Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos et Centre de recherche
PRIOR TO 1755
At the onset of the colonization, the major concern for the
Acadians was survival in a hostile environment. They provided for themselves through
farming, trading (sometimes illegally) and fishing. Despite these activities, life was
very difficult and colonists died from scurvy, infections and malnutrition.
With the cooperation of the Micmacs, the Acadians were better able
to adapt to the land and survival became somewhat easier for subsequent generations. The
Acadians focused their attention more on the family, their crops and religion which they
held very dear.
The majority of the Acadians lived by farming and depended
tremendously on the fertile land for their livelihood. They developed an innovative method
of turning the salt marshes into arable land by the use of a dyke system. The dyke was
constructed in such a manner as to prevent the tides from flooding the marshes at high
tide while allowing the rainwater and melted snow to flow out. This natural 'washing' of
the marsh over a period of years fostered an expansion of Acadian farmlands. A tremendous
amount of labor went into the construction of these dykes and only the concerted efforts
of an entire community could endure their construction and the periodic repairs. Although
Acadians knew little of the luxuries of life, their prosperous farms also assured that
they would be spared the ravages of famine.
During the first half of the 18th century, the Acadian birth rate
was relatively high and the child mortality rate was low. This period of Acadian history (
1680- 1740 ) is known as the Golden Age. Large families were not uncommon and often many
generations lived under on roof. Besides these blood ties, the community was also close
knit through marriage links. It often happened that brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles
chose life partners from the same lineage as that of another family. For example, Trahans
often married Grangers, Blanchards often married LeBlancs etc. In such a tightly bound
community where exogamy was seldom practiced, it is not difficult to understand why
religious dispensations for marriages between second cousins were often asked for.
Family ties and the Catholic religion also played an important role
in the lives of Acadians after the deportation. The Acadians always had a special place in
their hearts for the Catholic faith and its clergy, both of which were key elements of the
social fabric throughout the nineteenth century and for a good part of the twentieth.
Information on this page is from the
website Acadian Odyssey