Acadia, (French: Acadie), a former French colony along the Atlantic coast of North America. The area has become the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but at one time included part of what is now Maine. For more than a century, this region was involved in the Anglo-French struggle for control of North America.

AcadiaAcadia was a French colony along the Atlantic coast of North America.

The first settlement was made at Port Royal by the French under Samuel de Champlain, the Sieur de Monts, and Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt in 1605. In 1613 Samuel Argall, an English adventurer, set fire to the town and carried off several of its inhabitants. In 1621 Acadia was claimed by the English, on the basis of the 15th-century explorations of John Cabot, and named Nova Scotia. The colony was ceded back to France in 1632, and French colonization was renewed. Warfare between the English and French continued, however, and in 1710 the British took possession of Acadia. This conquest was confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). The French government then attempted, unsuccessfully, to persuade the Acadians to move to nearby Cape Breton Island, which remained under French control.

The peaceful, hard-working, religious French Acadians tried to remain neutral in the continuing wars between France and Great Britain. Their number, about 1,800 in 1713, had increased to about 10,000 by 1750. The British feared that the Acadians would support France and encourage the Indians to help the French. In 1755 the Acadians were directed to take an oath of allegiance to Britain, but refused. They were then ordered expelled.

Longfellow's poem Evangeline is based on the story of the Acadian deportation. Some 6,000 Acadians were shipped off to British colonies to the south. Families were separated; homes were burned. Enduring much hardship, many found their way to Louisiana, where their descendants, the Cajuns, still live. Other Acadians drifted back to Canada and some returned to France.