Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day New England, stretching as far south as Philadelphia.
The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies which became Canadian provinces and American states.
Today, Acadia has been used to refer to regions of Atlantic Canada with French roots, language, and culture, primarily in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine and Prince Edward Island. In the abstract, Acadia refers to the existence of a French culture on Canada’s east coast.
Early European colonists, who would later become known as Acadians, were French subjects primarily from the Pleumartin to Poitiers in the Vienne département of west-central France. The first French settlement was established by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts, Governor of Acadia, under the authority of King Henry IV, on Saint Croix Island in 1604. The following year, the settlement was moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal after a difficult winter on the island and deaths from scurvy. In 1607 the colony received bad news: King Henry had revoked Sieur de Monts' royal fur monopoly, citing that the income was insufficient to justify supplying the colony further. Thus recalled, the last of the Acadians left Port Royal in August of 1607. Their allies, the native Mi'kmaq nation, kept careful watch over their possessions, though. When the former Lieutenant Governor, Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt et de Saint-Just, returned in 1610, he found Port Royal just as it was left.
The French took control of the Abenaki First Nations territory. In 1654, King Louis XIV of France appointed aristocrat Nicolas Denys as governor of large portions of Acadia and granted him the confiscated lands and the right to all its minerals.
The Netherlands asserted sovereignty over Acadia in 1674 after privateer Jurriaen Aernoutsz captured the forts at Pentagoet and Jemseg. Control over the region reverted to France when Aernoutsz's appointed administrator, John Rhoades, was captured by New England within a few months. The Dutch West India Company continued to assert a paper claim over Acadia until 1678, appointing Cornelius Van Steenwyk as its governor, although they never successfully recaptured actual control of the territory.
British colonists captured Acadia in the course of King William's War (1690–1697), but Britain returned it to France at the peace settlement. It was recaptured in the course of Queen Anne's War (1702–1713), and its conquest was confirmed in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713).
On June 23, 1713, the French residents of Acadia were given one year to declare allegiance to Britain or leave Nova Scotia. In the meantime, the French signalled their preparedness for future hostilities by beginning the construction of Fortress Louisbourg on Isle Royale, now Cape Breton Island. The British grew increasingly alarmed by the prospect of disloyalty in wartime of the Acadians now under their rule.