We speak French in Canada, it is well known. In Quebec, of course, as well as in New Brunswick, where Acadian culture remains alive. Less well known are these islands of Francophonie that we find in Nova Scotia. Exploring them is a great way to appreciate the beauties of a superb province which, located in the far east of the country, boldly juts out into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Acadians of Nova Scotia
Colonized by the French at the beginning of the 17th century, the lands of New Scotland (New Scotland) were part of theAcadia, one of the components of New France which also included Canada (alias Quebec) and Louisiana (territories around the Mississippi, from the Great Lakes to New Orleans).
Also extending into present-day New Brunswick, Acadia was ceded to the United Kingdom a hundred years later.
Despite the vicissitudes of history, Acadian culture and the French language have endured in Nova Scotia, a superb maritime province located in eastern Canada, facing the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and Newfoundland.
Descendants of Acadians who stayed behind or returned from exile, the French are now estimated at about 30 people, or 000% of the population of Nova Scotia, whose capital is Halifax. They live on Cape Breton Island and on the mainland, notably along the aptly named “Acadian Coast”.
On Cape Breton Island: Chéticamp and the Cabot Trail
The coastal waters have been here a fishing site once frequented by Bretons in search of cod. Hence the name given to a large island which is today one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada.
Le Cape Breton is a land made up of superb forests, lakes and mountains, without forgetting the masterpiece that is its coastline. It is discovered along the Cabot Trail, a wonderful road forming a loop of 297 km from which countless hiking trails start.
On the northern part of this Cabot Trail is Cheticamp, on the edge of the Hautes Terres National Park. This French-speaking village founded in 1755 by Acadians makes a living from fishing and tourism, as well as from a craft industry specializing in making crocheted rugs (known as “hookés”). Beautiful examples can be admired at the museum dedicated to him at the Three Gables. Another local tradition is the superb masks made for mid-Lent, to be admired at the Center de la Mi-Carême.
Chéticamp celebrates Acadian culture in early August, during the Escaouette festival, with many festive, gourmet, theatrical and musical events around local traditions. Finally, do not miss, during your visit, to push the door of a local tavern: with a little luck, you will have the opportunity to attend a live concert of Acadian music, in a most joyful atmosphere.
Note that, further north, another major event takes place between May and October: the annual stay of Whales, which can be observed on board boats.
Louisbourg, "Gibraltar of the New World"
Still on Cape Breton, Louisbourg testifies to the French presence in Canada in the XNUMXth century. At the time, the region was considered strategic, from a geographical point of view but also commercially with cod fishing.
Nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the New World", the former royal stronghold of Louisbourg was built by the French in 1713, then destroyed by the British in 1760. Today, a partial and perfect reconstruction of this 18th century monument allows to relive this page of history by walking through the ramparts and period buildings of Louisbourg ...
Throughout the tour, costumed and French-speaking actors recreate city life in the 18th century. It is a whole disappeared world which resuscitates before our eyes, that of a closed city where lived in the 2C. nearly 000 people, soldiers and civilians (fishermen and other sailors, artisans, merchants…), as well as African slaves and natives. An exciting visit!
Some other Acadian sites in Nova Scotia
Scattered across the mainland, west of Cape Breton Island, other sites recall the existence of Acadians in Nova Scotia. Here are a few :
- Large meadow, a site classified as a “national historic site” near Wolfville and on the edge of the Minas Basin: this village is directly associated with the memory of the Grand Dérangement, since it was here that it actually began. A memorial evokes the history of the event.
- Annapolis Royal, a little further west on the Bay of Fundy, formerly Baie des Français. Is established there on Fort-Anne, which was founded in the 17th century. It has known many assaults from both the British and the French, because it changed "owners" during a hundred years. At the heart of its remains is a museum which tells its story and therefore that of the Acadians.
- AT Royal Porton the other side, nestles a replica of a “house”, in other words a small fort established by French settlers at the beginning of the 17th century in Mi'kmaq country.
- To the southwest, extends the Acadian coast between Weymouth and West Pubnico via Yarmouth. Bordered by the waters of Baie Sainte-Marie and the Gulf of Maine, it has a succession of beaches, fishing ports (especially lobster, a specialty of Nova Scotia) and charming villages.
- To the north, on the side of Clare where an Acadian festival is organized in summer, we do not miss to visit churches imposing, including that of Sainte-Marie in Pointe-de-l'Eglise, which is reputed to be the largest to have been built of wood in North America.
- To the south, the Acadian historic village de West Pubnico invites, with animators in period costumes, to discover the life that one led there in the years 1900 within an Acadian community living from fishing.
Tourism New Brunswick
Everything to prepare for your trip to Nova Scotia