Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
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Tips for visiting the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick, Canada

Nestled amid New Brunswick's bucolic forests along the Acadian coast lies a national treasure, one that shares history, culture, and the indomitable will of the Acadian people. The Village Historique Acadien - Acadian Historical Village (VHA) showcases the daily lives of Acadians in New Brunswick over a period of several hundred years.

Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Tucked away in a forest... just look for the sign!

I love living history museums for the way that they include all 5 of our senses in the learning journey. Seeing someone make bread by hand, after grinding the grain and kneading it - and then tasting it? It brings home the past more than anything else could...this is the closest we'll get to time travel, and I highly recommend it.

The colors of the Acadian flag at the VHA. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The colors of the Acadian flag at the VHA

The Acadians were French colonists who settled along Canada's maritime provinces - New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia (also known as Acadia). They spoke French (still do - New Brunswick is Canada's only official bilingual province), and had very strong cultural traditions. I'll delve into our time at the Acadian Museum at the University of Moncton, and this site has fantastic information about the history of the Acadians, but for now, I'll give a brief historic overview - and then share some amazing photos from the VHA. 

From the early 1600s until the mid 1700s, there was a steady flow of French colonists to Acadia. Then came the Grand Derangement, a forced exile of over 6,000 Acadians (some were settled in Louisiana, where they took their own culture and the local culture and became Cajun, a derivative of the word Acadian; others were settled in Maine and Quebec). 

Nowadays, the Acadians whose ancestors settled in New Brunswick show great pride in their culture. Driving along the Acadian coast, you'll see the colors of the Acadian flag in yard after yard, in store windows, on flags hanging from lightposts, on lobster traps and Adirondack chairs. Acadian culture is alive and well, despite the stealing of lands, exile, and attempted submersion of the people and culture. 

This culture has been shaped by the sea and the land, by hardship and community. At the Village Historique Acadien, you'll see hundreds of years of Acadian daily life, enhanced by actors who truly give a glimpse into each time period. You'll wander through woods and along paths, dropping your daily cares and worries with each step, entranced the entire time. In each building, re-enactors bring history to life.  

Take a look...

In this house, a historical re-enactor showed how to weave. Look at the low ceilings, dark room, and tiny bed! From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

In this house, a historical re-enactor showed how to weave. Look at the low ceilings, dark room, and tiny bed!

Carding flax to make thread. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Carding flax to make thread

See that red star? That's a symbol of Acadia! From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

See that red star? That's a symbol of Acadia! 

Robichaud Farm, Acadian History Village, New Brunswick

There were many farm outbuildings. I wonder what they used this roofed area for? At the Robichaud Farm, 1846.

bucolic farmland at Village Historique Acadien, New Brunswick, Canada

The farms are spread with enough land in between to physically feel the time difference between buildings. Here, a glimpse from the Robichaud farm (1846) and its farm animals grazing over to the  Doucet Farm (1860).

The walks are so very pleasant - isn't this an idyllic setting?

Walking the bucolic paths at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Walking the bucolic paths at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Walking the bucolic paths at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

The 1860 Doucet Farm, Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

The Doucet Farm (1860)

Chicken coop at the 1860 Doucet Farm, Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Chicken coop at the Doucet Farm  

Yummy baking at the 1860 Doucet Farm, Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Baking something yummy at the Doucet Farm

Local resident at the 1860 Doucet Farm, Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

MOO goodness at Doucet Farm

Babineau Farm (1855) at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Cut wood at the Babineau Farm (1855), which was used for this lovely fire...

Babineau Farm (1855) at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Here, the women were making bread. Notice the dishes covered with cloths or other dishes - to keep out the bugs? Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Here, the women were making bread. Notice the dishes covered with cloths or other dishes - to keep out the bugs?

The fireplace and assorted pots, tools, and stacks of wood - ready to make a meal. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The fireplace and assorted pots, tools, and stacks of wood - ready to make a meal

Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Fences are carefully tended along the path

Tavern (1880). From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Tavern (1880)

General Store (1889) - I loved being inside and seeing what was available for people to buy - the brown barrel was molasses; the red thing behind it was a washing machine

General Store (1889), Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

General Store (1889) - I loved being inside and seeing what was available for people to buy - the brown barrel was molasses; the red thing behind it was a washing machine. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

 

 Well-tended blacksmith building (1874). From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

 Well-tended blacksmith building (1874). From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Well-tended blacksmith building (1874)

 A farm cart at the Babineau farm (1855). From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

A farm cart at the Babineau farm (1855)

Geese loose and in a river pen. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Geese loose and in a river pen. From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Geese loose and in a river pen 

The Theriault Farm (1890) - laundry on a line! From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The Theriault Farm (1890) - laundry on a line!

The 1831 chapel's exterior and interior.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The 1831 chapel's exterior and interior.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The 1831 chapel's exterior and interior

My favorite building, so get ready for some photos! This is the Moulin a farine - Grist Mill (1895). It used the flow from the river to power the mill. When the miller gave the signal, the boy outside turned a wheel to divert some of the powerful water into this trough. When it filled up, it powered the mill and ground the flour. The flour was sorted into degrees of milling, with fine white flour being the most processed (and most expensive).

The river, which will power the grist mill. From  Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The river, getting ready to power the grist mill. From  Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

He turns the wheel to divert the water

The river, getting ready to power the grist mill. From  Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

See the trough filling up and coming into the mill?

Grist mill at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Grist mill at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

Three different grinds of wheat

Grist mill at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

The heavy machinery - and a woodstove to keep warm!

Grist mill at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

This peaceful scene hides a loud, active machine inside!

 The covered bridge (1900), taking you from the 1800s to the 1900s.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The covered bridge (1900), taking you from the 1800s to the 1900s

The Moulin a bois - Wood Mill (1949).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

The Moulin a bois - Wood Mill (1949)

Irving Oil Co. Ltd (1936).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Irving Oil Co. Ltd (1936)

Gare - railway station (1930).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Gare - railway station (1930)

Hotel Chateau Albert (1907).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Hotel Chateau Albert (1907)

Magasin General - general store (1924).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Magasin General - general store (1924)

Turgeon house (1928).  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Turgeon house (1928)

Chiasson house (1920), including the fanciest chicken coop I've ever seen.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Chiasson house (1920), including the fanciest chicken coop I've ever seen.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

Chiasson house (1920), including the fanciest chicken coop I've ever seen

Friendly greetings at Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

and a very friendly greeter

Resting place at Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

There are plenty of places to rest along the trail

Travel back in time at the Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

A cart and driver

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is a very important story about Acadian history. The cafe at the VHA is called Magasin Evangeline. Stop in for a bite!

Evangeline is a very important story about Acadian history. The cafe at the VHA is called Magasin Evangeline. Stop in for a bite!

Evangeline is a very important story about Acadian history. The cafe at the VHA is called Magasin Evangeline. Stop in for a bite!

Tips on visiting the Village Historique Acadien

Most of the VHA is handicap accessible. The paths are dirt and gravel. Some buildings have steps that go in. When possible, there are wooden ramps that can be used to get over higher door sills. Ask for help - everyone was extremely friendly and worked very hard to make it accessible for me in my wheelchair scooter. People with disabilities and their attendant get in free.

disability access at Acadian Historical Village, New Brunswick

(see me getting around?)

There is an entrance fee to get in, as well as paid guided tours in both French and English. Visiting this place is worth every penny, and then some.

LOVE the Acadian shop! It's located in the visitor center, where you enter the park

Shop at the visitor centre, at the Acadian Historical VIllage, New Brunswick

The VHA is kid-friendly - there are plenty of spaces to run around and burn off energy, animals to pet (love those cows), and buildings to explore. 

The VHA is located near Caraquet, in Riviere du Nord, in northeast New Brunswick, along the Acadian coast.

A beautiful glimpse into a historic Acadian home.  From Acadian History Comes Alive in a New Brunswick Village

A beautiful glimpse into a historic Acadian home

Learn more:

http://www.villagehistoriqueacadien.com/en

http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/See/Acadie.aspx

http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/V/Village-Historique-Acadien-Product.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acadians

And see more of my photos at New Brunswick’s Colors of Acadian History

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators

 

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