Last Acadian village found?

The Acadians were the first French people to establish a permanent settlement in North America at the beginning of the 17th c. They happily went about their business, staying neutral even as France and Britain duked it out all over them until 1754 when the British decided to up the ante and demand the Acadians take an oath of allegiance and fight for them.

Not wanting to kill their family members still living under French rule and having a religious problem swearing an oath to the British king anyway, the 10,000+ Acadians in British territory in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island refused and were expelled, their villages burned to the ground.

Now a Qebec archaeologist thinks he may have found La Petite-Rochelle, the last village British Commodore John Byron burned down after the ethnic cleansing of the Acadians.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve located the village that the Acadians had fled to, to get away from the deportation,” said Michel Goudreau, vice-president of Quebec-based La Société Historique Machault, the organization that sponsored the survey.

“These are the people who did get away, and they’re why we still have an Acadian population in northern New Brunswick.”

Located in Quebec, just across the Restigouche River from Campbellton, N.B., La Petite-Rochelle was a community of about 200 houses, founded after the expulsion of the Acadians, an event that has since become known to history as the Great Upheaval.

The article is a bit unclear on the timeline. I guess Commodore Byron just kept burning even after the expelling was over?

Fun fact: John Byron was the grandpappy of George Gordon, Lord Byron, the famous Romantic poet.


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Comment by Tim Jaques
2010-01-22 12:27:38

The Acadians had fled to La Petite-Rochelle after the Expulsion. There is considerable dispute that the “new” alleged site of the village is correct as long tradition puts it further up river. It may be that the new discovery was a settlement of refugees, whereas La Petite-Rochelle was further up the river and longer established. It was not technically in L’Acadie, by the way, but in New France as it was on the north side of the Restigouche River/Baie des Chaleurs. Why was Byron there? Because a French fleet was on its way to supply Quebec, but in the meantime, Quebec had fallen to the British. The French fleet hid at the upper end of the Restigouche Estuary while it awaited orders from Montreal, which had not yet fallen. The British at Louisbourg (the first to fall) got wind of it, and Byron was sent to destroy it. There was a naval battle over several days in early July, 1763, the last naval battle in North America during the 7 years war. The French essentially scuttled their fleet and headed through the woods to Montreal when they realized they could not escape, since larger British warships were stationed at the mouth of the river. The unfortunate Acadians had their villages burned. The traditional account says Byron did it, but I’ve read newer accounts which say the French themselves burned them. You want to learn more, go to You should also remember that the Acadians in Nova Scotia in 1755 were living in what was indisputably British territory, had been since 1713, which is why legal issues were raised even at the time as to the legality of the Expulsion. Many if not most had been born subjects of the king, and thus would have been entitled to a proper trial under English law if suspected of treasonous activities. Otherwise they should have been assumed to be loyal to the king until the contrary was proved, like any other subject of the king.

Comment by andre gregoire
2010-10-27 13:20:47

The Societe Historique has located two documents which may end the confusion as to what or where La Petite Rochelle was ? The oldest known document refering to Petite Rochelle, is now in the University of Moncton documents, and refers to the Seigneurie de La Petite-Rochelle,which was granted to one Charles Damours in 1684. The boundary of the said seignurie began at Ruisseau de l’officier located at the western end of Listuguj westward, and also included the concession de Matapedia. The other refers to the 1760 London Times story of the distruction of the Acadian refugee village of la petite rochelle situated near battery point.

Comment by Charles Borris
2010-09-18 16:43:19

I also agree with Mr.Jaques. The Arcgeologists may find trace of a village, once the Acadians refugees, but it is not to be confused with La Petite Rochelle accordind to Father Pacifique that lived in Restigouche and had great interest in history. Byron never mention that he destroyed “Petite Rochelle”. It’s also interesting to see what John Carter Allen has to say about this with the map he drew. Captain Allen was also with Commodore Byron. La Petite Rochelle was a Seigneurie dating back at least 1684 according to the Acadian Archives in Moncton. If not much is written about it might have to do with a possibility of a huguenot factor. New Rochelle near New York City still there today was originaly Huguenot named after LaRochelle France, once the powerhouse of the Huguenots. Now tell me this knowing what religion was at that time why would Acadians Catholics name a village after a Huguenot Town?

Comment by andre gregoire
2010-10-27 13:29:54

The Acadian refugees who formed the major part of the human element of the community did not name the village La Petite Rochelle. The witness who describes the distruction of the village in 1760 reffered to it as La Petite Rochelle. Incidently La Petite Rochelle is in fact the oldest known French name applied to this Place.

Comment by Not Acadian
2011-05-25 10:32:12

The village of Petite Rochelle was not Acadian, as much as the people in the Machault Society would love it to be. They ignore key evidence and acquire artifacts then falsly claim they were found in other places. Anyone with a real hunger for history..REAL HISTORY.. would have dismissed the claims of these charlatans years ago. Their only concern is a presence of Acadians in the Restigouche River area after the expulsion. There is no way they would have had time to establish a permanent settlement of 200 houses in the short time between the expulsion and the supposed burning of Petite Rochelle in 1760/61. They had neither the manpower or resources to so such a thing. The people of Petite Rochelle may have taken some in, but where they are currently searching they aren’t finding anything.. It just goes to show how some people are only interested in personal glory rather than the true history of our area. The real location of the village is known to me and to anyone else who takes the time to look at the maps and read the literature closely. I will not reveal it’s location out of fear the government will get involved.. They cannot be trusted after taking the word of Mr. Goudreau and spending money on a wild goose chase to boost his ego.

Comment by Andre Gregoire
2011-10-25 09:07:51

Patrick Clarke refers to La Petite Rochelle AS Myth and reality. I can only speak of the reality part because i know very little of the mythical part of it. There is no record of an Acadian presence in this area before the supposed first group of refugees arrived with Joseph Leblanc in 1757. As for the Seigneurie of Petite Rochelle, it was not developed enough to leave documentary traces. After the conquest this area which was part of migamagi,became part of Nova Scotia, it then became part of New Brunswick,and finally part of the province of Quebec. The border between Canada and Acadia was exactly where it is today ,That is Cap Desrosiers near Gaspe. Acadia was and is a completly different watershed than Canada. It was Samuel de Champlain who fixed ihe frontier on his maps. The reason that the Gaspe peninsula was annexed to Quebec is because Lord Dalhousie A former military govenor in British north America, did not want two French Provinces on his hands. Acadins were still coming out of the woods for many years after the battle of the ristigouche, that is why there is so many here now.

Comment by andre gregoire
2013-03-13 14:13:20

Hello again
Since the question of who was here first and for what reason they were here, seems to have stirred a little controversy, maybe a little research is is order. The Migmagi people were undoubatibly the longest residents of Listuguj followed by a variety of European fishermen during the 1500s, mostly French Basques. Although Champlain had designated The Gaspe peninsula as part of Acadia,there was never an established Acadian population here. The French presence in the Gaspe consisted of small fishing establishments whose men married Mic-mac women. The census of 1760 shows the presence of 500 Metis refugees and 1003 Acadians present during the battle of the ristigouche.The arrival of Acadian refugees coinsided with the deportation 1755 to 1760. These were not deported people,they were escapees fleeing the clean-up operations where everything was systematically destroyed by fire. The refugee community reffered to by an eyewitness description of its burning, was situated just east of battery point. It was this witness who had reffered to the village as La Petite Rochelle in the London times. The oldest reference

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