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An Acadian Landscape: The Melanson Settlement

Acadian homeland history is full of references longing for the landscape of L'Acadie in northeastern Canada. Today, people can see a well-preserved form of such a landscape at the Melanson Settlement, an archaeological site and tourist attraction in the area of Port Royal, Nova Scotia, situated on the Annapolis River.

The photo above links to the fabulous Mapannapolis website, focusing on the area of Annapolis County, which includes the former Melanson Settlement. The website features storymaps and articles about a wide array of history and activities in this lovely region. Anyone who is curious about Acadian history must visit Mapannapolis!

The Melanson Settlement was initially settled by Charles Melanson dit La Ramée in the late 1600's. He was one of the Melanson brothers from whom many Acadians and Cajuns descend. Along with his wife, Marie Dugas, he worked with family and neighbors to create a thriving farming community. The home and farm buildings were located on an upland terrace, along with gardens and orchards.

According to an interview with historian and author Brenda Dunn, crops would have included "turnips, cabbages, herbs, and flax." There was also an orchard, as evidenced by a 1698 Census indicating 76 trees, although such orchards were neglected after the expulsion of Acadians by the British in 1755. Just two years later, a British officer noted how the apples and pears were weighing down the branches. After all, there was nobody there to pick the fruit.

Beyond the terrace, dykes and fields were created on the salt marshes. The Acadians were known for their ingenious dykelands, which were used for irrigating crops such as wheat, oats, and barley. A clear description of the dykelands can be found on this link to Parks Canada. They also offer a variety of activities nearby at the Port-Royal National Historic Site, which offers cultural immersion into 17th and 18th century life in L'Acadie.

The Melanson Settlement National Historic Site is one of many gems belonging to Parks Canada. I'd love to hear if you have visited this site, or if you are adding it to your wish list!


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