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Acadians on PEI

 

Period     1758-1860

Malpeque

The Lottery

Upon transferring ownership from France, the British governing body divided Prince Edward Island into 67 lots and distributed them to prominent English landowners. The Lottery had a profound effect on the Acadians returning to the Island following the expulsion of 1758. The land grants created a muddled and complex system of absentee landlords, and from the very beginning caused great hardships on the Island. Acadian inhabitants had to either give in to an agent's demands or move on and start their lives over elsewhere.

It is unknown when Acadians settled in Malpeque Bay following the expulsion or under what conditions they took up residence, but it is quite possible that they became tenants to English landlords and obliged to pay rent almost immediately.

Resettlement and Dissolution of Malpeque

Due to the restrictive conditions and prohibitive rents demanded by the proprietors the lot where Malpeque was located, numerous families eventually departed the region and founded new settlements in Tignish (1799), Cascumpec (1801), La Roche (1812, present-day Egmont Bay) and Grand Ruisseau (1812, present-day Mont Carmel). A ballad composed by Juliette Arsenault evokes the desperation of the Malpeque Acadians during this period:

Who were the ones who drove us here?
Twas the wicked people in our land.
A whole crew they were
Again the Acadians
And all together
Living off our goods.
Scarcely do we pick a grain of wheat
When we have to run to them with it.
Those barbarians
Without charity
Care not one bit
For our poverty.

Father MacEachern, a Catholic priest sympathetic to the plight of the Malpeque Acadians, wrote about his misgivings regarding the situation on Lot 17:

I am very sorry to hear that the poor Acadians of Lot 17 are to move to Egmont Bay, Lot 15. It is said that their neighbours are troublesome to them in temporals and spirituals where they are.

In 1816, the remaining Acadian families in Malpeque finally came to an agreement with Colonel Compton and for £625 purchased 6000 acres of mostly low swampland elsewhere in Lot 17 and called the new settlement Belle Alliance. This marked the end of the settlement of Malpeque, and the founding of the new parish of Miscouche in 1817.

Map of PEI lots, circa. 1765. By Samuel Holland (1728-1801).

The PEI Land Lottery

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