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Editor's Note
by Olga Stein

When it came to writing a note for this month's issue, I must admit to being initially at a complete loss, for although many of the books reviewed are of a historical cast, relating American and Canadian history, separate and shared, I couldn't find a review or reviews to single out for discussion. I was disinclined to merely list a fewłthe table of contents does that already. Moreover, I couldn't point to a core or a group of reviews, which function together as kind of feature or issue highlight. I was at a standstill when to my delight, in came Barbara Le Blanc's Postcards from Acadie. This finely printed book from Gaspereau Press caught my attention from the start. Not only is it Canadian history, which gives it some priority in view of this month's focus, it's Acadian history, rendering it of great interest to me for two reasons: First, I know very little about Acadia or Acadiansłan ongoing source of some embarrassment to me, since all I've had has been a vague notion that Acadia is part of Nova Scotia. Secondly, despite my limited awareness of Acadian history, the book struck me as useful because it examines a period when the British and French were vying for new land and when English-speaking colonists in what is now Canada and America were politically linked by virtue of a common sovereign in Britain. In other words, I found in this book the earliest stages of European colonization of our country as well as references to a young America (New England)łall of it widening and enriching my historical perspective.
But to return to what prompted me to read Postcards from Acadie, my confusion about Acadia and Acadians: Le Blanc clarified matters instantlyłat least it's clear now why I could never be certain about Acadia before. She writes, "Although the nucleus of the colony was along the southeastern shore of the Bay of Fundy (today's Annapolis Valley region)...from 1604 to 1763, the territory. . . was generally considered to be present-day Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick, part of northeastern Maine and southeastern QuTbec. . .In the settlement negotiated in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), France ceded Acadie to Great Britain, and the name of the colony officially became 'Nova Scotia'. After the 1713 treaty, Acadie as a name became a matter of historical geography rather than a political boundary. . . Although not a present-day Canadian geographical entity, Acadie is still used by many people to designate the area where Maritime Acadians live today. As a result, the ambiguity of the name and the boundaries of the territory continues."
As for the genealogy, Acadie was the first French-speaking colony in North America. Le Blanc tells us that although "the central-western part of FrancełPoitou, Aunis, and Saintongełappears to have contributed the largest number of emigrants to Acadie," there were also those who came from Scotland, the Basque region, and England. A motley group at first perhaps, but one which quickly developed a sense of community and a distinct identity. Le Blanc details the growth and agricultural practices of this industrious and thriving community, with its dyking system and "numerous flour and lumber mills." At the same time, we're given an account of the French and British jostling for territory from 1744 to 1748, from the start to the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession between Great Britain and France. The Acadians had remained neutral, a peaceful farming community, but were distrusted by the British authorities. The story of the deportation of the Acadians in 1755, particularly from the Grand-PrT settlement, couldn't fail to move a reader. It is a story of exile and eventual return, and it is this story that helps shape, according to Le Blanc, the modern-day Acadian ethnic identity. Letters from Acadie is a glimpse of small but significant piece of Canadian history.

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