July 13, 2014
I have very distinctly made it to Acadian territory traveling through eastern Quebec and New Brunswick. And at an auspicious time too as this region, communities in both Maine and New Brunswick, is about to host the quinquennial Acadian World Congress. Unfortunately, the actual festivities will be later in the summer. The French tricolors with a gold star in the blue field is everywhere and on everything. Someone even painted three moose antlers and hung them from a tree! I was vaguely aware of Acadian history didn’t realize how strongly Acadians identified with their heritage or just how prevalent these communities remain in the Maritimes (and New England, Louisiana, and Texas).
Acadians are descendants of 17th century French settlers around the Bay of Fundy. They developed strong relationships with local First Nation communities so many Acadies are Métis. Separated from French Quebec, they were often caught between the warring French and English leading to the great expulsion in 1775 during the Seven Years War; the English, who control the areas in which the Acadie lived, suspected them of aiding the French. Deported to France and then convinced by the Spanish to settle in Louisiana, they are the ancestors of Cajun culture. After the French stopped playing the North America game, the British government lost interest in Acadians who were then left to resettle, only a few got their original land back.
I regret my lack of French as I would love to hear Acadian French. There’s a whole group of old men animatedly quatschen beside me. Separated from France and L’Académie française, their language has developed distinctly from Parisian French. Apparently it retains some elements of French from colonial times that are no longer standard. In some ways it’s probably similar to Mennonite plautdeutsch or the high German in the colonies. They are almost incomprehensible to contemporary Germans. Towards the end of this trip I plan to cycle along the Evangeline Trail in Nova Scotia named after the Longfellow poem about the Acadian Expulsion by the same name. So I will probably return to the Acadian story.
Road Report: 72km
The trail gets a little rough towards the end but brings you to Edmundston, NB. From there the 144 is relatively quiet with no truck traffic and only local cars. It’s advertised as a river scenic drive but I’m afraid it is not the King’s Road along the St Lawrence. Coming out of Quebec, the scenery takes a very noticeable dive.
Bonus Points Answer: a Ha! Ha! is a landscape feature in which a drop in elevation, usually achieved with a wall or ditch, creates a continues view from formal lawns to surrounding pastures. The Ha! Ha! prevents animals from getting onto the lawn but from the lawn it looks like it’s all pasture. And the name is a reference to the surprise of realizing the landscape feature on closer observation.