Saturday, September 19, 2009

The French Cross

Today's post will take me a short way out of Annapolis County into neighbouring Kings County. While this is a little way outside of my normal geographic boundary, this story is one with a direct link to Annapolis County as well as to some of the most tragic events in the history of our province.

Nestled on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy is the small community of Morden. If you are driving there from the Annapolis Valley, you can get to Morden by taking the road across the North Mountain which lies in front of St. Mary's Church in Aylesford. Morden, originally known as French Cross, is a pleasant community filled with summer cottages. From this location you have a wonderful view of the mysterious Isle Haute which lies in the middle of the Bay of Fundy. It is in this community that one of the unheralded stories of the 1755 Acadian deportation is played out.

The story of the deportation is far too complex for a single post (a doctoral thesis is about the right length). The events in this post represent only a small part of a much larger story.

Word had come to the Acadians living along the Annapolis River in Belleisle that, after many years of talk, the British authorities had decided to do the unthinkable. Acadian families living at Beaubassin and Grand Pre had been arrested. They were being loaded into ships to be transported to unknown locations. As you could imagine, this caused distress and panic among those living at Belleisle. A group of about 60 Acadians decided that they would rather take action than to passively wait for the British to come and arrest them. They would try to evade the coming deportation.

Gathering whatever belongings they could they quickly made their way up the Annapolis River to a location near modern Kingston. In this location they soon exhausted whatever supplies they had and had to forage for food. After an outbreak of dysentery members of the small party started to die. Information provided by friendly forces among the Mi'Kmaq told the Acadians that the British were still in the area. Their safest plan was to cross the North Mountain, winter on the shore of the Bay of Fundy and head to Quebec in the Spring.

Winter must have seemed like it dragged on for an eternity. Uninsultated huts would prove to be poor protection when the winter winds blew across the bay. Death claimed more victims of the small entourage. When Spring finally arrived, the survivors built canoes to paddle across to New Brunswick. Before they left, a wooden cross was erected on the shore to mark the final resting spot of their deceased family members.

Today, a memorial stone cross stands on the waterfront in Morden to mark the area where in the winter of 1755-1756 group of Acadians endured hardships and death. It is worth taking a trip across the North Mountain to see this site.

All for now,
RGS

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