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The Acadian Heritage and Cultural Museum seeks to preserve and promote the Cajun culture and heritage, which was wholly developed in North America almost 400 years ago.The Acadian Museum, located in Erath, Louisiana, is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the region, the "Old Bank of Erath." It is a repository of rare Cajun-related documents, artifacts, and memorabilia, which are showcased in its three rooms – the Erath Room, Acadian Room, and Cajun Room.The Erath Room exhibits the history of Erath township through its collection of photographs complete with ancient legends.Displayed items in the Acadian Room portray the Acadian history from 1603 to their dispersal in 1755. A handmade replica of “The Habitation at Port Royal,” the first settlement in North America, is the most noteworthy among the exhibits.The third room – the Cajun Room – reveals artifacts pertaining to the Cajun settlement on the prairies, marshes, and bayous of Vermilion Parish and beyond.For research scholars, the museum collections are available for reference and reading on prior appointment. The Acadian Museum also maintains an annex at Lake Peigneur.The building and the museum has been officially recognized to be of historical significance by the State of Louisiana.
From Acadian to Cajun
Bousillage, a mixture of Spanish moss and mud, was the Louisiana version of traditional building methods used in Acadie and in France.
The three Acadian cultural centers of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve share the stories and customs of the Acadians who came to Louisiana and became the Cajuns, people proud of their French roots who adapted to a new land and a new life.
The Acadian story begins in France. The people who would become the Cajuns came primarily from the rural areas of the Vendee region of western France. In 1604, they began settling in Acadie, now Nova Scotia, Canada, where they prospered as farmers and fishers.
Over the next century, the ownership of the colony of Acadie changed hands several times. In 1713 Great Britain acquired permanent control of Acadie, but many Acadians did not become cooperative British subjects, preferring to maintain their independence and refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown and church.
In 1755 the British began the removal of the Acadians from their homeland. The "outlaws" were taken into custody by a British officer, then herded onto British ships setting sail for destinations unknown to the exiles. Le Grand Dérangement dispersed the Acadians to France, the Caribbean, Britain, and to British colonies along North America’s east coast.
Many of the exiles were unhappy in their new homes and moved on. Some of them found their way to south Louisiana and began settling in the rural areas west of New Orleans. By the early 1800s, nearly 4000 Acadians had arrived and settled in Louisiana.
Many lived in the bayou country where they hunted, fished, trapped, and lived off the bounty of the Mississippi River delta. Some moved beyond the Atchafalaya Basin onto southwest Louisiana’s prairies to raise cattle and rice. The new arrivals learned new skills and shared what they brought with them with the many peoples already in the area: American Indians, free people of color, enslaved Africans and their descendants, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, and North and South America.
The Acadians became Cajuns as they adapted to their new home and its people. Their French changed as did their architecture, music, and food. The Cajuns of Louisiana today are renowned for their music, their food, and their ability to hold on to tradition while making the most of the present.
The Museum of the Acadian Memorial
The Museum of the Acadian Memorial features interactive exhibits, the Acadian Odyssey Quilt and images from the Claude Picard Deportation Series housed at the Grand-Pré National Historic Site.
“Acadian Migration to Louisiana, 1794 - 1809” is an interactive audio presentation which depicts the Odyssey of six journeys of ten Acadian families. Jolene Adam, past curator/director, founders Janie Bulliard and Pat Resweber worked with Jules Babineaux of Exhibits, Etc. to create the project using research from Dr. Carl Brasseaux, past Director of the Center for Louisiana Studies at ULL. Jolene Adam is the voice telling of the journey in French and English. This element is now connected with the Deportation Cross.
WE INVITE YOU TO VISIT
The museum is located next door to the Memorial building in the St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center. It shares the Center with the African American Museum. Both Acadians and Africans were uprooted from their homelands, and both contributed to Louisiana's growth and unique cultures.
Come for an hour or stay for the day. The choice is yours with a Nova Scotia Museum Annual Pass.
A Guide to Acadian Canada
Acadia itself may not exist anymore, but it is still possible to visit Acadian communities across the Canadian Maritimes.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island all have numerous Acadian communities and each has their own special way to help you experience Acadian culture.The coastline in Clare County, Nova Scotia
Where are the Acadians in Canada
Because of the deportation in 1755, Acadians can be found over the world. In Canada, around 70,000 people identify as Acadian.
If you travel across the Canadian Maritimes, the biggest concentration of Acadians can be found in and around:
- The northeastern shore of New Brunswick, particularly on the Acadian Peninsula
- Edmundston, New Brunswick
- Clare County on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia
- Chéticamp on Cape Breton
- The Evangeline region (southwestern coast) of Prince Edward Island
- Îles de la Madeleine in Quebec
The Acadian Flag
The Acadian flag
You will know when you get in to an Acadian community when you start seeing the Acadian flag in front of every house.
The Acadian flag looks like the French tricolor, but with the yellow star in the blue part of the flag. The blue, white, red tricolor flag represent our French roots and the yellow star represents Mary, the Acadian National symbol.
The Acadian flag was adopted in August 15 1884.
Grande Anse Lighthouse, Acadian Peninsula
The Acadian language
Most Acadians still speak french or what you may call a dialect of French. If you speak French and can pick up the subtly of the language, you will notice that depending on where you are the dialect can change a lot.
- The Acadian Peninsula has a very mild accent.
- Acadians from Edmundston speak Brayon.
- The Acadians from the Shediac and Moncton area have a dialect called Chiac (a mixture of French and English)
- The dialect of Acadians from Clare Country in Nova Scotia is an interesting mixture of old French, English and native Mi&rsquokmaq called St Mary&rsquos Bay French.
Of these, Chiac is probably the best known. Many people assume that all Acadians speak Chiac &ndash this is not true.
The religion of the Acadians
The first Acadians were Catholics and this is something that is still very present in the landscape of the Maritime Acadian regions. You will see church spires many kilometers before you even see sign of a town or a village. Some of the church are a bit quirky and others are just majestic.
inside the vibrant Sainte-Cècile Church in Lameque, Acadian Peninsula
The music scene has always been big in Acadian culture. It would not be uncommon for everyone in a traditional Acadian family to know how to play an instrument (and Acadians usually have big families)!
Multiple families would gather together to have what we call a kitchen party. The fiddle, guitar, accordion and spoons can usually be heard in traditional Acadian music.
You don&rsquot even have to wait for the Acadian Festival to hear some traditional music. Take a trip Abram Village on Prince Edward Island where they offer twice daily performances by local Acadian artists.
Traditional music with a twist at the Acadian Festival, Caraquet
Traditional Acadian food is not what you may call fine cuisine but more of a good hearty meal. All regions have specialties but here are some example of common foods you might want to try:
- Boiled salted cod. This is rarely made in restaurants but you can still find it on special occasions. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, pork belly fried with onions and, (if you are lucky) cod liver.
- Biscuits and molasses. Molasses was a staple in the Acadian pantry. This dish is not so common in restaurants but if you do see biscuits and molasses on the menu you should definitely give it a try!
- Poutine Râpée. This is not to be confused with the Quebec poutine which is gravy, cheese and fr ies. Poutine Râpée is a potato dumpling stuffed with pork. You will find this one in along New Brunswick&rsquos Acadian coastline, south of the Acadian Peninsula.
- Rappie pie: You will find rappie pie in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The rappie pie is more like a casserole with the main ingredient being grated potatoes.
- Ploye pancakes. This is something you are more likely find in the Edmunston, New Brunswick, region. Those buckwheat pancakes are cooked only on one side and are best served with molasses.
- Lobster rolls. This is probably not what my ancestors used to eat but lobster rolls are a staple dish in a lot of Acadian takeouts.
- Fried clams. Again, not quite traditional but a modern Acadian classic. They&rsquore also my favourite so I figured fried clams should get a mention. You will find them at roadside fastfood stops.
Acadian historical sites and museums in the Maritimes
If you are curious to learn more about the history of the Acadians, there are plenty of historical sites you can explore in the Maritimes.
Grand-Pré was a major hub for Acadians in Nova Scotia until the deportation in 1755. Now it is a National Historic Site and museum
Le Village historique acadien in Caraquet is a living museum portrays the way of life for many Acadians between 1770 to 1949. There are live actors, historical buildings and a restaurant with traditional meals. It is possible to stay overnight at the Hôtel Château Albert.
The meadows and views of Grand-Pré Historic Site
There is a smaller but still very interesting Acadian Historical Village in Pubnico in Nova Scotia. The 17 acre village demonstrates the life of Acadian fishermen and their families in the region in the early 20th century.
Visiting the Abram Village and the Village Musical Acadien on Prince Edward Island is a great way to see talented local Acadian musicians playing traditional music. There is also an onsite restaurant serving traditional Acadian food at reasonable prices.
Le Pays de la Sagouine is a reenactment of Acadian culture in Boutouche, New Brunswick. Based on the novels by Antonine Maillet, Le Pays de la Sagouine features musical performances and dinner theatre.
Acadian Historical Village in Pubnico, Nova Scotia
Acadian Heritage and Cultural Museum - History
The Acadian Museum has a lot to offer the casual visitor, as well as serious historians of the Cajun culture. Use this page and the links below to learn more about us:
The Acadian Museum
203 South Broadway
Erath, Louisiana 70533
Located in the heart of Cajun country in Erath, Louisiana, the Acadian Museum commemorates and honors the Acadian heritage and Cajun people of Louisiana.
The Acadian Museum strives to preserve a culture and heritage that has endured for over 400 years, both here and in the far reaches of Canada. The unique Cajun/Creole culture, along with the Native American culture, are the only cultures that wholly developed in North America. The term Cajun is the anglicized pronunciation of the French word 'Cadien, which is what the Acadians called themselves when they arrived in Louisiana, as far back as 1764.
Organizational Structure: The Acadian Museum of Erath, a part of the non-profit Acadian Heritage and Cultural Foundation, Inc., was founded in 1990 to promote awareness and appreciation of the mixed Prairie/Bayou Acadian culture of Vermilion Parish, which has a larger percentage of French speakers than any other county in the United States. The museum preserves and displays material traces of the history and folklore of this region, featuring exhibits about Acadian/Cajun politicians, musicians, religion, folklore, military, ranching, trapping and traditional life ways, including both domestic skills and traditional outdoor occupations.
Collection Overview: All exhibits in the Erath Room are in French and English. The Acadian Room has many rare Acadian artifacts dating to the 17th century and contains an exhibit on Joseph &ldquoBeausoleil&rdquo Broussard, leader of the first Acadians to migrate to Louisiana in 1765. The extensive collection in the Prairie Bayou Room of research materials on Cajun history, exhibits and genealogy are open to the public without charge. (read more)
A Shared Heritage
Maine Acadians share beliefs and experiences tying them to a common religion, languages, and history. The St. John River, land, and family are essential to their culture. The National Park Service supports the Maine Acadian Heritage Council, an association of historical societies, cultural clubs, towns, and museums that work together to support Maine Acadian culture in the St. John Valley. Read More
Things to Do
Visit museums, historical societies, and more in this scenic area of northern Maine.
Photos & Multimedia
Explore some of the historical and cultural sites that preserve the heritage of Maine Acadians.
Acadian Culture in Maine Publication
Discover the history and cultural heritage of Maine's Upper Saint John Valley.
The word Acadia has been interpreted by many historians to mean “fertile land, or rich pastures”.
Nova Scotia is one of the founding cultures of the Acadians. When French settlers first came here to settle down, they first settled in La Have. This is also where the Fort Point Museum commemorates their arrival on May 8th 1604. This is when the ship carrying Samuel de Champlain arrived in the New World. Champlain was largely responsible for choosing LaHave as the First Capital of New France. About 28 years later, Isaac de Razilly who was a French general and Viceroy landed at Port Point to carry out the orders of his king.
For those who are interested in seeing a reconstruction of the history of the Acadians, the best place to be is Port-Royal because this is where you can get a look at how those early settlers lived in Canada. A journey past the dykes built by early Acadians is certainly worth taking. At Grand-Pre National Historic Site, one gets to see the way the largest community of Acadians lived. This has been beautifully described by English poet Longfellow in his poem called Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia.
While passing through different French-speaking villages, one gets to see in the Yarmouth and Arcadian Shore region some excellent examples of Acadian churches including but not limited to Elise Sainte-Anne Church which happens to be the earliest church build on mainland Nova Scotia. Eglise Sainte-Marie/St. Mary’s Church at Church Point is another excellent example of Acadia.
The definition of Acadia
Acadia is a term that generally describes any area that included parts of southeastern Quebec and Eastern Maine as well as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The term Acadia is believed to have been derived from the Greek word Acadia which means rural contentment. The earliest Arcadian settlements were constructed at Port Royal on the Bay of Fundy which was settled by Champlain. Many houses and gardens, as well as a theatre, were constructed at this time. However, in just two years’ time, this settlement had to be abandoned till in 1610 attempts were made to resettle this region. About this time, the English founded Virginia in the US. The English also tried to lay claim to the entire eastern region at this time.
Tussle between the French and English
The early seventeenth century saw a real tussle between the French and English to lay claim to this part of the New World. In the early twenties in the seventeenth century, the Scottish King James 1 granted the land to a poet who in turn called the region New Scotland or Nova Scotia.
Colonizing Nova Scotia
In 1632, attempts were made to colonize Nova Scotia. At this time, a treaty gave title of the region to the French, who wanted to build a buffer against both the English and Governor Isaac de Razilly, who was related to Cardinal Richelieu. At this time, about 300 men and women came and settled in Acadia. Lands were reclaimed after dykes and sluices were built to help drain out the rain water. The reclaimed lands were very fertile and were used to grow wheat, oats and apples.
Unsurprisingly, the Acadians did a lot of trading with the English and sold their surplus grains in return of which they bought manufactured products like dishes, tobacco and cloth as well as rum and molasses.
An isolated community
The Acadian community lived somewhat isolated from France as well as Canada. The Acadians were also largely ignored by the French and English. In the middle of the seventeenth century, Acadia came under English rule but at about this time the French began to take this region more seriously. In 1663, New France became a Royal Colony under Louis IV but the cost of waging military campaigns meant that Acadia was left neglected – perhaps because it was under English rule. The Acadians, however, maintained very good relations with the local natives and often used them as allies against competing tribes and colonists.
Oath of allegiance to the English
In the middle of the eighteenth century (1755) Governor Charles Lawrence summoned the representatives of the Acadians who were then requested to sign an oath of allegiance against Britain’s enemies. The Acadians however refused and so the British ordered their expulsion. This led to 10,000 Acadians being rounded and shipped to the Thirteen colonies to the south. At the same time, their farms, barns and churches and shops were burned to the ground. All their livestock and crops were also burned and a mass expulsion took place. This was when the Acadians wandered about aimlessly for many years. Some Acadians even went to England where they were arrested. Others went to France where they were treated as outcasts. This was when the Acadians were without a country to call their own.
In the latter part of the eighteenth century, some Acadians (3000 to be exact) went to Louisiana where they settled in the mosquito-infested swamps. They also took on back-breaking work that was shunned by others. Even the French people who were living there shunned them because of their strange dialect.
The Civil War
The Civil War cam and devastated the economy. Soon, Acadians began to marry those who were not Acadians. This was done in order to survive in hostile environments. Their spouses learned French and became absorbed into the Cajun population. This is one of the reasons why so many popular Cajun musicians have French-sounding names.
Post Second World War
After the Second World War, returning veterans wanted better education and better-paying jobs. This led to a gradual migration of Acadians from strictly French-speaking communities to the mainstream world. Acadians became more Americanized and more and more non-Acadians began to marry Acadians. This is when they were named Cajuns, which describes a culture that came about from the Acadians.
Acadian Heritage and Cultural Museum - History
The Acadian Museum honors and preserves
the Cajun culture and Acadian heritage of Southwest Louisiana.
Click below to learn more about us:
The Acadian Museum
203 South Broadway
Erath, Louisiana 70533
The Acadian Museum honors the following dearly departed members of our community. Each of them served for years as our cultural representatives and volunteers. They continue to live on in our fondest memories.
Clifton Allemand, Jr.
Wife of Allen Bares
Ray & Jeanne Bernard
Reuben & Alice Bernard
Cajun traditions/stories/ farming
Daniel J. Broussard
Historian/harvester of wild mushrooms/ folklorist
Earl & Rose Broussard
Musician/craftsman/historian on Cajun culture
Mrs. Lidie Butler
(Mrs. Richard Butler)
Elie Champagne, Sr.
Cajun music/horse racing
Vergie & Bernard Delahoussaye
Brigadier General Curney & Irene Dronet
Historian/writer/veteran/ Cajun culture/cooking
Cajun storyteller/musician/ local government/sports
Lester &ldquoPee Wee&rdquo & Dorothy Gayneaux
Willis and Edith Granger
D. L. Menard
Rebecca Menard Moreland
Local government/Cajun culture
Horse racing/horse trainer/ cooking
Traditional Cajun fisherman/hunter/trapper
Gardening / French language / Acadian Museum volunteer
General Public - mid-June to mid-September
School Tours - mid-September to October 1
Special Tours (10 or more people) - May 31-October 31
Admission: Adults: $5 Students: $2.50
P.O. Box 165
Van Buren, Maine 04785
The 17 buildings overlooking the St. John River in the Acadian Village retain the cultural heritage of the Acadians who settled in the St. John Valley during the mid-eighteenth century.
The settlement reflects and incorporates those traits inherent to the Acadians. These skills include fishing, lumbering, and ship building. A number of these dwellings are significant in terms of their distinct Maine Acadian construction such as nautical features of “ship knees,” used for supports in construction, which can be seen in the Morneault house and the Acadian barn.
The buildings have been moved to the village or built on site. The site is owned and operated by Notre Héritage Vivant/Our Living Heritage. The Acadian Village is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Notre Dame de L’Assumption Chapel - Our Lady of Assumption Chapel
A replica of an early eighteenth century log church. The belfry houses one of the oldest bells in the valley.
Reconstructed from an old shop and barn. The shop’s large double doors accommodated horses for shoeing.
The David St Amand School - The Hamlin Schoolhouse
The oldest schoolhouse in the community in use from the 1880s until 1952. It was formerly located in Hamlin, Maine.
The Country Store
Serving as the entrance to the village. The building also serves as a “Recognition Hall” honoring the people who were instrumental in preserving the village. Local arts and crafts are sold there.
The Rossignol Barn – The Acadian Barn
Constructed of small round wood squared off on one side of the roof with vertical barnboard walls. The barn was originally located in Hamlin, Maine.
Built between 1855-1857, this is the oldest house in the valley. The house has many examples of Acadian architecture which incorporates nautical features in its construction including “ship knees” used for supports. The walls are caulked with unburned lime and flax. The Morneault house served as a post office in the early 1900s. Its original location was in Grand Isle, Maine.
The Morneault House and the Levasseur‑Ouellette House (built in Cyr Plantation, Maine, 1859) are typical of homes built during the mid‑nineteenth century by financially successful Maine Acadians. In form they are characteristic of the Georgian massing style popular on both sides of the North Atlantic by the early 19th century. The walls of both these one‑and‑a‑half‑story dwellings are built of square‑hewn logs (pièce‑sur‑pièce) covered by clapboard siding.
The Roy House
A log structure moved to the Village from a location near Hamlin, Maine, is another example of 19th‑century Maine Acadian house construction. Its hewn log walls (pièce‑sur‑pièce) have been corner‑joined with trunnels in the stacked and pegged style. It is a form that has apparently never been documented in the field.
The Acadian Village features additional historic buildings—including several more homes, workers' quarters, a shoe shop, barber shop, and railroad car house—and hosts many local cultural events. Four modern buildings house temporary art exhibits, a gift shop, meeting hall, and chapel.