Grand Pré is located at the head of the beautiful Annapolis Valley. ”The Valley”, as it is affectionately called by Nova Scotians, is the heartland of agriculture in our province, and now the home of most of our fourteen wineries. The countryside has the highest concentration of farmer’s markets in the province, eagles dot the skies over the fields of corn, and some of the friendliest people in Canada greet you in the streets. Near Grand Pré, Wolfville is well loved university town, with thousands of students descending each fall to attend Acadia. Wolfville has great restaurants, pubs, coffee houses, and many unique accommodations that make it a great destination for visitors. The splendour of these two great areas of The valley are only 50 minutes from Halifax and 70 minutes from the international airport. the “Landscape of Grand Pre” was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2012.
In mid-17th century, a group of Europeans, mostly from France, came to Acadie to establish a French colony. The children of these settlers came to be known as Acadians. Today, several million people can say they are descendants of this original group of about 500 people.
Grand-Pré, French for “large meadow”, was first settled around 1680 by Pierre Melanson dit La Verdure and his wife Marguerite Mius d’Entremont and their five young children.
Grand-Pré is on the shores of the Minas Basin, renowned for its tidal marshlands. Melanson and those who joined him built dikes to hold back the tides along the basin, creating rich pastures for their animals and fertile fields for their crops. The Minas area was the bread basket of the colony.
In 1713, a part of Acadie became Nova Scotia leaving the Acadians to live under British rule. In 1744 when England and France once again declared war the French from Québec and from their fortress in Louisbourg tried to retake Acadie. The majority of those living in this British colony were Acadians. Their numbers were growing and they lived on the richest farmland. Those governing the colony believed something had to be done to encourage more Protestant settlers to come to the area.
In 1755 the boats and guns of the Acadians in the Minas area were confiscated. The governor, Charles Lawrence, decided to expel the Acadians from Nova Scotia dispersing them among the British colonies to the south, from Massachusetts to Georgia.
Before the year was over, having been forced to forfeit all but their personal goods to the crown, more than 6,000 Acadians were deported, not only from the Minas Basin area but from all of Nova Scotia. Their villages were burned to the ground. Thousands more would be deported until 1763 when England and France once again made peace.
This post is also available in: French