Though it was founded after Port Royal and Beaubassin,
Grand Pre was very successful due to: 1) being pretty much ignored by New
England raiders and French officials, 2) weak seigneurial control, and
3) good marshlands. It seems to have been established in 1682 when
2 well-to-do Port Royal inhabitants moved there. Pierre Terriau settled
on the Riviere St. Antoine (today's Cornwallis River) and was soon followed
by others, including Claude and Antoine Landry and Rene LeBlanc.
Pierre Melanson’s family (son of d’Aulnay’s tutor, married to Marie Marguerite
Mius d’Entremont) and one other (a hired hand?) were also early settlers
at Grand Pré. [Clark, p. 148] Melanson
was the seigneurial agent, a leader in the area, and captain of the
By 1686, there was another family at Grand
Pré and 7 families at the St. Antoine (total - 57 people ... 10 families,
83 acres tilled, 90 cattle, 21 sheep, 67 pigs, and 20 guns). The
census lists only 5 farms. People moved there from Beaubassin and
Port Royal. Gargas (in 1687/88) said there were about 30 families
there “where all the young people from Port Royal [are] settled.”
Visitors remarked of the area’s isolation from interference. The
population quickly increased from 57 (1686) to 580 (1707).
The settlements at Habitant were Antoine, Aucoin, Brun, Claude, Claude Landry, Claude Terriau, Comeau, De Landry, Dupuis, Francois, Granger, Hebert, Jean Terriau, Michel, Navie, Pinous, Poirier, Saulnier, and Trahan. The settlements at Minas were: Comeau, De Petit or Gotro, Gaspereau, Grand LeBlanc, Grand Pre, Granger, Hebert, Jean LeBlanc, Jean Terriau, LaCoste, Landry, Melanson, Michel, Pierre LeBlanc, Pinour, Pinne, and Richard. (Eaton, p. 29)
Villebon, who visited in October 1699, said
there wasn’t much cod fishing at Minas, but the tidal streams had shad
and gaspereau (alewives). Gargas has said in 1687/88 that the rivers
had shad, trout, gaspereau, and shellfish. [Clark, p. 150] The main crops were wheat, rye, peas, and
oats. He mentioned the women spinning and weaving wool and linen.
There was one sawmill and another planned, a windmill, and 7-8 water gristmills. [Clark, p. 151]
New England traders made their way into the
basin. By 1701, there were 33 families (188 people) at Pisiquid.
There were also 3 families at Cobequid, where Mathieu Martin was given
a seigneurie in 1689. By 1707, Cobequid had 17 families (82 people).
Pisiquid was growing, but not as well. The area developed both farmland
and took care of their livestock.
Brouillan visited Minas in 1701. He
reported that they had abundant cattle, and that they could export 700-800
hogshead of wheat if they chose to. But they were very independent ...
being separated from offical control ... and were used to deciding things
The following is an account of a 1720 visit
to Minas is given.
The area is Minas, called Les Minas by the French due to the copper mines. Grand Pre is 30 leagues by sea and 22 by land ENE of Port Royal.
The harbor is wild and insecure. Vessels (usually less than 40-50 tons) going there
to trade use the tide (which rises 9-10 fathoms) to go up the creek (Dead Dyke) to the town of
Grand Pre. When the tide goes out, they are left on a 5-6 mile bed of mud. There
is a meadow (Grand Pre Dyke), stretching for 4 leagues that produces very good wheat
and peas. It could produce enough grain for a much larger area. The scattered
houses of the town are on high ground along the 2 “Cricks”, which run between it and the meadow.
There are a lot of cattle in the area. They catch white porpoises (a type of
fish) and make oil from its blubber (yielding good profits). There are more people in that area
than at Port Royal; and Indians also inhabit the area. They have never had any force
near them to “bridle” them. “All orders sent to them, if not suiting to their humors, are
scoffed and laughed at, and they put themselves upon the footing of obeying no government.”
They won’t submit easily to any terms unless a sizable force (300-400) landed and
a Fort or redoubt of earth was built (with 4 cannons, upon their beloved meadow, big enough
to hold 150 men). Because of the harbor, the vessel bringing them would have
to be 12 miles from the fort. Any ships that rode in with the tide would be left on a
bed of mud for 16 hours (and subject to burning). [Herbin, 53]
p. 78, NSHS, #23 (1936) |
In 1720, Mascarene referred to Grand Pré as
a meadow of 4 leagues, dammed in from the tide, producing very good wheat
and peas. The settlement was composed of scattered houses, on high
ground between 2 creeks (on kind of a peninsula). This was the center
of Minas until the exile in 1755. Grand Pré had about 200 houses.
Two settlements (Melanson and Gaspereau) were along the Gaspereau. [Clark,
From a Jan. 1747 report at Grand Pré (when
British forces were destroyed), there
were “low houses framed of timber and their chimney framed with the
building of wood and lined with clay except the fireplace below.” There were a
few stone houses in the
middle of town. The only buildings were homes, barns, stables,
churches, and mills. [Clark, p. 217]
The population in 1750 was 2450 [Pereau Creek
- 50, Habitant Creek - 75,
Canard - 750, Cornwallis River - 100, Grand Pré - 1350, Gaspereau -
125; from Morris]. [Clark, p. 216]
Click on image for larger view |
Morris' 1749 plan for settling the English on Acadian land in the Minas area..