The first settlers of Port-Royal had to have been aware of the extraodinary fertility of the immense salt marshes that surrounded them. The height of the wild grasses alone would have been a clear sign of a very productive soil. Until the movement of water through the flat wet marshlands was controlled, the fertility would remain untapped. Not only would the ground be too damp for cultivation, but the salt content would prevent the growth of essential crops like wheat and barley. The Acadians worked together as families and as neighbors in building dykes as only they could fashion. The Dykes - many still standing after all of these years - reclaimed their farmlands from the very high rising tides of the Bay of Fundy. (Highest tides in the world.)

No other group which colonized North America developed settlements based on the reclamation of salt marshes. No other group perfected the techniques of dyke-building. No other group preferred to settle on lowlands rather than clear the forests on higher ground. The term aboiteau, which designates the wooden clapper valve that controlled the flow of salt water on the marshes, has no equivalent word in English or modern French. The word aboiteau is inextricably linked to a specific cultural context. According to Dièreville, by the end of the 17th century, the Acadians were very proficient builders of dykes and aboiteaux. Team work was a must in order to build and to maintain the dykes.

Beginning with smaller dykes, eventually, the Acadians built dykes that spanned across the Bay of Fundy.

View shows the Dikes & Meadows of Grand-Pré circa 1900s.
[Post card purchased in an E-bay auction and owned by the Acadian Ancestral Home.]

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home<
1998 - Present/H4>

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