August 27, 1930
Acadians Return To Grand Pre
Many Descendants of Pioneers Gather At Shrine of Evangeline for 175th Anniversary of the Expulsion of the Acadians.
Hundreds of the descendants of the French pioneers I the Land of Evangeline, from Louisiana, Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes gathered at the historic village of Grand Pre last Wednesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the expulsion of the Acadians.
While staged as an Acadian re-union, there were almost an equal number of people of English descent in the crowd of over 4,000. They came from all sections of Canada and the United States.
Through the addresses of all the speakers, which included high officials of the church and state, good will was stressed. Detachments of French Marines and Royal Canadian Militia and Marines, lent a military touch to the scene.
Great interest centred in the delegation from Louisiana which became the home of many of the exiles from Grand Pre and which still maintains the traditions and many of the customs of their race. The most interesting members of the delegation were naturally the twenty "Evangeline" girls, who, chosen for their beauty and charm, were elected by the different parishes in Louisiana to represent them at Grand Pre. They had beauty and charm and in their Evangeline costumes they made an exceedingly entrancing picture.
The days program opened with Pontificial High Mass, the Right Rev. P. A. Chiasson, Bishop of Chatham, officiating.
A service in French was conducted by Rev., Fr. Alfred Lang, and in English by Rev. Phillippe Herbert, Buctouche. This sight of the Acadians worshipping just outside the little chapel of Saint Charles, a replica of that long ago church where the Acadians worshipped back in the days before the "expulsion," was lovely and quaint and one long to be remembered.
After the service, visits were made to historic spots in Memorial Park and the surrounding districts. Groups gathered about the old well and around the statue of Evangeline, strolled under the French willows centuries old, and stood with uncovered heads by the grave wherein lies buried those British soldiers killed in the execution of their duty.
For the first time in 175 years troops formed a guard at Grand Pre.
Following the singing of "O Canada" the opening address in English and French was given by Hon. Justice A. L. LeBlanc.
"It is not to us to decide whether the Acadians were rightly or wrongly expelled; we will leave that to the historians," said the speaker. "It is for us to try to foment a public Canadian spirit and forget everything that has gone before. If there is any bitterness in our hearts let us bury it here today under the shadow of this cross."
Governor Tory, in his address in opening, said: "It is true we meet to recall an event of which we of the British race can not speak with any degree of pride. I am happy to say, however, that we meet not to recall the old animosities of another and less favored age but to rejoice in the good will and mutual understanding of a new and better day."
After declaring that it is the irony of history that the two great races which have done more for human progress than any other races in the modern world, British and French, should have found themselves in almost continuous conflict for centuries, Lieutenant Governor Tory related the events leading up to the expulsion of the Acadians.
"But our celebration today," he continued, "is not to recall old cruelties and animosities of the past, but rather to direct attention to the development of good will and reconciliation which have taken place since that day. Look for a moment at what has happened. In the Province of Nova Scotia not only have we completely forgotten the antagonists of the past, but we hardly think such other as belonging to separate places. We are all Nova Scotians .. (?) .. our native province.
"Then in Canada, taken as a whole, the British and the French have learned to live side by side, each race maintaining and developing their own particular racial qualities, yet uniting in common effort to build up in the Dominion of Canada a civilization based on liberty, justice and tolerance.
"These great peoples represented here today, the British, the French, and the people of the United States, are without question three of the foremost races in the world, in promoting international good will and intercourse, and all that goes to make that intercourse wholesome and agreeable."
Deputy Mayor Fred Herbin, Wolfville, a son of John Frederick Herbin, noted Acadian historian, and who first started the memorial park, welcomed the visitors in English and Prof. Massey, of Acadia University, in French on behalf of the local population.