Saturday, January 08, 2011

A History of Acadia - Part I

It was in 1604 that Pierre de Guast, Sieur de Monts, a native of Saintonge, a nobleman of the court of Henry IV of France, came to Acadia to establish a colony.
Samuel de Champlain His reward for this work was the lion's share of the fur trade. Accompanying De Monts were Champlain, Poutrincourt and Pontgrave, names well known in connection with the history of New France.
In 1604 De Monts set out to explore this new land by sailing up la Baie Françoise (Bay of Fundy). He visited the mines of pure copper at Cap D'Or (Golden Cap), also named Cap-des-Mines. It is quite certain that the Mik'maqs would have been familiar with the mines since pieces of copper were found with their remains on the shores of the Basin.

De Monts sailed into the Basin to Partridge Island. There a captain of one of the ships found a large sample of amethyst. The stone was broken in two pieces and De Monts received one of them. When they returned to France, these specimens were cut and mounted in beautiful settings and presented to the king and queen.
Looking for what he considered suitable land to settle, De Monts was not impressed with the starkness of the rocky cliffs of Blomidon nor the north shores of the bay. Actually, had he continued just a few miles farther south, he would have come to rich lands. Instead he continued his passage along Baie Française. (The French called the Bay of Fundy both Baie Françoise and Baie Française. The word Fundy derives from fond meaning the end or top of the bay.)
PORT ROYAL ~ 1604-1710
The First Settlement of Acadia
The history of La Cadie or L'Acadie began with its first foundation - Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal), in 1604. A grant of Port Royal was made to Poutrincourt by De Monts. With the French noblesse were both Catholic and Protestant clergymen, laborers and artisans. These explorers spent the winter on an island at the mouth of the St-Croix River. This was the spot De Monts had chosen for his headquarter. It proved to be a terrible choice, for after a dreary winter; half of the party had died of scurvy. The survivors returned to Port Royal and settled this land.

Among the men traveling with De Monts was an apothecary by the name of Louis Hébert. Louis would later return to France then go to Québec taking his family there with him.
In 1607, De Monts lost his lion's share of the fur trade and the colonists abandoned Acadia. In 1610, a party sailed for Acadia once more, this time under the leadership of Poutrincourt. The British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, settled in 1607, was growing rapidly. Samuel Argall destroyed Port Royal in 1612. A few of the French colonists then remained in the country among the Indians.
For the next 10 years there was little mention of Acadia. The fur trade continued and the fishing industry increased. The French continued in the country and forts were built on the St. John River, Rivière St-Jean, and at Cape Sable.
In 1621, James I gave Acadia to Sir William Alexander who became the Earl of Stirling, and the country received the name it would ultimately retain, Nova Scotia. To help in this enterprise of an annual fishing, the Order of Nova Scotia Baronets was established.
The treaty of St-Germain-en-Laye, in 1632, gave Nova Scotia to France once more. It was at this time that the French succeeded in establishing colonies in this place. The Commander named to lead this new expedition was Isaac de Razilly along with his kinsmen d'Aulnay de Charnisay and Nicholas Denys de la Ronde. It is at this time that 300 persons were brought to Acadia. Between 1639 to 1649, Charnisay brought other settlers. In 1651, Charles Étienne de la Tour brought even more settlers. (From these first Acadian settlers descend the millions of Acadian descendants throughout the world). Of the 300 who came in 1632, there were perhaps twenty families. Others married young women who were brought from France at a later date.
Three Capuchin friars who took charge of the Acadian missions had come with Razilly. Records of births/baptisms, marriages, deaths/burials were always recorded by the priests. Many of these registers were destroyed or lost during the Deportation years so that it is impossible to know from which parishes some of the ancestors came from in France.
In 1636, the building of dykes was begun in an effort to keep the salt tides of the ocean from flooding the marshes. The Acadians succeeded in this endeavor. Consequently, agriculture grew in great proportions as more and more of this rich land was brought under cultivation. The Acadians also became skillful in the care of the dyke-protected meadows. In all parts of New France, seigneuries - large tracts of land - had been granted to members and friends of the governing body of the country, the Hundred Associates. It was their duty to settle the country, protect the settlers and to support the mission.
It was not too long before rivalry arose between two of the seigneurs in Acadia. La Tour and d'Aulnay-Charnisay, the one living at the mouth of the St. John River, the other at his fortified trading-post on the Penobscot, resulted in open war, which continued to 1645, when, during the absence of La Tour, d'Aulnay captured Fort La Tour.

The defense was bravely conducted by Lady La Tour but without avail against such a superior force as d'Aulnay displayed. The Lady was forced to witness the execution of her courageous followers. It has been said that she died of grief because of this cruel act. D'Aulnay died in 1650 and La Tour became governor as well as lieutenant for the king in Acadia. He also married the widow of his late rival.

Tomorrow: Part II

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
1998- Present


Lori E said...

Louis Hebert is my 11th. great grandfather. Always interesting to read more about him.
I was recently thinking about his death from a fall on the ice those many years ago because I too fell on the ice this week and hit my head. I was hoping we wouldn't get to compare notes on our head bumps. Lol.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Hi Lori,

What a small world considering he had only one son with progeny.

You likely knew he had been to Acadia first. After the time there he returned to France then decided to go to what is now Quebec and take along his family. His is an interesting history.

Really glad here that you won't be comparing notes on head bumps at this time! lol