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Acadians on PEI

 

Period     1758-1860

Bay Fortune

Land Ownership Disputes

Acadian families living on Prince Edward Island during the period of British rule were faced with constant hardship and dispute over land ownership. These disputes arose due to the lottery system which had ownership to wealthy English proprietors who demanded exorbitant rents from the Acadians living on the Island. Around 1764 the Bay Fortune Acadians swore an oath in the presence of a British naval commander who delivered documents confirming Acadian ownership of the lands they cleared and farmed. Unfortunately, the documents proved to be worthless, and in 1770 rent was demanded from the Acadians in Bay Fortune. The Acadians grudgingly complied, yet continued to work the land despite the precarious situation and enforced poverty.

In 1787, a group of 13 Acadian men from Bay Fortune tried to secure title to their land by presenting a petition to Edmund Fanning, the new governor of the Island. Fanning was sympathetic to the Acadians' plight, requesting that their petition be granted and even signing land title to a number of Bay Fortune Acadians himself. Fanning's recommendations and land grants were ignored and revoked by British authorities, however, landing another crushing defeat on the Acadians of Bay Fortune.

The years of disputes and failed efforts finally drove many Acadians to leave their homes in Bay Fortune and move to Cape Breton. Those who could afford the expense bought farmland in the lot adjacent to Bay Fortune and became the first settlers of Rollo Bay in 1801 and 1802.

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