Did you know that Nova Scotia is steeped in vast and rich French-Canadian culture? Nova Scotia is home to the Acadian people, descendants of early French settlers who arrived in the early 1600s. The history of the Acadian people is both tragic and triumphant. To learn about and to celebrate this vibrant culture and the important contributions made by the Acadians to Nova Scotia, check out these amazing experiences on your next visit.
1. Acadian Kitchen Party
Visit the Argyler Lodge, in the heart of l’Acadie in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region, and indulge in a chef-prepared dinner featuring authentic stories of local Acadians through food and music. Learn about the early days of French Acadie, the connections with Cajun cousins in Louisiana, and their rich seafaring history. Then join locals and new friends in a seaside kitchen party while you sip the finest Nova Scotia bubbly, kick up your heels, and soak up the beautiful views over Lobster Bay as a local band plays Acadian tunes.
2. Port-Royal National Historic Site
In 1605, Samuel de Champlain helped establish one of the earliest European settlements in North America on land that is the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq. Costumed interpreters will help you understand the challenges faced by the French as they carved out a new settlement. Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada features a reconstruction of the settlement’s early 17th-century buildings, including the distinctive, closed-in quadrangle known as the Habitation. Visitors can step back into the earliest days of French exploration to gain an impression of the place where these early settlers lived.
Bonus experience: Good Cheer Lobster Feast
Authentic Acadian and Mi’kmaw music, local Nova Scotian flavours, and 400 years of stories come together and are featured in this exclusive after-hours dinner party at Port-Royal National Historic Site.
When you arrive at the Habitation at Port-Royal, where Samuel de Champlain initiated the Order of Good Cheer in 1606, take a private tour of this stunning site, followed by dinner that takes place in a century-old dining room where you will feast like it’s 1606. Cheers!
3. Le village historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse
Journey back in time to learn about traditional Acadian life and culture in the 1900s and how in surviving the Deportation of 1755, a community stronghold was established at this picturesque site. The name translates to The Historic Acadian Village of Nova Scotia, and there you’ll watch thriving Acadian history play out before you. After returning from exile, the one-time farmers had to refocus since they resettled on infertile land. Heritage interpreters in period costumes show you the many rhythms of the settlers’ sea-based lives, from the building of boats and lobster traps, to the making of fishing nets and salting cod.
4. Grand-Pré National Historic Site
Grand-Pré is a powerful monument that unites the Acadian people. Visitors to the site will uncover the tale of Le Grand Dérangement, a tragic event in Acadian history that has shaped the vibrant culture of modern-day Acadians across the globe through its quiet but powerful renaissance. The site commemorates the Grand Pré area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755 and the Deportation of the Acadians, which began in 1755 and continued until 1762. For many Acadians throughout the world, the site remains the heart of their ancestral homeland and the symbol of the ties that unite them to this day.
5. The Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre
Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) is an Acadian celebration involving masks and disguises. The Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre offers a unique display of locally-crafted masks and interactive exhibits depicting the evolution of “La Mi-Carême”, one of the oldest Acadian traditions, still celebrated in the area every winter. Visitors can learn more about this celebration at the Centre by watching a series of short theatre pieces. Mask making workshops are offered with interpretive guides available to answer your questions.
6. Acadian House Museum
Join us at L’Acadie de Chezzetcook to experience our exciting and unique Acadian culture. Learn about the coastal French village that once thrived in the West Chezzetcook and Grand Desert area. Nearby you will discover beautiful beaches with breathtaking sunsets, walking trails, and hiking trails. Be immersed in bright Acadian culture at a site that is rich in history and full of emotion.
7. Les Trois Pignons Museum of the Hooked Rug and Home Life
Les Trois Pignons houses the Museum of the Hooked Rug and Home Life, an Acadian, cultural, genealogical centre. Located in Chéticamp, on the world famous Cabot Trail, the museum joins the story of the area's settlement with that of the evolution of hooked rugs. The gallery features traditional antiques and contemporary hooked rugs. Watch rug hooking demonstrations and learn about the tools and techniques used to create these masterpieces.
Bonus tip: Count the Acadian flags! As you travel throughout Nova Scotia, watch for the iconic Acadian flag, proudly displayed on homes and businesses across the province. While similar in appearance to the flag of France, you will note a bright yellow star in the top left-hand corner representing the patron saint of the Acadian people.