Excerpts from 1,100-word article


St Martinsville, Louisiana: Beneath a 300 years old oak tree the Romero brothers, Lenais and Ophe, sit playing their accordion and triangle as they do most days in this sleepy part of town. Nearby, the Bayou Teche is quiet and sluggish, and I am hard pressed to visualize times when 3,000 Acadians expelled from Nova Scotia found refuge on these shores........

Louisiana bears little resemblance to the Annapolis Valley farmlands from which the Acadians were banished. In 1605 theirs had been the first permanent European settlement north of Florida. They didn't rob the land of its fur-bearing animals but instead created arable land from existing marshes. They built large earthen dikes along the shores, and soon had herds of cattle grazing on former marshlands. They grew prodigious wheat crops, established productive orchards and vegetable gardens. And they bothered no one.

It all changed after 1713 when Grand Pre became a British possession. A French attempt to re-take the lands had the British so worried their commander issued an ultimatum: all must swear allegiance to the crown or be deported. In that one year alone some 6,000 residents of French origin were expelled from lands settled by their forefathers. Some found their way to Louisiana, where they became known as "Cajuns".