Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion by Tyler LeBlanc

The year 2020 marks 265 years since the Acadian Expulsion (Le Grande Dérangement) in 1755. Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 will likely not allow Acadians to gather together to observe this milestone year. Annually, on August 15th (the actual day of the start of the deportations), Acadians the world over observe their overcoming of the cultural genocide enacted upon them by the British. Thousands were forcibly separated from their families, lands and possessions, and packed aboard squalid ships and sent to places that did not want them, such as the Thirteen Colonies, England, France and the Caribbean. Thousands perished, most of them en route to their destinations, or while waiting to be disembarked.

Acadian Driftwood is notable for exploring the varied places the Acadians were sent, how they were treated and how they courageously attempted to stay united as families and succeed in whatever circumstances they found themselves in.”

Tyler LeBlanc is a journalist, screenwriter and storyteller. All of this experience has been poured into crafting Acadian Driftwood, his first book*. Mr. LeBlanc, in discovering his Acadian roots, ventures to tell their stories based on what little records remain of the over 15,000 who were dispersed to various parts of the globe in an attempt to remove them as a perceived threat to the British occupation of Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia). He states in the Introduction:

I want to provide a new angle on the tragedy. As a longtime fan of reconstructed historical non-fiction and its ability to take readers to the time and place in question and bring history alive, I try in these pages to give the Expulsion a similar treatment. This book looks at the event from the point of view of those who experienced it. It is not a grand history of the Acadian experience. I’m not a historian, and I have no thesis to advance. This is a personal book about ten siblings, all distant ancestors of mine, who found themselves tossed from their quiet pastoral lives into the turbulent world of eighteenth-century geopolitics. My subject is not the men in power and their motivations, although, in order to properly follow the LeBlancs through the Expulsion, I occasionally shift my focus to the larger and well-documented events. The Expulsion of the Acadians from their homeland had a direct effect on over fifteen thousand people, yet we know very few of their personal stories.
This is a work of creative non-fiction. At times in these stories I tell, I made educated guesses about how the people felt or responded, but I haven’t invented dialogue or characters.

It’s good to know that there is not a lot of speculation or invention contained within the pages of Acadian Driftwood. I have read several books of creative non-fiction where the emphasis is more on the creative than on the non-fiction side of the story. Thankfully, that is not the case here and Acadian Driftwood is notable for exploring the varied places the Acadians were sent, how they were treated and how they courageously attempted to stay united as families and succeed in whatever circumstances they found themselves in. Acadian Driftwood consists of ten chapters and includes a Preface, a genealogy of the principal characters, maps and a list of sources. Recommended for a different perspective of the Acadian Expulsion and its aftermath.

*This review of Acadian Driftwood was based on an Advance Reading Copy provided by the publisher.

Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion by Tyler LeBlanc
Goose Lane Editions

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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife and their dog.

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