Take a glimpse into how P.E.I.'s Acadian and Mi'kmaq lived 300 years ago

A new exhibit at the Acadian Museum of P.E.I. showcases artifacts from centuries past discovered at four Island dig sites. 

Treasures dug up at sites over the past decade offer a fascinating peek into P.E.I.'s past

A skeleton key discovered at one of the sites. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A new exhibit at the Acadian Museum of P.E.I. showcases artifacts from centuries past discovered at four Island dig sites, and aims to shed light on what life was like on the Island 300 years ago.

It's called Unearthing the Past: Archeological Discoveries of Prince Edward Island and features tools that would have been used by the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq, as well as evidence of what people were eating and the way they lived.

"You can find many artifacts that are made of iron that have degraded over time, but they still give a hint of what their use was," says Noella Richard, site director for the museum in Miscouche. 

There are pieces of pottery, needles for sewing, tools for cooking and even remnants of shellfish and vegetation. 

Noella Richard, site director for the Acadian Museum of P.E.I. in Miscouche, says the exhibit offers a glimpse into what life was like for the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq approximately 300 years ago. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

"You see many of the tools that were used back then and things that were brought over from Europe as well, or things that were even traded between the Mi'kmaq and the Acadians, so it really gives a hint of what the daily life was like for them," Richard said. 

It really demonstrates the very beginning of the Acadian and French presence in P.E.I.— Noella Richard

Digs for the exhibits took place at four sites: Pointe-aux-Vieux, Havre Saint Pierre, Nikani-ika'taqank and Pitaweikek on P.E.I.'s North Shore, and the other on what's known as Hog Island, off Lennox Island First Nation.

The work has been underway for years, and is a collaboration among provincial archeologists, historians and the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation. 

Richard hopes the exhibit will give Islanders a better understanding of what life was like centuries ago "but also the hardships they went through in their daily life ... and just have a better idea of the Island's history and where we came from and what we should do now to protect these areas, so that we better know the history of P.E.I." 

Cookware discovered at the Pointe-aux-Vieux dig site. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Richard said the museum is proud to host the exhibit, since it showcases a centuries-deep connection between the Acadians and Mi'kmaq — who are said to have supported the Acadians, in some cases sheltering them or helping them hide when Acadian families were being forcibly deported during the Acadian Expulsion between 1755 and 1763. 

Unearthing the Past: Archeological Discoveries of Prince Edward Island is open to visitors until Feb. 28, 2022. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

"This is the perfect place for this type of exhibit because it really demonstrates the very beginning of the Acadian and French presence in P.E.I." said Richard. 

"It really shows what the lifestyle was like back then. And it also shows once the Acadians were here, how they interacted with the Mi'kmaq community, and the life of the Mi'kmaq community to see where they were back then and up to today. And I think this is really important."

The exhibit is on display at the museum until Feb. 28, 2022.


Jessica Doria-Brown


Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.


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