Over 300 years ago, in 1672, the Acadians first settled in Minudie and were assisted by the Mi’kmaq who supplied them with game and taught them how to hunt and trap. The Acadian people were especially drawn to the Bay of Fundy salt marshes. Acadians were responsible for the design and construction of many of our present-day dyke systems including the dykes of Minudie along the River Hebert. They were well aware of the agricultural value of the salt marshes in comparison to the forested uplands which were less fertile.
The Acadians depended on fishing and farming for their livelihood and developed an innovative method of damming the surrounding salt marshes with dykes and producing arable land. These dykes were built by driving up to six rows of posts into the ground, laying other posts one on top of the other and filling the spaces between them with well-packed marsh mud. Then they covered it all with sod cut from the marsh. Acadian settlers enjoyed the harvest from the dykeland farms which provided for their needs and often gave them a surplus.
The dykeland marshes were found mainly in the upper part of the Bay of Fundy in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The dykes occurred primarily in areas of high tidal range and were created to keep out the sea. Large salt marshes occurred in both low-lying areas and at the mouths of tidal rivers. Nutrient-rich sediments were often trapped from the tidal waters by salt marsh plants. This occurred on vast level areas ideal for the development of agricultural lands.
The Acadians also devised a system of drainage ditches. A hollowed log, containing a one-way gate (an aboiteau) was fitted into the drainage ditch. After two to four years of rain and snow washing salt from the marsh, the Acadians were rewarded with fertile soil capable of producing a variety of crops.
The daily tasks of Acadians were dedicated to survival. The age and sex of each member of the family determined their daily tasks. The work of each parent was quite different, and the chores would change according to the time of year. Often chores were interrupted by holidays which created a pause in the day-to-day routine and sometimes new chores would begin following the holiday. The cultural life of the Acadians was most openly expressed during their holidays. At these times, their customs and traditions were highlighted.
The Acadian settlers endured a terrible tragedy on September 2nd, 1755 when they were issued a proclamation signed by Colonel John Winslow, Commander of the English Militia. Minudie Acadians were taken to Fort Cumberland, loaded on ships and sent to Grande Pre. Here, the Acadians were loaded on large ships and were sent to various locations. Shortly after that, Lieutenant Dixon arrived in Minudie with his men. The Acadian homes and crops in Minudie were destroyed. A few of the settlers escaped into the woods and waited for the British soldiers to leave the area.
Many Acadians returned to their farms in 1765. Farming and fishing remained important sources of livelihood for the Acadian people. By the early 1800’s large fishing weirs were developed. Fishing nets were large in size at this time. Some were as much as 2,103 cm long and set firmly on posts with
guide stakes 61 cm in height at 472 cm intervals. Twice daily as the tide receded, the nets were checked by men driving horse and wagon. Ladders were used to climb up the nets to collect the fish. These men worked out of fish camps set up near the dykes. It was here that the fish (mostly shad) would be split and salted. At night, a light was placed on a pole in the dyke so the men could see their way to and from the fish camps.