Zone of contention, place of growth

Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site

By the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), France ceded Acadia to Great Britain. Yet the lack of a precise definition of the limits of the territory meant that both the British and the French claimed the zone on the isthmus of Chignecto. In fact, the crucial point of territorial dispute between the two imperial powers in Atlantic Canada emerged as the Beaubassin region with its growing Acadian settlements.

A thriving colony

Despite the confusion over which European crown should control the isthmus of Chignecto, the Acadians living in the region saw their numbers increase steadily in the decades after 1713. Beaubassin emerged as the Acadian area where the most cattle were raised and where there was a large grain production.

It was also there that an active fur trade took place with the Mi'gmaq and Maliseet. Acadians traded the surplus in cattle, grain and furs with merchants from both sides involved in the imperial competition. Those from Louisbourg usually arrived by ship at Baie Verte, while New Englanders generally came by way of the Bay of Fundy.

By 1744, the Beaubassin region had become an important Acadian population centre, which included a number of settlements along the Petitcodiac, Memramcook and Shepody Rivers. The most common family names associated with this region were Arsenault, Bourgeois, Chiasson, Cormier, Cyr, Doucet, Gaudet, Poirier, and Haché known as Gallant.

Unsettling times

An estimated 3,000 Acadians were living in the region in the early 1750s, nearly half of whom were refugees from mainland Nova Scotia. The large number of Acadian refugees speaks volumes about how tension was building throughout Nova Scotia after the founding of Halifax in 1749.

Most Acadians considered themselves neutral in the struggle between Britain and France, since they had refused to bear arms for either side. Only a few Acadians had supported the 1747 military expedition launched by the French from the Beaubassin region against British military posts in Nova Scotia.

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