Grand-Pre was the focal point of the 18th century expulsion of the Acadian people, starting a tragic set of events known by some as The Deportation.
Acadians were the descendants of French settlers who had arrived in the region now known as Nova Scotia – which became part of a larger area known as Acadia – in the 17th century. They had a large and prosperous community in Grand-Pre. At the start of the 18th century, the British colonised Acadia and, when war broke out between France and England in 1744, things began to unravel.
On 5 September 1755, all Acadian men and boys were assembled and told that they were to be deported. This would be the beginning of a great upheaval of Acadians from throughout the Minas Basin. In fact, by the end of 1755, around 6,000 Acadians were deported, a process that continued until 1763.
Grand-Pré itself disappeared and might have been forgotten, except that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published Evangeline, a poem about the expulsion, in 1847. American tourists started pouring in but found only dike lands and old willow trees. Over time, a statue of Evangeline was erected and a commemorative church was built. For many Acadians throughout the world, the site remains the heart of their ancestral homeland.
Today, the Grand-Pre National Historic Site commemorates these events and particularly those Acadians deported from Minas Basin. There are several monuments, a church and gardens as well as a visitor centre. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1961.
The Landscape of Grand Pré is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada. It was inscribed into the list in 2012 and is a part of a national historic site established to commemorate Nova Scotia’s Grand Pre area.
Getting to Grand-Pre
Grand-Pré is the Annapolis Valley, about an hour’s drive from Halifax. From Route 101, take Exit 10 towards Wolfville and follow Route 1 west for one kilometre then north for another kilometre on Grand-Pré Road.