the early seventeenth century.
By the early 21st century, Acadians had not lived for a very long time in the areas where the Dugua settlements were established. Accordingly, the English-speaking residents of these sites found themselves in a position to mark someone else's birth. Since it was not their birthday, these English-speakers often sought to use the anniversaries to attract tourists and encourage economic development.
The Passamaquoddy First Nation, now a trans-border tribe based in both New Brunswick and Maine, was on hand when the French arrived at Île Ste-Croix in 1604. While they had little to celebrate about the arrival of Europeans, they saw the events to mark the 400th anniversary as an opportunity to advance efforts to have Canada recognize the tribe's existence in this country, as Americans already recognized the presence of the Passamaquoddy there.
The Bear River First Nation, whose reserve is situated just outside Annapolis Royal, Nova Soctia, participated in events marking the 400th anniversary of the establishment of Port-Royal. The Mi'kmaq did not want to celebrate the event, but rather to improve their social and economic well-being by drawing visitors to their reserve.
In Canada, the United States and France, governments left behind legacies in the form of historic sites, monuments and museum exhibits that were created to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the French in North America.
During the twentieth century, Acadian memory of the deportation largely focused on a single site, Grand-Pré, and was marked by one massive commemorative event, the bicentenary of the grand dérangement in 1955.
In 2005, numerous events were staged to mark the 250th anniversary of the grand dérangement. In the process, new sites of memory were created and new ways of thinking about this moment from the Acadian past were presented to the public.