When France signed the Treaty of Paris in 1763, it lost possession of its North American colonies except for Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. From 1764 on, British authorities allowed Acadians to return to Acadie after they had taken an unconditional oath to the British Crown and agreed to disperse in small groups. Despite the British demands, hundreds of Acadians decided to return to Acadie, after almost ten years in exile. Upon their return, they found more than 2,500 Acadians who had escaped the Deportation by hiding in the woods. They were a great help in the exiles' return and settlement. The Acadians who came back to Acadie could not take over their old lands, as they were already occupied by New England settlers, the Planters. Therefore, they had to find new places to build their villages or accept the sites that the British colonial administration proposed.