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This article details the region of northeastern North America. For other meanings of the term, see Acadia (disambiguation).

The national flag of Acadia, adopted in 1884.
The national flag of Acadia, adopted in 1884.

Acadia (in French Acadie) was the name given by the French to a territory in northeastern North America which includes parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces and modern-day New England stretching as far south as Philadelphia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies which were to become American states and Canadian provinces.

The territory's first European colonists, who would later become known as Acadians, were French subjects primarily from the Pleumartin to Poitiers in the Vienne département of west-central France. The first French settlement was established by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts, Governor of Acadia under the authority of King Henry IV, on Saint Croix Island in 1604. The following year, the settlement was moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal after a difficult winter on the island and deaths due to scurvy. In 1608, many of the settlers followed Samuel de Champlain north to found New France in modern day Quebec City.

Map showing areas of Acadia settled by France, 18th century
Map showing areas of Acadia settled by France, 18th century

The French took control of the Abenaki First Nations territory. In 1654, King Louis XIV of France appointed aristocrat Nicholas Denys as Governor of Acadia and granted him the confiscated lands and the right to all its minerals. British colonists captured Acadia in the course of King William's War but Britain returned it to France at the peace settlement. It was recaptured in the course of Queen Anne's War and its conquest confirmed in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.

On 23 June that year, the French residents of Acadia were given one year to declare allegiance to Britain or leave Nova Scotia. In the meantime, the French signalled their preparedness for future hostilities by building Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. The British grew increasingly alarmed by the prospect of disloyalty in wartime of the Acadians now under their rule.

In 1755, the British burned Acadian homes at the outbreak of the French and Indian War between Britain and France, accusing Acadians of disloyalty (for not having taken the oath) and guerrilla action. Those who still refused to swear loyalty to the British crown then suffered what is referred to as the Great Upheaval, when some 6,000-7,000 Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia to France or the American colonies. Others fled deeper into Nova Scotia and other parts of the colony of Canada.

Many expelled Acadians eventually settled in Louisiana, which was then still under French rule. Acadians formed the nucleus of the Cajun population. The name Cajun, a corruption of Acadian, is used by both English- and French-speakers. After the end of the war, Britain allowed some Acadians to return to Acadia but these were a small minority.

The poem Evangeline by Longfellow tells the story of an expelled Acadian struggling to reunite with her love.


Origin of the Name

The origin of the name Acadia is credited to the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (1480–1527), who had the Greek term "Arcadie", meaning land of plenty, written on the entire Atlantic coast north of Virginia on his sixteenth century map. Another theory is that Acadia is derived from the Mi'kmaq term for "place", pronounced "akatie" (still found in place names like Tracadie) and the Malecite term "quoddy", also meaning a "fertile place".

Contemporary Acadia

Today, Acadia refers to regions of Atlantic Canada with French roots, language, and culture. In the abstract, Acadia refers to the existence of a French culture on Canada’s east coast.

In 1994, Acadians and Cajuns held the first Acadian World Congress in Moncton, New Brunswick. Clive Doucet's book Notes from Exile is about the 1994 Acadian World Congress. Subsequent world congresses were held in 1999 and 2004.

The national anthem of Acadia is Ave Maris Stella.

See also

External links

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