The Heart of New England
Acadian Heritage, Preserved
By Lyn Michaud

Northern Maine is like a patchwork
quilt of small towns with unique
history. After the British deported
the Acadians from Nova Scotia, some of them traveled as far as Louisiana and
others settled in an area that is now northern Maine.

The Acadians were farmers and like other colonists were a resourceful group
who developed skills for survival and comfort including weaving,
blacksmithing and shoemaking.

Acadian Culture, Preserved & Shared

The Acadian culture is preserved and shared at Acadian Village in Van Buren,
Maine through the restoration or replica construction of buildings, furniture and
articles of daily life.

The village opened in 1976 for the bicentennial and is a Historic National
Landmark. The Living Heritage Society of Van Buren built the village on
donated land and local people are committed to maintaining the village.

From the US Route 1, the Acadian Village might look like just a bunch of old
buildings, but to pass through the general store/gift shop entrance is to step
into a model village with blacksmith shop, homes, a schoolhouse, church and
other buildings. The building that stands in a place of prominence is the church.
It is a replica of an early log church and the bell is one of the oldest in the valley.
Faith helped the Acadians survive hardships and remains an important part of
their culture.

Touring the Acadian Village

I toured the Acadian Village for the first time as a student. To go to a historic site
requires both a sense of wonder and a vivid imagination. My teacher focused on
the one room schoolhouse. We discussed what it would have been like to attend
school there.

I told a story my father told me about
attending a one-room schoolhouse: In winter,
he and a cousin went to school early to
build a fire in the woodstove so it would
warm up for the other pupils. Someone else
commented on the lack of indoor plumbing.
Then we ran to the next building to try
to unearth more stories of how real people,
like us, once lived.

When my husband and I married, we toured the Acadian Village together to
share his French heritage. I experienced the village from an adult perspective,
different things were important. We talked about his musical background. The
Acadian sound is made with the violin, guitar, and accordion. His French
heritage comes out when he is playing an upbeat song.

He has a habit of keeping time with his feet and the faster a song is, the harder
he stomps. When I asked him about it, he said it’s a holdover from the days
before amplifiers. When the party was in full swing, the dancers couldn’t always
hear the music so the musicians stomped their feet to vibrate the floor boards in
time to the music.

A Log Cabin with a Dirt Floor

One of the homes at the Acadian Village is a late 1700s log cabin with a dirt
floor. Cooking is my passion and I’ve experimented with cooking over an open
fire and on a woodstove, but can’t imagine having to cook that way every day.

Food was a means of survival and stews were common with local ingredients.
One of my favorite meals is Chicken Fricot, a stew made with chicken, potatoes,
turnips, carrots, onions and seasoned with savory. This is an adaptation of early
Acadian stews of meat and potatoes with dumplings as is the side dish of
ployes, buckwheat pancakes.

Acadian heritage is preserved at the Acadian Village and in the surrounding
communities where customs reflect that heritage.  It isn’t uncommon to hear
French spoken or find Acadian foods like Boudin, blood sausage, or ploye mix
in grocery stores.

Visit the Acadian Village in on US Route 1 in Van Buren, Maine from mid-
June through mid-September. The village is open daily from 12-5 with a small

See Also:
"La Culture Acadienne du Maine" or The Culture of Acadia Maine

About the author: Lyn Michaud, who lives in Colorado, has vacationed throughout
New England for 25 years and enjoys sharing the secrets in small towns that are rarely
found in the large travel guides.  Lyn, who is a member of the International Women's
Writing Guild has written for Home Cooking, Voice of Harmony, Brighton Blade and
The Railroad Station at the Acadian Village
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More Travel Info:
When my husband
and I married, we
toured the Acadian
Village together to
share his French