French explorers began settling in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve as early as 1605 with the construction of the Habitation at Port Royal. It was to be the first European settlement north of Florida in the New World. French settlers followed throughout the region that became known as Acadia. Overlapping claims to the land followed with England granting the territory to Sir William Alexander in 1621. In 1629 about seventy Scots arrived and settled in the area near present day town of Annapolis Royal.
“Acadie” was returned to France in 1632, but the name “Nova Scotia”, the flag and the coat of arms remain. In 1713 when the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, mainland Nova Scotia was given to England for the last time. Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal and remained the capital of Nova Scotia until Halifax was founded in 1749. The Acadians living in the region remained until 1755.
With war again brewing between Britain and France, they were considered a risk by the British Authorities. Beginning in 1755, Acadians were displaced from their lands and sent to the Thirteen Colonies to the south, Britain or France. Their homes were burned and livestock confiscated. After 1764, they were allowed to return. Some found the rich farmlands lands they had left had been taken over by English settlers and took up residence along the shores of St Mary’s Bay on the Bay of Fundy.
These lands became the Acadian ‘Concession’ in the current Municipality of Clare. Other Acadians from the Pubnico area were permitted to return to the lands they had left. Pubnico remains the longest continuously settled Acadian area. Learn more at national historic parks at Fort Anne and the Habitation, Le Village historique Acadien de la Novelle Écosse, the Musée Acadien & Archives in West Pubnico and the Rendez-vous de la baie visitors centre in Church Point.
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