Before the Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia in 1755, they were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. There might be some argument about which side was which! Some of the Acadians lived in Cape Breton and what is now New Brunswick, belonging to France while the others lived in the rest of Nova Scotia, which was British.
The French governor at Quebec issued a proclamation commanding all Acadians to take an oath of allegiance to the King, and enrol in the French militia. Britain made similar demands on the 9,000 Acadians in her territory, although not requiring them to join the militia.
There was a French fort at Beauséjour (which had been preserved as a historic site), while the British had Fort Lawrence, not far away. Governor Vaudreuil at Quebec sent instructions to Governor Vergor at Beauséjour to devise a plan to attack against Fort Lawrence.
The British had a spy in Beauséjour, who revealed the plan to Governor Lawrence of Nova Scotia and who also got in touch with Governor Shirley in Massachusetts. Shirley, with his usual enthusiasm, raised a force of 2,000 men. When they embarked to sail to Nova Scotia they were instructed: “The men will behave very orderly on the Sabbath Day, and either stay on board their transports, or else go to church, and not stroll up and down the streets.”
The force landed at Fort Lawrence on June 4, 1755. Governor Vergor had his men set all the houses on fire between Fort Lawrence and Beauséjour, while a famous Roman catholic priest, Father Le Loutre, had his Acadians working on the fortifications. In the meantime, Vergor had sent an urgent message to Louisburg for help, but learned on June 14 that none would be coming. The British had fired their guns at Beauséjour for several days when a shell fell through a roof and killed three officers. That was enough for Vergor and he surrendered the fort on June 16.
As the New England troops could only be kept for one year, and the French were expected to try to recapture Nova Scotia, it was decided to expel the Acadians. Their exodus took place later in the year.
Want to read more about Governor Vergor and the surrender of Beauséjour? You can begin with Nova Scotia’s Electric Scrapbook, and then the History of Nova Scotia. To read even more, there’s Tantramar History Sites and the Acadian-Cajun Geniealogy & History, and then, for a few very interesting anecdotes, you have to visit 1775: L’Histoire. All good places to start.
- Did someone say Bonjour? Acadian Country (natachafudem.wordpress.com)
- History of French Colony in Acadia (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Finding Acadian Resources in Books and Online (eogn.com)
- Nova Scotia’s provincial flag confirmed 155 years later (cbc.ca)