Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil National Historic Person (1702–1765)

Painting representing the portrait of a man stood up with a bag in his hands
Artist rendition of Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil by Robert Dafford, 1995.
© Acadian Memorial Foundation

Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil was designated as a national historic person in 2022.

Historical importance: Leader of the Acadian resistance before, during and after the 1755 Deportation.

Commemorative plaque: no plaque installedFootnote 1

Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil (1702–1765)

Born in Port-Royal in 1702, Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil was a key figure in Acadian history and holds an important place in the collective memory of Acadian communities in both Louisiana and the Maritime provinces. During the mid-18th century, he became a leader of the Acadian resistance and defiance against British rule. Benefitting from close relations with the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik, Beausoleil conducted raids against settlements, troops, and military posts, commanded a privateer, and avidly defended his compatriots, helping them to escape deportation and inspiring them to resist. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which granted Great Britain colonial possession of Acadia, Beausoleil refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and comply with the restrictive conditions of resettlement imposed in Nova Scotia. In 1764, Beausoleil led a group of Acadians to Saint-Domingue, a French colony, and then to Louisiana in 1765, illustrating one of the outcomes for the Acadian diaspora, caused by the Deportation.


Painting representing a group of people inside a room
Reading the Deportation Order by Claude Picard (artist rendition), 1986. On September 5, 1755, Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow assembled the Acadian men and boys of the area in the parish church at Grand Pré and read the Deportation Order.
© Parks Canada


In the 17th and early 18th centuries, Mi’kma’ki, the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq, was claimed by both French and British colonial interests. The French and British fought for control of land, trade, and fisheries as the Mi’kmaq defended their homeland through both diplomacy and military action. After the 1630s, French settlers, known as Acadians, established farms and created communities in the region, which became known as Acadia. In 1713, war between the colonial powers of France and Britain led to the Treaty of Utrecht, which resulted in France ceding its claim to mainland Acadia to the British. Some Acadians, including Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, refused to recognize the authority of the British Crown over Acadia.

Painting representing a group of adults and children in a field
The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana by Robert Dafford (artist rendition), 1995.
© Acadian Memorial Foundation

In 1747, Beausoleil and 12 other Acadians were declared “outlaws” for aiding the French in battles against the British, including the Battle of Grand-Pré. Over the next few years, Joseph and Alexandre, the Beausoleil brothers, led several raids with other Acadians and Mi’kmaq against patrolling British soldiers, intercepting convoys and attacking small British Protestant settlements such as Dartmouth. In June 1755, Beausoleil led a group of Acadians during the siege of Fort Beauséjour. He was jailed at Fort Lawrence in the fall of 1755 but escaped with a group of 80 other Acadian prisoners. In the years that followed, Beausoleil commanded a schooner converted into a privateer and took part in the guerrilla warfare waged by the Acadian resistance, the French, the Mi’kmaq, and the Wolastoqiyik against the British. He was again imprisoned in 1760 and remained in captivity until after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763.

“Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil is the embodiment of the Acadian spirit of resistance. He is a figure whose actions go beyond the borders of Acadia and who played a crucial role in the survival of the Acadian people in Canada and Louisiana. His name will also be remembered as it gave birth to a very famous musical group in Acadia (Beausoleil-Broussard).”

Michel Cyr, President, Nation Prospère Acadie

After 1763, the British imposed conditions on the Acadians for their re-establishment in the colony. Deeming these conditions to be unacceptable, Beausoleil and 600 Acadians chartered a ship and left for Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), in December 1764. In February of the following year, Beausoleil and 193 Acadians again chartered a ship for the Mississippi River and decided to settle in Louisiana. They received land in the Attackapas region, where they raised cattle. In April 1765, Beausoleil was appointed militia captain and commander of the Acadians in the Attackapas region. In October 1765, Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil died from a yellow fever epidemic that struck the community.

This press backgrounder was prepared at the time of the Ministerial announcement in 2023.


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