Voyage of an Acadian Lifetime

At the port of LeHavre, France they gathered with their final belongings. They brought clothes for all weather, tools for every task; they were farmers, blacksmiths, sailors, hunters, carpenters, tanners, explorers, even an apothecary (herbalist). They provisioned their five ships with the usual sailing supplies and food, but had to have all the tools they would require to build a small settlement from a wilderness. Many would die from disease or harsh winters, and almost all would never see their families or friends of France again. It was 1604, and the Acadians were setting out for Nova Scotia.

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French map of Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia), 1757.

On June 17, 2004, we Acadians of Canada and Louisiana arrive, again in LeHavre, France, and board the Europa, a three-mast, square-rigged, 185-foot sailing vessel, in order to once more sail the route of the Acadians and commemorate the 400th year of our ancestors’ venture. We forty Acadians find a tall ship, fully rigged, yet inside there is a well stocked galley and expert cook, Marianna, an experienced captain, Klaas Gaastra, comfortable bunks and lockers, a lounge, a library, a doctor with surgery supplies. “Yes, we won’t have any wet hay,” Jorne, the Dutch first mate, tells me. The wheelhouse sports radar, GPS, satellite radiotelephone and other technical gadgetry. Ours will be a voyage much easier than the first.

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The Europa under full sail between France and the 
Azore Islands.

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