The Wars to take Acadia
Acadia lay in a boundary zone, between the English and French colonies, and it was never left in peace for long. The English colonies of New England were closer to Acadia than to any other French settlements. In peacetime the English came to trade, and in war they came to conquer. In 1613 English colonists from Virginia led by Samuel Argall attacked and burned Port-Royal. The English attacked again in 1629. They captured Port-Royal in 1654 and controlled Acadia until France regained it by treaty in 1670. The English attacked again in 1690, 1704, and in 1707. With so much fighting and so many changes of command, the Acadians became a people without strong ties to either side.
In 1710 the British captured Port-Royal yet again, and in 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht gave Acadia permanently to Britain. Port-Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal, and a British commander with a small garrison of soldiers replaced the French governor and his garrison. However, most of the Acadians stayed on under British rule.
The Acadian People
Despite the wars, the tiny colony of Acadia kept growing. The 400 people of 1671 became 1,400 by 1701. By the 1750s, there would be 13,000 Acadians. As their numbers grew, the Acadians began to move out from Port-Royal to settle at Beaubassin, Grand Pré, and other places around the Bay of Fundy. The Acadians were mostly farmers. To control the huge tides of the Bay of Fundy, they built dykes on the marshlands around Port-Royal. As rainwater and melting snow drained the salt out of the newly dyked land, rich farm fields became available. The settlers raised crops and animals, and they planted fruit trees. They built mills to grind their grain and to cut lumber for their homes, barns, boats, and furniture. They ate what they needed from their produce and traded the remainder for tools, molasses, fabrics, and other things they could not easily make themselves.
The Acadians were becoming an independent and self-reliant community even before the British took control. Until 1713, they had French governors and seigneurs (the heirs of the d'Aulnays and the La Tours), but these rulers tended to be driven away whenever the British attacked, and the Acadians learned to live without them. The government in France was too far off to have much influence. New Englanders were officially the enemy, but New England was the closest place with which Acadians could trade. They began to refer to the New Englanders as our friends the enemy. The Acadians were a people between two empires, yet were not fully a part of either.