Acadian Culture in New Brunswick
Follow the red, white, blue, and gold on a stirring cultural adventure.
Acadian roots grow strong in New Brunswick.
The Acadian presence in New Brunswick dates back to the 17th century. After the mid-18th century, more areas of the province became a haven for French settlers escaping British rule. While the history of the Acadian people has often been tumultuous, their spirit has endured.
From the Acadian Peninsula to the Acadia of the Southeast, the Acadian lifestyle has been shaped by the sea, and a blissful backdrop of coastal islands, lighthouses and seaside cottages provide an idyllic setting for a vacation filled with Acadian cultural experiences.
But Acadian culture is more than the coast. To sample a different type of Acadian lifestyle, travel into the hearty woods and farming lands of northwestern New Brunswick. Here you’ll meet the Brayons, whose distinct language, cuisine and way of life can be experienced throughout the legendary Republic of Madawaska.
The Acadian Reunion
Acadians come together in New Brunswick
That enduring spirit we mentioned? It’s the real deal. Acadian family ties are strong despite the physical distance between communities. The expulsion of the Acadians by the British from 1755-1764 saw Acadians deported to various American colonies, England, and the Caribbean; others ended their long journey in Quebec (more than a million Quebeckers have Acadian roots), elsewhere in Canada, and in France. Some of these displaced communities contributed to the founding of the modern Cajun population (the word ‘Acadien’ evolved to ‘Cadien’, then to ‘Cajun’).
Acadians reunite at the Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress), a festival of Acadian and Cajun culture and history held every five years where the heart and soul of what it means to be Acadian is on full display. The Congress hosts an abundance of family reunions; in fact, the event is informally known as the ‘Acadian Reunion’.
The 2019 Congress is being co-hosted in southeastern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, collectively called ‘La Mer Rouge’ for the purposes of the event (a nod to the old Acadian name for the Northumberland Strait).
Experience the history of the Acadian people brought to life.
While Acadian culture has evolved, it’s deeply rooted in the experiences and traditions of the past. And there’s nowhere better to experience it than in these historical sites in New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula.
Delight your inner historian at the Village historique acadien, an all-ages destination that brings to life the ancestral customs and traditional trades of Acadians from 1770 to 1949. Help with farm chores, take an Acadian cooking class, or explore the 55+ historic buildings to learn from costumed interpreters. It’s the perfect way to experience a day in the life of Acadie.
Celebrate the Acadian way of life at Le Pays de la Sagouine, a place of entertaining performance art based on the much-loved play La Sagouine by New Brunswick Acadian author, Antonine Maillet. The play, written in Acadian French, tells the story of la Sagouine, an Acadian housekeeper from rural New Brunswick. Live shows featuring la Sagouine and an eclectic mix of characters played by professional actors and musicians take place at the fictional l’Île-aux-Puces. Acadian culture is brought to life in an unforgettable experience of live music, Acadian stories and accents, and Acadian food.
Step back in time at Beaubears Island and nearby Wilsons Point, where the Acadians sought refuge from 1756 to 1760. Together, these sites form Boishébert National Historic Site of Canada - two national historic properties on one island. Paddle there, just as the original settlers would have done centuries ago, and meet the ‘locals’ who appear as characters from the past, dressed in authentic costumes.
Joie De Vivre
The joy of living is abundant in Acadie.
Literally the ‘joy of living’, joie de vivre means so much more. It’s about delighting in the moment you’re in and relishing the people around you.
And no one does it better than the Acadians. Their love of life is infectious – come for a visit and you’ll find yourself welcomed with open arms into Acadian festivals, gatherings, and even homes.
Caraquet, New Brunswick is THE place to make some noise and join in the celebration of Acadian culture. This inviting town is home to the Festival acadien de Caraquet every August, which closes on National Acadian Day with the biggest party in Acadie - the Grand Tintamarre! Get decked out in Acadian colours, grab anything that makes noise (bells, drums, horns, pots, spoons), and join a parade of more than 20,000 people in an Acadian cultural celebration like no other. National Acadian Day events take place across the province every year on August 15th.
Food of Acadie
Bring your appetite and get ready to dig in.
There’s no shortage of “gotta eat this” food in New Brunswick. Sure, New Brunswick lobster is known the world over, but there are all kinds of Acadian comfort foods that can be found in the restaurants, food shacks, and kitchens of Acadie.
Does it really count as an Acadian road trip if you don’t eat some poutine râpée? This boiled potato dumpling is stuffed with a delicious centre of seasoned pork and is perfect on-the-go or as part of a hearty dinner.
Perhaps the most famous Acadian food, chicken fricot puts a distinctly Acadian spin on the classic chicken and dumplings. Seasoned with summer savoury, this dish will hit the spot no matter the season.
A Brayonne favourite from the northwestern corner of the province, ployes are a hearty buckwheat pancake cooked without flipping, creating lots of tiny holes on the top, perfect for butter, sugar, maple syrup or molasses to seep into. Try them at La Foire Brayonne, one of the largest Francophone festivals east of Quebec.
Stay in Acadie
Make yourself at home and stay a while.
Whether it’s a Victorian hotel or a seaside Airbnb, the hotels, inns, and cottages of the Acadian Peninsula are as individual and unique as the people you’ll meet.
Journey back in time and experience the charm and quiet of an early 20th century-style hotel when you stay at Hôtel Château Albert (pictured above), located in the Village historique acadien. An exact replica of a turn-of-the-century hotel near Caraquet, the hotel even forgoes TVs and phones in the rooms in the name of authenticity (but don’t worry, there’s still Wi-Fi).
A stunning example of Acadian architecture, Hotel Paulin in Caraquet is still owned by the family who built it in 1891, making it one of the oldest family-operated hotels in Canada.
All you need to know about Les Chalets de la Plage is right in the name – cottages on the beach. Whether you’re looking for a lobster lunch at a lighthouse or a day of sunbathing and swimming, it’s all just steps away when you stay at this spot in Bas-Caraquet.
Le Griffon Bed & Breakfast is an elegant Victorian villa located in the town of Shediac, just a short walk from Canada’s warmest saltwater beach. Shediac is rich in Acadian history and the home of the first Congrès mondial acadien.
Experience the natural beauty of the Acadian Isles with a stay at La Maison Bleue in Haut-Lamèque. Savour spectacular sunsets and succulent seafood in this idyllic seaside escape. Then wake up refreshed and ready to explore the unspoilt beauty of the Acadian Peninsula’s eco-park.
Exclusive Acadian Experiences
Excursions, tours, and adventures with local Acadian hosts.
Want to REALLY get to know New Brunswick’s Acadian culture? Try these exclusive experiences with local Acadian hosts. You won’t find these anywhere else.
This interactive dance and music workshop with an Acadian step dancer.
This Acadian cultural experience and spirits tasting with the distillery owners.
This kayaking and shellfish harvesting excursion on the Acadian Peninsula with a local expert.
This cooking workshop and 3-course meal with an Acadian chef.
This exploration of the origin of the Acadian flag in the town where it was born.
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