Forgotten Acadians

Jan 29, 2017 | Culture & History

Tor Bay Acadians Lived in Obscurity

From the time of settlement in the late 1700s and early 1800s, to the early to mid 1900s, the Tor Bay Acadians were mostly a forgotten group. With the exception of some extended families residing on Isle Madame, Tracadie, Haver Boucher, Chezzetcook and Pomquet, this isolated cluster group was relatively unknown. Though their story was much the same as that of the above named communities, it differed somewhat from that of many Acadians from other areas. Most families who settled along the shores of Tor Bay were direct descendants of imprisoned souls who survived the Deportation as captives held on Georges Island (in Halifax Harbour) and small fortresses at a variety of Nova Scotia locations. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they were freed and many settled at Chezzetcook, a short distance down the east coast from present day Dartmouth. Reports indicate that they were content there, but the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in 1783, once more threatened their security so they petitioned for land farther down the eastern shore in the Tor Bay/New Harbour area and a short distance west of Canso. In 1797, the following families received land grants on the shores of Tor Bay: Bellefontaine, Richard, Pellerin, Mannette, Lavandier, Petitpas, Boudreau, David, Roi, and  Bonnevie. These were soon joined by other families who intermarried with the above mentioned. They were, Deslauriers, Fougere, Cassie, Jelleau, Avery, Doiron, Cashen, Girrouard, Tibbo, and Bond. Far removed from further menacing encounters with the British military of Halifax, they were determined to survive in this isolated rocky region where peace would replace fear and potential threats of further upheavals.

They survived on their determination and resolve to eke out an existence from the unfriendly realities and surroundings that confronted them. The sea, the forest,  and what these offered was all they had, other than their strong Catholic faith. For the next 100 years or more, the lives of these families were described as ones of hardship, challenges, and determination that required all of their energy to survive. Their insoler existence and relative distances to other communities gave them little time, or occasion, to mingle with Acadians from other areas of the province. Their obscurity was such that very few Acadians from other regions knew where Tor Bay was, or that Acadian communities existed there. However, during the 1930s over 2000 Acadians lived on the shores of Tor Bay in Larry’s River, Charlos Cove and Port Felix. Another 50, or so, lived in Lundy.