The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Great Upheaval

The Great Upheaval (le Grand Dérangement), also known as the Great Expulsion or the Acadian Expulsion, is the eviction of the Acadian population from Nova Scotia between 1755 and 1763, ordered by governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council. Some argue that it cannot be seen as an ethnic cleansing since the French non-indigenous inhabitants were allowed to remain provided they took an oath of loyality to George II of Great Britain. True ethnic cleansing can be seen in the Carib Expulsion by the French of the indigenous peoples of Martinique in 1660.

Though the French initially colonised the area, various treaties traded possession of the region between the British and French through the 1600s and beyond. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 cemented the Acadians as British subjects. They were forced to swear an oath in 1730 giving their allegiance to the British crown but with a caveat that they would not be forced to bear arms against the French or Indians. In 1754, the French and Indian War broke out and the Acadians were being forced to remove the caveat of fighting the French from their previous oath. The majority of Acadians refused.

Thousands of the French-speaking inhabitants were gathered together on ships and sent south, with some congregating in Cajun Louisiana at the encouragement of the King of France. The largest single group returned to France but once there were poorly treated and ostracized by French society.

The homes and farms around the Bay of Fundy were burned or given to English-speaking Protestant colonists. For example, on 4 June 1760 New England planters arrived to claim land in Nova Scotia taken from the Acadians.

The following table presents figures on the deportation of the Acadians:

Area Population
Connecticut 666
New York 249
Maryland 810
Pennsylvania 383
North Carolina 280
Georgia 185
Massachusetts 1043
Rivière Saint-Jean 86
Île Saint-Jean 300
Baie des Chaleurs 700
Nova Scotia 1249
Quebec 2000
England 866
France 3500
Louisiana 300
TOTAL 12 617

Table source: R.A. LEBLANC. Les migrations acadiennes, in Cahiers de géographie du Québec, vol. 23, no 58, april 1979, p. 99-124.

The deportation was commemorated in 1847 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem Evangeline. In December 2003, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, representing Canada's head of state, declared the Crown's acknowledgement (but without an apology) of the event and designated July 28 as "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval."

Last updated: 05-15-2005 05:58:59