CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004
In the 17th century, families emigrating from France settled in small communities along the shores of the Bay of Fundy in what is now Nova Scotia. They fished and farmed, reclaiming precious land from the sea through the construction of dykes. By 1750, their numbers had grown to 10,000. Over time, their language, customs, and beliefs evolved so that they no longer considered themselves French. They were Acadians. However, when territorial disputes broke out between Britain and France in 1755, the British, fearing the Acadians would side with France, demanded they sign an oath of loyalty to Britain. Wishing to remain neutral, the Acadians refused. As a consequence, nearly 8,000 of them were expelled from Acadia and deported to Europe, New England, and other colonies.
This expulsion is the topic of Sharon Stewart’s novel, Banished From Our Home. Part of the “Dear Canada” series from Scholastic, the story is told through entries in the diary of young Angelique Richard, whose family is not only torn from its home, but torn apart as its members are scattered to various parts of the world.
The early entries are devoted primarily to daily living in Grand Pré, Acadia, and the reader gains an appreciation for chores, community, weddings, church, and so on from Angelique’s perspective. Despite long days of work, Angelique’s large, but close-knit family is fairly well-to-do, and life is good. Gradually, however, things change. First, Angelique’s brother, Victor, runs off and joins the rebels. The use of boats and travel to other communities is banned. Angelique’s father is imprisoned in Halifax when he and other Acadian men present the governor with a petition explaining their wish to remain neutral. Angelique’s remaining brothers are imprisoned, first in the British barracks and then on the ships moored in the harbour. And finally, Angelique and her family, along with the rest of the residents of Grand Pré, are shuffled aboard the ships and – after an interminable time sitting at anchor – eventually transported to Annapolis, Maryland and then Baltimore.
The remainder of Angelique’s diary is devoted to the family’s struggle to survive and stick together in the face of numerous hardships, always with their hearts set on returning to Acadia. A tidy epilogue following the diary entries ties together loose ends for those who like to have nothing left to the imagination. Following that, the author has provided an historical note, explaining the Acadian expulsions in factual terms. Lastly, there is a collection of paintings and documents illustrating the customs and lifestyle of the day.
from our Home is an excellent way to familiarize young readers
– especially those living outside the Maritimes – with
an important part of Canadian history. The diary format automatically
limits action and conversation and makes character development more
difficult. Nevertheless, Stewart has written an engaging and informative
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.