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Port Royal
Founding of Port Royal
     The surviving members of De Monts group of explorers crossed over the Bay of Fundy in 1605 and settled down in an area known as Port Royal.  A structure, known as the Habitation, was built. A replica of this building was built in 1939 at approximately the same place as the original.

     There may have been members of the Poutrincourt / LaTour group at Port Royal from 1613 to 1628 and of the Razilly/d’Aulnay group from 1632 to 1635. 


Click on image for a larger flash version
     Over the next few decades, and even into the 1700s, Port Royal was a part in an international ping-pong game.  It was the main town of Acadia and was attacked and captured by English and French forces numerous times (as the history pages illustrate). 

     In the census of 1671, the population of Port Royal was 350.  Emmanuel LeBorgne was still claiming Port Royal in 1671.  Sometime around then, it was divided into 7 sections and extended 12.5 miles up the river and 5 miles on each side.  Perrot, who took over in 1686, wrote that the people had scattered and lived far from each other.  The Canadian and Nova Scotia archives have detailed plans of the farms in the Port Royal area.  The homes were built behind the marshes, which were along the river. [Clark, p. 132]
     Beginning in the 1670s, some of the population began moving elsewhere.  Settlements at Minas and Beaubassin drew many of the young and old from Port Royal.  There was more room to grow, these places didn't attract the attention that Port Royal did, and trade with the Indians (and New Englanders) was easier. [Clark, p. 212] 
Port Royal 1744
    Meneval described the settlers in 1688 as “disperse esloignes les uns des autres dans l’espace de six ou sept lieues, au dessus et au dessous le long des bords de la riviere du Port Royal” [“Memoire du Sieur de Meneval, Bouverneur de la Cadie, touchant les affaires de cette province pour l’annee 1688,” p. 186] 
     In 1689, Vincent de Saccardy said there weren’t any settlers below Goat Island, but 29 on the shores of the basin above it.  He was sent to Port Royal that year and spent a month in the fall making plans to improve the fortifications.  De Labat, an engineer there, wrote in 1703 that there weren’t any homes except those between L’Isle aux chevres and about 5 leagues up the fort (which amounted to 54-55 families).  [see Acadiensia Nova, 2, p. 7-12] 

     Each settler had a frontage of about 1.5 to 2 miles, but not much depth.  The largest areas of marsh that could be dyked had more farms clustered nearby.  The frontage there may have only been a few hundred feet.  The average farm had perhaps 
100-200 acres. [Clark, p. 134]

     Cadillac (Antoine Laumet de Lamothe de Cadillac) described the area in 1692; W.F. Ganong has a good French translation in “The Cadillac Memoir of 1692” (1930).  He had lived in Acadia in the 1680s.  [Clark, p. 132]
           “Ce lieu est environe de montaignes tout a pic, au bas desquelles il y a un petit vallon d’une lieue de largeur et de sept lieues de longeur, ou il n’y a que de parireries de chaque coste de la riviere, 
          qui sont indondees par les marees, les habitants ont fait des levees, des digues et chaussees, affin que l’eau salle ni puisse entrer.”

     In 1699-1700, Diereville wrote that Port Royal was 1.5 leagues long and almost that wide.  The upper town (up the river) was developing.  [Clark, p. 137]   Port Royal became the capital of Acadia in 1700.  When it was captured for the last time (by the English in 1710), it's name was anglicized to become Annapolis Royal.  Many settlers still inhabited the area in the early 1700's, as displayed on a map reconstruction of Port Royal in the early 1700s
     It was more an area of consumption than production.  It was a market for goods, but soldiers paid a set price that was below a fair price.  The main church was 12 miles from the fort, though there were “chapels of ease” elsewhere.  The few New England families lived in the area, usually separated from the Acadians.  Newly married couples tended to move away to Minas and Beaubassin. 
Annapolis Royal, by Des Barres     They had less contact (than other areas of Acadia) with French territory (Isle St. Jean, Isle Royale, Quebec), Indians, and the illegal New England traders.  The fort was still at the location established by d’Aulnay in the 1630s, near the Rivier Alain. The lower town was along the main river by the fort, while the upper town ran along Riviere Alain.  Farms ran along the basin and river from Goat Island 5 leagues above the fort as early as 1720.  Settlements were in groups of 5-10 families.  The largest group of 30 families (150-200 people) was around Belle Isle marsh, 6-8 miles above the fort.  A Capt. Morris writes of how the channel south of Goat Island was shallow and rocky; north of the island it was wide and deep but there was a strong ebb and flow of the tides (it was hard to control ships without a good wind).  The 5 miles from Goat Island to the fort had water,  even in low tides.  Small vessels could travel as far as 18 miles above the fort (near present-day Bridgetown).  Large boats could go 9 miles further to “the falls” on the tide if they could stand being beached at low tide.  But the bottom was “intollerably rocky and foul.”  [Clark, 213] 
Annapolis Royal in 1734    As the Minas and Beaubassin settlements developed, Port Royal became more of an area of consumption than production.  It was a market for goods, though soldiers paid a set price that was below a fair price.  The main church was 12 miles from the fort, though there were “cheppells of ease” elsewhere.  There may have been a few New England families, but they seem to have lived separated from the Acadians.  Newly married couples tended to move away, especially during the first couple of decades of the other settlements.  Other areas had more space, less official serveillance, more markets for goods, and more opportunity to trade with Indians. Port Royal was a focal point for attacks. [Clark, p. 212]


Entrance to Port Royal

     The fort was still at the location established by d’Aulnay in the 1630s, near the Rivier Alain. The lower town was along the main river by the fort, while the upper town ran along Riviere Alain.  Farms ran along the basin and river from Goat Island 5 leagues above the fort as early as 1720.  Settlements were in groups of 5-10 families.  The largest group of 30 families (150-200 people) was around Belle Isle marsh, 6-8 miles above the fort.  Morris writes of how the channel south of Goat Island was shallow and rocky; north of the island it was wide and deep but there was a strong ebb and flow of the tides (it was hard to control ships without a good wind).  The 5 miles from Goat Island to the fort had water, even in low tides.  Small vessels could travel as far as 18 miles above the fort (near present-day Bridgetown).  Large boats could go 9 miles further to “the falls” on the tide if they could stand being beached at low tide.  But the bottom was “intollerably rocky and foul.” [Clark, p. 213]

Port Royal c1733


     A 1745 report from Port Royal says the homes were “wretched wooden boxes, without conveniences, and without ornaments, and scarcely containing the most necessary furniture ...”, and a visitor in the 1750s said “the houses of the village (Annapolis Royal) ... are mean, and in general built of wood.” [Clark, 214] 

     Charles Morris visited Nova Scotia in 1761 and wrote about the area. His report can be found in the Annual Report Concerning Canadian Archives for the Year 1904 on p. 290-300.

LINKS
• Port Royal NHS
     
Parks Canada maintains this site on the Port Royal National Historic Site.  It has information about the Site (fees, how to reach it), as well as a bit of background material.
 
Annapolis Royal
     Valleyweb maintains a number of sites in the area.  This site contains a few pictures, a bit of Acadian history, and links to related areas.
Port Royal 400th Anniversary Society
The Registers of St. Jean-Baptiste, Annapolis Royal, 1702-1755
     Searchable database for the church at Port Royal (Annapolis Royal)
 
 
Acadia: 1632-1653 * 1654-1670 * 1671-1689 * 1690-1709 * 1710-1729 * 1730-1748 * 1749-1758
May God bless you.
Copyright © 1997-09 Tim Hebert