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Acadia was the name given by the French to the territory named Nova Scotia by the British (later divided among the three Maritime provinces), named after the mythical Arcadia. The territory's first European colonists were Acadians, French subjects of the colony of New France. The area was captured by British colonists in the course of King William's War but returned to France at the peace settlement. It was recaptured in the course of Queen Anne's War and its conquest confirmed in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.

Following this reverse, the French signalled their preparedness for future hostilities by building the fort of Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. The British were alarmed by the prospect of disloyalty in war time of the French colonists now under their rule. The territorial conflicts between Britain and France led to over 6,000 Acadian homes being burned by the British in 1755. Those Acadians who refused to swear loyalty to the British crown fled or were expelled to the American Colonies. Many settled in Louisiana, then still under French rule, where they formed the nucleus of the Cajun population. The name 'Cajun' is derived from 'Acadia'.

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