Life 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

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