Westwego Was the First Cajun Settlement in the Area

When one thinks of New Orleans, they immediately think Cajun but surprisingly the first Cajun settlement was west of the metropolis in Westwego. Westwego is the location where greater New Orleans more or less skirts the Acadian Triangle which consists of “22 contiguous parishes where most Cajuns live.” Cajuns have lived and thrived in this area for close to two hundred years.

Cajuns are a French-Canadian ethnic group that settled in Louisiana after they were kicked out of the Acadie region in Novia Scotia by the English during the French and Indian War. Spanish leaders began to offer Acadiens land grants in the area west of New Orleans. The group was formed and would become known as the Côte de Acadiens.  Later the group would be reformed as Cajuns which is the term Louisianians use interchangeably Acadians.

The Company Canal (also known as the Cajon Pipeline) was the way coastal resources such as oysters, crabs, shrimp, fish and game as well as timber, moss, shells, and other raw materials reached inland. Later, railroads also became a vehicle for coastal goods. The New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad connected north Texas with Mobile through tracks running on the banks of New Orleans and train ferries crossing the Mississippi River. The railroad company deemed the passageway “West-We-Go and this is where the community of Westwego got its name.

Westwego would become greater New Orleans’ cannery row because of its canals, railroads, and coastal-savvy denizens. Sala Avenue and 2nd Street soon became the hub of the seafood processing industry. Durac Terrebonne’s Fishermen’s Exchange was housed here where there was a crab meat processor, a shrimp factory, two ice manufacturers, a cold storage unit, and a seafood retailer.

Residents are proud of their French heritage. In fact, according to the 2000 Census, the majority of Westwego residents claimed “French” when filling out the Census. Cajun was how residents responded to the 2013-2017 American Community Survey as their ancestry. Cajun French is very much a part of Westwego and will always be the area’s original connection to the Côte de Acadiens.

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