Grand-Pré: A UNESCO World Heritage Site In Canada

Grand Pré memorial church.
Grand Pré memorial church.

What Is Grand-Pré?

Grand-Pré is a community located in the rural regions of Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada. It sits on a peninsula that protrudes into the Minas Basin and is surrounded by marshland. It includes the archaeological ruins of aboiteau wooden sluice systems and dyked farmland. These systems were created by the Acadian population during the 1600s. Since then, they have continued to be developed and utilized. This site also displays the most extreme tidal movements in the world, with tides measuring at 38 feet in depth. Grand-Pré and its surrounding area have been listed as a monument to the Acadian culture and lifestyle. It was inducted to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list on June 30, 2012.

Why Is Grand-Pré A UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The landscape of Grand-Pré is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it provides a unique look into the way of life and adaptation techniques of some of the first European settlers on northern Atlantic coast of North America. This site displays the hard work and dedication that went into developing farmland for crops in the harsh climate of the Nova Scotian coastline and its extreme tidal activity. These settlers used the polder technique to create farmable land. This technique involves building dykes around a low-lying plot of land so that the tide can no longer reach it. Additionally, polders require sluices (water channels) so that excess water from groundwater seepage and tidal infiltration can be drained during low tide. The Acadians made a community effort to manage these polders and control water levels at all times. This system was later taken over by the Planter settlers and has been continued for over 300 years to present day.

This site is not only important for its use of the polder system, but also because it provides a memorial to the Acadian Diaspora through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island and their forced removal by the British during the Great Deportation (also known as the Grand Dérangement). The Acadians were forced off their colonized lands between 1755 and 1764 as part of British military efforts against France. They were first sent to the original 13 colonies of present-day United States and later deported to Britain and France. The landscape of Grand-Pré is the principal memorial site for this historic event.

Management Of Grand-Pré

The landscape of Grand-Pré is managed by various public entities, including the Federal Government Parks Canada Agency, the Grand-Pré Marsh Body, and the Stewardship Board. Other authorities include local farmers, the Grand-Pré municipal government, and regional technical experts. They are also included in decision making concerning uses of the site. Of note is that these management efforts are not only appropriate but also effective because of their inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders, all of whom (including the Acadian diaspora) agree with and abide by the regulations set for the site’s practical management. Together, all of these groups have worked to extend the site’s buffer zone in order to ensure the visual authenticity and integrity of the site as viewed over the coastal area from nearby Horton’s Landing. The memorial sites located throughout the landscape are managed by the Société Promotion Grand-Pré.


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