Coordinates: 45°50′56.86″N 64°15′39.31″W /
45.8491278°N 64.2609194°W / 45.8491278; -64.2609194Beaubassin
was an important
Acadian village and trading centre on the
Isthmus of Chignecto
Isthmus of Chignecto in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. The area was
a significant place in the geopolitical struggle between the British
and French empires. It was established in the 1670s on an upland close
to an extensive area of saltwater marsh. Settlers reclaimed the land
to engage in cattle ranching and trade.
1 French colony
2 Beginnings of warfare
5 The site today
Jacques Bourgeois, a farmer, shipbuilder, and merchant at Port Royal
sold a part of his holdings there to settle in the Chignecto Basin,
where he built a flour-mill and a saw-mill. Around the same time
Michel Leneuf de la Vallière de Beaubassin set up a fur-trading post
on the isthmus, while devoting part of his time to the fishing,
farming, settlement, and soldiering. Following success in the latter
activity, in 1676 governor Frontenac granted him 100 square leagues
land which became the
Beaubassin seigneury. He established himself
on an upland known as Île de la Vallière, later Tonge's Island.
The settlement prospered on the fertile
Tantramar Marshes and
surrounding high ground, suitable for farming. The isthmus was also
the site of a portage between the
Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland
Strait and lay at the heart of a vast trading network encompassing
Nova Scotia and New England.
The first fruit trees were brought from
Port Royal by an Irishman,
Roger Kuessey (Caissy or Quessey), who established himself on a
highland now known as the Butte à Roger. In 1685 the site was
inspected by intendant
Jacques de Meulles who reported that the
grasslands around the settlement was sufficient to fatten thousands of
head of cattle, that there were 22 habitations, of which most had a
dozen or more cattle and as many each of pigs and sheep, but that not
much land was cultivated.
Beaubassin was made a parish when
Abbot Claude Trouvé built
a church. The settlement eventually extended up to Mill Creek,
Petitcodiac, Memramcook, and the Shepody Rivers.
By 1715, it is thought that
Beaubassin was home to 50 families, 32
acres of apple orchards, 1,000 head of cattle, and 800 hogs. There was
also a trading post which traded with
Louisbourg (in present-day Cape
Breton) via Baie Verte and the Northumberland Strait, and New England,
via the Bay of Fundy.
By 1750, the population was about 2,800. Other villages in the
immediate area included Weskak (now Westcock), Pré-des-Bourgs
(Sackville), Pré-des-Richards (Middle Sackville), and Aulac. About
half of the population were refugees from mainland Nova Scotia.
Beginnings of warfare
The settlement was subject to attacks from
New England starting with
the 1696 Raid on Chignecto during Queen Anne's War, led by Benjamin
Church. In 1704 he returned and attacked the
Beaubassin region again.
Beaubassin/ Fort Beausejour Cathedral Bell
Beaubassin was located at a site of strategic military importance. The
peace and prosperity of
Beaubassin was ended by rivalry between
Britain and France for the control of
Canada in the mid 1700s. Acadia
comprised most of what is now the Maritimes, as well as parts of
Québec, and northern Maine. With the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the
part of Acadia today known as peninsular
Nova Scotia became another
British colony on the eastern seaboard. The area now known as New
Brunswick remained under French control, as did what are
now known as
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island (then known as Île Saint-Jean)
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island (then known as Île Royale).
Due to disagreements in interpretation of the treaty provisions
delineating Acadia's boundaries, the ownership of New Brunswick was
disputed. An informal dividing line was established on the Isthmus of
Chignecto at the Missiguash River, near the site of Beaubassin.
In May 1750, the British dispatched Major Charles Lawrence, along with
800 troops, to seize control of the
Isthmus of Chignecto
Isthmus of Chignecto and construct
a fort near the French post of Point Beauséjour, future site of
As the British arrived, the French and their allies burned the town to
prevent its use by the enemy. Forty-five buildings were burned. The
Acadian population abandoned the village and sought refuge on the
other side of the
Missaguash River on Point Beauséjour. Major
Lawrence and his troops later built
Fort Lawrence near the site. The
bell was saved from Notre Dame d'Assumption Church and eventually put
it into a cathedral at Fort Beauséjour.
The British occupancy of the
Isthmus of Chignecto
Isthmus of Chignecto marked the beginning
of the end of French power in Acadia. Less than five years later,
New England troops used
Fort Lawrence as their base to
capture Fort Beausejour in June 1755, followed soon after by the
Expulsion of the Acadians
Expulsion of the Acadians from the area.
The site today
In 2004, Parks
Canada acquired a significant portion of the lands on
Beaubassin once stood and the site was designated a National
Historic Site of
Canada in 2005. The site includes the separately
Fort Lawrence National Historic Site. There is a stone
marker near the
Nova Scotia visitor centre off the Trans-Canada
Highway in Amherst,
Nova Scotia commemorating the village's existence.
The pastured fields of the former
Beaubassin village contain extensive
archaeological resources including glass and ceramic artifacts and
charred buildings that attest to the
Acadian way of life. Modern
buildings have impacted the archaeological resources, but much of the
land is still agricultural or marshland. Cellar depressions demarcate
the buildings that once made up the settlement.
Population of Beaubassin
Number of inhabitants
^ "Biography – BOURGEOIS, JACQUES – Volume II (1701-1740) –
Dictionary of Canadian Biography". www.biographi.ca. Retrieved
^ "Biography – LENEUF DE LA VALLIÈRE DE BEAUBASSIN, MICHEL (d.
1705) – Volume II (1701-1740) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
www.biographi.ca. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
^ a b c Arsenault, Bona; Alain, Pascal (2004-01-01). Histoire des
Acadiens (in French). Les Editions Fides.
^ a b c "Parks
Canada - News Releases and Backgrounders".
www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
^ Beaubassin. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 26
^ Fort Lawrence. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 26
Beaubassin National Historic Site of Canada". Canada's Historic
Places. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 22
^ Source: ROY, Muriel K. «Peuplement et croissance démographique en
Acadie» dans Les Acadiens des Maritimes, Moncton, Centre d'études
acadiennes, Université de Moncton, 1980, p. 148.
N.E.S. Griffiths. 2005. Migrant to Acadian, McGill-Queen’s
Benjamin Church, Thomas Church, Samuel Gardner Drake. The history of
King Philip's war ; also of expeditions against the French and
Indians in its Eastern parts of New England, in the years 1689, 1692,
i696 AND 1704. With some account of the divine providence towards Col.
National Historic Sites of
Canada by location
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island