Acadian or Nova Scotian?

A portrait of colonial entrepreneur and first ...
A portrait of colonial entrepreneur and first governor of Nova Scotia Samuel Vetch (1668-1732). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It is sometimes  difficult to judge when to use “Acadia” and when to use “Nova Scotia.”  The best date is 1713 when the Treaty of Utrecht was signed.  Although France kept Cape Breton, the treaty gave all “Nova Scotia, or Acadia … to the Queen of Great Britain and to her crown forever.”

The change from Acadia to Nova Scotia was brought about by Samuel Vetch, a Scotsman, who became a successful trader in Boston.  His ambitions, however, went far beyond earning money; he wanted to drive Spain and France from the Continent, and make Queen Anne “sole Empress of the vast North American continent.”  Vetch went to London and persuaded the Government to give a fleet and troops to capture Acadia, and eventually Canada.  The New England merchants were keen to capture Acadia because Port Royal had become a base for privateers who were attacking their ships.  In 1708, they had captured or destroyed thirty-five vessels.  The next year one privateer left Port Royal and in twelve days captured four ships laden with wheat and corn.

The expedition was put in charge of another remarkable man, Colonel Francis Nicholson, who during his career served as Governor of Virginia, New York, Maryland, and Carolina.  The British force arrived in Boston in July 1710, but did not sail into Port Royal Harbor until late in September.  The military force included a regiment of Royal Marines, and four battalions of troops from New England.  Vetch was adjutant-general, and was to become Governor of Acadia if the campaign were successful.

There were no more than 250 French soldiers to defend Port Royal, and they were there only because Subercase, the commander of the fort, had paid them with money he had borrowed; France had sent to supplies for two years.  Subercase was a stubborn fighter, but his small force was no match for Nicholson’s 2,000 men.  He surrendered on October 12, 1710, and the French flag was replaced by the British.  Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal in honour of the Queen, and from then on Nova Scotia, except for Cape Breton, would belong to Britain.

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