Saturday, August 23, 2014

Remembering Acadian Ancestors in Rivet, Mylott and Wills-Beauvais Families

If you are a Rivet, Mylott, Beauvais, Bissonnette, St Hilaire, or Wills identified on the pages of FrancoAmerican Gravy,  you do not have an Acadian name but you do have Acadian ancestors!! All these families have Acadian great grandmothers who were exiled to Quebec at the the time of the Acadian Deportation.  These grandmothers and great grandmothers married into Quebec families and gradually assimilated Quebec customs. Then during the great industrialization of New York and New England, our families came south, assimilating again into the American mainstream. Most in our families lost our ability to use French.

I took a three week journey to remember these Acadian Ancestors and grasp their tragedy, their sorrow and perhaps some of their happiness too.

August 23, 2014 and I have just returned from  a three week journey through Quebec, Maine, New Brunswick and upstate New York to attend the Acadian World Congress in a part of the world I am not familiar. Here is the map and you can try to identify exactly where this land fits into North America.  Although, this area is not the original Acadia, many descendants now live in this area where the Acadian culture, cuisine, pride and French language remain strong and vibrant.

There's beautiful landscapes in the St John's River Valley, Passamaquoddy Bay, the Saguenay River Gorge, and the great St Lawrence.  The days were never terribly hot and the evenings were cool with striking sunsets.  People were always friendly.  Sometimes we struggled through the French and English barrier with smiles and laughs. Of course there's lot of wildlife - loons, eagles, moose, with whale and beaver lodge sightings. The blueberries were in season: blueberries and salmon, blueberries and crepes, lots of fresh blueberries, throughout the trip.  My trip was planned to remember  Acadian ancestors and even though I have never identified myself as an Acadian and am totally assimilated into American culture, it was important and poignant. 

Throughout the trip I read John Mack Faragher's A Great and Noble Scheme  (2005:W.W. Norton & Company) which was an easy introduction to the story of the Acadian people and the consequences of living  in a place and time among three warring states - the Micmac First Peoples, France and England.

When "Le Grand Derangement"  began in September 1755 and ended in December 1755, over 7000 Acadian people were dispersed into ships, scattered throughout the British colonies on the eastern seaboard and some French colonies such as Saint Dominigue (present day Haiti).  Exiled from their homeland, many never returned to Acadia. Thousands of other Acadians fled to surrounding territories in what in now northern Maine, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

I highly recommend all members of our family become aware of their Acadian ancestors and their story. Contact me at

Below is a recap of the stories written about Acadians in this blog so far.  This list includes some early posts that may not have been well researched but I am reviewing them for accuracy and hope they will "make the cut"!

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