Tonge’s Island

Tonge's Island Tantramar Marsh Sackville NB

Tonge’s Island

Located on a triangular section of land within the Tantramar Marsh near Sackville, Tonge’s Island National Historic Site of Canada is an important Acadian settlement consisting of a low hill surrounded by brackish marshland on the western side of the Missiguash River. The site was officially recognized in 1925, specifically referring to the hill known as Tonge’s Island, as it served as the capital of Acadia from 1678-1684.

Tonge's Island National Historic Site of Canada

Michel le Neuf de la Vallière was granted a small section of land on the southwest coast of the Isthmus of Chignecto in 1676, across the Missiguash River from the Acadian settlement of Beaubassin. He established his manor on Tonge’s Island, and the settlement grew as the Acadians applied their aboiteaux to slowly drain and desalinate the marshes. Eventually, a stockade and mill were constructed, and when la Vallière became the governor of Acadia in 1678, Tonge’s Island became the capital. However, a dispute over the granting of fishing licenses to Bostonian ships led to la Vallière being stripped of his governorship in 1684, causing the settlement to decline while Beaubassin across the river grew.

When tensions rose between the British and French, the Beaubassin villagers fled to the newly built Fort Beauséjour, and their new settlement became focused there rather than on Tonge’s Island.

Tonge's Island NB

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: 

  • – its siting on the Chignecto isthmus, a region that was hotly contested during much of Canadian history by French, English and Acadian forces
  • – the geographic location of the “island” within the surrounding landscape on a slight rise of land that defines the approximate boundary of Tonge’s Island and the settlement of Michel le Neuf de la Vallière 
  • – its proximity to other Acadian sites, including Beaubassin, Fort Beauséjour and Fort Lawrence National Historic Sites of Canada  
  • – the surrounding viewscapes and terrain including to the Missiguash River and farmland to the east, the dyked marshland to the northwest, and Chignecto Bay to the south 
  • – the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement end extent. 

Aboiteau-style dikes and sluice gates

Aboiteau-style dikes and sluice gates

Today, key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include its location on the Chignecto isthmus, its proximity to other Acadian sites, and the integrity of any surviving archaeological remains that may be found within the site.

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