Book launch planned for early September
LOWER DARNLEY – Acadian National Day just passed, and the annual Acadian Festival is about to stoke the expression of cultural pride in the Evangeline region once again.
The timing is perfect for the release of a new book focused on a distinctly different milestone of Acadian history.
On Sept. 4, The Acadian Museum in Miscouche will host the launch of “Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beauséjour and Grand-Pré,” an exploration of the beginnings of the Acadian deportation from the viewpoint of that English soldier on the scene.
Bancroft was a 30-year-old father of one from Massachusetts who, like many of his contemporaries, believed strongly in conquering the French competition in North America.
He joined a force of 2,000 that sailed to the Bay of Fundy in 1755 and began the final conquest of what was left of Acadia and New France.
The book, surtitled “Diaries of the Acadian Deportations, No. 1,” is the first of an intended series of enlightenments of direct accounts of an “event of national historic significance in Canada,” as the wider expulsion has been designated.
The series concept was developed by St. Mary’s University archeology professor Jonathan Fowler and Islander Earle Lockerby, who also authored “Deportations of P.E.I. Acadians” that was published in 2008.
Lockerby, retired from a career in the nuclear-power industry and now indulging a passion for 18th century Maritime history, was informed of the soldier’s diary while visiting a former colleague, of the same surname, in Ontario.
“I recognized it was quite significant,” recalled Lockerby, whose interest led him to collaborate with Fowler, who was working on similar information.
Their initial paper on the subject was published in the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society Journal in 2002.
The book is a 112-page adaptation of that paper, published by Gaspereau Press. It is divided into eight sections, with Lockerby and Fowler providing a preface geared to the series concept, an introduction to the presentation style of the volume, the Bancroft Diary, in its entirety and fully annotated on facing pages, a discussion of its unique value, and conclusions about the soldier and the situation surrounding him.
“The deportations started after the capture of Fort Beauséjour,” which was between present-day Sackville, New Brunswick, and Amherst, Nova Scotia, at the head of the Bay of Fundy, Lockerby noted.
Bancroft’s diary provided a personal glimpse into the first implementation the expulsion policy, before Grand Pré came to symbolize the deportations. The account was limited, however, as Bancroft returned to his colony in 1756 and died of smallpox two years later.
Lockerby clarified that Bancroft’s account was only one of many, by soldiers and officials, to offer perspectives less familiar than the mainstream accounts into the many deportation events that comprised the whole.
Some of the those have been published, in various forms and forums, but many are out of print or written in language that separates them from popular understanding.
The series intends to explore the wider progression of the policy from the information in such diaries, and fully annotate the texts with explanations and other updating information to render it more reader-friendly
That is crucial, he expressed, as the history is important and relevant to modern Acadian celebrations.
“Acadians don’t want to let go. They recognize the aftermath and hardships, of (the deportation) and other odysseys it sponsored. It disrupted their whole beings, and that is a commonality in re-establishing their society,” he concluded.
Lockerby will introduce the book, Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m., at the Acadian Museum on Main Drive East in Miscouche. Jonathan Fowler will not be available for the event.