Acadian roots grow strong in New Brunswick.
Published May 2019
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.
To sample a mix of Acadian and French lifestyle, travel into the 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.
For a taste of urban Acadie, you’ll find francophone communities in major cities even outside traditionally Acadian regions. Centre Sainte-Anne in Fredericton, the Association communautaire francophone in Saint John and Carrefour Beausoleil in Miramichi are gathering places where francophones and francophiles meet for school, social activities and cultural events.
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 a multitude of family reunions; in fact, the event is informally known as the ‘Acadian Reunion’.
The 2019 Congress was co-hosted by southeastern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, which is the area around the Northumberland Strait. In the olden days, Acadians used to call this large body of water ‘La Mer Rouge’ (the Red Sea).
Experience the history of the Acadian people brought to life.
While Acadian culture has evolved into a creative and modern form of expression, it is deeply rooted in the experiences and traditions of the past. And there’s nowhere better to experience it than at these historical sites on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast.
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 more than 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 through 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 - two national historic properties on one island. Paddle there, just as the original settlers would have done centuries ago, or take the shuttle boat to the island and meet the ‘locals’ who appear as characters from the past, dressed in authentic costumes.
To learn even more about Acadian history as you travel along the coast, visit the Musée des Pionniers in Grande-Digue, a pioneer village including a lighthouse, a school, a family home and many exhibits. Stop at the beautiful historic church in Grand-Barachois, which now houses an art gallery, a museum and a concert hall, and meet the friendly guides at the Smokehouse Museum in Cap-Pelé.
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. Every August, this inviting town is home to the Festival acadien de Caraquet, 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.
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.
Ever heard of poutine? Forget the French fries, gravy and curd cheese mix. The Acadian poutine râpée is a boiled potato dumpling stuffed with a delicious centre of seasoned pork, and its taste is truly unique. It’s great on-the-go or as part of a hearty dinner.
A Brayon 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.
If you want to cook some of Acadie’s favourite foods in your own kitchen, have a look at these recipes.
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. It was the home of the first Congrès mondial acadien in 1994, and is again part of the host region for the 2019 CMA.
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.
There are many accommodations options along the Acadian Coast – beachside cottages are especially popular, so make sure to book early!
Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll receive a warm Acadian welcome. Ready to start planning? Use The Acadian Joyride road trip as your guide to experience New Brunswick’s Acadie.
Or plan your own adventure right now at