August 02, 2005 11:55 ET

Canada Post Honours a People's Constancy

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 2, 2005) - On August 15, Acadian National Day, Canada Post will issue a 50-cent commemorative stamp marking the expulsion of the French Acadians from their homeland. This event, known to Acadians as Le Grand Derangement, was the culmination of centuries-old hostilities between France and England.

In colonial days, the deportation of conquered garrisons or settlers was not an unusual act. What makes the fate of the Acadians particularly moving is the fact that it was a cruel departure from established protocols: they were not going back to France or to a different French colony; they were to be dispersed throughout several of the British colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia.

In 1755, there were 16,000 Acadians, including those on Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. Life was relatively good and France and England were just distant countries across the sea. The Acadians were living in peace and comfort, but in 1755, their world was turned upside down.

Historian John Mack Faragher says that New England troops embarked on a grand scheme to expel French-speaking Acadians from Nova Scotia. Thousands perished, innumerable families were separated, and many fled to the forests where they waged guerrilla resistance.

In September of 1755, all the Acadian men and boys at Grand-Pre were ordered to assemble in the church. Once inside, these 400 Acadians were informed that they were prisoners awaiting deportation. Their lands, houses and animals were confiscated, but they could take clothing, money and some furniture. The same tactic was applied at Chignecto. The villages of Memramcook, Peticodiac and other nearby villages were burned. British power prevailed, and a thousand Acadians were deported from the area.

In all, approximately 6,000 Acadians were deported. Another 4,000 hid in the woods and later many of them made their way to Quebec or Prince Edward Island. Those who were expelled left, not in a single sailing, but in waves over a period of several years.

At the end of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), Acadians were permitted to return. They came back to find English-speaking people now settled in their old villages. They moved on and settled in Yarmouth and Digby Counties. Other Acadians settled Isle Madame in Cape Breton; some went to the Magdalen islands or Miquelon and approximately 3,500 eventually returned to France. Many Acadians eventually ended up in Louisiana or Texas.

Pierre-Yves Pelletier of Beloeil, Quebec, designed this historically significant stamp. Pelletier, who has more than 100 stamps to his credit, last produced the Victoria Cross stamp which was issued on October 21, 2004. He describes the 1755-2005 commemorative issue as a "stamp on a stamp," featuring the 1930 Grand-Pre stamp superimposed on the Acadian flag. The 1930 stamp portrays the statue of Evangeline (a fictional heroine made famous by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and the Acadian chapel at Grand-Pre National Historic Site.

Available for sale at post offices across the country on August 15, each stamp measures 39 mm x 48 mm, and will be sold in a pane of 16 stamps. Canadian Bank Note printed a total of 2.5 million stamps, using 6-colour lithography, and P.V.A. gum, on Tullis Russell Coatings paper. The stamps are general tagged on all four sides with 13+ perforations. The Official First Day Cover will read Grand-Pre, Nova Scotia.

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and a downloadable high-resolution photo of the Acadian stamp is in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day covers will be available at participating post offices, can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website , or by mail-order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: (902) 863-6550.

Contact Information

  • Canada Post
    Cindy Daoust
    Ottawa, Ontario
    (613) 734-4258