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Heritage Minute captures ‘immensity’ of Acadian Expulsion: director

A new Heritage Minute depicting the Acadian expulsion was recently filmed at two Annapolis Valley locations: the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, and Houston’s Beach, pictured above.
A new Heritage Minute depicting the Acadian expulsion was recently filmed at two Annapolis Valley locations: the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, and Houston’s Beach, pictured above. - Contributed

Clip recently filmed on Houston’s Beach, Annapolis Royal gardens

CANNING – A new Heritage Minute depicting the expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia has wrapped filming in two Annapolis Valley locations.

Clip director Tess Girard recently filmed scenes at Houston’s Beach in Canning and the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens which focus on a narrative she hopes offers a unique take on the historic event.

The clip is filmed from the perspective of a mother, which Girard says she decided on after most of her research revealed stories and anecdotes focusing on the experience of Acadian men.

“As a female director, I was struck by how matriarchal Acadian culture is, and what these mothers had to do – it’s very moving, and we wanted that represented,” she says.

Girard also strove to include as many Acadians in the project as possible – several actors, its producer, writer and music composer among them – to ensure the story of Le Grand Dérangement was accurately told.

Tips from composer Paul Aucoin and tenth-generation Acadian Al Melanson – the latter helped select filming locations – were essential, says Girard, since she is not of Acadian heritage.

The clip tells the story from a mother’s point of view – an angle director Tess Girard hopes shows a new perspective. “I was struck by what these mothers had to do – it’s very moving, and we wanted that represented,” she says.
The clip tells the story from a mother’s point of view – an angle director Tess Girard hopes shows a new perspective. “I was struck by what these mothers had to do – it’s very moving, and we wanted that represented,” she says.

“We don’t live in an era anymore where it’s outsiders to tell these stories. This is their story – they have full ownership of it. I’m just part of the team,” says Girard.

Melanson, a descendant of Port Royal founder Charles Melanson and known for his Annapolis Royal ghost walks, also acted in the clip. He says the process was “fun, and also fulfilling.”

“The deportation is well-known in this area, but not in other places. It still hasn’t been fully told across Canada,” he says.

“This is the aim of interpretation – you give the pertinent facts, make it engaging, and they’ll want to find out more.”

Girard says the minute has wrapped shooting but is far from finished, since Historica Canada projects often take around one year to produce. Girard was unable to confirm the clip’s final air date, but said rumours are pointing toward it premiering on National Acadian Day – August 15, 2019.

This is the fourth Heritage Minute Girard has directed. She calls the medium a “unique form of storytelling” that continues to touch Canadians.

“Everyone always recognizes when I say I directed a Canadian Heritage Minute. They’ve helped me dive into pieces of history I didn’t know, and personal stories you don’t learn about in school,” she says.

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