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    – Fierce resistance on the Petitcodiac River
The Petitcodiac River
The Petitcodiac River, renowned for its tidal bore which forms twice a day when the tides of the Bay of Fundy go up the river towards Moncton (author ryaninc, without modification, license CC BY 2.0)

The Petitcodiac River runs southeast in New Brunswick and crosses the city of Moncton in the shape of an elbow of a half-bent arm, before flowing into Chipoudy Bay. Its tides can reach an impressive height of nine meters, uncovering large expanses of marshes at low tide. It is therefore not surprising that the Acadians colonized this region as early as 1698, thus opening up a long period of prosperity, even though abruptly interrupted…

In the extension of their Beaubassin colony, the Acadians did apply the proven technique of aboiteaux to the Petitcodiac River to stem and make the marshland fertile. In the summer of 1755, however, the region was one of the first to face the mass arrest of Acadians by the British for deportation to the Anglo-American colonies. But along the Petitcodiac River, the Acadians resisted fiercely until 1759. Here’s how…

In the spring of 1698, Pierre Thibodeau, a miller from Port-Royal (in present-day Nova Scotia), founded a small colony at Chipoudy (now Hopewell Hill), at the mouth of the Chipoudy River (Chipoudy Bay). One of his fellow travelers from Port-Royal, Guillaume Blanchard, went up the Petitcodiac River in the summer of 1699 and founded another colony called Petitcodiac, near the present village of Hillsborough. Similarly, around 1700, an important Acadian establishment was founded in Memramcook, along the Memramcook River which also flows into Chipoudy Bay. In the following years, the Acadian pioneers founded several other establishments upstream of the Petitcodiac River, such as Le Coude, on the actual site of Moncton, and, a little further upstream, Boundary Creek, the village of Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, future hero of the Acadian resistance. All of these villages enjoyed half a century of prosperity, but the dark period was approaching…

The Battle of Petitcodiac

On September 3rd (or 2nd), 1755, a detachment of nearly 200 soldiers from the British colonial forces, commanded by Major Frye, had set fire to the village of Chipoudy and was about to torch the village church of Petitcodiac, near the “Blanchard village” (Hillsborough). It was then that he fell into an ambush set up by the French lieutenant Charles Deschamps de Boishébert who commanded a hundred naval soldiers, Acadian militiamen and indigenous allies, all exasperated against the British. After a hard fight of three hours, the British, disorganized and having suffered heavy losses, had to withdraw. This French victory enabled more than 200 Acadian families from the three rivers, namely the Chipoudy, the Petitcodiac and the Memramcook to escape deportation.

Monument erected in 1922 in Hillsborough
Monument erected in 1922 in Hillsborough in memory of the Battle of Petitcodiac (author Hantsheroes, without modification, CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the British did not succeed in destroying the Acadian villages located upstream from the Petitcodiac River before the fall of 1758. Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil was the leader of the Acadian resistance in the region, where he multiplied the bloody attacks against the British arsonists. But the Acadian refugees around him remained in utter destitution. The fall of Louisbourg (July 1758) and especially that of Quebec (September 1759) ruined the last hopes of the Acadian leader who eventually surrendered to the British authorities. Yet it was the same Beausoleil who, released in 1763, later guided the first Acadians in Louisiana.

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