French and Acadian Domestic Architecture: Part II – Ile Saint Jean

Ile Saint-Jean

When France decided to colonise Ile Saint-Jean in 1720 settlers from France and parts of Acadia came and established the various towns built on the Island. It was intended that forts in the style of Vauban should be built in key locations and I will discuss those in a future post. Suffice it to say that by the 1730s a four-pointed star fort was in the process of being built at Port la Joye, the capital of Ile Saint-Jean. An image of it – reality or wishful thinking – has survived in this splendid 1734 watercolour of the settlement with accompanying plans.


CARTE DU PORT LA JOYE DANS L’ISLE ST. JEAN/ 1734/ Verrier Fils/ Fecit.

PLAN D’UN FORT PROJETTÉ AU PORT/ LA JOYE A L’ISLE ST. JEAN pour mettre en/ sureté le Detachem’. dans le quel on a representé/ en couleur rouge les Battimt. Qui on estés Establis’/ l’Année 1734. Avec la Veüe prise du coté du Port. Ink and watercolour on paper. LAC Ph240-Port la Joye/1734.

The inscription under the top panorama is the following, indicating in red which buildings had been constructed by 1734. A loose translation follows.

PLAN DUN FORT PROJETTE AU PORT LA JOYE A L’ISLE ST. JEAN pour mettre en Sureté le Detachemt. dans le quel on a representé en colour rouge les Battimt. qui on estés Establis L’Année 1734, avec la Veüe prise du coté du Port.

(Plan for a fort intended to be constructed at Port la Joye on Ile Saint Jean to provide security for the administration and soldiers. In the plan the structures that have been constructed in 1734 are coloured in red. The picture was drawn from the side of the port/installation.)

The panorama of Port la Joye is exceptionally fine and perfectly represents the landscape of today, large parts of which have survived untouched.

There are several details of this watercolour I would like to show you. The first is the concept of the fort that was planned.


Detail of proposed fort plan.

It was to be a very basic enclosure with four earth bastions surrounded by a palisade of pointed pickets. Running down to the shore was to be a large bastion called a barbette. Inside the fort there was to be a chapel with rooms for a chaplain and a surgeon general. The officers and soldiers – about 60 of them – were to be housed in separate buildings. There was very little money set aside for this and so the cheapest form of construction was employed and that was the technique called en picquet, slender trees sharpened and driven into the ground, held together at the top with some kind of wall plate and then roofed over. Detailed plans and elevations for each of these buildings survive, drawn by the engineer Verrier Fils.

Things did not go as planned and the ordered fort we see in this drawing, based on the principles of the great engineer Vauban, may only have been begun by the time the fort was destroyed by the English in 1745, and completely demolished at the time of the deportation in 1758. In spite of its attractive appearance in the watercolour the fort, with its small bastions and shallow fosse-work, did not have much substance to it.

There is a plan of the site that was produced in 1749 when Port la Joye tried to rebuild after the English raid that had destroyed everything.


Plan des Batiments construits au Port la Joye tant pour servir de Magasins aux Vivres que pour loger le Commandant et les Officiers et Soldats du détachment. Not signed or dated but believed to have been prepared by Franquet circa 1751. Fortress of Louisbourg NHS Map Collection 751045.

At the bottom of the key to the plan there is a vital note that suggests that perhaps ALL THE BUILDINGS that comprised Port la Joye were built in the same manner:

Tous ces logements, ont été faits en Piquets et en Planches en 1749. Leur Construction sera de peu de durée, attendu qu’ils n’ont été considéré que provisionnels, et ont coutés suivant le toisé qui en a été faits la somme de 9169-17-8.

All these structures were built en piquet and boards in 1749. They will be short-lived considering they were built for the short-term and were priced following the dimensions (toises = 6-foot units) that could be bought for 9169 – 17 – 8 in the money of the day.

A vital combination of pieces of evidence provides us with an official description of how the buildings of Port la Joye, and by extension, the buildings of the various settlements on Ile Saint Jean were constructed. This information consists of the note I quoted from the site map, and this extremely highly detailed account of expenses kept in 1749 by a certain Gautier, a local inhabitant. It is very thorough and covers all expenses for every component of each structure. Schmeisser provides a translation (not always accurate) in her Appendix C. I have appended a pdf of this document below, and for the moment I provide you with the relevant details concerned with constructing using the en picquet technique.


[These buildings are] made of upright picquets (pickets) and altogether, including the lean-to, and small sheds (?) comprised 60 running toises [toise approximately 6 feet] and two pouces [French inches] in length.

The pickets for the buildings were 9 pieds [feet] high and approximately 6 pouces (inches) in [diameter] and buried 18 pouces. All the picquets are joined the one to the other and fastened above by stringers (wall plate) and joined using mortice and tenon. The said pickets being rounded at the joint have been covered over with torchis (a mixture of chopped straw and clay.).

Schmeisser – Appendix C


This drawing, whose source I have lost, gives you an idea of how these houses were put together.

Source unavailable.

If we try to convert these measurements into a credible description of the interior spaces, we conclude that the ceilings must only have been around seven feet tall. The floor would have consisted of two layers of planks resting on logs with a layer of soil or some other insulating material between the layers to act as insulation. This was the custom of the day in New France

From Laframboise, p. 134


The Second Detail

The second detail is the righthand portion which contains the village as Verrier the Younger saw it. In this detail from the remarkable 1730 map of the Hillsborough River in the French National Archives that identifies not only the reclaimed marshlands but also the names of all the property owners, we can see exactly who owned the various pieces of land across from the fort. This can help us make sense of the drawing that Verrier did of the village.

While, as he asserts, his drawing of the fort and its buildings is partly fantasy, there is no reason whatsoever to draw, in such detail, a fantasy village.

The two streams still drain on either side of this small headland where one supposes the more important part of the town was situated. Prominently in the centre, with a large forecourt with an ornamental gate in the palisade wall, is an exceptionally fine building, a five-bay centre plan hipped roof chateau, as the French called their country houses. It is a large presence, bigger than the others. In the 1730 map this corresponds to the property given to de Pensens, the military commander at the fort. De Pensens was a career officer in the French military who was repeatedly passed over when promotions became due. His assignment to Ile Saint Jean with a corps of 20 or so soldiers was a slap in the face, considering that he commanded twice as many when he was at Louisbourg. To silence his complaints, he was given 500 livres to build a house, one assumes separate from the quarters he might have had in the fort. This house, as the records I quote above show, was most likely built en picquet and characteristic of that style of building, rotting at ground level would have begun immediately. De Pensens complains loudly in his communications to his superiors about the condition not only of his house but of the official buildings generally.

It must have been a great relief, after frequent mental health leaves to Louisbourg, and even France, de Pensens retired to France in his very frail old age after having commanded the garrison at Port la Joye from 1727 to 1736.


In the detail from the Verrier Fils panorama we can see the houses of the other settlers who are recorded in the 1730 map. It is believed that on the right side of the view there is a building with a spire that might have been a church. There is no information that I have come across that supports this.


What were the interior spaces of these houses like?

All of these houses would have been built on French models current in the areas of France where the various settlers came from. There would be regional differences, particularly concerning bed cupboards, that I will discuss in the next post. There would also be differences in the houses of the Acadian settlers who rushed to Ile Saint Jean to obtain new rich farmland. The Acadians had been in Nova Scotia since the Seventeenth Century and it is most likely that, through time, their house arrangements would have reflected adaptations to local needs and conditions.

There is a plan that has survived of a large house in Upper Brittany that dates to the end of the Seventeenth Century. Its size suggests that it may have been a guest house. In this rare drawing, every piece of furniture is drawn to scale and carefully labelled so that we know the basic furniture of a French house in Acadia and how it was arranged.

The house was rectangular, consisting of one large common room with a section for storage and with the barn attached to the house. The heat from the bodies of farm animals and their manure could provide much-needed warmth in cold winters. The main focal point of the house was its large fireplace, designed to burn logs. Attached to its stonework were various metal cranes that swung in and out and which held the various cooking vessels over the fire. Intensity of heat was controlled by moving the pot closer or further away from the flames. Benches were also placed on either side of the fireplace for the occupants to gather to sit next to the fire.

Beds from the Middle Ages onward were curtained for privacy and to cut drafts. In some parts of Northern France, the beds were built as cupboards entered by a small opening. These were called lit clos (enclosed bed) in France, but the historian Georges Arsenault believes that among Island Acadians they were called cabanes. Indeed I remember my Acadian grandparents referring to beds as cabanes. I have made the assumption that these kinds of beds were common in Acadia among the working class and will discuss this in the next post. Soldiers would have slept in bunk beds.

The most common piece of furniture was the chest, used to store personal possessions. They were the height of a chair, and they could be used as seating. That kind of chest survived well into the Twentieth Century and my family had several. There were tall cupboards called armoires in which household linens and such things were stored. The form survived into our times as bedroom closets. Against the wall there would be a hutch or sideboard of some sort, probably quite similar to the ones made by our British ancestors and still found in antique shops. The base had doors at the bottom and drawers above. The back rose to the ceiling and consisted of plate racks. There would have been simple wooden chairs, with little decoration.


A masters thesis written by Sara J. Beanlands, which transcribes and annotates a manuscript by Rev. Dr. Andrew Brown called “Removal of the French inhabitants of Nova Scotia by Lieut. Governor Lawrence & His Majesty’s Council in October 1755” contains a valuable source of information on the Acadian house that supports what I have been discussing above.

These villages would have pleased the poet (45) of the year, being placed, between the breathing forest & the sounding shore, on the first brow of the upland, near a brook that seldom failed in summer & that continued to flow during the severest frost. A Cabin of rough logs, standing East & West & about twenty-four feet square, satisfied the modest wishes of the Cultivator.8 Some used a roof of battened deals ingeniously fortified by a coating of birch bark; while others preferred the warmer covering of wheaten thatch, under which their forefathers had lived & died. The common people had only a single apartment, seven feet high & surmounted with a loft, in which they deposited their valuables. Only the Priests & Elders built houses of larger dimensions with sitting rooms & sleeping closets. With these slight exceptions, the architecture & distribution of the family dwelling conformed to a single pattern.

The chimney rose in the East gable. There was a door near the center of each side wall, & one in the West end of the house. Each side wall contained two neat windows of clear glass trimmed with some care. Three beds, of the finest feathers & a sheeting of white linen, occupied part of the Area; the two first so disposed of on the opposite side walls as to leave an open space of Eight feet in the length in front of the fire; & the third on the north of the west door but placed on purpose to form a small recess between it & the other bed on the same side, which being closed in with a screen and having a communication with the court yard by the North door, held the milk & daily provisions of the family. The free space to the front of the fire, which served at once as a kitchen & a parlour seemed to have been arranged by the genius of the Scottish part of the population. A shelf, the exact counterpart of what may still be seen in the pastoral districts of Perth & Sterling, exhibited many bright rows of Pewter dishes and a full assortment of wooden trenchers & horn spoons. The chests which contained the clothing of the household were well finished, and being covered with the shaggy hide of the Moose or black bear served as seats for the family & its guests. These seats were generally crowded, every house swarming with inhabitants. A circumstance so pleasing in its nature did not pass unobserved; and the officers of the New England troops used to say in their letters to their friends, ‘You may perhaps be pleased to hear what is meant by a family among the happy people of this land. They have no servants.

Indeed there is not now, & there never has been in their community a single instance of an individual living by the wages of labour. All are independent; all are land workers; all are nearly equal – and when the Elder children of a house are married, it generally happens that one of the younger children takes the home settlement, & the old people, being past labour, have the singular felicity of being cherished & soothed by the latest objects of their tenderness. Hence a family frequently consists not only of a man’s wife & children, but of his parents & younger brothers & sisters, whose stock of cattle is rapidly increasing for their future Establishment. The length to which this custom is carried, will appear from the Census of the river Annapolis. We reckon it at two hundred families. But of these only a hundred & thirty six consist of the husband & wife & their children; the rest being composed in the manner now mentioned; so that it is no rare thing to find a house with four men capable of bearing arms, for they are fruitful, and multiply fast, and live to a great age.’

Easily as these numerous inmates were accommodated, one part of their dwelling always engaged particular attention. The severe winter of North America taught the first colonists the value of the cave or cellar & its dryness & security from the frost were duly consulted. For the purpose of preserving vegetables as well as liquors, it usually occupied the whole area of the cabin, & was dry to the depth of several feet, & faced with a stone wall firmly bound together by long moss. A lode (pool) of soft water filled to the brim was often found in one of the corners.

(Beanlands, pp. 172-175.)


Here is another house plan from Minudie in Nova Scotia that gives a smaller variant of the Brittany house. There is a stair to the loft and a trapdoor in the floor to access the cellar where produce was stored over the winter. There was no foundation, or at most a course or two of stone. The cellar was excavated in the centre of the house space, well away from the walls and the frost of winter.

Bernard LeBlanc – Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton


The Third Detail from Verrier’s Panorama

Dramatically placed on the edge of the two headlands that formed the village of Port la Joye, and framed by two large warehouses, was the home of Michel Haché dit Gallant. The “dit” means “called.” The mystery of the name persists to this day. Why was Michel called “the gentleman” or the good, brave or honest? When precisely did he receive that nickname? Or was he so closely connected to a person called Gallant or Gallong that he took the name as a mark of respect or for legal reasons? Whatever the answers to these enigmas may be, one great thing resulted from his prolific marriage – subsequently everybody on Ile Saint Jean who carried his name was, and is to this day, called Gallant.

Michel may have been born in the 1660s in France, became orphaned and was adopted by an upper-class Quebec man whose son, the Lord of the Beaubassin Seigneury brought him to Acadia as a protégé, trained him well and gave him varied responsibilities. Michel developed many skills in business, militia operations and sailing ships. By 1720, in his late 50s, Michel found himself in a position of responsibility at Port la Joye. He was given a large strip of land on the side of the fort headland that faced the village.

On the 1730 map his house is seen the gentle slope leading down to the landing place where all traffic to and from the fort had to pass. Michel’s importance in the colony in clearly defined by this fact. Later, by 1734, another warehouse had been built. That these large casernes were of an official nature is testified to by the fact and all-around Michel’s house bail seals – small lead strips wrapped over parcel knots with a device embossed with the fleur-de-lys – were found in considerable numbers in the 1988 excavation. Here is one of them.

The arrangement of the Haché Gallant property is clearly drawn by Verrier in his large 1734 watercolour. The house has a central chimney and is similar to other houses in the village. The new warehouse, or unusually large house to the west of Michel’s house is a two-story building with a central chimney, meaning that it was an all-season structure meant to deal with the coming and going of goods to the colony. It may have been an office/customs house, and the affairs of the port of the town might have been administered there also, as Michel was most likely the harbourmaster.

Michel fell through the ice of the Hillsborough River and drowned on April 10, 1737. He must have been a patriarch in his mid-seventies. By this time, he had fathered twelve children who had settled along the riverbanks, and it is believed that he died returning from a visit to one of them.

In 1745 the Americans from New England attacked various settlements on Ile Saint jean and burned everything they could find to the ground. After they were expelled and the colony once again reclaimed, rebuilding began and continued for the next ten years until the final conquest and Deportation. Michel Haché Gallant’s house was never rebuilt and the site, which consisted of burnt wood and ash fallen into a cellar, seems to have become a dump site for both the French and subsequent English victors.

Here is the story of the dig published in the Island Magazine by the Director of the Excavation, Rob Ferguson. It tells the story clearly, is beautifully illustrated with some of our finds, and sets out the conclusions reached at the end of the season.



Here is my personal story of this very exciting time in my life. In the summer of 1988, I was invited by Rob Ferguson, the archaeologist from Parks Canada in Halifax, to supervise a group of young people in the excavation of what was believed to be the exact site of the Gallant house. There was reason for this as at the end of the previous season in 1987 a trench had revealed what appeared to be crude stairs going down into the shale bedrock. I was asked to open a 10-metre square where this cellar was thought to be. This photo shows you the surface of the dig with all the sod removed and the surface troweled smooth. You can see how precisely this location fits with the position of the Haché house in the Verrier watercolour. The path to the shore – the landing place – is to the right of the range light.

We had an apparatus called a bipod made of pipes joined together with a camera at the apex which we raised with ropes to get “aerial” photos as we laboriously moved this over the site. The results were ordinary-coloured photos that Rob, who was very expert at this, trimmed and joined together to produce our aerial photo. What took hours back then would be done in minutes today with a drone.

From the very start, by the discolouration caused by burning in the soil, we found the outline of the cellar, and most significantly, the burnt outlines of bits of burnt walls en picquet.

Photo: Rob Ferguson, Parks Canada

This guided our excavation, and it soon became clear that a cellar had been excavated in the soft shale to create a place of safe storage, far away from the walls and the frost, for the winter vegetables and other preserved food. What shocked us was to discover that the rock substrate was just under the sod, thereby making all the land on the fort headland unsuitable for agriculture. An examination of the 1973 Prest Surficial Geology map of the Island supports this in every way.

It was decided to make a cut through the cellar and remove all the material from one half in order to show a profile. This was wise because at one glance one saw that when the house and its contents were burnt in 1745 this left a thick layer of ash over what collapsed into the cellar. The lines of pickets joined together to make the walls left similar burnt marks in the ground. Everything on top of the ash layer had been thrown there, using it as a dump, by the French rebuilders and later English occupiers.

As the excavation progressed many artefacts were found such as nails and window glass. It seemed as if the house had lots of window openings glassed in. This has been accounted for by the fact that while English window glass was heavily taxed and the panes and windows tended to be small, the French did not have this limitation. The many nails were accounted for as having kept whatever roof covering that was used in place.

Photo: Rob Ferguson, Parks Canada

Taking part in this excavation was both an intellectual and emotional experience. As archaeologists we delighted in reconstructing the house and its smashed possessions and even rooting from time to time in its garbage, like discarded animal bones, to help reconstruct their diet. But ALWAYS we were aware of the tragedies that befell this large family, the only occupants of this house for a quarter century before the Americans burnt it down. For me there were times of great emotional intensity as when I came across dozens of pins used in sewing that had fallen through the floor, perhaps as Madame Gallant sat by the fire endlessly mending the clothes of a dozen boys and girls.


By the end of the season, I was able to privately theorise about what the dimensions of the house might have been based on straight lines of carbon deposits that appeared in four places. I added this drawing as an unofficial supplement to my record-keeping at the end of the season, in an essay where I summarised my personal experiences and conclusions.

If you translate this into most of the Acadian houses in the region – regardless of whether they were en picquet, frame with wattle and daub, or horizontal log – the general impression would have been the same. The Doucet house, now in the grounds of the Farmers’ Bank Museum at Rustico, at its log core, accoding to dendrochonology analysis, probably dates from the 1765-70 period. It was built by Acadian survivors, not long after the Deportation. It is an arcehtypal image of a typical Acadian home in the region of Acadia and Ile Saint-Jean.


The restored/reconstructed Doucet house now at the Farmers’ Bank Museum.
Photo courtesy of Paul Blacquiere.


War and the End of Acadia.

The French occupation of Ile St. Jean came to a violent end in 1755 with a slap in the face of humanity when most of the French and Acadian settlers and the administration were deported on ships and dispersed to various locations in Europe and in what would soon be British North America. King George III was personally interested in setting up a feudal colony of English farmers to feed the Atlantic garrison at Halifax, just as the Frenched had imagined that they could use Ile Saint Jean to feed the garrison at Louisbourg. King George met with some success, but most of all, in creating his dream of a perfect feudal colony based on exact numbers and surveying of an accuracy rarely before achieved. He ordered the Navy surveyor Captain Samuel Holland to come and produce a great map setting out this colonial Elysium which has been much talked about in previous posts in this blog.

First though, several surveyors were sent out to gather information about what really was on Ile Saint Jean and one circa 1762 sketch map in particular produced a picture of such charm that what it lacked in precision it more than compensated for in spirit and vision.


1764 W. J. Hebert del, [no title] Island of St. John, drawn on 4 sheets glued over gauze and card, WC 02bb PARO 0,450.

Of all the manuscript maps of Ile Saint Jean that I have come across over the years this one, brightly coloured, and full of excitement, is, aesthetically, my favourite. It is extensively tinted with wash, and the cartographer has gone to great lengths to locate precisely the various communities that could be described at that time. For the first time since the colony of Ile Saint Jean had been established – and now abolished – you get a vivid sense of what it was all about. For the first time since the 1720s a mapmaker does not only indicate a place on a map, but he also draws a picture of it!

I want to look at one particular settlement – until recently an enigma – the village of Malpec. Malpeque, as it is called today, was never really tied to a specific spot in all the maps produced by the French in the previous 40 years is here given an exact location and an attempt is made to show the exact extent of the settlement. You can see where its church was located close to the shore which makes it not surprising that in the 1950s and ‘60s its cemetery, according to reliable eyewitnesses, was eroding out of the bank. Hebert seems to think that it is surrounded by water on the west side, and he may be joining the Trout and Ellis Rivers, based on the information he received, because this same feature appears on all the maps which are based on this matrix.


This is what Samuel Holland recorded about Malpec on his great map. Holland recorded with red dots over 400 building sites across the Island, and none of them were destroyed by the English. In this detail from the great map you can see the location of Malpec and even a larger red dot that is presumably the church.

It is worth noting that Douglas Sobey has counted all the red dots again and brought up the total of Acadian structures that were observed to over 400. As a work in progress he is currently assigning possible locations of these sites on the Island digital map program.

In 2009 Georges Arsenault wrote an article in Issue 66 of the Island Magazine about the Malpeque Bay Acadians from 1728-58. A pdf of the article has been placed next to the bibliographical entry below.

In that article is this fine map by Douglas Sobey that places the data collected by the British in the 1760s onto a modern map. This settles once and for all the speculation about the limits of the village of Malpec. Here is the caption that accompanies the map:

The Acadian Settlement of Malpeque – The French period buildings in the summer of 1768 as recorded on the map of Lot 13 drawn by Charles Morris Jnr., with additional information taken from the map of Samuel Holland, based on the survey carried out by his assistant Thomas Wright in the early summer of 1765. The area within the broken lines was marked as cleared land on the maps and the modern location of marshes and bogs is indicated by the shading. To aid in orientation the modern road system is shown, with later names being written in italics.

Map courtesy of Doug Sobey and Georges Arsenault


Looking at the general area in a recent Google Maps photo in the freshly ploughed fields can be see all sorts of crop mark features that cry out for investigation. This was the heart of Malpec and maybe it is still beating feebly.


A recent excavation (2009-2011) by the Provincial Archaeologist Dr. Helen Kristmanson at a site she calls Pointe aux Vieux could well be part of the French church and buildings associated with it. Holland called the area Village Point and recent maps call it Low Point. If resources permit this excavation to resume there may be very exciting discoveries. Already, as you can discover when you read Dr. Kristmanson’s articles, the finds have been very numerous and fascinating in a variety of ways. At the Musee acadien in Miscouche there is a large exhibition based on this work and you will be amazed at the variety and quality of the finds. We can only hope fervently that resources will allow this excavation to be explored further.

Photo: Claude Henry Arsenault

Dr. Kristmanson has written three articles on her excavations at that site and has published them in the Island Magazine. For your convenience I have insert pdf files of these articles below.

Kristmanson – Point-aux-Vieux Island Mag 2009

Kristmanson – Pointe-aux-Vieux I – IS MAG 2015

Kristmanson – Pointe-aux-Vieux II – IS MAG 2015


Anse à Pinet

I want to conclude this post with a very brief look at a buried village close to where I live. Today it is called Pinette but in the French era it was called Anse à Pinet. In 1752 there was a massive census of Ile Saint Jean which makes fascinating reading. All nineteen families were scrutinised closely, and all the possessions were carefully listed. It is a wonder to read, but it is lengthy so to whet your appetite I will only give you the transcript of the first entry in the census.

Olivier Boudrot, ploughman, native of l’Acadie, aged 41 years, he has been in the country two years. Married to Henriette Guérin, native of l’Acadie, aged 40 years.

They have two sons and three daughters: –

Bazille Boudrot, aged 6 years.
Mathurin, aged 3 years.
Margueritte Joseph, aged 10 years.
Magdelaine Joseph, aged 8 years.
Anne Marie, aged 7 years.

And in stock, two oxen, four cows, two calves, one bull, one heifer, five pigs, and twenty-three fowls or chickens.

The land on which they have settled is situated at the farther end of Ance à Pinet to the south of said ance. It was given to them verbally by Monsieur de Bonnaventure. On it they have made a clearing for a garden only.

For those of you who want, with census in hand, to walk these fields and feel – intensely – the presence of these settlers and their livestock, I give you a pdf of the Pinet Census.

1752 Census of Pinette

Here is how Holland drew the 19 houses of the Pinet settlement. The site was never built on as far as I can make out in old maps and remains – pristine to be excavated some day. Can you imagine the things about the daily life of these inhabitants that could be found?


Photo of unrestored Holland map by Dr. Doug Sobey

Looking at the Google Map you can see Anse à Pinet silently sleeping under the sweet, lush grass. It takes no imagination at all to see springing out of that meadow, intimately spaced farms such as seen in this model from the Museum of Civilisation in Hull.

Photo: Rob Ferguson, of Acadian Village Model at Museum of Civilisation

I have not focussed on other sites on Ile Saint Jean because there are no images or plans of houses available that would tell you what they were like. However Rob Ferguson of Parks Canada did quite extensive excavation work along the south shore of the Greenwich Peninsula where part of the village complex of Saint Pierre was located. There were quite massive and dramatic findings!

insert Ferguson – Oudy pdf here

YouTube video of Archaeological Dig on PEI – Greenwich

and there is this.


There is a fascinating early Twentieth Century account by John Caven of his experiences studying the topography of the settlement. I insert a pdf of his description here. It is full of clarity and charm and you can walk in his footsteps and see the village rise before you.

Caven – St Peter’s Harbour


I finish this post with a love token found by a private collector in that part of Saint Pierre located in the lower field of the Sinott farm, on the west side of the harbour entrance.

Part of a pin or other piece of jewellery, it shows two hands entwined with the words L’amour nous unis – Love unites us, running around the edge. It looks home-made. It is deeply moving to look at, and even more moving to hold in your hand, if only for a moment, to touch this manifestation of a long-ago love.



Special Thanks

Rob Ferguson, formerly a senior archaeologist at Parks Canada in Halifax, has over the years, been extremely generous in allowing me access to historical documents and modern scholarship pertaining to Port la Joye. This difficult to access material was of the greatest use to me in my studies. Over the years he sent data CDs with yet more documentation and pictures. I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Rob, my mentor, employer, and friend, for these many kindnesses.

Once again Georges Arsenault and Douglas Sobey have enriched this essay with a map and text that bring light to the confusion of Malpeque.



The following list of books and articles have been consulted over the years to gain some knowledge of historical events and especially architecture and material culture. I have most of these works in my collection except for a few difficult to find editions which I consulted in public collections.

______________________ A Catalogue of the Winthrop Pickard Bell Collection of Acadiana, Mount Allison University, Sackville, 1972.

______________________ Le Mobilier Structurant, Fiche21, 2019-05-04, Taken from this now inactive link:

______________________ Les Cahiers du Patrimoine: Neuville Architecture Traditionnelle, Ministère des Affaires culturelles, Direction générale du Patrimoine, Québec, 1976.

Arsenault, Bona, Histoire des Acadiens, Editions Leméac, Ottawa, 1978.

Arsenault, Georges, translated by Sally Ross, Acadian Traditions on Candlemas Day: Candles, Pancakes and House Visits, The Acorn Press, Charlottetown, 2012.

Arsenault, Georges, compiler, Bibliographie acadienne, La Société Saint-Thomas d’Aquin, [Summerside], 1980.

Arsenault, Georges, Complaintes Acadiennes de L’Ile-du-Prince-Edouard, Les Editions Leméac Inc., Ottawa, 1980.

Arsenault, Georges, La Chanson du Pays, La Société Saint-Thomas d’Aquin, Summerside, 1983.

Arsenault, Georges, “The Acadian Settlements of Pinette and Pointe Prime,” published in Keepsakes and Memories: Our Belfast Origins and Times of the People of Belfast, Prince Edward Island. Edited by Susan Hornby. Belfast, Belfast Historical Society, 2009.

Arsenault, Georges, “The Malpeque Bay Acadians 1728-1758,” The Island Magazine, Number 66, Fall/Winter 2009, Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown.

Arsenault – Malpeque Bay Acadians IS MG 2009

Babineau, Rene, editor, Lejeune O.M.I., le R. P. L., Tableaux Synoptiques de l’Histoire de L’Acadie …, 1918, Fascicule Spécial (1500-1760), L’Action Sociale Ltée, Québec, n.d.

Beanlands, Sara J., Annotated Edition of Rev. Dr. Andrew Brown’s Manuscript: “Removal of the French inhabitants of Nova Scotia by Lieut. Governor Lawrence & His Majesty’s Council in October 1755.” A Thesis Submitted to Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History September 2010.

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Bernard, C.S.V., Antoine, Histoire de la Survivance Acadienne 1755-1935, Les Clercs de Saint-Viateur, Montréal, 1935.

Boucher, Sandrine, “L’Acadie vue par Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Ingénieur Hydrographe du Dépôt des Cartes, Plans et Journaux de la Marine. Sources et Enjeux de la Représentation d’une Colonie Perdue,” p. 121-136, Laboulais, Isabelle, ed., Les Usages des Cartes (XVIIe-XIXe siècle), Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, Open Edition Books, 2008.

Boudreau, Daniel Rev. et Chiasson, Anselme Rev., Chansons d’Acadie 1êre Série, Editions des Aboiteaux, Moncton, n.d.

Boudreau, Daniel Rev. et Chiasson, Anselme Rev., Chansons d’Acadie 2e Série, Editions des Aboiteaux, Moncton, 1979.

Boudreau, Daniel Rev. et Chiasson, Anselme Rev., Chansons d’Acadie 3e Série, Editions des Aboiteaux, Moncton, 1977.

Bourque, J. Rodolphe, Social and Architectural Aspects of Acadians in New Brunswick, Research and Development Branch, Historical Resources Administration, Government of New Brunswick, Fredericton, 1971.

Brasseaux, Carl A., The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings of Acadian Life in Louisiana, 1765-1803, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1987.

Brun, Régis, with Bernard LeBlanc and Armand Robichaud, Les Bâtiments Anciens de la Mer Rouge, Michel Henry Éditeur Ltée, Moncton, 12988.

Butzer, Karl W., “French Wetland Agriculture in Atlantic Canada and Its European Roots: Different Avenues to Historical Diffusion,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 451-470, 2002.

Cameron, Christina and Monique Trépanier, Vieux Québec: son Architecture Intérieur, Collection Mercure/Mercury Series, No. 40, History Division, National Museum of Man, Ottawa, 1986.

Campbell, Carol, and Smith, James F., Necessaries and Sufficiences: Planter Society in Londonderry, Onslow and Truro Townships, 1761-1780, Cape Breton University Press, Sydney, N.S., 2011.

Campbell, Clare, and Robert Summerby-Murray, Land and Sea: Environmental History in Atlantic Canada, Acadiensis Press, Fredericton, 2013.

Campey, Lucille H., Planters, Paupers, and Pioneers: English Settlers in Atlantic Canada, A Natural Heritage Book, A Member of the Dundurn Group, Toronto, 2010.

Casgrain, L’Abbé H.-R, Une Seconde Acadie, Imprimerie de L.-J Demers & Frère, Québec, 1894.

Casgrain, L’Abbé H.-R, Un Pèlerinage au pays d’Evangéline, Imprimerie de L.-J Demers & Frère, Québec, 1887.

Caven, John, “Settlement at St. Peter’s Harbor,” The Prince Edward Island Magazine, Vol. III, No. 3, October 1901.

Christianson, David John, Belleisle 1983: Excavations at a Pre-expulsion Acadian Site, Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, 1984.

Clark, Andrew Hill, Acadia – The Geography of Early Nova Scotia to 1760, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1968.

Clarke, Ernest, The Siege of Fort Cumberland, 1776: An Episode in the American Revolution, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1995.

Conrad, Margaret ed., Making Adjustments: Change and Continuity in Planter Nova Scotia, 1759-1800, Acadiensis, 1991.

Daigle, Jean, (direction), Les Acadiens des Maritimes : Etudes Thematiques, Centre d’Etudes Acadiennes, Moncton, 1980.

Dawson, Joan, The Mapmaker’s Eye: Nova Scotia Through Early Maps, co-published by Nimbus Publishing Limited and The Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, 1988.

Doucet, Paul, sous la direction, Vie de nos Ancêtres en Acadie : L’habitat et le mobilier, Editions d’Acadie, Moncton, 1980.

Dunn, Brenda, The Acadians of Minas, Studies in Archaeology Architecture and History, National Parrs and Sites Branch, Parks Canada, Ottawa, 1985.

Dupont, Jean-Claude, Héritage d’Acadie, Editions Leméac Inc., Ottawa, 1977.

Dupont, Jean-Claude, Histoire Populaire de l’Acadie, Editions Leméac Inc., Ottawa, 1979.

Erskine, John, The French Period in Nova Scotia A.D. 1500-1758 and Present Remains: a Historical, Archaeological and Botanical Survey, privately published by the author in mimeograph format, Wolfville, N.S., 1975.

Ferguson, Rob. “The search for Port La Joye: archaeology at Ile Saint-Jean’s first French settlement,” The Island Magazine 27 (Spring/Summer, 1990), pp. 3-8.

Gagnon, Ernest, Chansons Populaires du Canada, based on 1880 edition, Librarie Beauchemin Ltée, 1908.

Glénisson, Caroline Montel, Un tour de France canadien, Les Editions La Presse Ltée, Montréal, 1980.

Gooding, S. James, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, Museum Restoration Service, Bloomfield, Ontario, 1988.

Gooding, S.J., (introduction) Military Exercises: 1730, Museum Restoration Service, West Hill, Ontario, 1962.

Gosselin, Paul-E, L’Empire Français d’Amerique, Les Editions Ferland, Québec, 1963.

Graf, Maria-Theresia and Chmura, Gail L., “Reinterpretation of past sea-level variation of the Bay of Fundy,” The Holocene 20,1, pp. 7-11, 2010.

Griffiths, Naomi, The Acadians: Creation of a People, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, Toronto, 1973.

Griffiths, Naomi E. S., The Contexts of Acadian History, 1686-1784, The 1988 Winthrop Pickard Bell Lectures in Maritime Studies, published for the Centre for Canadian Studies, Mount Allison University by McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1992.

Griffiths, Naomi E. S., L’Acadie de 1686 à 1784- Contexte d’une histoire, Editions d’Acadie, Moncton, 1997.

Griffiths, N. E. S., From Migrant to Acadian, A North American Border People, 1604-1755, Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration, University of Moncton, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2005.

Hale, Robert, Journal of a Voyage to Nova Scotia made in 1731 by Robert Hale of Beverley, printed from the original manuscript now in possession of the American Antiquarian Society, Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. XLII, No. 3, 1906.

Houlding, J.A., French Arms Drill of the 18th Century: 1703-1760, Museum Restoration Service, Bloomfield, Ontario, 1988.

Jennings, John, Tending the Flock: Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis and Roman Catholics in early 19th century New Brunswick, New Ireland Press, Fredericton, 1998.

Johnson, A.G.B., Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg’s Last Decade, Cape Breton University Press, Sydney, Nova Scotia, 2007.

Johnston, A.J.B., “Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban: Reflections on His Fame, His Fortifications, and His Influence,” French Colonial History, Vol. 3, Michigan State University press, 2003.

Johnston – Vauban 2003

Jones, Elizabeth, Gentlemen and Jesuits: Quest for Glory and Adventure, Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 2002.

Kennedy, Gregory, “Marshland Colonization in Acadia and Poitou during the 17th Century,” Acadiensis, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2013.

Kristmanson, Helen, “Archaeology at Pointe-aux-Vieux,” The Island Magazine, Number 66, Fall/Winter 2009, PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown.

Kristmanson – Point-aux-Vieux Island Mag 2009

Kristmanson, Helen, “Archaeology at Pointe-aux-Vieux / La campagne archaéologique menée à Pointe-aux-Vieux,” The Island Magazine, Number 77, Spring/Summer 2015, PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown.

Kristmanson – Pointe-aux-Vieux I – IS MAG 2015

Kristmanson, Helen, “Archaeology at Pointe-aux-Vieux Part Two / La campagne archaéologique menée à Pointe-aux-Vieux Parte Deux,” The Island Magazine, Number 78, Fall/Winter 2015, PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown.

Kristmanson – Pointe-aux-Vieux II – IS MAG 2015

Laframboise, Yves, L’Architecture Traditionnelle au Québec : La Maison aux 17e et 18e siècles, Les Editions de L’Homme, Montréal, 1975.

Lavoie, Marc Charles, Belle isle, Nova Scotia 1680 -1755: Acadian Material Life and Economy, Curatorial Report Number 65, June1987, Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

LeBlanc, Emery, Les Acadiens, Les Editions de l’Homme, Montréal, 1963.

Lennox, Jeffers, “Nova Scotia Lost and Found: The Acadian Boundary Negotiation and Imperial Envisioning, 1750-1755,” Acadiensis, XL, No. 2, pp. 3-31, 2011.

Lescarbot, Marc, Nova Francia: A Description of Acadia, 1606, translated by P. Erondelle, 1609, introduction by H.P. Biggar, The Broadway Travellers Series, George Routeledge & Sons, London, 1928.

Lessard, Michel and Huguette Marquis, Encyclopédie de la Maison Québécoise, Les Éditions de L’Homme, Montréal, 1972.

Lessard, Michel and Gilles Villandré, La Maison Traditionnelle au Québec, Les Éditions de L’Homme, Montréal, 1974.

Mahaffie Jr., Charles D., A Land of Discord Always: Acadia from its Beginning to the Expulsion of Its People 1604-1755, Down East Books, Camden, Maine, 1995.

Marshall, Dianne, Heroes of the Acadian Resistance: The Story of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and Pierre II Surette 1702-1765, Formac Publishing Company Limited, Halifax, 2011.

Moogk, Peter N., Building a House in New France: An Account of the Perplexities of Client and Craftsmen in Early Canada, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1977.

Muller, John, A Treatise Containing the Elementary Part of Fortification, Regular and Irregular, John Nourse at the Lamb, London, 1756, Reprinted by Museum Restoration Service, Ottawa, Ontario, 1968.

Muller, John, A Treatise of Artillery: Containing …, John Millar, Whitehall, 1780, reprinted by Museum Restoration Service, Bloomfield, Ontario, 1977.

Naftel, William (based on his 1969 Parks Canada inventory), Inventory of the Manuscript Collection: Fort Beausejour National Historic Park transferred on Long Term Loan to Mount Allison University, typescript, 1970 and 1979.

Normand, Charles, Le Vignole des Ouvriers, ou Method Facile pour tracer les Cinq Ordres D’Architecture … Chez L’Auteur, Place du Parvis Notre Dame, Paris, 1828.

O’Dea, Shane, “Work in Progress: The Tilt: Vertical-Log Construction in Newfoundland,” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Vol. 1 (1982), pp. 55-64 (10 pages) Published by Vernacular Architecture Forum.

Patterson, Frank H., Acadian Tatamagouche and Fort Franklin, Truro Printing & Publishing Ltd., Truro, 1947.

Petto, Christine Marie, When France Was King of Cartography: The Patronage and Production of Maps in Early Modern France, Lexington Books, 2007.

Prévost, Robert, La France des Acadiens, Editions d’Acadie, Moncton, [1993].

Proulx, Gilles, Entre France et Nouvelle-France, Editions Marcel Broquet Inc. jointly with Parks Canada and le Centre d’édition du gouvernement du Canada, La Prairie, Québec, 1984.

Rempel, John I., Building with Wood and Other Aspects of Nineteenth-Century Building in Central Canada, Revised Edition, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1980.

Robinson, John, and Rispin, Thomas, Journey Through Nova-Scotia, containing a Particular Account of the Country and its Inhabitants, C. Etherington, 1774, republished by the Ralph Pickard Bell Library, Mount Allison University, 1981.

Sauer, Carl O., Seventeenth Century North America, Turtle Island, Berkeley, 1980.

Sigogne, Le R.P. Jean-Mandé, Les Français du Sud-Ouest de la Nouvelle Ecosse, Librarie Centrale, Besançon, 1905.

Taylor, Aaron, French Vernacular Architecture in Pre-Deportation Acadia. A Thesis Submitted to Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Atlantic Canada Studies April 2012, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Trueman, Howard, The Chignecto Isthmus and its First Settlers, William Briggs, Toronto, 1902.

Vachon, André, with Victorin Chabot and André Desrosiers, Taking Root: Canada from 1700 to 1760 in Records of Our History, Public Archives Canada, 1985.

Varennes, Fernand de, Lieux et monuments historiques de l’Acadie, Editions d’Acadie, Moncton, 1987.

Vauban, Traité des sièges et de l’attaque des places, Manuscript, Smithsonian Institution, 1700.

1700 Vauban – Traité́ des siéges et de l’attaque des places – Smithsonian

Walsh, H. H., The Church in the French Era from Colonization to the British Conquest, The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1966.

Webster, John Clarence, The Forts of Chignecto: A study of the Eighteenth Century conflict between France and Great Britain in Acadia [With Plates, Including Portraits, and Maps], Privately Published, 1930.

Webster, John Clarence, Joseph Frederick Wallet Desbarres and the Atlantic Neptune, Royal Society of Canada, Ottawa, 1927.

Webster, John Clarence, The Life of Joseph Frederick Wallet Desbarres, privately printed, Shediac, N.B., 1933.

Webster, John Clarence, The Career of the Abbe Le Loutre with his translated autobiography, privately printed, Shediac, N.B., 1933.

Webster, John Clarence, Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century: Letters Journals and Memoirs of Joseph Robineau de Villebon, Commandant in Acadia, 1690–1700 and Other Contemporary Documents, Saint John: Monographic Series No. I, The New Brunswick Museum, 1934.

Webster, John Clarence, translated by Alice Webster, The Siege of Beausejour in 1755: A Journal of the Attack on Beausejour written by Jacau De Fiedmont, Artillery Officer and Acting Engineer at the Fort, Historical Studies No. 1, Publications of the New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, 1936.

Webster, John Clarence, Editor, Journals of Beausejour: Diary of John Thomas (Apr. 1755 to Dec 1755) and Journal of Louis de Courville (1755), Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, 1937.

Webster, John Clarence, The Life of Thomas Pichon, “The Spy of Beausejour,” PANS, Halifax, 1937.

Wolfe, General James, General Wolfe’s Instructions to Young Officers …, Second Edition, London, 1780, reprinted by Museum Restoration Service, Ottawa, Ontario, 1967.

Wynn, Graeme, “W.F. Ganong, A.H. Clark and the Historical Geography of Maritime Canada, ” Acadiensis, Vol. 10, N0. 2, pp. 5-28, 1981.