Floyd Sonnier artist Floyd Sonnier
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"I consider myself a historian as well as an artist. I’m visually recording history."
– Floyd Sonnier
From Small Bits of Charcoal
From Small Bits of Charcoal
The Life and Works of a Cajun Artist

The bi-linqual autobiography of pen-and-ink artist Floyd Sonnier of Lafayette, Louisiana. Written and illustrated by Floyd.

FLOYD SONNIER BEAU CAJUN GALLERY
1010 St. Mary St.
P.O. Box 397
Scott, LA 70583

Wednesday thru Friday - 10 AM to 5 PM
Saturday - 10 AM to 2 PM
Or by appointment
(337) 237-7104

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A Brief History

Acadian history began in 1603 when the first colony of Frenchmen arrived at Ste. Croix Island in New Brunswick in search of a new fishing and fur-trading base. In 1604, they sailed around the Acadian peninsula to the Bay of Fundy and Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) in Nova Scotia and established colonies in the Riviere-Aux-Cannards and Grand Pre areas.

By 1607 both France and England began to establish colonies in the New World. By 1671 the French had expanded their colonies throughout Acadia. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht established English control over most of the Nova Scotia peninsula, including Cape Breton (Island) and Prince Edward Island. Control of New Brunswick remained disputed. Both the French and the English began building forts to protect their settlements, the French to the North and the English to the South. The Acadians, now numbered in the thousands, remained "neutral" in accordance with treaty terms - - refusing to assist either country. Fighting between the two countries continued.

In 1753, Colonel Charles Lawrence became Governor of Nova Scotia. Lawrence was a very cruel person and had a strong hatred towards the Acadians, who were of French descent. He demanded that the Acadians take an Oath of Allegiance to Great Britain and, also, to the Church of England. The Acadians, being devout Catholics and a peaceful folk, refused. On July 20, 1755, the governor and the council of Acadia issued expulsion orders. Some 18,000 Acadians lived in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. On October 8 to the 27th, ships at Grand Pre' were loaded with 5,000 people and the expulsion began. This continued until 1759. The Acadian refugees were dumped and scattered in Maryland, the Carolinas, Georgia and along the New England coast. They were people without a country and were considered undesirables wherever they went. Because of this, the Acadians were not welcomed in these areas. In the meantime the words reach them about Louisiana and their being welcomed there. They began their voyage to Louisiana. Many were sent back to France and some to prisons in England. Some 4,000 were to eventually settle in Louisiana.

Louisiana was under Spanish rule at that time. The Spanish government was sympathetic towards the Acadians and agreed to let them come down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and then through the bayou tributaries to the coast of Southwest Louisiana. They again were able to live in peace. They befriended the Attakapas Tribes of Indians who were willing to assist them in their "New World."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow relates their story so eloquently in his most famous poem, "Evangeline," by romanticizing the plight of the Acadians from Grand Pre', Nova Scotia, to the banks of the beautiful Bayou Teche, near St. Martinville, Louisiana.

They then spread all over Southwest Louisiana and for over 240 years the Cajuns' ancestors lived, in most part, in total isolation. They lived maintaining their Catholic faith, their French language, their customs intact, peacefully: a small miracle.

With well over one million descendants of the exiled Cajuns living today in Southwest Louisiana, French is still widely spoken. Gumbo and jambalaya are still the two most important dishes. Crawfish is still the favorite ingredient for these dishes. Cajun-French music and dancing are still the favorite pastimes; Mardi Gras is the favorite holiday; working hard all week and going to Church on Sunday is still a must; and "Laissez les bon temps rouler," translated, "Let the good times roll" and "Laissez-faire," (Live and let live) are still the rules of the day.

FLOYD SONNIER
Artist and Pure Cajun