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Acadians on PEI


Period     1720-1758


Port-la-Joye - early period (1720-1758)

Port-la-Joye, was one of the eight original Acadian settlements included in the census of 1735. The seven other settlements were Havre-Saint-Pierre (present-day St. Peter's), Havre-aux-Sauvages (present-day Savage Harbour), Trois-Rivières (present-day Brudenell Point), Rivière-du-Nord-Est (present-day Hillsborough River), Tracadie, Malpeque and Pointe-de-l'Est (present-day East Point). The 1735 census noted that among the 432 colonists on Île-Saint-Jean, 162 (32%) were Acadian.

Original Acadian Settlements

The earliest period of Acadian settlement on Prince Edward Island occurred between the years 1720 and 1758.

French authorities actively encouraged Acadians living under British rule since 1713 in the former French colony of Acadia to emigrate to Île-Saint-Jean. The task of bringing settlers to the Island fell to the Compte de Saint-Pierre, an entrepreneur from Normandy and founder of the Compagnie de l'Isle Saint-Jean. The Compte found his task quite difficult, as many Acadians were hesitant to move to Île-Saint-Jean for fear that the Compagnie de l'Isle de Saint-Jean would exercise its rights and demand rent.

Nevertheless, small numbers of Acadians did settle on Île-Saint-Jean, arriving first in Port-la-Joye, the administrative centre of the colony.

First Acadian Families

The first Acadians to settle on Île-Saint-Jean arrived in Port-la-Joye, in 1720. The earliest families to settle at Port-la-Joye were that of Michel Haché Gallant and Anne Cormier, the ancestors of all present-day Haché and Gallants in North America, and Pierre and Joseph Martin.

By all accounts, Michel Haché Gallant was a man held in high regard. Upon his arrival in Port-la-Joye, he was immediately appointed harbourmaster. The following excerpt from a letter dated 1737 by Louis Du Pont Duchambon, who later became a commander at the fortress of Louisburg in Île Royale (present-day Cape Breton), makes note of Michel Haché Gallant's high standing:

In respect for the residents, I will do my utmost possible to bring in as many people as I can because the actual residents of the La Joye Harbour are not worthy of mention with the exception of the Galans family who occupy four houses. There is almost nobody left, they have left or are leaving because they die from not having enough to eat and I cannot think of why we have chosen this place as the principal establishment since this is the part of the island where the land is fruitless and where fishing is no good. If it were good, we could have many people who could clear the land and without their help, we can't do anything.

By 1824 six Acadian families were living in Port-la-Joye, all relatives of the original Gallant and Martin settlers. However, despite the settlement's strategic importance and distinction as the administrative capital of Île-Saint-Jean, the majority of Acadian settlers built their homes elsewhere.

Strife and Unrest

As the political centre of the French colony and primary garrison, Port-la-Joye, was a prime target for adversaries in times of war. By 1744, hostilities had resumed between France and Great Britain, and in the next year the Fortress of Louisburg on Île Royale (present-day Cape Breton), fell to a force of New England militia. This disaster prompted the French garrison to abandon Port-la-Joye, which was later destroyed by a British force.

Four years later Île-Saint-Jean was returned to French hands, and Port-la-Joye once again became the administrative centre of the Island. The farming community was never entirely reestablished, however, and Port-la-Joye saw very little Acadian presence until 1758, when it was used a base during the British expulsion of Acadians from the Island.

Painting of Deporation of the Acadians order read by Winslow in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia.

The Deportation of 1755

The Siege of Louisbourg. Painting by John Brooks

Fall of Louisbourg 1745

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