Lafayette, Louisiana bears few similarities to our former town of Lafayette,
California. Vermilionville is a “living history museum” where we
learned more about the history of the French farmers from Nova Scotia who
became the Cajuns. Acadians (Cajuns) fled from the Vendee region
of France and settled in Acadie in Nova Scotia in 1604, but in 1713 the
English took control of their land and suggested these French Catholics
become loyal to the English Church. Those refusing were deported
and some found their way to this area. They fished, hunted and trapped
in the waters of the region.
Here in Lafayette the Cajuns lived on the Bayou Vermilion and maintained
their distinct ways. Vermilionville has both original (1790) and
reconstructed buildings showing life in the 19th century in what is now
Lafayette. Workers are dressed in period costumes and give demonstrations
of the work that was done here a century ago. A wood carver was carving
ducks from trees that are now extinct. Around the turn of the last
century the lumber boom resulted in the harvesting of all of a variety
of cypress trees, but their stumps survive in the swamps. So, they
are allowed to go in and harvest this unique wood to use for their carvings.
Cajun musicians played folk music and some folks danced to it. Something
else you don't run in to very often in the United States were guides who
gave their tours in another language. My French is pretty rusty,
but it didn't sound like they left anything out.