A tragic saga of conflict and human suffering — and the survival of a people

This is the story of one of the great crimes of history, a brutal act of ethnic cleansing committed two and a half centuries ago. More than 10,000 men, women and children were removed from their homeland at gunpoint and sent into exile. They were stripped of the farms that had nurtured and sustained their families for four generations. Their homes and most of their possessions were burned. Five thousand of these unfortunate people, maybe more, died of disease and deprivation or perished in shipwrecks. The destitute survivors were scattered along the east coast of North America or wound up in the port cities of England and France; some sought refuge in the jungles of South America or as far away as the windswept barrens of the Falkland Islands. Family and friends were separated, never to be reunited. Children were taken from their parents to work as servants or apprentices. An entire generation knew nothing but the squalor of refugee camps and prisons, the humiliation of enslavement, and the uncertainty of a nomadic life…


Acadie (present-day Nova Scotia) in the 1750s

The scene of this crime was the northeastern corner of North America, what is now the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The victims were the descendants of the region’s French settlers, who called themselves Acadians and their homeland Acadie. They were proud, stubborn and self-reliant, their communities tight-knit through bonds of family and marriage …. Geography and history conspired to trap the Acadians in the crossfire as France and Britain fought for supremacy over North America. Time and again Acadie changed hands, finally falling under British rule in 1710. By 1755, with France and Britain on the verge of fighting yet another war, acting governor Charles Lawrence demanded that the Acadians swear allegiance to the British. He would accept nothing less than complete loyalty. When the Acadians asked to be considered neutrals, to be exempted from fighting their old masters to defend their new ones, Lawrence had the pretext he needed to banish them from their homeland ….

The deportation was a human catastrophe on a scale unprecedented in Canada and perhaps the darkest chapter in the nation’s history. It was calculated to destroy a people and wipe out a distinct culture, but it failed. The Acadians were too tough and too resilient. Their ordeal became the catalyst for a cultural revival and a resurgence of national pride. Today, there are an estimated three million Acadian descendants worldwide. Acadians who escaped deportation and those who returned established new communities in Atlantic Canada, where they now number close to 300,000. Thousands of deportees made their way to Louisiana, where the name Acadian was shortened to Cajun and the new surroundings forged a distinct new culture. More than a half-million Americans, most of them in Louisiana and eastern Texas, are descendants of these refugees.

Ceremony near Grand-Pre, N.S., marking the 250th anniversary of the first deportations in 1755 (Dean Jobb photo)


Ceremony near Grand-Pre, N.S., marking the 250th anniversary of the first deportations in 1755 (Dean Jobb photo)

This year, 2005, marks the 250th anniversary of the deportation of the Acadians. It is as good a time as any to take stock, to examine what we know about this pivotal event in the development of North America and what the Acadians can teach us about survival and belonging. It is a story filled with heroes and villains as well as ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary events …. Deportation and exile did not destroy the Acadians as a people. They survived against incredible odds. They preserved a vibrant culture, a zest for life, and a deep respect for their heritage. This is a story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of cruelty and unimaginable hardship. This is the story of the Acadians and the Cajuns (from the introduction)


Read the Google Books excerpt.

Shortlisted for the City of Dartmouth Book Award and the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary Award for Non-Fiction


The Acadians / The Cajuns

The Cajuns: A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph
(U.S. title, hardcover)

The Acadians: A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph
(paperback)

By Dean Jobb
(Published by John Wiley & Sons, 2005)

Looking for a copy?

New and used copies of both editions may be available from:

Chapters
(The Acadians) (The Cajuns),

Amazon
(The Acadians) (The Cajuns)

Barnes & Noble
(The Cajuns).


Praise for The Acadians/The Cajuns

“Jobb writes with a passionate conviction that their story as a founding people of this country has been long neglected by everyone but academic historians. And he marries a historian’s fidelity to research and detail with a journalist’s ability to tell a story with verve, colour and attention to the human elements beneath the historical record. Popular history just doesn’t get much better than this.”
— Winnipeg Free Press

“(A) lively, popular account by a respected Halifax writer.”
— The Globe and Mail

“… the best book on the subject we may ever see …. vivid descriptions make the reader feel he or she was present at the event…. This book should be in every provincial library branch and every high school. It should be read not only by people of Acadian descent, but by all who are interested in North American history. Best of all, it can be read as a story – an epic tale which happens to be true.”
— Charlottetown Guardian

“Dean Jobb … utilise un style littéraire approprié pour nous faire revivre l’histoire du peuple Acadien …. je recommande fortement la lecture de ce livre, intéressant, émouvant, facile à lire et ayant une couverture plus globale de l’histoire acadienne.”
— Rootsweb

“Dean Jobb … puts his well-honed research skills to dazzling use in The Acadians … well paced and impassioned … The action slides back and forth from the founding days of Acadie to its revived, vibrant reality along Canada’s East Coast and south into Louisiana. Through this graceful merging of past and present, Jobb highlights the strong, persevering spirit that has characterized the Acadian culture to this day.”
— Atlantic Books Today

“A story well-told …. An easily read and historically accurate account of those gloomy events of 250 years ago. I can particularly recommend it to anyone who wants to get a grasp on just what the dispersion was all about … (Jobb) is a better storyteller than most of the academics, and he tells the story through the eyes of real people, including the scholars but also the everyday descendants of the Acadians in both Canada and Louisiana.”
— The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, La.

“… sheds new light on one of the darkest periods in the history of the Maritime provinces.”
— Cape Breton Post

“… challenges the opinion that the deportation was both inevitable and deserved …. His style is accessible and engaging, and he often describes historical events as if he had been an eyewitness. This book is interlaced with his first-hand interviews with tour guides, descendents of Acadians, scholars, genealogists – people with a strong interest in or a connection to the Acadian story … this gives a sense of immediacy to a 250-year-old story and makes it resonate with the reader of today.”
— Saint John Telegraph Journal

“Jobb’s book … is a celebration of the spirit of the Acadians. It’s about people who overcame horrendous, brutal treatment because of their resilience and will to survive.”
— Caitlin McIntyre, Charlottetown Guardian

“In his previous books, Jobb has demonstrated his ability to dramatize historical events and make them engrossing and relevant to a general audience …. That talent is very evident in The Acadians. Whether he is dramatizing historical events, like the takeover of the deportation ship Pembroke by a handful of Acadians, led by Charles Belliveau, or interviewing their modern day descendants, like Jim Bradshaw, a funloving Cajun from Lafayette, Jobb does an excellent job of making their suffering and struggle real and demonstrating the pride their ancestors still feel for their heritage.”
— The Chronicle Herald

“Of the numerous books on the Acadians, Dean Jobb’s The Acadians, subtitled A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph, is simply the best this reviewer has seen…. it collects what seems to be everything ever written about its subject and presents it for the general reader in a way that’s both clear and interesting. Even those who have read a good deal about the Acadians will learn something new from this book. And they will come to understand parts of Acadian history which previously appeared confusing.
— Elizabeth Cran, Saint John Telegraph-Journal

“Of the numerous books on the Acadians, Dean Jobb’s The Acadians, subtitled A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph, is simply the best this reviewer has seen…. it collects what seems to be everything ever written about its subject and presents it for the general reader in a way that’s both clear and interesting. Even those who have read a good deal about the Acadians will learn something new from this book. And they will come to understand parts of Acadian history which previously appeared confusing.
— Elizabeth Cran, Saint John Telegraph-Journal

“ … portrays ruthless accounts of human suffering that took place 250 years ago on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.”
— Halifax Daily News