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The People of Western Kings 1785 to 1901 -

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A Short History of Western Kings

The Acadiens

                There are no indications that the Acadiens were ever permanent residents of the area before its settlement by the Loyalists.   There is, however, a cross at Morden which marks the site where some Acadiens spent the winter of 1755/56 during the expulsion.  Many of the stories, which come down to us about this event, are very difficult to verify.  The Loyalists found the cross there when they were building the Morden Road in 1785 and they seemed to have been given stories of the plight of the refugee Acadiens by someone.  But who?  It isn't too improbable to suppose that there were remnants of the Acadiens living among the Indians at that time, there were certainly semi nomadic Acadiens living in small groups throughout the 1800s who listed themselves in the census sometimes as Indians, sometimes as french speaking.  The Loyalists knew all about being a refugee and preserved the cross carefully and used the piles of mussel shells left behind by the Acadiens to plaster their church.  This suggests to me that their stories, at least those told by the Loyalists, have a strong basis in fact.

                But facts are often bent to accommodate belief and tradition.

                Anybody, British, Indian or Acadien, who sailed up and down the Bay of Fundy, and that was the best way to travel before there were roads through the wilderness, must have known about the value of the inlets and vaults that only occur at 10 mile intervals along the Bay.  They were the only places where it was possible to stop and pull up the boat.  And anyone who has tried to sail or row or paddle against the current of the Bay of Fundy, which ebbs and flows at 6 hourly intervals, will understand the necessity of finding stopping places.  It's my opinion that these sites were used long before the expulsion in 1755 and were well known to both the Acadiens and the Indians.  They must have used the site in Aylesford Township (Morden) when they were making the journey between Minas Basin and Port Royal.

                The tradition that has been handed down is that a group of Acadiens from the Belle Isle area escaped the British dragnet in 1755 and made their way to the site in Morden where they spent the winter, starving and freezing.  So far so good, it's an excellent choice of sites if you have to do that sort of thing.  It's located half way between Minas Basin and Annapolis Royal and thus as far from British posts as you can get.  The site has fresh water and a vault to provide shelter from the wind.

                The story goes that they lived by scavenging along the beach and eating the shellfish they found there such as mussels.  When the Loyalist first arrived at the site there were large piles of mussel shells.  While the Acadiens may have contributed their share to these piles in 1755, I have a tendency to believe that they may have built up over a number of years by both the Acadiens and the Indians before them.

                However there were also roving bands of guerilla warriors during the French and Indian wars in the 1750s whose ranks included both Acadiens and Indians.  A fanatical Pere LeLoutre inspired these bands. This site could also have been used as one of their camps. It is plausible that after the war and the British victory members of these bands would want to do their best to deny any involvement in any anti British actions. It is also plausible that the Loyalists, having just been through a terrible time, would be ready to give anyone claiming to be a refugee every benefit of the doubt.

                Be that as it may the tradition is that these were refugees trying to escape deportation by the British. They were led, the story goes, by a Pierre Melanson. The original Pierre Melanson was in reality Peter Melanson and was, as his name suggests, not Acadien but Scottish. He married into the Acadiens at Port Royal to a Marie Mius d'Entremont and either because of his temperament or because of persecution he moved to the Minas Basin Area and founded Grand-Pre. The problem is he did this in 1680, fully 75 years before the Expulsion making him an unlikely candidate. I checked through the records at the Public Archives and found that he had sons and grandsons. By the time of the Expulsion there was a Pierre Melanson behind every tree.

                Whatever the facts, as far as I know, there has never been an archaeological investigation of the site so any remains buried there are undisturbed, undiscovered or nonexistent.  What is certain is that when the Loyalists came to the site they heard the story of refugees and found mounds of mussel shells which they ground up and added to the plaster which was used on the walls of St. Mary's Anglican church located at what is now Auburn.  This much can be verified.  They also maintained the Cross at the site on the shore of the Bay of Fundy which they named French Cross, a tradition which has carried on until today.  In this gesture of sympathy we can see frame of mind of the Loyalists after their own ordeal.

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