Before Nova Scotia fell under British rule, it was known as Acadia, and its French-descended inhabitants were known as Acadians. France ceded Acadia to Britain in 1713, after Queen Anne's War. The French Acadians lived on under British government for many years, but when war between England and France resumed in the 1740s, Britain demanded that the Acadians proclaim their loyalty to the British crown and fight for Britain. When Acadians refused, they were deported - forced onto British ships and dispersed to various locations. Families were separated, belongings were lost. Some Acadians eventually returned to their homeland, or to the surrounding area. Many ended up in the St. John River Valley of eastern Maine and New Brunswick.

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