Top News

Family Fun: Discovering your Acadian roots in the Annapolis Valley

<p>Acadian Laurie Bolland and her family used to dress in traditional clothes to attend events at the Grand Pré Historic site. Marcel and Thomas also entered the Apple Blossom Festival parade that year and won best historical category.</p>
<p>Acadian Laurie Bolland and her family used to dress in traditional clothes to attend events at the Grand Pré Historic site. Marcel and Thomas also entered the Apple Blossom Festival parade that year and won best historical category.</p>

“We are so privileged to be sitting in an area where it all began. The Annapolis Valley was the hub and centre of Acadian life before the 1755 deportation,” says Acadian Laurie Bolland of Kentville.

According to the Grand Pré National Historic website, the area around the Minas Basin was a centre of Acadian settlement from about 1682 until 1755. In all, some 2,200 Acadian men, women and children were deported from Les Mines, almost a third of the nearly 6,000 Acadians deported from Acadie in 1755.

Many families, like Bolland’s ancestors, eventually made their way back to the Maritimes and continued their Acadian traditions, which remain intact today.

The Acadian story is one of many pieces of the puzzle that makes up the Valley’s rich history and culture, says Bolland. Of Acadian heritage or not, it is important to take time to learn and appreciate our history.

In the Valley, there are several places you can take your family to learn more about Acadian history. The quintessential place is the Grand Pré National Historic site.

Acadian François Gaudet, Parks Canada Heritage Interpreter in Grand Pré, says the site celebrates a shared collective memory and family history and tells current and universally-relevant stories of community and interconnectedness.

“This iconic destination,” says Gaudet, “commemorates the deportation of the Acadians, their life prior to this tragic event, and the importance of this site to this day to Acadians from around the world.”

The interpretation centre also sheds light on a darker side of Grand Pré’s turbulent history and the sentiment it evokes, says Gaudet. It is a great place to take your family to learn more.

There are many hands-on activities for children, including the Xplorer program, an activity book designed for children aged six to 11 and their families. It encourages discovery through fun and recreational activities during a visit to the park. Guided tours are also available.

In collaboration with Société Promotion Grand Pré, this summer Grand Pré National Historic Site will be showing a new marionette production entitled The Land.

“This new production will offer visitors a unique way to perceive and understand the emotional hardship that was the deportation,” says Gaudet. Through its two main characters, the seagull and the muskrat, viewers will travel through time, land and sea.

Acadians Days are also a perfect time to visit the site. This two-day special event in July brings together the best of l’Acadie with a weekend full of music, food, speaking engagements and more. Watch their website for more details.

Grand Pré National Historic site is open May 20 to October 10daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Outside the park, but nearby, is Horton Landing. This is a free memorial site where Acadians were shipped off in boats, and also where the New England Planters arrived. Directions can be found on the Valley Family Fun website after searching for Grand Pré.

Further down the Valley in Annapolis Royal, Acadian Alan Melanson offers a historic tour called "The Cradle of Acadie."

According to the website, you can stroll along the shores where Acadians first arrived in the area with Alan Melanson, a 10th-generation Acadian. You can also hear Melanson’s amazing personal story of his ancestors' deportation.

“Enjoy a romantic modern-day Acadian love story. Retrace the renaissance of the Acadian culture. Discover the Cajun connection. Listen to Acadian music. Learn the secrets to making rappie pie. Kick up your heels, and put your best foot forward with a simple Acadian dance.”

These tours are held in the afternoons and leave from the Annapolis Royal lighthouse. They last for an hour, and are a great experience for all ages. Details can be found on the Tour Annapolis Royal website.

While in Annapolis Royal, check out the Melanson Settlement National Historic Site. Here, an archeological discovery revealed a system of dykeland farming unique among Acadians living in North America in which families and neighbours cooperatively worked the land. There is no fee to visit this site.

Or, head to the Fundy shore to Morden to look at the Morden Cross and read the story of how natives helped a group of Acadians to escape deportation. According to an article in the Yarmouth Vanguard, “whenever riding up the Annapolis Valley, it would be worth your while to turn off route 1, at Auburn, and to go to Morden to see the French Cross.”

Take time to visit these historical places and learn about the rich history surrounding us in the Annapolis Valley.

“We have been shaped by the Acadians,” says Bolland. “They helped make us who we are today.”

Find a way to share this significance with your family this summer.

 

Laura Churchill Duke (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) and her family really enjoyed their visit to Grand Pré Historic site last summer and can’t wait to check out a few more places!

Go online:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/grandpre/index.aspx

http://www.annapolis-valley-vacation.com/horton-landing.html

http://valleyfamilyfun.ca/grand-pre-national-historic-site/

http://www.tourannapolisroyal.com/acadian.html

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/melanson/index.aspx

http://www.blupete.com/Hist/Gloss/FrenchCross.htm

According to the Grand Pré National Historic website, the area around the Minas Basin was a centre of Acadian settlement from about 1682 until 1755. In all, some 2,200 Acadian men, women and children were deported from Les Mines, almost a third of the nearly 6,000 Acadians deported from Acadie in 1755.

Many families, like Bolland’s ancestors, eventually made their way back to the Maritimes and continued their Acadian traditions, which remain intact today.

The Acadian story is one of many pieces of the puzzle that makes up the Valley’s rich history and culture, says Bolland. Of Acadian heritage or not, it is important to take time to learn and appreciate our history.

In the Valley, there are several places you can take your family to learn more about Acadian history. The quintessential place is the Grand Pré National Historic site.

Acadian François Gaudet, Parks Canada Heritage Interpreter in Grand Pré, says the site celebrates a shared collective memory and family history and tells current and universally-relevant stories of community and interconnectedness.

“This iconic destination,” says Gaudet, “commemorates the deportation of the Acadians, their life prior to this tragic event, and the importance of this site to this day to Acadians from around the world.”

The interpretation centre also sheds light on a darker side of Grand Pré’s turbulent history and the sentiment it evokes, says Gaudet. It is a great place to take your family to learn more.

There are many hands-on activities for children, including the Xplorer program, an activity book designed for children aged six to 11 and their families. It encourages discovery through fun and recreational activities during a visit to the park. Guided tours are also available.

In collaboration with Société Promotion Grand Pré, this summer Grand Pré National Historic Site will be showing a new marionette production entitled The Land.

“This new production will offer visitors a unique way to perceive and understand the emotional hardship that was the deportation,” says Gaudet. Through its two main characters, the seagull and the muskrat, viewers will travel through time, land and sea.

Acadians Days are also a perfect time to visit the site. This two-day special event in July brings together the best of l’Acadie with a weekend full of music, food, speaking engagements and more. Watch their website for more details.

Grand Pré National Historic site is open May 20 to October 10daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Outside the park, but nearby, is Horton Landing. This is a free memorial site where Acadians were shipped off in boats, and also where the New England Planters arrived. Directions can be found on the Valley Family Fun website after searching for Grand Pré.

Further down the Valley in Annapolis Royal, Acadian Alan Melanson offers a historic tour called "The Cradle of Acadie."

According to the website, you can stroll along the shores where Acadians first arrived in the area with Alan Melanson, a 10th-generation Acadian. You can also hear Melanson’s amazing personal story of his ancestors' deportation.

“Enjoy a romantic modern-day Acadian love story. Retrace the renaissance of the Acadian culture. Discover the Cajun connection. Listen to Acadian music. Learn the secrets to making rappie pie. Kick up your heels, and put your best foot forward with a simple Acadian dance.”

These tours are held in the afternoons and leave from the Annapolis Royal lighthouse. They last for an hour, and are a great experience for all ages. Details can be found on the Tour Annapolis Royal website.

While in Annapolis Royal, check out the Melanson Settlement National Historic Site. Here, an archeological discovery revealed a system of dykeland farming unique among Acadians living in North America in which families and neighbours cooperatively worked the land. There is no fee to visit this site.

Or, head to the Fundy shore to Morden to look at the Morden Cross and read the story of how natives helped a group of Acadians to escape deportation. According to an article in the Yarmouth Vanguard, “whenever riding up the Annapolis Valley, it would be worth your while to turn off route 1, at Auburn, and to go to Morden to see the French Cross.”

Take time to visit these historical places and learn about the rich history surrounding us in the Annapolis Valley.

“We have been shaped by the Acadians,” says Bolland. “They helped make us who we are today.”

Find a way to share this significance with your family this summer.

 

Laura Churchill Duke (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) and her family really enjoyed their visit to Grand Pré Historic site last summer and can’t wait to check out a few more places!

Go online:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/grandpre/index.aspx

http://www.annapolis-valley-vacation.com/horton-landing.html

http://valleyfamilyfun.ca/grand-pre-national-historic-site/

http://www.tourannapolisroyal.com/acadian.html

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/melanson/index.aspx

http://www.blupete.com/Hist/Gloss/FrenchCross.htm

Recent Stories