On May 10, 1785, the Bon Papa, a modest three-master of 280 tons, hoisted its sails at Paimboeuf, France, near Nantes, and headed west. On board were thirty-six families whom the owner of the boat had promised to bring to port. The ship, which arrived at its destination on July 29, 1785--after eighty days on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters--was only the first of seven ships carrying nearly 1,600 Acadians to Spain's Louisiana colony.
Thirty years, almost to the day, before the arrival of Bon Papa in New Orleans, seven or eight times as many Acadians had embarked on ships from Nova Scotia, Canada. Between July 28 and July 31, 1755, the English governor of the colony, Charles Lawrence, as a prelude to the Seven Years’ War, made the decision to expel all inhabitants of French origin within his territory. Many of the exiled Acadians were deported to the American colonies, the Caribbean, Britain, or France. Nearly one-third of those deported died from disease or drownings. Those who did survive the journey often struggled to survive and assimilate in their new communities, even in their motherland of France.
This book examines the Acadians while exiled in France. Based on a tremendous amount of primary source research, Mouhot tells their story in great detail, while he also challenges many previous interpretations and understandings of their experiences in their "homeland."