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The title continues: “from its first discovery to its surrender to England by the Treaty of Paris”, by James Hannay (1842-1910).
The establishment of European settlers in Acadia seems almost a casual consequence of the explorations which were looking for a “NorthWest Passage to the Indies” and were sponsored by several European Kingdoms. As the reports from the early adventurers in the 1400 and 1500s began to reveal the potential of the north-west region for goods taken from both the land and the sea, it was the French King who finally mandated that a colony should be established in what has become Acadia.
It is the story-telling abilities of James Hannay - based on his extensive and careful research - which brings these events into our clear view, despite the highly chaotic and mostly greed based cross-purposes of the various Nationalistic expeditions. Hannay, himself says that it took him some 15 years of careful research to obtain (what he hoped was) an un-biased and verifiable data base allowing him to write this book as a true and factual account. And just when he thought he was in the final stages of publication he received news that his publisher’s premises had burned in the great fire of St. John - together with all his printed and manuscript materials. Fortunately he had in his possession some 180 odd paged of the printed proofs, but he had to rewrite the other 200+ pages from memory before he could finally bring it to publication in 1879.
After the establishment of the initial Acadian colony, the French - as well as all the other Nationally and Self sponsored explorers - began to start other colonies across the length and depth of the eastern seaboard, making alliances with (or enemies of) the local indigenous people as they did so. It didn’t take long for squabbling to break out between the colonies (especially if they had different National origins) although there were also stories of assistance in cases of hardship or misfortune. At “home”; France and England had been uneasy neighbors since they were able to cross the Channel in military strength and this unease was soon reflected in the various activities in the new colonies, finally resulting in military incursions and defenses. One of these “troubles” resulting in the British claiming Acadia as their own. Hannay avoids - as far as he could - any nationalistic rhetoric as he explores the actions and the resulting situations so his view casts a somewhat unfamiliar light, especially in the activities that led up to, and followed through the infamous “Expulsion of the Acadians.” An event which is still reported by many as an atrocity, although executed by either the British OR the French depending on the reporter. Hanney brings us a much more realistic sounding report of a highly complex situation of intellectual / nationalistic differences which had no “fair” resolution, but did result in the removal of one of the opposing factions to a place where they could be free to live as they wished, and which avoided an alternate act of genocide.
In the broader concept, however, this was only a single event in the ongoing maneuvering for nationalistic territory which expanded to include all the settled areas north of the St Lawrence river and west as far as the remote end of Lake (now) Ontario. At this same time the Spanish were in a similar engagement in the South of the continent, so the two, France and Spain, decided to ally. Faced with what appeared to be an escalation which would threaten the stability of Europe, a meeting was called in Paris to resolve the issues and to assign conflicted territories in a “final peacemaking” settlement. Hannay remains very focused on the results this meeting had on Acadian, i.e., that France conceded most of its North American claims, including Cape Breton and most of the Gulf and Estuary Islands, to the British while retaining only the Islands of St Pierre and Miquelon for its own.
It was at this point in the ongoing history that Hannay decided to terminate his history, with the British Administration struggling to assimilate all the non-indigenous inhabitants who still bore an allegiance to France - or more accurately - to the life they had made for themselves under French “rule.”
This is a very well written history book which is readable enough to enjoy simply as a good story - well told. At the same time however, it contains all the facts and figures a student would need and these facts are made easily available by our highly accurate (hand edited) “every word” electronic search index- the basis of the pdf reader App’s “Find” or “Search” function. We have also enhanced the CD media versions of this reproduction with our FastFind technology which eliminates almost all of searching waits.
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