Acadian history is not typically taught in many curricula. Their special history is a parallel immigration experience that coincides with 17th century French-Canadian settlements in North America. In fact, the Acadians are typically misidentified as being tied to those who took part in the 18th century settlement of colonial Louisiana. But, the actual southern migration of the Acadians happened after 1755, following the tragic displacement, called le Grand Derangement.
Possibly, the Acadian’s history is misunderstood because little is written about how Acadians came to settle in “Acadia”, today the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Maine author Phillip Daigle wants to bring that often lost history to light in a series of novels about Acadians, based on research he became aware of by studying his family’s genealogy.
Daigle’s first novel is now available, titled The Acadian: Olivier, an entertaining historical fiction about Olivier Daigre, his Acadian ancestor.
“The is not a documentary about my family,” he said in a social media video interview with Joseph Badal. “I want to write entertaining historic fiction. In the story, Olivier lives in 1660, in Acadie. Although his story is fiction, the data is based on research I learned while studying my family’s genealogy.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is another Maine author who wrote about Acadians and their cruel expulsion in, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, but it was published in 1847, nearly a century after the French settlers were thrown out Nova Scotia, by the British. In Longfellow’s poem, the first stanza described Acadia as, “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks”. In this elegantly composed style, Longfellow might have created the foundation for Daigle’s novel. Olivier begins his story in 1660, when he was a French indentured servant working in the “forest primeval” (as Longfellow described), in the Acadian wilderness.
Daigle’s interesting novel describes how the Acadians settled the land the French called “Acadie”, during a period about 150 years before the story about the expulsion told in “Evangeline”.
Daigle’s story engages the reader in the challenges and opportunities that confronted the first French settlers in the forest primeval. His story is about one brave man who overcame his fear of being an underdog because of his status as an indentured servant. Olivier ran away from his employer, because he was lured by fur traders to a more adventurous life.
When the novel begins, Acadia was defined as the land between Boston and Quebec. Both France and England claimed to have domain over it. Acadia, at that time, was a vast area of old-growth forest and pristine waterways, the home to the native Mi’kmaw people. The French colonists in Acadia established a friendly alliance with their First Nations hosts. Eventually, Olivier witnessed an atrocity committed by rogue English soldiers. As a result, he was drawn into the resulting conflict by a Mi’kmaw warrior named Atahocam, who fought to avenge his family’s murder. Olivier dreamed about owning his own land, with a wife and a family. Nevertheless, every winter, he was drawn back to the woods and the dangerous adventures he experienced put his family’s safety at risk.
Daigle’s biography is published on the book’s website: “Phillip Daigle was born in Fort Kent, Maine, a town on the Canadian border with deep Acadian roots, where he grew up speaking “Franglish”, a mix of French and English. For forty years, he worked in sales and marketing, by founding multiple businesses. He started writing fiction in his retirement. The Acadian: Olivier, is his first book in the Acadian series, in which he channels his ancestors. He is already writing the “prequel” to his first book by creating a historical fiction about La Tour, who was another Acadian immigrant who played a part in the historic settlement of Acadie.”
Enjoy watching this 15 minute video interview to learn more about Daigle and how he came to write historic fiction about his Acadian ancestors, at this site here.
I obtained an electronic copy of The Acadian: Olivier. The plot immediately engaged me and I am learning, through the history, about how the colonial Acadians interacted with the First Nations indigenous people.
Congratulations to Phil Daigle for publishing his first historic novel about Acadians and I wish him success with this book and the sequels. Check his social media site for more information.