With a charter from King Henri IV of France in hand, Pierre Dugua, sieur de Monts, began the settlement of Acadie in 1604. In less than 150 years, it became a flourishing colony, 15,000 strong, first under the French regime and then, after 1713, under English control. In 1755, the British authorities, seeing the growth of the Acadians as a threat to their colonization plans, carried out a systematic expulsion of the Acadian people.
It was the beginning of the great upheaval, in which the Acadians were uprooted, scattered and condemned to wander for over a half-century. Several thousand Acadians were deported on ships that carried them to the Anglo-American colonies, to England and to France. Others escaped the turmoil by taking refuge in the woods or fleeing to remote areas. A third of the population perished at sea or, destitute, succumbed to illness and famine.
Some families found a home in the land of exile; others wandered across the continent and sank new roots elsewhere, mainly in Quebec and Louisiana. Most never saw their beloved homeland again. By the end of the 1760s, there were fewer than 2,000 survivors in Acadie. With courage and determination, they rebuilt the community, laying the foundations for a new Acadie. Today, Acadians are unique, proud and dynamic people, whose branches extend around the world.