The Acadians were the first French settlers who came to the east coast of Canada in the 1600s. They were farmers, many of whom came from western France, which was environmentally similar to Acadia. To the English, they were just ‘the French’ and became part of the bitter rivalry between the two cultures as the land now known as Canada was settled.
The river was the major avenue of communication for the early Acadians was the river, and the canoe was the main mode of transport. The canoes were made mainly of bark and could have been dugout of one large piece of wood and bark. Today’s canoes are made of a different material, but are essentially the same design.
The Acadian people maintained a traditional farming and fishing lifestyle for centuries, recreated today at the Village Historique Acadien in Caraquet. It is set up like an 18th century village, with workers in period costumes reflecting the kind of life the Acadians would have lead over 200 years ago.
The village’s 45 restored historic buildings, including several working farms covering an area of 364 ha. (900 acres). You can ride on a horse-drawn wagon, watch the work of the blacksmith, print shop, flour mill, baker, or weaver.
Since its inception almost 50 years ago, the Festival Acadien has showcased everything Acadian. Every year 25,000 to 35,000Acadians, Cajuns from Louisiana, and visitors from all over the world, converge on Caraquet to celebrate their vibrant cultural heritage. It has become not only thr cultural event of Acadia but also a major tourist attraction.
Each year, in August the Festival presents more than 200 artists – musicians, actors, dancers, writers, and singers who compete at the “Gala de la Chanson” – a showbiz springboard for talented Acadian performers. It takes in the noisy, colourful and flamboyant celebration .