Jeffreys Papineau and a group of Patriotes.
A strange British man who claimed to be a British general, Washington he called himself, came to our officers in the Ohio River area today, and asked them to leave. They were working on the fort construction down there and the British general claimed that it was their territory and that we must get out of New France. Well of course our officers told him that we would not leave, it is not the British’s territory but ours. We were there first.
Later that month.
The general came back with many men and supplies with which they began construction on a fort of their own. We were angered to see that they had the nerve to come back and even more so to see they actually started building on our territory.
May 28, 1754
A skirmish was fought today. It lasted a very short time, only about 15 minutes, so you would think we would not have time to lose men. However, we lost 13 soldiers, and 21 were wounded. All the lost men make it ever harder to do our everyday work, it gives us less people and also some work slower due to grief. Life in New France is getting harder.
The British are now in control of Acadia. They are changing many things here, including the name; we are now supposed to call it ‘Nova Scotia’. They are even trying to change us. They came to us this month with an ultimatum, we must swear our loyalty to the British crown or lose our land. We will never do such a thing. Although we have promised them not to use any weapons against them, we will not swear loyalty, they cannot make us speak their language and become more of their people, they have taken enough of our identity and loved ones as it is. We are our own people.
We were all aroused very early this morning, when the British came and started throwing us out of our homes, ordering us, in their language, to follow or be shot. They told some of us to pack what we could carry, along with our money, and assemble in front of our homes. Some, including me and my family, were left undisturbed, but we still watched in horror as our friends and relatives were marched down to boats and wagons to be taken to unknown places. We will hope to be left in our homes and have the rest of our people returned alive and well.
We are all devastated. The British have continued to deport our people to France and the thirteen colonies on the east coast. From letters we receive from the deported, we have discovered that almost one third of the people who have been thrown out have died of small pox, or other diseases. There used to be 1200 Acadians living here. Now there are only 156 families remaining. We are terrified of these people who are destroying our people, and our homes.
February 11, 1763
More bad news has come, France has given up on us, they have abandoned New France. The British king, the Spanish king and ours signed a treaty yesterday, calling it the treaty of Paris. Britain gave the old country a choice; they had to chose between getting the sugar producing island of Guadeloupe, or of keeping their territory in New France. Since the sugar from Guadeloupe is worth nearly twice as much as all the furs from New France, they chose it, over us. This gives all of New France, except for the two small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which were wanted for the fish, to Britain. It seems as if our old country has almost no need for us anymore. We, the Canadiens, are now under the control of the British, who still have not decided what to do with us. We know it will be either Eviction, Assimilation or Accommodation but which one we are not sure. It is in our greatest hopes that our culture will survive these hard times, but unfortunately, no one can know for sure.
October 8, 1763
There never seems to be any goon news anymore. The English king signed a royal proclamation yesterday. He has announced that he will not evict us from our homes but instead will try to convert us to their language, religion and culture. This we will not do. This proclamation has been good to our allies among the First Nations; they have been given a large piece of land in the interior of the country. The natives are still worried, though, because they have never had a very good relationship with the British, especially not as good as their relationship with us had been. Although things seem to continue to get worse for us as a people, we will not give in to the British. We will survive as a people.
For once, I bring good news; the British’s attempt to turn us into another one of their loyal colonies has failed, as we knew it would. They have finally realized that we have such a strong sense of identity and such great determination to survive as a people, that we will not ever be ‘made’ British. As well as this, their attempt to bring more British settlers to Quebec has also failed; only about 100 new colonists came. This has made the British finally re-think their previous decisions and try something new. They have finally recognized all our rights that were taken away by the royal proclamation and they passed a new law with new plans for our colony. They have recognized that we have a right to maintain our own language and customs, giving us the foundation for peace. There are only 200 Anglophones in New France, compared to our 80,000 that is a miniscule number, but they are still in control, however few of them there are, they are not daft, they know that if we decide to fight against them, we have a good chance of winning, this forced them to start giving us some of their power by giving some of our people government roles, this however, did not make the Thirteen Colonists happy, they do not think it is fair that the power be shared. This also did not please the first nations, because the land that we received belonged previously to them. The complications and news on this continent are endless, at least this time the news is good, we hope it will continue to be.
Once again, peace has disappeared and we will enter yet another war. Tensions between Britain and America have heated up and they cannot get along for many reasons, it has been rumored that the British have even been taking Americans against their will and making them work in the British navy and that some Americans are thinking about attempting to take over some of Britain’s colonies. The British in Canada are afraid because they are outnumbered almost four to one and on top of that, they are not sure they can count on the loyalty of some pioneers who have come up from America after the loyalists for cheap land and not because of their loyalty to the British. I have also heard some of our people talking about perhaps rising up against the British, some are still angry about the taking of Qubec 50 years ago, even with the rights and power we have regained. I imagine that this will give the British much to worry about, the only thing that seems to be in their favor at this point is that the Shawnee Nation has decided to fight with them. They have roughly 2000-3000 soldiers who have decided to fight. The outcome is very uncertain, but we hope it will end soon.
The British are very lucky that the have the Shawnee who have helped them win many key battles, including the battle of Detroit. Unfortunately, an end does not seem to be in sight, the government buildings of both the British and the Americans have been burned down and the British town of York has been destroyed. These battles affect all of us, as all wars do, but we will not lose hope for permanent peace.
Finally, our time of war and terror is over, a treaty has been made to end the war. The terms are that each country must give back all the land that has been taken and all sides have agreed to make the 49th parallel, which is a political boundary that runs from west of the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains. It is obvious to us that we have won against the Americans but they seem to think otherwise, but no matter what they say, we have stopped yet another American attack, we have triumphed! I do not feel so well however, for our Indian allies, they have lost over 15,000 men, which is more than the British and our losses combined. On top of this the Americans have refused to make a First Nations state, as the British had wanted. Although we are sorry for them, we are grateful that the war has ended and we are in peace, for the times being at least.
Many people from the Thirteen colonies have been coming up to Quebec to live where they will not be tortured by the Rebel groups ho occupy most of the land down there. We have heard stories that these people, who call themselves the Loyalists, (because they are remaining loyal to the British crown) would sometimes be stripped naked and covered in tar, then rolled in chicken feathers and paraded around town as examples. None of us can believe that anyone could even have the heart to do things like that. Because of all this, over 50,000 Loyalists have come up to New France; this has nearly tripled the population of Nova Scotia. This makes us angry because the British are taking over our settlements even more than they already have. The British are also promising the Loyalists free land, decreasing the amount of land we have. Four years ago they even split Nova Scotia in half, making one half New Brunswick, which will be a Loyalist settlement, and the other half stays as it is. This is good and bad for us because this means we will have less British settlers in our cities, but it gives us only half of the land that has been ours for generations.
The British have finally done something that benefits both us and themselves. They have made the Constitutional Act, which divides Canada into two parts; Upper Canada and Lower Canada. This gives us all of Lower Canada and we get to keep all of the rights that we gained from the Quebec Act, we have our own religion, language, culture and government. This allows the French and British cultures to co-exist, the first step to a bilingual country.
Everyone is unhappy with the government right now, in both Upper and Lower Canada, it just doesn’t make sense to have a governor who is appointed by Britain to control affairs in Canada, we should have a governor of our own. There are a few groups of people who call themselves reformers are demanding change but year after year, they are being denied. But change must come. We need to take action.
Louis-Joseph Papineau has started a group called the Patriotes, they have presented a document to the assembly called the Ninety-Two Resolutions. It calls for major reforms. They have won 75 percent of the votes in an election. They are sure that this time they will be listened to.
Terrible news has come to the Patriotes and the rest of us. The British government has completely and unfairly rejected all demands we made. Mr. Papineau then traveled around throughout the colonies urging our people to take up arms. I was one of the ones who agreed to do so and we fought first at Saint-Denis. We won the battle, but groups of our people were than caught at Saint Charles and Saint-Eustache. Papineau has given up and fled. Our first attempt has been crushed, but we will not stop trying! Much the same as here in Lower Canada, Upper Canada is also unhappy with the British, a group called the Reformers who were led by a man named Mackenzie. They issued the Seventh Report on Grievances, which listed their demands, but like the Ninety-Two Resolutions, it was denied. Some of the Reformers then decided to fight. We have relatives there who gave us a fairly detailed letter about it so I am able to say that they were not successful, and like our Papineau, Mackenzie fled. Although all attempts at rebellion seem to have failed, we have definitely showed the British that we will not stand for this government and reform is absolutely necessary.
Now that we are in a time of peace, Britain has taken immediate action; they are trying to fill up all of British North America with immigrants from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, unlike the last time they attempted to populate this area with Anglophones, this time it is working. Coming here offers immigrants free land, an escape from the poverty, starvation and crowds in the older countries and a fresh start. This does not please us because they are filling up our colonies with Protestants and putting us in danger of losing some of our religion and language again. 800,000 immigrants have come to the ports of Halifax, Saint-John and Qubec City by ship. From what we have heard form the friendlier immigrants, they call some of these ships ‘coffin ships’ because of all the diseases that run rampant in the dark, filthy rooms below deck, and the many people who die there.
Even more immigrants are coming in from Ireland now because the potato crop has failed and this puts the country into a major famine. New towns are popping up all over the place now, in order to offer jobs (such as laborers, servants, doctors, teachers, loggers and miners) to all the immigrants. The First Nations continue to be pushed aside by first the Loyalists and now by the immigrants. The new immigrants are bringing in all sorts of their culture to our colonies, but we will not let this overrun our own culture.
The American War of Independence.
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