1a acadian history edited
Marshland Agriculture in Acadia
Name of the professor
Naomi Griffiths investigates the establishment and durability of the Acadian community and
how the Acadians varied from the inhabitants of New England and New France in the first
study to link the Acadian experience with the history of ideas carried out with them from
Europe. The expulsion of the Acadians from their homeland in 1755 was one of the
consequences of the battle between England and France for dominance over most North
America. Griffiths investigates the ramifications of this expulsion on the Acadian
community’s existence. Beginning in 1755, the British began the process of not only
evicting approximately 11,000 Acadians from their homes and farms in what was then known
as Nova Scotia but also of attempting to eradicate a culture that had taken root and survived
for over 120 years, despite repeated Anglo-American attacks and several transfers of political
control. Scholars have typically been hesitant, if not hostile, to the idea that seigneurialism
and practices connected to French land tenure persisted throughout the length of the
Acadians’ agricultural colonies around the Baie Française, subsequently the Bay of Fundy.
This article will claim that the Acadian agricultural practices allowed them to survive and
The seigneurial system in Acadie, according to Naomi Griffiths, “made nonsense of
any seigneurial structure as the foundation for land-ownership inside the colony” because of
the many periods of British rule in the province. Even more importantly, she saw a shift in
the power dynamic between nobles and gentry when “huge swaths of land became accessible
to colonization” in Europe’s eyes. According to John Reid, Acadian leaders’ disagreement
disrupted settlement growth and undermined any one of them’s capacity to enforce land
tenure. The book “The Contexts of Acadian History, 1686-1784” by Griffiths aims to connect
the experiences of Acadians to the views of European migrants who arrived in Acadia.
Acadian history is explored by Griffiths, who distinguishes the Acadians from their French
Griffiths, Naomi E.S.: Contexts of Acadian history, 1686, 1784. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University
Press. 1992. eBook., Database: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost).
And English counterparts. According to Griffiths, Acadians were expelled from their country
in 1755 due to the conflict between England and France over North America. This
expatriation has implications for the future of Acadian society, he concludes. Thus, the work
of Griffiths seeks to explain the history of Acadians straightforwardly and concisely.
The Acadian style of farming had a profound effect on the development of their way
of life. A fortunate outcome was that some French-speaking residents in the region were
already acquainted with the diking techniques used in France, and they were aware of the
tidal salt marshes’ potential for agriculture.
Acadians were referred to be “lazy” by the French and other newcomers to the area.
Due to their preference for cultivating highland forests and natural meadows and marshes,
they were known as défricheurs d’eau (literally, “clearers of water”). The boulders in the soil
were a problem for their New England counterparts. It is now clear that the marshlands were
more productive than the uplands would have been due to the agricultural practices practiced
during that period.
A good example of their cultural legacy is the usage of salt-marsh hay as livestock
feed, which is common in the region. While exploring the marshlands, the Acadians found
coarse salt hay (spartina) that had survived despite being swamped twice a day by the tides
since their arrival. The security and self-sufficiency of their communities were dependent on
the hay produced by these farmers.
There were no successful methods for spreading grass seed to grow hay as a field crop in
Britain when the Acadians arrived in Nova Scotia. The agricultural revolution was still in its
infancy. Even in the New World, it was normal practice to slaughter most of the farm
animals in the autumn since it was difficult to collect enough food to sustain them during the
2. Russell, peter A. How agriculture made Canada: farming in the nineteenth century, Vol. 1. Montreal:
McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2012. eBook., Database: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
winter months. ‘ Since fresh animals were needed in the spring to populate these kinds of
villages, they were completely dependent on outside sources of supplies.
When the Acadians encountered this dilemma, they turned to their indigenous marsh
grasses for help. The building of dikes and the draining and drying of marshes resulted in the
progressive replacement of coarser spartina, which had previously flourished on the tidal
flats, with finer grasses that eventually replaced it.
Despite the incoming tides, they continued to collect their salt hay on the seaward side
of the dikes, which was inundated at least twice a day in the spring, autumn, and winter, and
maybe every summer. As soon as they were through harvesting the hay, they stretched it out
on wooden platforms, known in English as staddles, to dry off. Although these staddles were
normally only built to a modest height to elevate the salt hay over the seasonal high tides,
they served a valuable function. Many cattle could be maintained in significant numbers
throughout the winter months since salt-marsh hay was readily accessible to the Acadians.
Before 1755, the Acadians maintained a mostly self-sufficient lifestyle on their
marshland farms. Because of their work, the land became fertile enough to sustain large-scale
production of grains such as wheat and barley, legumes and cereals such as maize and flax,
and industrial hemp cultivation. Besides that, they had gardens in which they grew a
variety of vegetables and herbs such as beetroot, carrot, parsnip, onion, chives, shallots, and
salad greens, among other things. According to the findings, cabbages and turnips have
played a substantial part in their dietary composition.
3. Dick, Lyle, and Jeff Taylor, “History of Agriculture to the Second World War .”In The Canadian
Encyclopedia. Last modified May 1, 2015. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/historyof-agriculture.
The Acadians raised cattle and sheep. During the winter, the Acadians would cover
their cabbage and turnip leaves with straw and feed the pigs in the forest behind their homes,
where the pigs foraged kitchen leftovers and their waste. To maintain their cattle for milking,
working (i.e., oxen), and trading, they ate a lot of pork and very little beef. Hunting and
fishing helped the Acadians augment their meager agricultural output. Even their spruce and
fir beer was homebrewed. Despite their hardships, they lived a fulfilling existence in a place
they understood and did work for them.
In conclusion, the book written by the Acadian historian, Griffiths, provides a
thorough description of the history of Acadians and their characteristics and experiences.
Acadians may be traced back to France, Scotland, and England, although most of their
ancestors came from France. In 1755, most Acadians were deported, separating them from
the rest of the British possessions. The Acadian community held strong despite the expulsion.
Griffith’s study successfully shows how the Acadian people differentiated from French and
English people in their development and survival. The removal of Acadians from their
homelands resulted from the conflict between France and England. This expulsion had dire
consequences for the Acadian people that Griffiths’ work illuminates.
Andrew, Sheila M. The development of elites in Acadia New Brunswick, 1861,1882, Vol. 24.
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1996. eBook., Database: eBook Collection
Dick, Lyle, and Jeff Taylor, “History of Agriculture to the Second World War .”In The Canadian
Encyclopedia. Last modified May 1, 2015.
Farming saltwater. Beaver. Jun/Jul2006, Vol. 86 Issue 3, p32-32.
Griffiths, Naomi E.S.: Contexts of Acadian history,1686,1784. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s
University Press. 1992. eBook., Database: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost).
Marsh, J. H. (Ed.). (1999). The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Russell, peter A. How agriculture made Canada: farming in the nineteenth century, Vol. 1.
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2012. eBook., Database: eBook Collection