Today, August 15th, is National Acadian Day. One of the ways to celebrate is by Tintamarre -- walk in the streets with the Acadian flag and make a loud noise. Use instruments or bang pots and pans, have fun and celebrate Acadian culture. August 15th was chose as National Acadian Day because it is the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Assumption, the patron saint of the Acadians.
In Albert County, NB, Acadians created the groundwork (literally) for our communities. Acadian settlers converted wetlands and forest into productive farmland – land that was later used by immigrants from Germany, the British Isles and the United States.
In 1698, Pierre Thibodeau and his seven sons, along with Pierre Gaudet, settled in Shepody or Chipoudie (between Hopewell Cape and Riverside-Albert). The men and their descendants cleared land. After cutting down trees, limbs and logs that weren’t used were burned. The ashes were spread on the land and helped to “sweeten” the soil (reduce acidity in the same way that an application of lime does).
In the marshlands, they dug canals, built dykes and made “aboiteaux.” This ingenious system involves a wooden box in the dyke between land and saltwater. The wooden flag moves only one way – it allows fresh water to drain from the crop land but doesn’t allow seawater to contaminate fields.
We don’t know exactly what crops were grown in Shepody, but in 1689 Acadian settlers near Aulac and Beaubassin raised cattle, sheep and hogs and grew rye, flax, barley, hemp, corn and tobacco. Water wheels were used to grind grain into flour. It is likely the farmers in Shepody grew the same or similar crops.
The Acadians were forced off their land by the British in the expulsion of 1755. Signs of their time on the land can be seen across Albert County – in the dykes and drained fields, some still used for farming.
On National Acadian Day, we can take time to honour our past and celebrate Acadian culture. Honk your horn, wave a flag and enjoy a great meal.
This is part of Growing Together – a project which celebrates Canada's 150th year through food, seeds and stories! This has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.