By Lawrence Powell
Tourists with Acadian heritage will have a unique opportunity to get back to their ancestral roots this summer in the Annapolis Valley -- and all the way to West Pubnico. The region is home to the cradle of Acadia, the deportation of its people, and the resettlement of what is today a thriving Acadian community.
The problem is, all three distinct episodes in history are in three separate places.
“There were always pieces of the Acadian story but they were always scattered,” said Nadine Barteaux, communications coordinator for the Municipality of the County of Annapolis. About a year ago, the seed of an idea was planted – bring all of Acadia’s history together by partnering with communities and groups from Grand Pré to Pubnico.
The idea took root.
“About three months ago we said let’s stop playing with it and take the bull by the horns,” Barteaux said. A call to Larry Peach in Clare revealed that he had already been talking to people in the Annapolis Valley about partnering.
Carolyn Young, another Annapolis County employee, is working with Barteaux on a pilot project called Acadian Passport. She said Quebec tourists looking for their Acadian roots travel as far as New Brunswick and then stop.
“They’re not getting the full story,” she said, agreeing with Barteaux’s description of a puzzle with pieces missing. The Acadian Passport will offer the opportunity to fill in those pieces.
They started out with four partners and by the time the passport and map were put together they had a few more, including Annapolis County, Historic Gardens, the Municipality of the District of Clare, Parks Canada’s Grand Pré, Village Acadien, and Parks Canada Fort Anne and Port Royal,
Eight sites have been deemed as historically significant. Tourists, or visitors in search of their family roots are given a map with those locations marked. Eight corresponding blank spaces are provided for passport stamps.
A visitor to Grand Pré, centre of deportation activities in 1755, would have the Grand Pré space on their passport stamped and would be encouraged to not only visit other local places of interest, but move on to Annapolis Royal and area, the birthplace of Acadia in 1605. That could include Fort Anne and nearby Port Royal, and Historic Gardens, home of a replica Acadian house complete with thatched roof and mud oven.
Trish Fry, Historic Gardens manager said she’s pleased to be an Acadian Passport partner and gives kudos to the county for its leadership on the project and praise for the other partners for committing to such a good regional effort.
“Together these communities provide a unique story of Acadian settlement in Nova Scotia, the story of Acadie -- from its roots to today,” she said.
“The Annapolis Royal area is truly the cradle of Acadie, and it is therefore a key piece of the Acadian story. And because the Historic Gardens has a very unique reproduction of a pre-deportation Acadian dwelling, overlooking dyked lands that were farmed by Acadian settlers 350 years ago, this project is a perfect fit for us.”
She said no journey through the history of Acadie is complete without an exploration of the Annapolis Royal area and in particular, a visit to la Maison acadienne at the Historic Gardens.
Staff at Annapolis Royal area sites would encourage visitors to explore other local must-see points of interest and encourage them to move down the Acadian corridor to Clare, centre of today’s vibrant Acadian community, or east to Grand Pré, depending on where the visitors started from.
The project came together quickly and naturally, Barteaux said, and all boundaries, like county lines, seemed to disappear.
-- Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal – 17 acres of heritage-themed gardens, including a reconstruction of a 17th century Acadian home overlooking what was the Belliveau marshland in early Acadie.
-- The Historical Acadian Village of Nova Scotia, Lower West Pubnico – In this early 1900s Acadian village, situated on a beautiful 17-acre site overlooking Pubnico Harbour, experience a language, culture, and way of life that has thrived along this shore for more than 350 years.
-- Sainte-Marie Church, Church Point – Learn how the Acadians built this breath-taking structure, the largest wooden church in North America.
-- Port-Royal National Historic Site, Port Royal – Discover this reconstructed 1605 French habitation, one of the earliest European settlements in North America.
-- Rendex-vous de la Baie, Church Point – This Acadian cultural and interpretive centre is the starting point for exploring the region of Clare along St. Mary’s Bay, a post-deportation region with a vibrant Acadian culture. Museum, art gallery, visitor information, boutique, and more.
-- Fort Anne National Historic Site, Annapolis Royal – Canada’s oldest national historic site, the scene of the struggle for empire between the British and French.
-- Musée des Acadian, West Pubnico – Discover the Acadian history of Pubnico dating back to 1653, an Acadian community which is still occupied by the descendants of its founders. Learn about the Acadian people, hear their stories, and take part in their culture. Archival treasures and artifacts spanning more than four centuries.
-- Grand-Pré National Historic Site, Grande Pré – Life in Grand-Pré from the first settlement in 1682 to the deportation in 1755.
Barteaux said 15,000 passports will be available to visitors at the eight sites by the end of June. She said those who visit four or more sites and get their passports stamped can enter to win prizes. Visitors who collect all eight stamps can enter to win the grand prize.
Anyone wishing more information can contact Barteaux at firstname.lastname@example.org.