In 1605, when the French established a settlement at Port Royal adjoining the Bay of Fundy, the Mi’kmaq occupied most of the region known as Acadie/Acadia (present day Maritime Provinces). They were organized in bands or districts and seasonal migration involving hunting and fishing was part of their lifestyle. Before 1500 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet populations are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 but by the 1600s these numbers are down to half and possibly less, probably due to disease and contact with Europeans. Mi’kmaq and other aboriginal population numbers for the region in the first half of the 18th century are also estimates. In 1721-1722, a census of nine Mi’Kmaw settlements in present day Nova Scotia (including Annapolis, Cape Sable, LaHave, Shubenacadie, Antigonish, Pictou/Tatamagouche, Chignecto, Cape Breton) , carried out by a French missionary (Antoine Gaulin), showed a population of approximately 900-1,000. Aboriginal population numbers for all of Acadia ranged from 3,000 and upward, with the Mi’kmaq the most numerous, followed by the Maliseet (western/SW New Brunswick) and the Passamaquoddy (Maine-New Brunswick Border area). In the same period, the Acadian population was estimated at 10,000 located in a number of settlements on the mainland and Cape Breton. From 1710 onward, after an Anglo-American force captured Port Royal (later renamed Annapolis Royal), the British maintained a garrison of several hundred at a fortification (later named Fort Anne) at Annapolis Royal and a detachment at Canso but no other settlement of any size on the mainland (until 1749). By 1761, the population of Nova Scotia was estimated at 12,000, approximately 8,000 of European descent and the Mi’kmaq under 4000.
Clashes in northern New England between colonists and the five-nation Wabanaki Confedereacy (including the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq) that started in the late 1600s carried over into the 1700s and involved Nova Scotia. All sides employed frontier warfare tactics that included the killing of combatants and n0n-combatants. The defeat of the French at Port Royal in 1710 was significant in the history of Nova Scotia and other areas of northeastern North America. The next 50 years would witness hostilities and wars—intermingled with periods of peace — involving imperial powers France and Britain, colonial forces (including those of Massachusetts Bay Colony) , Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and the Acadians, culminating in British dominance in 1760 (nearing end of Seven Years War).
Nova Scotia 1710-1761: Significant Dates/Events
After the British captured Port Royal (renamed Annapolis Royal) in 1710, British soldiers on woodcutting expedition along Annapolis River attacked by native force at Bloody Creek (National Historic Site monument, right); 30 killed and wounded/others taken prisoner.
Treaty of Utrecht ends War of Spanish Succession and cedes Nova Scotia/Acadia to Britain; exact boundaries vague and source of conflict between British & French/Mi’kmaq/Maliseet.
The British and Mi’kmaq/Maliseet/Passamaquoddy sign first Peace and Friendship Treaty at Annapolis Royal but both sides would later interpret terms differently when the British moved to establish new settlements on peninsula.
1724 & 1744:
Mi’kmaq attack Annapolis Royal (right) in 1724 during New England-Wabanaki Confederacy war with casualties/scalping on both sides. In 1744, during War of Austrian Succession, the Mi’kmaq directed by Abbe LeLoutre and aided by Acadians twice attack Annapolis Royal.
Duc d’Anville’s storm-wracked fleet with crews ravaged by typhus/typhoid sent to recapture Louisbourg and NS mainland, arrives at Chebucto Bay/Halifax (National Historic Site monument right); contagion spreads to Mi’kmaq.
In June, Governor Edward Cornwallis arrives with 2500 settlers to found Halifax (painting). In September, Mi’kmaq declare war on British and scalp/decapitate 4 woodcutters and take prisoner in Dartmouth (Dartmouth 1750-1950 plaque, right, recalls raid). Cornwallis signs Mi’kmaq bounty proclamation.
Mi’kmaq conduct number of raids in Halifax-Dartmouth area, including the ‘Dartmouth massacre of May 1751 which resulted in the deaths/scalping of more than a dozen soldiers and settlers including women and children (Alderney Monument, right, commemorates arrival of early settlers). Cornwallis rescinds bounty in 1752 prior to resigning as Governor.
The British at Fort Lawrence and the French at Beausejour (right) confront one another across the Missaquash River at Isthmus of Chignecto with the French aided by the Mi’kmaq and Acadian insurgents; hostilities include scalping on all sides.
Governor Peregrine Hopson signs Peace and Friendship Treaty (initiated by Cornwallis before he resigned) with Mi’kmaw leader Jean Baptiste Cope; treaty doesn’t hold.
Governor Charles Lawrence approves expulsion of Acadians (Grand Upheaval) and in 1756 places bounty on Mi’kmaq following Mi’kmaw raids on peninsula.
1758-1761: British defeat French/capture Fortress Louisbourg (right) in 1758; Mi’kmaq conduct last raid on peninsula (Eastern Passage) in 1759; British-Mi’kmaq sign treaty and ‘bury the hatchet’ in 1761.
Winthrop P. Bell, The Foreign Protestants and the Settlement of Nova Scotia, Toronto 1961
Margaret Conrad and James Hiller, Atlantic Canada: History Oxford University Press 2001
Brian Cuthbertson, Lunenburg An Illustrated History, Formac Publishing 1996
John Grenier, The Far Reaches of Empire War in Nova Scotia 1710-1760, University of Oklahoma2008
AJB Johnson Endgame 1758 University of Nebraska Press 2007
Stephen Patterson, “Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples,” eds. Philip Buckner and John Reid, The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History University of Toronto Press1994
Stephen Patterson, “Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia 1749-1761: A Study in Political Interaction,” Acadiensis 23 1993
John Reid, Essays on Northeastern North America Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries, University of Toronto Press 2008
John Reid, Maurice Basque, Elizabeth Mancke, Barry Moody, Geoffrey Plank, William Wicken, The ‘Conquest’ of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial and Aboriginal Constructions, University of Toronto Press 2003
LFS Upton, Micmacs and Colonists: Indian-White Relations in the Maritimes 1713-1867, UBC Press Vancouver 1979
William Wicken, Mi’kmaq Treaties on Trial History, Land and Donald Marshall Junior, University of Toronto Press, 2002