Landscape of Grand Pré

From the Landscape of Grand Pré World Heritage inscription the Landscape of Grand Pré:

Situated in the southern Minas Basin of Nova Scotia, the Grand Pré marshland and archaeological sites constitute a cultural landscape bearing testimony to the development of agricultural farmland using dykes and the aboiteau wooden sluice system, started by the Acadians in the 17th century and further developed and maintained by the Planters and present-day inhabitants. Over 1,300 ha, the cultural landscape encompasses a large expanse of polder farmland and archaeological elements of the towns of Grand Pré and Hortonville, which were built by the Acadians and their successors. The landscape is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast. The site – marked by one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world, averaging 11.6 m – is also inscribed as a memorial to the Acadian way of life and deportation, which started in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.

If I you didn’t know the story beforehand, you could pass by Grand Pré without every knowing its significance. At first glance, it is nothing more than farmland that happens to be on the banks of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. However, there are several things about the site which make it significant.

1) It is the ancestral homeland of the Acadian people. The Acadians were French-speaking people who lived in Nova Scotia (which they called Acadie or Acadia). During the French/Indian War (aka the Seven Year’s War) they were asked by the British who controlled Nova Scotia to take an oath of loyalty. Even though they were French-speaking, they didn’t consider themselves French and claimed neutrality during the conflict. The British eventually deported the population of Acadians who were set all over the world. Their descendants include the Acadians in New Brunswick and the Cajuns in Louisiana.

2) Grand Pré later became famous as the setting of Longfellow’s famous poem Evangeline. Even though it was fictional, the poem cemented Grand Pré as the focal point for the Acadian diaspora as well as turning it into a tourist destination. Today the poem is still celebrated with an Evangeline statue and an Evangeline trail.

3) The agricultural challenges of growing crops next to the Bay of Fundy, with the world’s highest tides, required a great deal of ingenuity. The farmers of Grand Pré created a system of dikes which allowed them to expand the cultivatable area of the region. Those dikes and drainage controls are still in place today.

It is an interesting and subtle area. It will not jump out at you like other World Heritage sites like the Great Pyramids, but there is plenty here to discover if you are willing to look.

Grand Pré can easily be visited via a day trip from Halifax. The visitors center at Grand Pré National Historic Site is open every day on the summer months.


The Landscape of Grand Pré is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada. It was inscribed into the list in 2012 and is a part of a national historic site established to commemorate Nova Scotia’s Grand Pre area. This particular cultural landscape served as the center of the Acadian settlement in 1682 until 1755. It was also significantly linked to the British deportation of the Acadians during the time of the French and Indian War.

Hence, it has a lot of historical ties that especially knowing that the area was originally marshland, too. The native Mi’kmaq people also once inhabited the lands wherein the UNESCO site is located in. There was a series of land reclamation that was undertaken from the 17th to the 18th century. Aside from being recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is also believed to be the best example of a North American historic polder. It is also considered as one of the National Historic Sites in Canada.

About the Landscape of Grand Pré

The Landscape of Grand Pré is located along the shore of Minas Basin. It is a tidal marshland that was initially settled in 1680. It also served as the first capital for the Acadian settlement in the area. Over time, Grand Pre became known as the breadbasket of Acadia. By the mid-18th century, there are several Acadian communities that were built in the surrounding areas.

The entire Acadian settlement was destroyed by fire during the Queen Anne’s War. After the war, the Annapolis Royal was named as the capital for the Acadians wherein they were also forced to sign an allegiance to the British crown, something of which the Acadians refused to do. There were a few others who were compelled to sign for fear of losing their religion while others were scared about the possible repercussions on their allies.

The French wanted to gain control of the Acadian settlements during King George’s War. However, during this time, the British were defeated by the local Acadians and Canadians in the former’s effort to gain control of the Bay of Fundy region. In the time of the French and Indian War, the Acadians were deported as part of the British crown’s ploy to deter any military threat from the Acadians. A few Acadians manage to escape and persisted with the armed resistance against the British crown.

The Landscape of Grand Pré is therefore highly storied; the site is considered a national historic monument in Canada because of the extent of the struggle and war that took place in an effort to regain control of the land.

There are 9 different sites in total that are recognized into this collective UNESCO World Heritage Site. These sites are valued for their ecological importance, history, and its showcase of human activity in the said area. The cultural and historical significance of the Landscape of Grand Pré is also manifested by the fact that it is recognized within Canada as a national and historic monument. In fact, the Grand Pre Heritage Conservation District was recognized into the Heritage Property Act in 1999. This consists of the area covered by the UNESCO site, in an effort to preserve and conserve the landscape.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

Gary Arndt
Gary Arndt

Gary began traveling the world in 2007. His travels have taken him to over 200 countries and territories and 400 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

He is a 3x Lowell Thomas Award winner and a 3x North American Travel Photographer of the Year.