Joseph Broussard

Joseph Broussard (1702–1765), also known as Beausoleil (English: Beautiful Sun), was a leader of the Acadian people in Acadia; later Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Broussard organized a Mi'kmaq and Acadian militias against the British through King George's War, Father Le Loutre's War and during the French and Indian War. After the loss of Acadia to the British, he eventually led the first group of Acadians to southern Louisiana in present-day United States. His name is sometimes presented as Joseph Gaurhept Broussard; this is likely the result of a transcription error.[2] Broussard is widely regarded as a hero and an important historical figure by both Acadians and Cajuns.

Joseph Broussard
Joseph Broussard, known as "Beausoleil". A portrait by Herb Roe.
Port-Royal, Acadia, New France
(present-day Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Died1765 (aged 6263)
St. Martinville, Louisiana, New Spain
(present-day Loreauville, Louisiana, U.S.)
Unknown location near Loreauville, Louisiana
Allegiance Acadia
Service/branchAcadian militia
Battles/warsFather Rale's War

King George's War

Father Le Loutre's War

French and Indian War

Other workLed Acadians to Louisiana. Militia captain of the Acadians of the Atakapas[1]


Broussard was born in Port-Royal, Nova Scotia in 1702 to Jean-François Broussard and Catherine Richard. His father came from Poitiers and his mother was born in Port Royal. He lived much of his life at Le Cran (present-day Stoney Creek, Albert County, New Brunswick), along the Petitcodiac River with his wife Agnes and their eleven children.

During Father Rale's War, Broussard participated in a raid on Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia (1724).[3]

King George's War

During King George's War, under the leadership of French priest Jean-Louis Le Loutre, Broussard began actively resisting the British occupation of Acadia. Broussard's forces often included Mi'kmaq allies in their resistance against the British. In 1747 he participated in and was later charged for his involvement with the Battle of Grand Pré. (see History of the Acadians)[1][4]

Father Le Loutre's War

During Father Le Loutre's War, after the construction of Fort Beausejour in 1751, Broussard joined Jean-Louis Le Loutre at Beausejour. In an effort to stop the British movement into Acadia, in 1749 Broussard was involved in one of the first raids on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia which resulted in the deaths of five British settlers.[5] The following year, Broussard was in the Battle at Chignecto and then shortly afterward he led sixty Mi'kmaq and Acadians to attack Dartmouth again, in what would be known as the "Dartmouth Massacre" (1751). Broussard and the others killed twenty British civilians and took more prisoners.[6] Cornwallis temporarily abandoned plans to settle Dartmouth.[7]

In late April 1754, Beausoleil and a large band of Mi'kmaq and Acadians left Chignecto for Lawrencetown. They arrived in mid-May and in the night opened fired on the village. Beausoleil killed and scalped four British settlers and two soldiers. By August, as the raids continued, the residents and soldiers were withdrawn to Halifax.[8]

In the Action of 8 June 1755, a naval battle off Cape Race, Newfoundland, on board the French ships Alcide and Lys were found 10,000 scalping knives for Acadians and Indians serving under Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope and Acadian Beausoleil as they continue to fight Father Le Loutre's War.[9]

Broussard was also active in the fight against Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton in the Battle of Beausejour.[10]

French and Indian War

With Le Loutre imprisoned after the Battle of Beausejour, Broussard became the leader of an armed resistance during the expulsion of the Acadians (17551764), leading assaults against the British on several occasions between 1755 and 1758 as part of the forces of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot.[1] After arming a ship in 1758, Broussard traveled through the upper Bay of Fundy region, where he attacked the British. His ship was seized in November 1758. He was then forced to flee, travelling first to the Miramichi and later imprisoned at Fort Edward in 1762. Finally, he was transferred and imprisoned with other Acadians in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Arrival at Louisiana

Released in 1764, the year after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, Broussard left Nova Scotia, along with his family and hundreds of other Acadians, to Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti).[11] Unable to adapt to the climate and diseases that was killing Acadians, he led the group to settle in Louisiana.[12]

He was among the first 200 Acadians to arrive in Louisiana on February 27, 1765, aboard the Santo Domingo.[13] On April 8, 1765, he was appointed militia captain and commander of the "Acadians of the Atakapas" the area around present-day St. Martinville, La.[1] Not long after his arrival, Joseph Broussard died near what is now St. Martinville at the presumed age of 63. The exact date of his death is unknown, but it is assumed to have been on or about October 20, 1765. Many of his descendants live in southern Louisiana and Nova Scotia.


Broussard's 21st-century descendants include Célestine "Tina" Knowles (née Beyincé), her two daughters Beyoncé and Solange, and also her four grandchildren Jules, Blue, Sir, and Rumi.[14]

Modern cultural references

The Cajun music group BeauSoleil is named after him.

A New Brunswick group "Beausoleil Broussard" was very popular in the 1970s.

He is a character in the novel Banished from Our Home: The Acadian Diary of Angelique Richard, Grand-Pre, Acadia, 1755 (2004) by Sharon Stewart.

A dramatized, historically inaccurate version of Beausoleil is featured in the Acadian novel Pélagie-la-Charette, by Antonine Maillet.

Part of his militant Acadian hero story is told in the documentary feature "Zachary Richard, Cajun Heart" by Acadian director Phil Comeau.

See also


  1. "History:1755-Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil (c. 1702-1765)". Archived from the original on 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
  2. "Middle Name or Clerical Error?: Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil and 'Gaurhept', Shane K. Bernard". Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  3. James Laxer, The Acadians: In Search of a Homeland, Anchor Canada Press, p. 103
  4. Brodhead, John Romeyn (1858). Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York. Vol. 10. Albany: Weed, Parsons and Co. p. 155.
  5. Grenier, John (2008). The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-8061-3876-3.
  6. Grenier (2008), p. 160.
  7. Grenier (2008), p. 161.
  8. Marshall, Dianne (2011). Heroes of the Acadian Resistance: The Story of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and Pierre II Surette 1702-1765. Halifax: Formac. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-0-88780-978-1.
  9. Raddall, Thomas Head (1948). Halifax, warden of the north. McClelland & Stewart. p. 45.
  10. Grenier (2008), p. 171.
  11. Shane K. Bernard. "Cajuns and their Acadian ancestors: a young reader's history", 2008, University Press of Mississippi, p. 31, ISBN 978-1-934110-78-2
  12. C. A. Pincombe and E. W. Larracy, Resurgo: The History of Moncton, Volume 1, 1990, Moncton, p. 30 ISBN 0969463405
  13. "Broussard named for early settler Valsin Broussard" Archived 2009-05-21 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "A Peek into Blue Ivy Carter's Past". The Huffington Post. AOL. January 12, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.

Further reading

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