Church of the Covenanters in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, is located on the southern shore of the Minas Basin, the port of the Bay of Fundy with the world’s highest tides (over 18 metres or 50 ft). Grand Pre is a place of great historical and cultural significance, for its role in the history of the Acadian people.  It attracts visitors from around the world who come to learn about the history of the Acadians, explore the scenic landscape, and reflect on the impact of the expulsion.

Grand Pre History

The area of Grand-Pré was long inhabited by the Mi’kmaq people, who utilized the fertile lands and abundant resources of the region’s lands and waters.

In the 1680s, French Acadian settlers began arriving in the area, attracted by the fertile marshlands. They named the region Grand-Pré, meaning “Great Meadow.” The Acadians were skilled farmers who developed an extensive system of dykes and aboiteaux (sluice gates) to drain the saltwater marshes and create arable land.

The Acadians established a thriving agricultural community in Grand-Pré. They were largely self-sufficient by successfully growing crops such as wheat, corn, and flax, and raised livestock.

The most dramatic event in the history of Grand-Pré was the 1755 Expulsion of the Acadians (Le Grand Dérangement) during the French and Indian War, British authorities sought to neutralize any potential threats from the Acadians, who as French-speaking Catholics were perceived as sympathetic to the French.

British forces under Colonel John Winslow forcibly removed Acadian families  from their homes and their lands and confiscated their properties. Many were transported to British colonies along the Atlantic coast, and in 1783 sent many to the French colony of Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi. This last expulsion was the basis of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem “Evangeline.”

After the expulsion, the fertile lands of Grand-Pré were given to New England Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution who continued to maintain the Acadian dykes and their farming methods.

In the late 1800s, there was a growing movement to recognize and preserve the history of the Acadian people and the expulsion. In 1907, John Frederic Herbin, a poet and jeweler of Acadian descent, purchased land in Grand-Pré and erected a cross to commemorate the Acadian expulsion, which sparked wider interest in Acadian heritage.

In 1922, Grand-Pré was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The site includes a memorial church, gardens, and a statue of Evangeline, the heroine of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie,” which romanticizes the Acadian expulsion. The Grand-Pré National Historic Site serves as a place of remembrance and education about Acadian history and culture.

In 2012, the Landscape of Grand-Pré was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in  recognition of the cultural legacy of the Acadian people, their agricultural innovations, and their tragic history of expulsion.

Grand Pre- low tide mudflats with view to Boot Island

Grande-Pre Attractions

Grand Pré National Historic Site
P.O. Box 150, Grand Pré, NS, B0P 1M0
902-542-3631, 1-866-542-3631

Site of the church and cemetery of the 17th-18th century Acadian village that became the scenic setting for Longfellow’s narrative poem Evangeline. Commemorates the Acadians of the Minas Basin and the Deportation. Sweeping gardens memorial church with paintings, stained glass, exhibits. Open year round, interpretation available May 15-Oct 27. Allow 30 minutes. Admission fee.

Church of the Covenanters
Hwy 1010 Exit 10,

This church was built by New Englanders from 1804-1811. It was made from hand-hewn boards and square hand-made nails. The church has box pews and a pulpit that rises half-way to the ceiling. Open daily 9 am to dusk from May to October. Allow 30 minutes. Free admission.

Landscape of Grand-Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site

2205 Grand Pré Rd, Grand Pré, NS B0P 1M0

Recognized for its cultural significance and historical landscape, this UNESCO site illustrates the agricultural and communal practices of the Acadian people and their enduring legacy.

Grand Pre Wines / Domaine de Grand Pré Winery
11611 Highway 1, Grand Pre, NS, BOP 1M0

Hanspeter acquired this run-down winery and cleaned up 30 acres of abandoned vineyard. By replanting the original estate vineyard, and planting a new well-drained, south-facing, 15 acre vineyard in the nearby Gaspereau Valley.

Evangeline Beach

Grand Pré, NS B0P 1M0
A popular spot for bird watching, particularly during the migration season. The beach (about 1 km northwest of the National Historic site)  offers stunning views of the Minas Basin and the world’s highest tides.

Grand Pre - mudlfats at low tide at bend in river at Hortons Landing
Grand Pre - mudlfats at low tide at bend in river at Hortons Landing

Grande-Pre, Nova Scotia Area Map