Revealing the History of the Isthmus of Chignecto

Toward Truth and Reconciliation

Anne Marie Lane Jonah
Parks Canada


Chignecto, the border region between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, is a central region of Mi’kma’ki, linking the Atlantic seaboard to the Wulstuk, the St. John River region, the interior of the continent, and beyond. It was also the site of prosperous Acadian communities that became embroiled in colonial wars. In 2017, Parks Canada set out to create a new exhibit to tell the many stories of Chignecto, working in collaboration with Mi’kmaq community partners, and drawing upon Parks Canada’s new “Framework for History.” This exhibit’s collaborative research and development process provides an example of the challenges and the potential of such an approach to public history.


Chignectou, la région frontalière entre la Nouvelle-Écosse et le Nouveau-Brunswick, est le territoire principal du Mi’kma’ki qui relie la côte atlantique à Wulstuk, à la région du fleuve Saint- Jean, à l’intérieur du continent et plus loin encore. Ce territoire est également le site des communautés acadiennes prospères qui ont été entrainées dans les guerres coloniales. En 2017, en collaboration avec les partenaires de la communauté mi’kmaque, Parcs Canada a entrepris la création d’une nouvelle exposition de nombreux récits de Chignectou, fondée sur le concept « Cadre de l’histoire et de la commémoration » de Parcs Canada. La recherche collaborative de l’exposition et son processus d’élaboration offrent un exemple des enjeux et des possibilités d’une telle approche de l’histoire publique.

1 What does our shared history, Indigenous and colonial, look like post–Truth and Reconciliation? In 2017, Parks Canada began work on a long-planned exhibit on a sparsely populated, marginal region: the Isthmus of Chignecto. This neck of land and the rivers that cross it link the peoples of Mi’kma’ki and the neighbouring Wolastoqey Nation to resources throughout the Maritime region and beyond. It also serves as a road, and today a highway, between mainland Nova Scotia and the continent (See Figure 1). Although a small land area, Chignecto was, and is, central to understanding the history of the places it connects. Coming immediately after the report of the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, we (our Parks Canada team) knew this exhibit would have to be different, would have to address many perspectives and a larger picture, but we didn’t yet have a model on how to bring about the needed change.1 We knew that we needed to decenter our colonial/imperial frame of reference and create the space in the exhibit, both in the planning and in the final presentation, to view the landscape from the perspective of the Indigenous Nations who lived there and shaped the land for centuries prior to European settlement.2 This paper reflects my experience and understanding of the process of reexamining the history, working with Indigenous partners to try to tell the story of a shared place: of a Mi’kmaw place that Europeans came to. This task was more profound, and more challenging than I could have guessed at the outset. This exhibit was undertaken with the conviction that it needed to be done, even though, at the start, and still at the end, we had far more questions than answers.

Figure 1: Parks Canada, 2018.
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2 A caveat: In communicating how this process and learning shaped our exhibit, I draw upon Indigenous knowledge that was shared with me, to provide context for how this knowledge has changed my approach to this history. However, this paper should not be viewed as a source for understanding Mi’kmaw culture or history, but a product of my own process to better understand a settler history in an Indigenous place. In that sense, although I speak of a “shared history,” there is still a significant divide. This is settler history that aspires to converse with Indigenous history, but it is not an attempt to tell the Mi’kmaw story or explain the Mi’kmaw world view.3 I encourage readers desiring to better understand Indigenous history and culture to consult the sources mentioned in the footnotes, beginning with Daniel Paul’s We Were Not the Savages, and, if possible, to visit our exhibit, or any historic presentation developed by or in full collaboration with Indigenous peoples.

3 The exhibit team’s first step was to commission research through our Indigenous partners to address gaps in understanding created by colonial structures. Mi’kmak’i, and the Mi’kmaw district of Siknikt, cross the Isthmus of Chignecto, encompassing areas in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, whose border bisects Chignecto. That division has meant that historical and archaeological collections are divided between the provinces, and the region has long been seen in each province as peripheral. For our work, we needed to be able to link the archaeological collections of both regions, and to conduct a review of archival documents that encompassed both provinces. Thanks to new funding for history at Parks Canada, the “Stories of Canada” initiative, the exhibit project was able to support these studies. Each of these reviews was directed by an Indigenous partner organization to address questions about the Chignecto region from a Mi’kmaw perspective, to guide and inform the exhibit project and any subsequent research on this region. These studies yielded working documents to guide the entire exhibit team, grounding our work with a focused reflection on the sources.4

4 As a public historian with a specialization in eighteenth-century North Atlantic history, my intention was to review the Parks Canada commemoration history and existing historiography to see what change was needed to address the colonial history of the nationally designated sites on the Isthmus of Chignecto in an exhibit that also addressed a Mi’kmaw understanding of the place and its value. The challenge then was twofold. First, members of the exhibit team reviewed the history of the Mi’kmaw and Acadian communities at Chignecto, and their response to the British-French imperial conflict that impacted their region, to see how our new approach changed interpretations of known sources. Second, we had to develop a public history approach that could bring Indigenous knowledge into conversation with the colonial historical narrative,5 hoping to overcome the biases of past presentations and help our visitors to appreciate the history of this complex and deeply valued place.

5 To help visitors make sense of the shared presentation and the changed use of narrative, we chose to create an exhibit that would highlight multiple perspectives and interpretations by addressing how we know, as well as what we know. By foregrounding what sources of information become “History” and receive public commemorations, we also could highlight how people choose what stories to tell. This exhibit would include the landscape and material culture in the history and would approach written documents from multiple perspectives—reading against the grain to address the gaps and biases of the texts. The level of collaboration, partnerships, and new research needed for this work was a logistical challenge for a tiny exhibit. The difference in approach and in outcome is a testament to the will and commitment of the team: Parks Canada staff, the external contractors, who weathered a much longer and more complex process than they had signed up for, and the team members from Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre in Nova Scotia and Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn in New Brunswick, as well as many elders and experts who answered requests for advice and guidance. Together we were able to challenge accepted narratives, and to see our shared history as a resource and a tool that can support the goal of reconciliation.6

Siknikt and Chignecto: The Setting

6 The name Chignecto is a European adaptation of the Mi’kmaw term for a much larger region, Siknikt or Sikniktuk, the drainage place, that extends from the Cobequid highlands to the eastern edge of the Wolastoq (Saint John) River drainage area, and north to the Baie de Chaleur. The isthmus, at the centre of that district, is a resource-rich marshland traversed by rivers and portage routes that link the Bay of Fundy to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and further to major river routes leading to the interior of the continent. Siknikt is a large district of Mi’kma’ki, with the isthmus at its centre, whereas what is currently called Chignecto is a small strip of land, the margins of two provinces bisected by a border first created by imperial competition in 1713. Much of the research, writing, and storytelling about this region have focused on the history of Chignecto as a point of division between French and British colonial claims, centring imperial perspectives, and thereby marginalizing the perspectives of those who lived there. There had been a significant Mi’kmaw presence at Chignecto for millennia when, in the seventeenth century, a small Acadian group started a settlement there. This group planted the seed of a community that would grow and spread over its eighty-year history, sharing Chignecto with existing and also growing Mi’kmaw communities. These communities managed a coexistence in this space without colonial administrative presence, creating a distinctly independent region, until the French-British conflict brought the story of the shared place to a crisis in the 1750s.

Commemoration of Chignecto Sites by Parks Canada

7 The Isthmus of Chignecto contains five national historic sites (NHS) of Canada that are operated or owned by Parks Canada, meaning that the sites are protected and presented by the Canadian government (See Figure 2). Not all sites designated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board (HSMB) to have national historic significance are owned and operated by Parks Canada. Most are in private hands or are the property of other levels of government.7 In Chignecto, Beaubassin NHS, an Acadian village destroyed in 1750, and Fort Lawrence NHS, built on the ruins of the village, both occupy a ridge to the southeast of the Missaguash River, the modern border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Although the Fort Lawrence NHS was designated in 1923, Beaubassin NHS was only designated in 2005. Neither site contains readily visible remains today, and very few, beyond specialists and local residents, know of the momentous and tragic history of that place. Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland NHS, on the northwestern ridge overlooking the Missaguash, was designated in 1920. “Fort Beau” consists of the partially restored ruins of a French stone fortification, subsequent British alterations, and trench works from the 1755 siege, as well as the concealed ruins of Acadian villages. Between the two is Tonge’s Island (Île de la Vallière) NHS. On the northern end of the isthmus, Fort Gaspareaux NHS, designated in 1920, contains archaeological ruins, a cairn, and burial markers associated with nine British soldiers killed there in 1756.

Figure 2: Parks Canada, 2018.
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8 Since the 1920s the military story of colonial wars has dominated the landscape and the commemorative narrative of Chignecto. The battles there were understood as precursors to the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) which brought about the fall of New France, so Chignecto’s history was treated as a background for a more important narrative that happened later and elsewhere. Early heritage protection efforts, beginning in 1902, focused on the ruins of the stone Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland, across the Missaguash River from Beaubassin and Fort Lawrence. John Clarence Webster, a medical doctor and history enthusiast, one the first and longest-serving members of the HSMB, championed preserving the history of French and British conflict in the Chignecto region, and so the isthmus area received some of the board’s first designations.8 The site of the principal portage route through the isthmus, linking the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Saint John River/Wolastoq, was also designated in 1937 as a “Prehistoric Indian Portage,” with the plaque (since removed) describing the route as a link between French colonial capitals. Nonetheless, more than a century later, as we began to piece the story of the many Chignecto sites together, it was apparent that so far research and commemorations had neglected an important part of the story. The journals of colonial administrators and officers at Chignecto in the 1750s contained ample evidence of an Indigenous role in the mid-eighteenth-century conflict that had received scant attention in most subsequent histories or in the HSMB designations. Documents written by both British and French officers recorded that Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey were prominently and consistently present at Chignecto in all of the conflicts between 1750 and 1761. Approaching these colonial documents from an Indigenous perspective and challenging the received Eurocentric histories forces us to confront the role settler historians have had in supporting colonization: by disregarding and downplaying Indigenous values and actions, historians have supported the systems of their dispossession and oppression in subsequent periods.9 While looking more closely at Indigenous and Acadian responses to the actions of the French and British in Chignecto, I began to understand the extent of the change in the practice of history required to shift this narrative. The story of the contested imperial space had entirely overshadowed the functional and cultural space, as histories and commemorations framed Chignecto’s significance in reference to the Seven Years’ War.10 Research and presentation for the new exhibit would place the functional and cultural space—where people lived and why—at the centre of the story, approaching Siknikt as a place that mattered, that was impacted by war; not as a place that mattered only because it was impacted by war.

A Renewed Presentation

9 Although, a century ago, the federal government’s commemorative work had started with the most visible military site, Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland, the new exhibit’s story begins with a Mi’kmaw place that is not currently designated or memorialized in the landscape. The survey of archaeology from the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick provincial collections and Parks Canada’s Atlantic region collection helped to address this gap. The preliminary results of the study demonstrated a clear and consistent pattern of Indigenous presence at Chignecto from ten thousand years ago to the present.11 Archaeological investigations have found objects for hunting and food processing, trade goods, and cultural practices, demonstrating the sustained and consistent use and the importance of the region for trade and habitation over millennia. Although much more can be done, for this exhibit project our intention was to reflect awareness of these preliminary findings in our approach to the historical presentation. The first Acadian settlers came to this area not only because they recognized its agricultural potential, but as importantly, because it was a Mi’kmaw place and a centre for trade.

10 The Acadian villages at Chignecto, settled among established Mi’kmaw communities on a well-connected trade route, had a relatively brief history, beginning at Beaubassin in the 1670s and ending when the Acadian villages east of the Missaguash River were destroyed in 1750 and the villages of refuge west of the river were destroyed in 1755.12 Knowledge of the site of the Acadian village of Beaubassin had endured in local Acadian oral history. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the curious had gone searching for artifacts in the fields, and studies of the place were undertaken: history, archaeology, and genealogy. In 1991, a farmer grading a large section of his field to build a barn turned up thousands of archaeological objects dating to the eighteenth century, bringing the site to greater attention. Even so, it was not until 2005 that Beaubassin was designated by the HSMB and acquired by Parks Canada. From 2007 to 2011, Parks Canada archaeologist Charles Burke led public archaeology programs to study the sites of the fort and village, bringing to light a large collection of artifacts, and inspiring tremendous attachment to and interest in the historic place. This work, however, could not address the history of the Mi’kmaw place, how it functioned with the Acadians in its midst, and how it responded to the violence of the mid-eighteenth century.

The Acadian Arrival in a Mi’kmaw Place: Retelling the Story

11 The archaeological literature review conducted to support the exhibit provided a picture of an Indigenous presence beginning more than ten thousand years ago, focused on the rivers and coasts and the use of marine resources, supplemented with local flora and fauna.13 There have been significant finds of artifacts near the Missaguash and Tantramar Rivers, and at Baie Verte and near Northport on the Northumberland shore of the isthmus.14 There are a number of sites that have yielded multi-era objects, including seven sites that contain objects spanning the periods prior to European arrival and after. The map of the sites identified on the isthmus shows the organization of land use around waterways, portage routes, and meeting places.15 When archaeologist Sara Beanlands analyzed the pattern of sites, she quickly discerned that they mapped well with the arrangement of Acadian villages of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Based on this archaeological evidence, the exhibit features maps that use overlays to show change over time, allowing visitors to see the interplay of Indigenous traditional knowledge and land use and later colonial settlements and land use.

12 Existing archaeology also bears witness to the mobility associated with Chignecto. Connected by the coastal and river routes (shown in Figure 3), the Indigenous peoples of the region travelled throughout Mi’kma’ki and had access to goods from throughout the region. In Chignecto they encountered other cultures over millennia, adopting or adapting technologies and exchanging goods.16 In 1613, Father Pierre Biard observed in his early description of Acadia that the wealth of fish and wildlife at Chignecto made it possible for Mi’kmaw inhabitants there to lead a sedentary life, something he did not believe was true of other community locations in Mi’kma’ki. Missionaries’ census data from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries confirm the presence of a significant and stable Mi’kmaw community in the Chignecto region, sometimes identified as being at Beaubassin others as Missagoueche.17 This existing community and its connectedness with the larger region formed part of the attraction for the project of settlement begun in the 1670s by the married couple Jacques Bourgeois and Jeanne Trahan, and their extended family, sons and daughters, and their spouses. Although this family was intent on agriculture and clearing land, trade was also part of their livelihood, and access to trade was an important consideration in choosing their new settlement.18

Figure 3: A graphic rendering of the region showing Mi’kmaw and Acadian places and land use prior to the 1750s, for the exhibit Revealing Chignecto. The locations and place names are informed by exhibit research in archaeology, Mi’kmaw place names, and Acadian mapping. Cartography: Marcel Morin, graphics: Ken Mikalauskas/Skyline Atlantic Canada, for Parks Canada, 2021.
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13 As inhabitants of a resource-rich area that normally saw traders and travellers, the Mi’kmaq most probably greeted the Bourgeois family openly, and would have expected reciprocal openness and respect. Naomi Griffith’s fundamental work of Acadian history, From Migrant to Acadian, described positive relationships between the early French settlers of Acadia and the Mi’kmaq. Griffiths provided examples of Acadian interaction and trade with the Indigenous peoples, and the development of Acadian agricultural communities in proximity to Mi’kmaw places.19 This interaction may have arisen from necessity, based on inferior settler numbers and lack of local knowledge, as well as interest in mutually beneficial trade.20 The activity of French Catholic missionaries in the region beginning in the early seventeenth century meant that the two groups also had a shared spiritual practice though which they could connect and communicate. Some Catholic missionaries perceived a similarity between fundamental Christian values and Mi’kmaw values, as did Catholic missionaries in other areas of New France.21 William Wicken noted that Mi’kmaq and Acadian interaction, as evidenced by intermarriage and shared religious sacraments in the seventeenth century, declined significantly in the eighteenth century.22 The exhibit’s effort to address the shared space of Chignecto had to consider the question of how their intercultural relationship changed as the settlement grew and the political context evolved.

14 The Bourgeois group’s multi-year process of arriving at Chignecto, during which they built dykes, drained and cleared land, and built houses before the entire group migrated, may have helped their peaceful integration into the existing community.23 The archaeological study of Chignecto shows the Acadians’ use of space in response to the Mi’kmaq, their communities being in proximity, not one replacing the other. As Acadians settling elsewhere in Mi’kma’ki had sought the permission of the Mi’kmaq to use the land, this seems likely for Chignecto as well.24 One example of an uneasy but still functioning co-existence of two deeply different ways of life was reported near the end of the community’s existence. L’Abbé LeLoutre explained to colonial authorities that Acadians accepted that some of their cattle was taken by the Mi’kmaq, as they valued their relationship with the Mi’kmaq, who resisted the British.25 LeLoutre had his own reasons to portray that relationship in a positive light, but when the Mi’kmaq “hunted” cattle, based on need, trusting that their neighbours would share, it drew grumbling but was accepted. In the decades that Beaubassin and its neighbouring villages grew, Acadian practices and use of space did not necessarily compete with the Mi’kmaq, and the communities came together to participate in a small-scale trade of European goods for furs and other local products.

Trade at Chignecto

15 Pierre Arsenault (v1650-1714), connected by marriage to the Bourgeois family group, provided coastal transport for the settlement process over the years that the family voyaged between Port Royal and Beaubassin, some settling in the new village, others remaining in the old.26 The Bourgeois family was involved in fur trade in Port Royal, and continued that trade in Beaubassin.27 Mi’kmaq had traded with European fishermen for generations, and so continued with the new settlers, still maintaining their settlement and movement patterns and their way of life as the Acadian communities grew and modified some of the landscape. The small Acadian fur trade was not important in an imperial sense, but provided a valued enrichment to the basic economies on both sides, and created a space for cultural exchange, so each group was motivated to understand and accommodate the other to maintain their connection.28 Very shortly after the Bourgeois settlement began, a seigneury was awarded to Michel le Neuf de la Vallière, a minor noble born in Trois Rivières, whose family was linked to that of Nicolas Denys, an established fur trader.29 He located his settlement on a rise of land west of the Missaguash, near the basin, now Île de la Vallière/Tonge’s Island NHS. This second aspect of the settlement, explored in Kennedy, Peace, and Pettigrew’s article on the region, either out-migrated, as did the de la Vallières, or slowly integrated with the Acadian community.30

16 In the absence of detailed trade records, we can infer that although the trade may not have been sufficient to keep the de la Vallière settlement in place, it was at least worth continuing, as Pierre Arsenault’s son, Pierre II (1676-unknown), in 1714 was engaged in the trade while also farming at Beaubassin. He kept a journal of a trading voyage along the north coast of modern New Brunswick and the Northumberland Strait to l’Île Royale (Cape Breton), travelling in a birchbark canoe with a group of travellers he did not identify, and staying in Mi’kmaw villages along his route. He described the Mi’kmaw communities he encountered, the cultivation he observed (blé d’inde), eel fishing with the Mi’kmaq, and encountering French fishermen along his route. He did not describe his own trade activity until he reached Louisbourg, where he traded sheep, and observed a French royal ship disembarking artillery, and French and English traders at anchor in the harbour. He returned to Beaubassin before his final stop, Annapolis Royal, where he traded “bestiaux,” probably both sheep and cattle, in September.31 He presented himself to the new British governor at Annapolis Royal, and provided his journal, an account of his cosmopolitan world of trade that had little regard for imperial claims, one year after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, that claimed much of this region for Great Britain. Arseneau’s willingness to share information with the British governor is consistent with the attitudes of many Acadians at the time, who had lived through, or were familiar with, multiple regime changes in the colony’s history.

17 In 1731, Robert Hale, a Boston trader visiting the Acadian village at Beaubassin, which he called Meshegueshe, described his visit with Pierre Arseneau, probably the third Pierre, son of the 1714 trader.32 By 1731 the Pierre who wrote the journal had relocated to Malpeque in Île Saint-Jean (Epekwitk/Prince Edward Island), living close to a Mi’kmaw community, still having a coastal vessel, but also still primarily farming.33 Hale had come to meet Pierre Arseneau III, whom he described as an “Indian trader” who “lately came from St. John’s in Canada River with Furs and Seal Skins.” This most likely described the route up the Saint John River/Wolastoq to the St. Lawrence, an important trade connection for the region.34 While at Beaubassin, Hale stayed at the home of “William Sire” (Guillaume Cyr) and visited Arseneau’s brother. These were all descendants of the first settlers of the village, well-connected and with farms. As the trade continued, it is to be noted that all of the Arseneaux mentioned also had land and livestock, and were described on the censuses as farmers.35 This trade involvement kept them mobile, connected, and enriched, but it was not their only occupation.

18 The largest part of Chignecto’s trade was livestock, bound for Annapolis Royal, New England, and Louisbourg. Traders could easily travel to Louisbourg by coastal vessel via Baie Verte, on the isthmus’s north shore, making that tiny community the main point of trade for the region.36 Reports of the British colonial government at Annapolis Royal complaining of the trade with Louisbourg from 1715 and 1725 both mention the fur trade as well as livestock.37 The exports were balanced with a trade in French cloth imported via Louisbourg, an item used increasingly by the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq. Archaeology at Beaubassin yielded a striking number of lead seals for textile bundles, markers of the source and quality of the fabric that were affixed at the place of manufacture and left on the cloth bundle until it was broken up for sale.38 The archaeology of the village and Fort Beauséjour also contained beads, earthenware, and a variety of iron goods. At the current state of research, we cannot say whether the Arseneaux’s activity represents a larger group of traders or whether they were exceptional, but they are indicative of an ongoing, multi-generational economic link between the Mi’kmaw and French Acadian communities that gave both communities access to a wide range of goods.

Social and Cultural Ties: Parish Registers, the Church Bell, and Chapel Cornerstone

19 Given the lack of personal writing from these communities, Roman Catholic parish registers provide a rare insight into people sharing important life events together, indicating deeper ties and shared cultural moments. The Beaubassin registers contain a small but significant number of sacraments performed for Mi’kmaw communicants with Acadian participants. The church registers of Beaubassin, for the parish of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, exist in two separate archives and cover only part of that parish’s existence. The early registers, for 1679 to 1686, are in the archives of Quebec, and the rest, 1712-48 (with two significant gaps: 1724-31 and 1735-39), are in La Rochelle, France. As mentioned, Wicken noted that in these registers, and throughout Acadia, there was a higher incidence of recorded shared sacraments in the seventeenth century than in the eighteenth.39 The social network analysis work of Kennedy and colleagues helps to contextualize the ongoing significance of relations with a smaller number of events to study. Their work of mapping the name references in the registers to create a spatial representation of social proximity and connections allows for a nuanced view of how the Acadian and Mi’kmaw communities interacted at Beaubassin. They found that in the seventeenth century it was the most connected, core families of the Acadian community who had the most interactions with the Mi’kmaq.40 The fur trade link was clear in the seventeenth century, but the quantity of interactions decreased in the registers in the eighteenth century. Although there were fewer acts, it was still possible, by considering all of the participants, to see the nature of social ties in the communities. By delving into these shared acts, we are able to make connections based on our knowledge of the community to understand better the significance of participating together in a celebration.

20 Through looking closely at the few shared sacraments of the eighteenth century, we see the web of connections behind them. On August 1, 1722, Pierre Alkimu (spelled Arguimaut in the register), “fils de Joseph fils de Philippe Arguimaut chef des sauvages de Beaubassin at de Marie…sa femme” was baptised (See Figure 4).41 The Alkimu family contained generations of leaders connected to important moments of diplomacy throughout the eighteenth century.42 The priest performing the baptism recognized this importance by including Pierre’s grandfather’s name, in itself unusual, and his status as sagmaw of the Mi’kmaq of Beaubassin. This recognition did not extend to Pierre Alkimu’s mother, who received the virtually anonymous appellation of “Marie.” The gap left for a family name that was not recorded speaks to the compounded difficulty of researching Indigenous women in records created by European men. Pierre’s mother was absent at the baptism as Pierre was born the same day, “né le même jour.” This was unusual for Mi’kmaw baptisms, as families were mobile and so baptisms waited until they were at a mission. This situation suggests that at the time of the birth the family was resident at Beaubassin.

Figure 4: Baptism of Pierre Arguimaut (Alkimu), August 1, 1722, Beaubassin Parish Registers, 1712-48, E-Dépôt 105/520, Archives départementales de la Charente-Maritime, La Rochelle, France.
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21 Roman Catholic parents chose godparents who could help out their child through their prominence or connections, or they chose relatives or close friends who would reinforce family and social relations for the child. Pierre Alkimu’s godparents were both Acadian, each providing a different type of link to the community. The godfather, “Pierre Arsenaud,” may have been either Pierre II, who wrote the journal of his trade voyage in 1714, or Pierre III, who met Robert Hale in 1731.43 In either case, he had strong connections to the Mi’kmaw community through trade. As godfather, he reinforced these ties with a social commitment. The godmother, Claire Cormier, wife of Pierre Sire (Cyr), was central to the web of connections among the original settlers of Beaubassin.44 As godmother she strengthened ties between Mi’kmaw leadership and Acadian community leaders. Two other baptisms in June 1723 also involved Mi’kmaw families with Acadian godparents. These godparents were all connected to the same core families: Cormier, Bourgeois, and Cyr. “Joseph fils de Michel Chikaguet et Marguerite Bernard, sa femme” was one month old at his baptism. “Agnès, fille de feu François 8abuiketek…et de Cecile sa femme,” was also about one month old.45 The relatively small number of sacraments in the eighteenth century still built on and reinforced the same kinds of ties as in the seventeenth century; thus the frequency of shared sacraments may have decreased, but the relationships behind them were consistent.

22 The priest who performed these baptisms, Father René Charles de Breslay, had been recruited in France to serve the colonial venture of the Comte de St Pierre for Île Saint-Jean/Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island) in 1720. De Breslay had already served in New France as a missionary based out of Montreal and spoke an Algonquian language.46 Shortly after his arrival in Île Saint-Jean, de Breslay went to Beaubassin in response to that community’s needs, as they had no priest. He not only noted this fact in the record of every sacrament he wrote in the register, but instigated the construction of a new parish church for the Acadians of Beaubassin and a chapel dedicated to Saint Anne for the Mi’kmaq. Beaubassin had had a modest parish church in its early days on the rise of land between the two ridges overlooking the Missaguash, within the seigneury of Michel le Neuf de la Vallière. When this church was burned down in a raid by New Englander Benjamin Church in 1696, it was not replaced.47 Beaubassin, which had been without a dedicated church building, after 1723 had two houses of worship until the community’s destruction in 1750. This change represented a metropolitan recognition of the significance of both the Acadian and Mi’kmaw communities in this place. Hale, the visiting trader in 1731, described the churches with an Anglo-Protestant disdain for Catholic practices: “2 Mass Houses or Churches, on one of which they hang out a Flagg Morning & Evening for Prayers, to the other the Priest goes once a day only, Habited like a fool in petticoats, with a Man after him, with a Bell in one Hand ringing at every door, & a lighted Candle and Lanthorn in the other.”48 The construction of the Mi’kmaw chapel in Beaubassin in 1723 coincides exactly with the end of records of sacraments with Mi’kmaw participants in the Notre Dame de l’Assomption parish registers.

23 Throughout Mi’kma’ki, missionaries visiting villages had used simple structures, or wigwams, for their chapels until the 1720s, when chapels were built for the mission at Antigoniche, Maligueche in Unama’ki, and the new mission established at Sipekne’katik.49 The hostilities at the time between the British and the Indigenous peoples of the region, Dummer’s War, may have been behind the French desire to better support the missions with chapels. There was also an increase in missionaries funded by the French crown at that time. L’Abbé Antoine Gaulin had provided services to all of the Mi’kmaq since the beginning the eighteenth century, but his declining health made it difficult for him to visit their villages in the later 1720s.50 As services were not available to many communities, de Breslay arrived to provide sacraments to Mi’kmaq in Port Royal and the Acadians and Mi’kmaq at Chignecto even though his parish was in Île Saint-Jean.51 Beginning in the 1730s there were three missionaries to the Mi’kmaq who would serve the colony until its end, and after: Fathers Vincent, Jean-Louis LeLoutre, and Pierre Maillard.52

24 Two objects survived the destruction that befell Beaubassin in 1750: the bell from the church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption and the cornerstone from the Mi’kmaw chapel dedicated to Saint Anne, providing evidence of the two separate church structures, indications of the substance and formality of the structures, and clear dates for events not recorded elsewhere. These objects provide some insight into the history of the mission and parish, helping to clarify how these congregations co-existed and sometimes interacted. The chapel cornerstone is a rough object, the lettering obviously amateur and local. Nonetheless, the Latin text provides a detailed chapel dedication, including the role of l’Abbé de Breslay in its construction. It also provides evidence that the building that it was part of had a stone foundation to support the cornerstone. The bell markings indicate that it was installed in the tower or steeple of the Acadian church in 1734, ten years after the church was built, coming from the French naval foundry at Rochefort. The chapel cornerstone attests to a shared cultural practice, placed within the village of Beaubassin, whereas the bell communicates royal French support for this village in British-claimed territory.

Figure 5: Winckworth Tonge, A DRAUGHT of the ISTHMUS which joyns Nova Scotia to the Continent with the Situation of the ENGLISH and FRENCH FORTS & the Adjacent BAYS and RIVERS, 1755, British Library Collection, Leventhal Map Centre, Boston Public Library.
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Note (Figure 5): The sites marked “O” are captioned “Dykes levelled by the English from which the Indeans used to Fire at the Vesells as they came up the River Mesiguash,” and the villages in red, all Acadian, are indicated as those “burned by the Indeans.” Those villages were burned in September 1750, when the British took control of the region.

Conflict in Chignecto and Peace Initiatives

25 Confronting the narrative of the Seven Years’ War (technically 1756-63) at Chignecto is essential, but the intent of this research approach is to avoid having the agency of imperial actors overwhelm the story of the people of Chignecto. In fact, the war led to a depopulation of the region for several years; impacting the Acadians through the Deportation, precipitated by the fall of Fort Beauséjour in June of 1755, and the Mi’kmaq through displacement by the violence, pressures created by aiding the thousands of fleeing Acadians, and eventual land loss caused by new settlers brought into the region. Within the well-known narrative of the Deportation, the distinct experience at Chignecto included sustained Mi’kmaq and Acadian resistance and repeated peace initiatives.

26 Chignecto’s shared space depended on a complex and constantly negotiated relationship to claims of imperial authority, shaped by the “nuances and imperatives of locality and region.”53 Despite its strategic location as a centre of encounter and exchange, prior to 1749 there was no fortification, British or French, nor established colonial administrative or military presence at Chignecto. For twenty-five years there hadn’t been a church. Beaubassin had suffered attacks by New England forces in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and had served as a staging area for French attacks on the British in Nova Scotia during the War of the Austrian Succession (1744-48). During that war French officers passing through Chignecto toward British targets campaigned, with limited success, for support from the Acadians and Mi’kmaq.54 The Mi’kmaq were often described as allies of the French, but the friendship and alliance of the Mi’kmaq was decided upon according to circumstances and their imperatives; they were not to be taken for granted.55 Although many researchers have described the missionaries as having had a large influence on the Mi’kmaq in getting them to participate in the wars, Wicken argued that “both during and after 1744, missionaries encountered obstacles in trying to shape Mi’kmaq actions in ways consistent with French interests.”56

27 The actions that the Acadians and Mi’kmaq of Chignecto took in coordination with the French were an expression of valuing Chignecto (and Mi’kma’ki and Acadia) and maintaining it as a space for the people who lived there, more than an expression of support for French imperial interests. The Acadians and Mi’kmaq had maintained their connection to the French government of Île Royale through the French military post at Skmaqn-Port-la-Joye, in Île Saint-Jean, and Louisbourg. Trade with Louisbourg and exchanges of gifts between French and Mi’kmaw leadership at Skmaqn-Port-la-Joye were the concrete manifestations of ties also reinforced by shared language and religion and by shared use of the landscape and resources of Mi’kma’ki.57 Acadians also maintained trade relationships with New England, as described in the Hale journal of 1731, but their only space of encounter was trade. Throughout the eighteenth century, Acadians were more prepared to adapt to working with New England than the Mi’kmaq. In periods when relations between New England merchants and Mi’kmaq were openly hostile, such as during Dummer’s War in the 1720s, and again in the 1750s, after the establishment of Halifax in 1749, some Acadian traders tried to mediate between Mi’kmaq and British or New Englanders to reduce or prevent violence. Most clashes between Mi’kmaq and New England vessels were not at Chignecto; however, when there were clashes, or prisoners, Acadians often intervened as spokespeople or translators. Jacques Maurice dit Vigneaux, an Acadian trader who spoke English, ransomed a New England captive of the Mi’kmaq during the War of the Austrian Succession, and again in 1753.58

28 Historian Geoffrey Plank wrote of Nova Scotia/Acadie/Mi’kma’ki in the 1750s that “a combination of fear, suspicion, anger, and jingoism coloured nearly every description of the politics of Nova Scotia. Everyone who resided in the province had reason, often, to lie.”59 In the eighteenth century, British and French officers struggled to understand the actions and words of Mi’kmaq and Acadians in this period of conflict, framing them in terms of whose side they were on, rather than what they were defending. Although contemporary accounts were all written by either the British or French officers, it is possible to discern Acadian and Mi’kmaw intentions behind their responses to the growing conflict.60 The Acadians and Mi’kmaq of Chignecto doubtless experienced the first three responses Plank listed as imperial forces settled into their region in 1750. The destruction of Beaubassin and its neighbouring villages a few months later, certainly with the involvement of the French, but dependent on the Acadians and Mi’kmaq for execution, and the construction of Forts Lawrence and Beauséjour, ended any possibility of any inhabitants of the region remaining outside the imperial struggle. In the tumultuous years after 1750, both Acadians and Mi’kmaq plotted their own course between French and British demands. Acadians who crossed the Missaguash were confronted with French demands to swear an oath of allegiance. Some resisted swearing such an oath.61

29 In the years that followed, many Acadians tried to distance themselves from oppressive French authority, and some eventually petitioned the British governor to let them swear an oath of loyalty, still modified to exclude taking up arms, and return to their villages. As the British still refused a modified oath, this compromise was not reached.62 Other Acadians participated with the Mi’kmaq in armed resistance to the British presence. The Mi’kmaq also chose their own course in this difficult period. Even the missionary LeLoutre, portrayed in many accounts, including his own, as leading the Mi’kmaq at this time,63 only succeeded in bringing half of the Mi’kmaq from his mission at Sipekne’katik to Chignecto in 1750.64 In the violence that followed the construction of Forts Lawrence and Beauséjour, the French commandant, de Saint-Ours, insisted that the Mi’kmaq were acting on their own; he did not control them.65

30 In 1750-1751 skirmishes and scalp bounties cost lives as the British continued to push to control new areas of their colony, and the Mi’kmaq and Acadians resisted the British expansion, with French encouragement, if not much help. The Mi’kmaq were constantly battle-ready and the British were held to their fortified places, still unable to establish their new settlers, who kept leaving the colony in droves. Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil and his brother Alexandre, Acadian farmers along the Petcoudiac (Petitcodiac) River, also involved in the fur trade and speakers of Mi’kmaw, were among the Acadian resisters in this period.66 A continued state of battle, however, was not long sustainable for the Mi’kmaq or Acadians, as they were unable to hunt and gather at the appropriate times, or to farm, and were becoming dependent on French supplies. To the great displeasure of the French administration at Île Royale, sagmaw Jean-Baptiste Cope (Kopit) accepted to meet with Governor Hopson in 1752 to discuss peace.67 He acted in the absence of the missionary LeLoutre, who was in Quebec, and then voyaging to France.68

31 Cope’s proposal was one of a number of diplomatic initiatives in this period coming from Mi’kmaw leadership. Looking away from the violent clashes, and past the perceptions of colonial leaders, the consistencies among the many attempts at peace provide valuable insight into Mi’kmaw political thought, and how that intersected with Acadian goals to maintain their way of life after the arrival of the British. Beginning in 1750, the argument that the Mi’kmaq should be paid for any land they ceded, and that all remaining lands would be theirs alone, without interference, was repeatedly advanced to the British leadership. Cope advanced such a proposal when he met Governor Hopson in 1752, but that was not accepted. The treaty that Cope and four other Mi’kmaq signed was based on the 1725-26 treaty of Peace and Friendship, with newly described terms for the continued right to use hunting and fishing places, and a new clause promising a truck house for exchanges. It did not address compensation or specific territory.69 The treaty also contained a clause stating that henceforth British and Mi’kmaw leaders should meet “upon the first day of October Yearly, so long as they shall Continue in Friendship, Receive Presents of Blankets, Tobacco, and some Powder & Shot; and the said Indians promise once every Year, upon the first of October to come by themselves or their Delegates and Receive the said Presents and Renew their Friendship and Submissions.”70 This ceremony, the basis of contemporary Treaty Day, speaks to Mi’kmaw practice, respected by the French, of expressing and reinforcing relationships through ceremony.71 The 1752 treaty created a commercial and formal relationship between British and Mi’kmaq that had not existed before, and, according to William Wicken, “validated Mi’kmaq villages’ own understanding of the customs governing hunting territories and fishing sites.”72 The essence this treaty was maintained in the 1760-61 treaties, which brought this period of violence to an end. Mi’kmaw understanding of the significance of these treaties was sustained through oral history, and was the basis of Donald Marshall’s assertion of his right to fish in the 1990s.73 Cope was the only signatory of the 1752 treaty identified as a leader, but he promised that he would bring more Mi’kmaw leadership into the treaty.

32 There was initially cause for hope in 1752, but that ended the following year with British settler attacks on Mi’kmaq which resulted in claims of the scalp bounty set by Cornwallis, still in force, that were paid.74 In 1753, l’Abbé LeLoutre reported at Beauséjour that Indigenous fighters had also claimed scalp bounties from the French for eighteen scalps.75 Soon British officials reported skirmishes and ambushes as matters of routine.76 LeLoutre, returned from France, expressed his disgust with the treaty Cope had negotiated, and campaigned among the Mi’kmaq to break it.77 Although that peace effort failed, after two more years of violence and standoff, Mi’kmaq again sought to advance a peace proposal. In 1754 LeLoutre once again took part in an initiative for peace, returning to the discussion of shared territory. He persuaded John Hamilton, an officer from Annapolis Royal, to convey a Mi’kmaw peace proposal outlining a specific territory for the Mi’kmaq to the council at Halifax. The terms for peace that Hamilton communicated were rejected by the secretary of the council, William Cotterell, who wrote that LeLoutre had made the same proposal to him and to Captain How at Chignecto just before “he [LeLoutre] caused that horrible Treachery to be perpetrated against poor How.” Immediately after the destruction of Beaubassin and the construction of Fort Lawrence, How had tried to either negotiate peace, as Cornwallis reported, or to persuade Acadians to abandon the French and the Mi’kmaq, as a French officer wrote. He was ambushed as he approached the French side by a Mi’kmaw in disguise as a French officer, according to accounts of the time.78 Ultimately the Halifax authorities replied they were willing to negotiate with the Mi’kmaq, not with LeLoutre, but that the terms proposed were “too insolent and absurd to be answered to.”79

33 The peace proposed to Captain How in 1750, by Cope in 1752, and again in 1754, was based on a division of land: the southern and western part of Mi’kma’ki, including Annapolis Royal and Halifax, would be British, and the Mi’kmaq would vacate these places; the northern and eastern part, included Sipekne’katik, and Siknikt, would be Mi’kmaw alone; no fortifications of either colonial power would be permitted there. This division would preserve Chignecto as a buffer zone between empires (if you centre empire) or would maintain it as a shared or neutral place. This idea survived the rejections it received, and once again in January 1755, two saqmaq, Joseph Alkimu of Chignecto and Paul Laurent, originally of Cape Sable, were seeking means to convey it to the governor at Halifax. Two Acadians were chosen to accompany them as translators: François Arseneau and Jacques Maurice dit Vigneaux. Arseneau was the nephew of Pierre II, and Maurice, the man who ransomed New England captives, was his brother-in-law. They were based at Baie Verte, having fled the destruction of Beaubassin.80 Alkimu sent a letter explaining to Captain John Hussey, in command at Fort Lawrence, that François Arseneau was coming to communicate the Mi’kmaw desire to negotiate “a domain for hunting and fishing, that neither fort not fortress shall be built upon it, and that we shall be free to come and go wherever we please.”81 Joseph Alkimu gave up on the journey, returning to Baie Verte, but Paul Laurent continued on to make the peace proposal. It was again rejected, as the situation deteriorated in 1755. After the fall of Beauséjour in June 1755, one last attempt to propose a peace was made by Joseph Broussard, to Colonel Monckton. Monckton supported Beausoleil’s efforts to bring in Wolastoqey saqmaq to negotiate a peace. Again the effort failed, this time because a recent violent betrayal by New Englanders had destroyed any chance of trust from the Wolastoqey.82 All of these peace efforts, Mi’kmaw and Acadian, plus the Acadian attempts to maintain neutrality, speak to a shared desire for a non-military, livable space. Neither these Acadians of Chignecto nor the Mi’kmaq were as interested in who won the imperial struggle as they were in maintaining their homes and their way of life. Although that idea for sharing the space was not reflected in the 1760s treaties, it was exactly reflected in Lieutenant-Governor Belcher’s Proclamation of 1762.83

Speaking the Same Language

34 The repeated efforts at peace led by Mi’kmaq, and supported by Acadians, were based on the belief or hope that a place that could exist outside imperial competition and control. In this the Acadians and Mi’kmaq of Chignecto were united in being willing to pursue a peace, or swear an oath, that did not support French goals as long as it allowed them to maintain their autonomy in this region. LeLoutre was reported by Thomas Pichon to have supported this last peace proposal, which would have cost the French essential allies, as he believed that there was no chance of its success.84 Notably, however, in his communication with the British council, LeLoutre expressed the Mi’kmaw desires in their terms, demonstrating a sympathetic understanding of their idea of the place they wished to preserve, “if you consider the actual state of a whole nation, compelled for a long time to change too frequently their suitable places of abode, and knowing no longer where to make choice of places in which to live.” This statement echoes concerns expressed in the chief’s letter of 1749, showing a consistent desire for a land base that would make it possible to preserve the Mi’kmaw way of life based on a relationship to the land, their netukulimk. The situation that LeLoutre described the Mi’kmaq fearing and suffering is what the nineteenth century would bring: no longer knowing where they could live. The Mi’kmaw historian Daniel Paul wrote of LeLoutre’s letter to the council “that he tried in vain in future years to arrange a peace with the British that would have left the Mi’kmaq with enough land to preserve their status as a free and independent people.”85 The exhibit gives considerable place to this story of diplomacy within the narrative of war, bringing Mi’kmaw values and Acadian hopes to the fore, rather than describing their actions as contingent on French ambitions, as has been done in Eurocentred accounts since the events took place. Maps, images, and quotations give these efforts that did not prevail at the time as much space as the forces that did, helping visitors to contemplate outcomes other than those we know.

35 Although this study of a shared Mi’kmaw-Acadian place is preliminary, there is significant evidence of generations of sharing, but sharing that did not depend on intermarriage, nor did it create a new combined way of life as was seen in western fur trade communities. It was a functional space; there was consistent trade over many years; and it was sustained by some shared religious practice, but there was no formal interest in naming or regulating the community built on participating in this sharing. Although an argument can be made for some cultural blending, and in certain circumstances there was a blurring of dress codes and representation, the two communities were and remained for the most part entirely distinct.86 The endurance of this shared space was not of interest to the imperial project: it created a porous space of loyalty that could be negotiated and trade that could not be regulated. Although securing the border on land was Lawrence’s objective, it was perhaps understood by all concerned that to create a border there would need to be a physical separation of the communities that had become accustomed to sharing this space on their own terms. By the time Fort Beauséjour fell, Lawrence, who then was lieutenant-governor of the colony, had concluded that a complete rupture, an emptying of Chignecto initially, and then finally all of Acadia, was required to enforce the imperial border in the functional Acadian/Mi’kmaw space.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

36 The exhibit uses art, oral history, and literature to try to communicate the understanding that the team developed of the shared space of Chignecto. A thematic exhibit structure, based on ancestral landscapes, the environment, shared spaces, and conflict, presents many views of the region. Original art by Acadian artist Réjean Roy was created in collaboration with the full team to illustrate the themes (See Figures 6 and 7). The exhibit also contains spaces for visitors to construct a narrative chosen from a number of options, including their own connections to the place, and to contribute to our mapping. Multiple narratives of Chignecto are woven throughout the presentation: Mi’kmaw, Acadian, elder, youth, and a woman. In direct language, based on research about their lives, each historical figure recounts a different, personal view of Chignecto’s story, emphasizing that many perspectives exist to describe the history. We do not want the story to seem finished, or its outcome, the Atlantic Canada we know today, as inevitable. This is only the first step on a long journey. Throughout visitors are invited to participate in history-making and to see their own role in the process. Ultimately, visitor interactions with the exhibit will be a vital part of the story.

Figure 6: A Shared Place, original art created by Réjean Roy for the exhibit (2020). Used with permission.
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Figure 7: A Contested Place, by Réjean Roy. Used with permission.
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Both scenes show the isthmus views from the Beauséjour Ridge. The shared place communicates independent communities that interact at times, function separately at others. The contested place shows the impact of war from multiple perspectives, including changes to the landscape.

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I would like to thank Marian Macaulay and Sara Beanlands for reading and commenting on earlier versions of this paper, and for being supportive and inspiring colleagues. I would also like to thank Chantal Richard, Stephanie Pettigrew, Tom Peace, Gregory Kennedy, Maurice Basque, Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc, Jeanne-Mance Cormier, Cathrine Davis, Philippe Halbert, and Ron LaBelle, and many other colleagues who generously shared their time and expertise discussing this project with me, along with the anonymous readers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Any errors or gaps are, of course, my own.


1 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Ottawa: 2015).
2 Crystal Gail Fraser and Allyson Stevenson, “Reflecting on the Foundations of Our Discipline Inspired by the TRC: A Duty to Respond during This Age of Reconciliation,” Canadian Historical Review, advanced access article online (September 30, 2021) DOI: 10.3138/chr-2020-0037.
3 For a discussion of collaborative research and deploying Eurocentric epistemologies in Indigneous research contexts, see Michelle A. Lelièvre, Cynthia Martin, Alyssa Abram, and Mallory Moran, “Bridging Indigenous Studies and Archaeology through Relationality? Collaborative Research on the Chignecto Peninsula, Mi’kma’ki,” American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Spring 2020) 171-95.
4 Sara Beanlands, Travis Crowell, and Katrina Sock, “Chignecto Isthmus Indigenous Knowledge Study Archaeological Literature Review,” Boreas Heritage Consulting for Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated and Parks Canada, 2019; and Natasha Simon, “The Significance of the Isthmus region in the Signintog District of Mi’kma’ki, 1670-1750: A Review of Primary Sources,” for Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, 2020.
5 The literature on reframing historical narrative acknowledging multiple perspectives is vast. For an exploration of the western narrative as history, see Hayden White, “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality,” Critical Inquiry: On Narrative Vol. 7, No. 1 (Autumn, 1980), 5-27,, accessed August 19, 2021. For a more recent exploration of Indigenous approaches to commemoration, see Cody Groat and Kim Anderson, “Holding Place: Resistance, Reframing, and Relationality in the Representation of Indigenous History,” in Historical Perspectives, Canadian Historical Review 102:3 (2021): 465-84,, accessed August 19, 2021.
6 In discussion with our Indigenous advisors and collaborators, out of respect for their relationship with this work and their concerns with academic publication, specifically that such publications can alienate Indigenous knowledge from their communities and knowledge holders, we have elected that I undertake this publication alone. This work is a reflection of my non-Indigenous perspective on this history. While deeply grateful for the conversations and the learning, I recognize that my writing will not be what they wish to write and record, and share about this history. That work is forthcoming and will be theirs alone.
7 Parks Canada, Framework for History and Commemoration: National Historic Site System Plan (2019) section 2.
8 C.J. Taylor, Negotiating the Past: The Making of National Historic Parks and Sites (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1990) 17, 55, 77.
9 Fraser and Stevenson, “Reflecting on the Foundations of Our Discipline.”
10 Elizabeth Mancke, “Spaces of Power in the Early Modern Northeast,” in New England and the Maritime Provinces: Connections and Comparisons, ed. Stephen J. Hornsby and John G. Reid (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), 32-49.
11 Sara Beanlands et al., “Chignecto Isthmus Indigenous Knowledge Study Archaeological Literature Review.”
12 There are many general and popular works on Chignecto history focused on Beaubassin. In particular, see G. Kennedy, Peace, T., and Pettigrew, S., “Social Networks across Chignecto: Applying Social Network Analysis to Acadie, Mi’kma’ki, and Nova Scotia, 1670-1751,” Acadiensis 47, no.1 (2018),; Samantha Rompillion, “La migration à Beaubassin, village acadien, fruit de la mobilité et de la croissance,” (Mémoire de maîtrise, Université de Poitiers, 1998); Alain Gelly, Historiographie de l’isthme de Chignectou : 1713-1763, Parks Canada (2005) Rapport CLHMC 2005-15; Margaret Coleman, Acadian History of the Isthmus of Chignecto, MRS29 (National and Historic Parks Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, 1968).
13 Beanlands et al., “Archaeological Literature Review,” 35-36.
14 Beanlands et al., “Archaeological Literature Review,” 18-33.
15 Beanlands et al., “Archaeological Literature Review,” Fig. 3, 20.
16 Beanlands et al., “Archaeological Literature Review,” 37-39.
17 William C. Wicken, Encounters with Tall Sails and Tall Tales: Mi’kmaq Society, 1500-1760 (PhD diss. McGill University, 1994), p. 113.; and William Pote, The Journal of Captain William Pote, Jr. during His Captivity in the French and Indian War from May, 1745, to August, 1747 (New York: Dodd and Mead, 1896), no. 1, 49.
18 Rompillon, “La migration à Beaubassin,” 51-54.
19 N.E.S. Griffiths, From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), 131-32, 259-60.
20 William C. Wicken, “Re-examining Mi’kmaq-Acadian Relations, 1635-1755,” in Sylvie Dépatie et al., “Habitans et MarchandsTwenty Years later: Reading the History of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Canada (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 93-114.
21 Wicken, Encounters with Tall Sails, 349-50, and n. 83: AN, Monuments historiques, Gaulin, [1720], p. 112. Similarly, Sister Chauson wrote of the Mi’kmaq just after encountering some of their people for the first time, that “This nation of Indians are all the most cordial, the most honest and the most docile. They all have the fear of God.” Archives de la Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice, Série il, v. 25, Chauson, 1701, 13543. For a deeper discussion of missionaries’ complex views of Indigenous spirituality, see Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
22 Wicken, “Re-examining Mi’kmaq-Acadian Relations” and Encounters with Tall Sails, 233-38.
23 Rompillon, “La migration à Beaubassin,” 53.
24 Wicken, “Re-examining Mi’kmaq-Acadian Relations,” 98.
25 “Lettre de beauharnois et hocquart au Ministre,” 1745 septembre-octobre, COL C11A 83/fol.3-36v, 19-20, Archives Canada-France, LAC,
26 Rompillon, “La migration à Beaubassin,” 53.
27 Michel Cyr, “La fondation de Beaubassin,” Les Cahiers de la Société historique acadienne, vol. 12, no. 2 (June 1981) 65-66.
28 Andrew Hill Clarke, Acadia: The Geography of Early Nova Scotia to 1760 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), 182-83; Christopher Moore, “Merchant Trade in Louisbourg, Ile Royale” (master’s thesis, University of Ottawa, 1977), 20; Griffiths, From Migrant to Acadian, 337.
29 Kennedy et al., “Social Networks across Chignecto.”
30 Kennedy et al., “Social Networks across Chignecto.”
31 Stephen White, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes, tôme 1 (Moncton: Centre d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton, 1999), 23-24; and “Déclaration et journal du voyage de Pierre Arsenaud, habitant du Beauséjour, s’en allant de la dite place pour faire le négoce jusqu’au Cap Gaspé le 28 mai 1714 dans un canot d’écorce,” fonds August Daigle, Centre d’études acadiennes, 19, 1-5. I thank Maurice Basque and Mathieu D’Astous for sharing this item.
32 Robert Hale Journal 1731, Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, 1906, 232.; and Georges Arsenault, email exchange with Donald J. Arseneaux, July 6, 2005. My thanks to Georges for sharing this communication with me.
33 Robert Hale Journal 1731.
34 This interpretation is Earl Lockerby’s and was shared by Georges Arsenault.
35 Stephen White, Dictionnaire généalogique 1: 24, 26.
36 Gregory M.W. Kennedy, Something of a Peasant Paradise? Comparing Rural Societies in Acadie and the Loudunais, 1604-1755 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014), 103.
37 Hill Clarke, Acadia: The Geography of Early Nova Scotia, 257.
38 Jared R.C. Smith, “Acadia’s Outpost: Beaubassin before the Deportation” (BA honours paper, Acadia University, 2014), 35, citing Charles Burke, personal interview, 17 October 2013; and Cathrine Davis, Threads across the Atlantic: Tracing the European Origins of Eighteenth-Century Imported Cloth in New France Using Lead Seal Evidence from Three French Colonial Sites (master’s mémoire, University of Laval, Quebec), 2018, p63-64, and email January 2020.
39 Wicken, Tall Sails, 233-38.
40 Kennedy et al., “Social Networks across Chignecto.”
41 Pierre Arguimeau, baptism, August 1, 1722, Registre paroissial de Beaubassin (actuellement Amherst, Nouvelle-Écosse, Canada), 1712-48, Régistre I, E-Dépôt 105/520, Archives Départementales Charente-Maritimes, 19.
42 Pierre Arguimeau, baptism, August 1, 1722, paragraph 69. Also Janet Chute generously shared her work in progress on the Alkimu family.
43 Georges Arsenault, email exchange with Donald J. Arseneaux, July 6, 2005.
44 S. White, Dictionnaire généalogique 1: 401-9, 433-37.
45 Joseph Chikaguet and Agnès 8abuiletek, baptisms, June 1, 1723, Registre paroissial de Beaubassin (actuellement Amherst, Nouvelle-Écosse, Canada), 1712-48, Régistre I, E-Dépôt 105/520, Archives Départementales Charente-Maritimes, 17.
46 Henri Raymond Casgrain, Une seconde Acadie (Quebec: L.-J. Demers & Frères, 1894), 26-27,
47 Clarence D’Entremont, “Les cloches acadiennes,” Les cahiers de la société historique acadienne, 21, vol. 3, no. 1 (October-December, 1968), 31.
48 Robert Hale Journal 1731, 232.
49 Wicken, Tall Sails, 331-32.
50 Maxime Morin, Devenir “missionnaire des sauvages”: Origines, formation et entrée en fonction des sujets dans les missions amérindiennes du Canada et de l'Acadie (1700-1763) (thèse de doctorat, Université de Laval, Québec, 2018), 385.
51 Wicken, Tall Sails, Table 6.5, 345.
52 Morin, Devenir “missionnaire des sauvages,” 386.
53 John G. Reid, “Imperial and Aboriginal Friendship in Eighteenth-Century Mi’kma’ki/Wulstukwik,”in Jerry Bannister and Liam Riordan, eds., The Loyal Atlantic: Remaking the British Atlantic in the Revolutionary Era (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 75.
54 Bernard Pothier, Course à l’Accadie: Journal de campagne de François Du Pont Duvivier en 1744 (Moncton: Éditions d'Acadie, 1982), 46.
55 Reid, “Imperial and Aboriginal Friendship.”
56 Wicken, Encounters with Tall Sails, 369.
57 Christopher Moore, “Merchant Trade in Louisbourg, Ile Royale” (master’s thesis, University of Ottawa, 1977), 20, and Griffiths, From Migrant to Acadian, 337. For trade, and for diplomacy and gifts, see Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston, Ni’n na Lnu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown: Acorn Press, 2013).
58 Wicken, Encounters with Tall Sails, 306-7; William Pote, The Journal of Captain William Pote, Jr. during His Captivity in the French and Indian War from May, 1745, to August, 1747 (New York: Dodd and Mead, 1896), 49; and Daniel Paul, We Were Not the Savages (Halifax: Nimbus, 1993), 132-33.
59 Geoffrey Plank, “The Two Majors Cope: The Boundaries of Nationality in mid-18th Century Nova Scotia,” Acadiensis 25 (Spring 1996), 18-40.
60 For a review of contemporary accounts of these events, see J.C. Webster, “Journal of Joshua Winslow 1750,” Historical Studies no. 2, Publications of the New Brunswick Museum (Saint John, 1936): 14; “A Journal of the Proceedings of the Detachment under My Command after Entering the Basin of Chignecto by Major Charles Lawrence, 1750,” in J.C. Webster, Journal of Joshua Winslow, 32-34; “Rapport de Monsieur de La Corne à Monsieur Desherbiers. Memaramkoué…1750,” Collection de manuscrits relatifs à la Nouvelle France, vol. 3 (Quebec: A. Coté et Cie, 1884), 499.
61 A.J.B. Johnston, “Borderland Worries: Loyalty Oaths in Acadie/Nova Scotia, 1654-1755,” French Colonial History 4 (2003): 31-48. Accessed May 31, 2020,
62 Paul Surette, Atlas of Acadian Settlement of the Beaubassin: 1660 to 1755 (Sackville, NB: Tantramar Heritage Trust, 2005), 169; “Letter to Council Read 27 September 1753,” Thomas B. Akins, Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1969), 203-6.
63 Micheline Dumont-Johnston, Apôtres ou agitateurs: La France missionnaire en Acadie (Québec: Les Éditions Boréal, 1970), 122-28.
64 Geoffrey Plank, An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign against the Peoples of Acadia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 125.
65 J.C. Webster, The Forts of Chignecto: A Study of the Eighteenth Century Conflict between France and Great Britain in Acadia (Parks Canada, 1930), Apprendix III, “lettres de M. de Saint Ours de Chaillon to M. des Herbiers et M. de Raymond from Beauséjour, July 30, 1751,” 123.
66 Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc, “Joseph Broussard, dit Beausoleil,” CSHA 17, no. 2, avril-juin 1986, 52-57,
67 Monsieur Prévost au Ministre, COL C11B 33/fol.159-162v, 1753, mai, 12, Archives Nationales Outre-Mer, accessed through LAC, New France Archives,
68 Gérard Finn, “Le Loutre, Jean-Louis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, accessed June 7, 2019, For analysis of the many and varied interpretations of the role of LeLoutre, see also Gérard Finn, “L’Abbé Jean-Louis LeLoutre vu par les historiens” (thèse de maîtrise, Université d’Ottawa, 1972),
69 William Wicken, Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial: History, Land, and Donald Marshall Junior (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 183-87.
70 Printed Proclamation of the 1752 Treaty, Peace and Friendship Treaties, RG 1, vol. 430, no. 2, Nova Scotia Archives.
71 This value is expressed in French correspondence regarding “presents”; see for example, “Monsieur de Bourville au ministre. Distribution de presents,” 3 octobre 1738, COL C11B 20/fol.85-90v, ANOM, accessed through Archives Canada France.
72 Wicken, Mi’kmaq Treaties on Trial, 205.
73 Wicken, Mi’kmaq Treaties on Trial, 209; copy of “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis, 1761,” Peace and Friendship Treaties, RG 1, vol. 430, no. 20a, Nova Scotia Archives,
74 Stephen E. Patterson, “Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia, 1749-61: A Study in Political Interaction,” Acadiensis 23.1 (Autumn 1993), 43-44.
75 “Monsieur Prévost au Ministre,” 16 août 1753, COL C11B, Vol 33, Fol. 197-201, Archives Canada-France, LAC,
76 Patterson, “Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia.”
77 Finn, “Le Loutre, Jean-Louis.”
78 Patterson, “Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia” and De la Valliere, “Journal de ce qui s’est passe à Chignecto,” Report on Canadian Archives 1905, Part 3, 325,
80 J.C. Webster, The Life of Thomas Pichon, “The Spy of Beauséjour” (Halifax: The Nova Scotia Archives, 1937), 81-85.
81 Webster, Life of Thomas Pichon, 84.
82 LeBlanc, “Joseph Broussard, dit Beausoleil,” 53 and Webster, The Forts of Chignecto, 113-14.
83 “Jonathan Belcher to the Lords of Trade, enclosing his proclamation on Indian Lands,” 2 July 1762, CO 217 vol. 19, 22r-28r, Nova Scotia Archives, m/f 13, 848; and Eric Adams, “Ghosts in the Court: Jonathan Belcher and the Proclamation of 1762,” Dalhousie Law Journal 27:2 (2004): 321-46.
84 Webster, Life of Thomas Pichon, 85-88.
85 Paul, We Were Not the Savages, 108.
86 Plank, “The Two Majors Cope,” 20.