How may we describe the life of the Acadians between the late 18th and early 20th century? As being quite different from ours, no doubt, yet probably somewhat similar. Modern ways have made our day-to-day tasks much simpler, but the fact remains that the Acadians had the same daily concerns we do – work, the home and food; in short, supporting the family.

In a traditional community, the family provided the frame within which individuals moved about. In fact, most of the daily tasks were dedicated to survival, or, to put it another way, devoted to securing one’s ‘daily bread’.

According to their age and sex, the daily tasks of members of the family varied. For example, the work of each parent was quite different, and the chores would change according to the time of year. In addition, chores were sometimes interrupted by holidays, which created a pause in the day-to-day routine or signalled the beginning of new chores. Note that the holidays were the times when cultural life was most openly expressed, through the customs and traditions which highlighted or surrounded those special occasions.

It is these aspects of the daily li Read More
How may we describe the life of the Acadians between the late 18th and early 20th century? As being quite different from ours, no doubt, yet probably somewhat similar. Modern ways have made our day-to-day tasks much simpler, but the fact remains that the Acadians had the same daily concerns we do – work, the home and food; in short, supporting the family.

In a traditional community, the family provided the frame within which individuals moved about. In fact, most of the daily tasks were dedicated to survival, or, to put it another way, devoted to securing one’s ‘daily bread’.

According to their age and sex, the daily tasks of members of the family varied. For example, the work of each parent was quite different, and the chores would change according to the time of year. In addition, chores were sometimes interrupted by holidays, which created a pause in the day-to-day routine or signalled the beginning of new chores. Note that the holidays were the times when cultural life was most openly expressed, through the customs and traditions which highlighted or surrounded those special occasions.

It is these aspects of the daily life of Acadians of yore (family life, daily and yearly occupations, culture and traditions) that may be found here.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

In today's world, the family may take on various forms, but for North American societies as a whole between the late 18th and the early 20th century, it was generally comprised of a father, a mother, and several children. For Acadians, who identified themselves mostly through a paternal lineage – one would say, for example, ‘Pierre, father of Joseph, father of Pierrot’ – family in its broader sense of ‘kin’ was of great importance. Family was the pillar of the community, of its social and economic life, and of its demographic growth. Marriage was the sole context within which children were allowed to be born. This was as important for the unions facilitating existence as for continuation of the family name.

The importance of family may also be seen in the establishment of Acadian villages in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most, in fact, find their origin in a handful of pioneer families. Therefore, it is not uncommon that a community bearing a family name contains concentrations of that family in that area. We could say, for example, that the Landrys are more numerous in the vicinity of Caraquet, and the LeBlancs around Shediac. The ext Read More
In today's world, the family may take on various forms, but for North American societies as a whole between the late 18th and the early 20th century, it was generally comprised of a father, a mother, and several children. For Acadians, who identified themselves mostly through a paternal lineage – one would say, for example, ‘Pierre, father of Joseph, father of Pierrot’ – family in its broader sense of ‘kin’ was of great importance. Family was the pillar of the community, of its social and economic life, and of its demographic growth. Marriage was the sole context within which children were allowed to be born. This was as important for the unions facilitating existence as for continuation of the family name.

The importance of family may also be seen in the establishment of Acadian villages in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most, in fact, find their origin in a handful of pioneer families. Therefore, it is not uncommon that a community bearing a family name contains concentrations of that family in that area. We could say, for example, that the Landrys are more numerous in the vicinity of Caraquet, and the LeBlancs around Shediac. The extent of this phenomenon is such that the first parish priests had a difficult time applying religious restrictions regarding marriage and inbreeding. This was one of the motivations for keeping parish registers in the conscientious manner that they did back then.

There remains the fact that beyond the role of family relations, the survival of the Acadian home relied essentially on the efforts of its members, that is, the work of the father, the mother and the children. For his or her most tender years to ripe old age, each and every family member had to contribute to the many daily tasks that were necessary to provide food for the family and for maintaining its establishment.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Woman preparing a meal

Every day, preparing the meals made up a good part of the mother’s daily chores.



Man fixing a fence

When the man of the house was not out fishing, in the fields or at the logging camp, he looked after various repair chores on the farm.

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Young boy fetching wood

Children also had to do their part in the daily household chores. If he expects his mother to cook a meal, the boy knows he has to fetch wood for the fireplace.



Young girls doing the dishes

From a very young age, children did their part for the survival of the Acadian family. They often started by learning to perform small domestic tasks.

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Continued survival of the Acadian home required constant effort. This is not to say that their days were highly stressful; on the contrary, the Acadians were probably the type of people who would follow the advice of Mathew (ch. 6, v. 34). “take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” In face, while certain chores were annual or seasonal, the majority recurred day after day.

The mother, for example, minded the fire, which was lit as soon as she rose from bed. She also supplied the regular drinking water, as well as the carrying out of her household chores (cooking, cleaning etc.). As for the father, before leaving for his fields, for the woods or for the sea, he would clean the stable or the barn and feed the animals. He would also take care of emergency repairs, but left most for the cold season, between the end of the harvest and the first spring ploughing.

In his absence, his chores were, of course, taken on by his wife. She was also the one who, with the help of her young sons and daughters, was responsible for milking the cows every morning and evening, for gathering eggs from the hens Read More
Continued survival of the Acadian home required constant effort. This is not to say that their days were highly stressful; on the contrary, the Acadians were probably the type of people who would follow the advice of Mathew (ch. 6, v. 34). “take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” In face, while certain chores were annual or seasonal, the majority recurred day after day.

The mother, for example, minded the fire, which was lit as soon as she rose from bed. She also supplied the regular drinking water, as well as the carrying out of her household chores (cooking, cleaning etc.). As for the father, before leaving for his fields, for the woods or for the sea, he would clean the stable or the barn and feed the animals. He would also take care of emergency repairs, but left most for the cold season, between the end of the harvest and the first spring ploughing.

In his absence, his chores were, of course, taken on by his wife. She was also the one who, with the help of her young sons and daughters, was responsible for milking the cows every morning and evening, for gathering eggs from the hens and for looking after the vegetable garden. Often left alone at home to tend to the farm, the mother’s role was therefore crucial to the survival of the Acadian family.

This is not to say that the father did not do his part. The work on the land, such as fixing fences and clearing new spaces, and the cutting down and carting of wood for heating, among other chores, were physically demanding. Add to these chores the seasonal work of ploughing, harvesting, slaughtering, etc, and the time given to other preoccupations, like preparing the fishing gear, and one realizes that his days were not restful either.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Running water did not arrive in Acadian homes before the first decades of the 1900s. Washing one’s hands or face was done at the wash basin, or simply from a bowl.

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Cleaning the stable was an integral part of the daily activity of our ancestors, commonly known as “barn chores”. Daily tasks such as feeding, watering and cleaning the animals were generally carried out before breakfast.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Fire Stove

Star range (c. 1887, Record Foundry)

In winter or summer, the fire in the stove or fireplace had to be fed in order to heat the home, cook the meals or boil the water.



Feeding the fire in the hearth

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


In Acadia past, many large-scale agricultural and domestic tasks could not be undertaken by one family alone. On such occasions, neighbors were called upon for what was known as a ‘bee’. The processing of textiles, in particular, often lent itself to this type of activity. Many people would get together and work at a task such as carding or fulling wool, which would make a long job much shorter and more enjoyable.

A very popular working bee in Acadia, the carding bee was part of the processing of wool: “When the warm days of summer came along, everyone sheared the sheep. Then, outdoors, in large cauldrons, the wool was boiled, to cleanse it. After drying in the sun, it was teased so that it would be easier to card. It was then ready for the carding bee. Neighborhood women and other friends were invited with their carding combs and their apron. With ten or twelve carders, the wool was soon done. After a few hours of work, where chit-chat also had its place, the wool piled up in front of each carder in soft rolls, ready to be spun.” (Chiasson, Père Anselme. Chéticamp, Histoire et traditions acadiennes, Éditions des Aboiteaux, Read More
In Acadia past, many large-scale agricultural and domestic tasks could not be undertaken by one family alone. On such occasions, neighbors were called upon for what was known as a ‘bee’. The processing of textiles, in particular, often lent itself to this type of activity. Many people would get together and work at a task such as carding or fulling wool, which would make a long job much shorter and more enjoyable.

A very popular working bee in Acadia, the carding bee was part of the processing of wool: “When the warm days of summer came along, everyone sheared the sheep. Then, outdoors, in large cauldrons, the wool was boiled, to cleanse it. After drying in the sun, it was teased so that it would be easier to card. It was then ready for the carding bee. Neighborhood women and other friends were invited with their carding combs and their apron. With ten or twelve carders, the wool was soon done. After a few hours of work, where chit-chat also had its place, the wool piled up in front of each carder in soft rolls, ready to be spun.” (Chiasson, Père Anselme. Chéticamp, Histoire et traditions acadiennes, Éditions des Aboiteaux, Moncton, 1972; free translation.)

A bee is characterized by its festive atmosphere and by mutual help between neighbors. Such was the case with the fabric fulling bee, called a ‘foulerie’. During the long evenings of the cold season, the pieces of woven wool fabric were fulled (pressed together) to make them thicker, so as to allow the making of warm and durable clothes that would not shrink in the wash. Custom decreed that the whole neighborhood be called upon for this chore. A good fulling bee sometimes lasted several hours and required eight ‘fullers’. To break the monotony of the task and to co-ordinate their movements, the men would sing lively songs. Then, to thank the men for their tiring work, the women would prepare a good meal which was eaten with much gusto, before closing the evening with a ‘frolic’.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Splinter Broom [made at VHA]

Inside the Mazerolle House

Quite often, the broom used was homemade.

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Hand-driven wooden water pump (reproduction)

Keeping a supply of water was a task requiring quite an amount of work. The water pump was for a long time installed outside the home.

Village Historique Acadien
c. 2002
© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Each member of the family had specific chores to complete. Follow this link to play the flash game and identify whose job it was to do each chore!
Each member of the family had specific chores to complete. Follow this link to play the flash game and identify whose job it was to do each chore!

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • describe a typical Acadian family and the daily tasks of each family member;
  • list a few of the challenges an Acadian family was facing in the 19th century.

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