The Acadian Exiles : a Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline

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Language: English
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CHAPTER I

THE FOUNDERS OF ACADIA

The name Acadia, [Footnote: The origin of the name is uncertain. By some authorities it is supposed to be derived from the Micmac algaty, signifying a camp or settlement. Others have traced it to the Micmac akade, meaning a place where something abounds. Thus, Sunakade (Shunacadie, C. B.), the cranberry place; Seguboon-akade (Shubenacadie), the place of the potato, etc. The earliest map marking the country, that of Ruscelli (1561), gives the name Lacardie. Andre Thivet, a French writer, mentions the country in 1575 as Arcadia; and many modern writers believe Acadia to be merely a corruption of that classic name.] which we now associate with a great tragedy of history and song, was first used by the French to distinguish the eastern or maritime part of New France from the western part, which began with the St Lawrence valley and was called Canada. Just where Acadia ended and Canada began the French never clearly defined—in course of time, as will be seen, this question became a cause of war with the English—but we shall not be much at fault if we take a line from the mouth of the river Penobscot, due north to the St Lawrence, to mark the western frontier of the Acadia of the French. Thus, as the map shows, Acadia lay in that great peninsula which is flanked by two large islands, and is washed on the north and east by the river and gulf of St Lawrence, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean; and it comprised what are to-day parts of Quebec and Maine, as well as the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. When the French came, and for long after, this country was the hunting ground of tribes of the Algonquin race—Micmacs, Malecites, and Abnakis or Abenakis.

By right of the discoveries of Jean Verrazano (1524) and Jacques Cartier (1534-42) the French crown laid claim to all America north of the sphere of Spanish influence. Colonial enterprise, however, did not thrive during the religious wars which rent Europe in the sixteenth century; and it was not until after the Edict of Nantes in 1598 that France could follow up the discoveries of her seamen by an effort to colonize either Acadia or Canada. Abortive attempts had indeed been made by the Marquis de la Roche, but these had resulted only in the marooning of fifty unfortunate convicts on Sable Island. The first real colonizing venture of the French in the New World was that of the Sieur de Monts, the patron and associate of Champlain. [Footnote: See The founder of New France in this Series, chap. ii.] The site of this first colony was in Acadia. Armed with viceregal powers and a trading monopoly for ten years, De Monts gathered his colonists, equipped two ships, and set out from Havre de Grace in April 1604. The company numbered about a hundred and fifty Frenchmen of various ranks and conditions, from the lowest to the highest—convicts taken from the prisons, labourers and artisans, Huguenot ministers and Catholic priests, some gentlemen of noble birth, among them Jean de Biencourt, Baron de Poutrincourt, and the already famous explorer Champlain....