Last British-French naval battle celebrated
The 250th anniversary of the last naval battle between England and France for North American land is being remembered this week on the Restigouche River, near Campbellton, N.B.
Irene Doyle, an organizer with the Restigouche 1760 committee, said the event is meant to commemorate the naval battle and celebrate the Acadian, Scottish and Mi'kmaq cultures that have existed in the region for more than two centuries.
The fight, which was eventually won by the British, took place on northern New Brunswick's Restigouche River.
"If it had gone a different way, we may have had a very different life around here," Doyle said as she stood on the bank of the river overlooking where the battle took place.
"Right now we have the three cultures that were here then, are here now and we're living together in harmony."
According to the Parks Canada website for the Battle of the Restigouche National Historical site, France sent five merchant ships and a frigate on April 10, 1760, to offer relief to the New France colony.
The six ships carried 400 relief troops and supplies.
The flotilla arrived on May 18 in the estuary of the Restigouche River, which was populated by a small number of Acadians and about 150 Mi'kmaq families.
Five British warships intercepted the French flotilla at the head of Chaleur Bay on June 22. After a battle, the French commander intentionally sank the frigate on July 8 so the British couldn't take any of the supplies.
New France surrendered in Montreal on Sept. 8, 1760, but the French garrison on the Restigouche didn't find out until Oct. 23 and surrendered six days later.
Those events and the culture that has survived in the area are going to be celebrated this week in northern New Brunswick and Quebec.
Sarah Arsenault, an organizer with the events at the Mi'kmaq village on the Listuguj First Nation, said it was important to bring in all three cultures that were involved in the battle.
"In the Battle of Restigouche, the Mi'kmaq were a big part, allies with the French. So they created this big tri-cultural event to tie in everybody, the Scottish, the French and the Mi'kmaq, since we were a part of it," Arsenault said.
Art exhibits, live performances and re-enactments of the battle will take place in Campbellton, Point-a-la-Croix, Que., and on the Listuguj First Nation all week.
The festival ends with a multicultural closing ceremony on Sunday.
Organizing the 250th anniversary of the battle couldn't avoid its own internal controversy.
A language dispute within the organizing committee prompted the resignation of the Acadian contingent, who were frustrated by English-only meetings.
Dave Ferguson, an event organizer, said they have put those troubles are behind them. The committee reformed and Ferguson said the dispute did not affect the event.
"We just continued our thing. We had people to replace them. There was not a huge lot of people involved," Ferguson said.
"We always had Acadians on our committee and we just continued working and we filled in those slots and we pushed forward always, never looking behind."