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Old Forts of Acadia

The tourist will find many memorials of the days of the French regime throughout the Provinces which were once comprised within the ill-defined and extensive limits of Acadia, and are now known as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. These memorials must be sought among a few com-munities speaking a language sadly degenerated from the Norman and Breton French of their ancestors, in a few grass-covered mounds, or in the names of many of the bays, rivers, and headlands of the Acadian country. Port La Tour, on the western coast of Nova Scotia, recalls the time when the high-spirited, courageous Frenchman, the rival of the treacherous D'Aulnay, was laboring to establish himself on the peninsula. The Gaspereau was the name given to a rapid stream, which winds its way through the very garden of Nova Scotia, by the ancestors of that hapless people whom a relentless des-tiny, and the mandate of an inexorable Government, snatched from their old homes in "the sweet Acadian land." The island of Cape Breton, which once bore the proud name of "Ile Royale," still wears the more homely and also more ancient name which was given to its most prominent Cape by some of those hardy Breton sailors who, from the very earliest times, ventured into the waters of the northern Continent. Louisbourg still reminds us of the existence of a powerful fortified town, intended to overawe the English in America and guard the approaches to the Laurentian Gulf and River. The Boularderie Island is a memento of a French Marquis, of whom we would never have heard were it not for the fact that his name still clings to this pretty green island which he once claimed as his seigneurie. The Bras d'Or yet attests the propriety of its title of "the Golden Arm," as we pass through its lovely inlets and its expansive lakes, surrounded by wooded heights and smiling farms.

The French had at best but a very precarious foothold in Acadia. At a few isolated points they raised some rudely constructed forts, around which, in the course of time, a number of settlers built huts and cultivated small farms. The rivalry between England and France commenced on the continent as soon as the British Colonies had made some progress, and prevented the French ever establishing' flourishing settlements all over Acadia. At no time was the French Government particularly enamored of a country which seemed to promi.se but a scanty harvest of profit to its proprietors; tor the history of Acadia shows that the Kings of France and their Ministers left its destinies for years in the hands of mere adventurers and traders. In the course of time they began to have some conception of the import.mce of Acadia as a base of operations against the aggressive New Englanders, and were forced at last, in self-defense, to build Louisbourg on the eastern coast of lie Royale. But then it was too late to retrieve the ground they had lost by their indifference during the early history of the country. Had the statesmen of France been gifted with practical foresight, they would have seen the possession of Acadia was an absolute necessity to a power which hoped to retain its dominion by the St. Lawrence and the great Lakes.

 

The Old Forts of Acadia, By J. G. Bourinot, The Canadian Monthly, and National Review, Vol. 5, May 1874

 

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