October 24, 2011


There is an unusual oral tradition Acadians have used to define their ancestry back to the very beginnings of the colony. In some areas, it is still in use today. The unbroken chain, both paternal and maternal, allows the listener to know from what family and what area of Acadia the speaker is describing. In one string, I can be transported from 2011 New England, to the Village of Memramcook, New Brunswick after Le Grand Dérangement, to Needham, Massachusetts during the exile, to a mid-1600s farm on the north side of the Rivière Dauphin near Port Royal, Acadia.

Between each first name is the French word “à” which in English translates as “to”.
Rob à Norma à Alda à Placide à Amable à Israël à Simon à Jacques à François à Jacques à Daniel LeBlanc. This one-from-the-other linguistic tradition can be applied to any of my Acadian lines, but not without looking at my notes first. I was surprised the first time I actually heard it in practice. My cousin was speaking with a distant relative of ours at a funeral. He is the son of Thadée LeBlanc and Domithilde Boucher.

I had never met the man before, but within moments he knew how we are related. And it still amazes me today.


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