Prince Edward Island’s Acadian history runs deep and rich from the early 1700’s through centuries of settlement, resettlement, to today’s modern Acadian communities and economies. In addition to storytelling experiences and various forms of interpretation to be enjoyed across the Island, the Acadian Research Center at the Island’s Acadian Museum in Miscouche stands out as the home of official acquisitions, preserving archival records relating to the history and culture of Acadians of the Island.
Acadians and French people arrived on Prince Edward Island in the early 1700s at a time when the Island was known as “Île-Saint-Jean” by people of European descent. But the Island was already inhabited when they arrived as it had been populated for a very long time by a community of Mi’kmaw people. The Mi’kmaw called the Island Kjiktu’lnu, which means “our great boat,” and Epekwitk, which means “cradled on the waves.”
The 1758 Acadian deportation on Île-Saint-Jean scattered the Acadian population as far as France, the West Indies and Louisiana. Among Acadian families who avoided deportation, many found their way to refugee camps near the Restigouche and Miramichi rivers, but a select few managed to stay on the Island.
Significant changes started occurring for Island Acadians during the mid-1800s, reflecting changes that were occurring for Acadians throughout the Maritime provinces. Several institutions promoting community development were established. A small educated ruling class was formed, and important initiatives began to be implemented in the Acadian community.
Prince Edward Island has undergone major social, cultural, and economic changes since the 1960s. A wind of change was blowing on the Island and particularly on the Acadian community. More than ever, the French language and Acadian culture were valued.