Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Named Port-Royal by Samuel de Champlain when it was first established by French settlers in 1605, Annapolis Royal on the Fundy coast of western Nova Scotia is home to the oldest continuous European settlement in Canada.
Due to various wars, raids, invasions and treaties it was for a time one of the most coveted pieces of land in North America, changing hands between the French and British at least seven times in barely a century.
It served as both the administrative and military capital of French Acadia until its final capture by the British in 1710 when it was renamed in honour of Queen Anne. The military garrison was also renamed Fort Anne, though today’s Acadian descendants and much of the historical literature also refers to it by its original name of Fort Royal.
Over the next half-century the French and their Native allies made several unsuccessful attempts to reclaim the site but since Annapolis Royal was then serving as Nova Scotia’s capital it was well-defended and all French efforts were rebuffed.
Aside from one of the most impressive public gardens in eastern Canada, today’s Annapolis Royal has many wonderful sights for visitors to enjoy.
From the historic waterfront area with its quaint little lighthouse
to a number of colourful examples of coastal architecture.
In 1755 after repeated unsuccessful demands for an oath of loyalty to the British crown from the neutral Acadian farmers of the region, the British solution was to round up and deport the Acadians, sending the majority of them to other British colonies in the Americas and the West Indies, often with little or no regard for keeping families together.
During this event known as Le Grand Dérangement/The Great Upheaval, some of the Acadians were even shipped back to France despite being several generations removed and having no connections or family ties to the motherland, while others were shipped to England and held as prisoners of war.
Their valuable lands were of course given to well-connected British settlers and later to loyalists fleeing the U.S. New England colonies after finding themselves on the wrong side of history in the war for American independence.
Today a large number of well maintained grand Loyalist homes that were built on those confiscated lands can be found along the main drag, St. George Street.
Regardless of how they got there, I will say that some of these homes are truly magnificent sights to behold.
Visiting the beautiful town of Annapolis Royal it’s hard to believe that it was ever anything but the peaceful community it is today.
Stay there a day or two and you’ll discover through their museums and walking tours, what an amazing job the local Historical Association has done to preserve the heritage of their ancestors who first settled the region over four centuries ago.
As for those deported Acadians? Some of them did gradually sneak back to their home territories throughout Atlantic Canada. Many escaped through the woods making it as far as Québec to start their lives anew there. A large number of them stayed where they were resettled. Others eventually found their way to the another French North American colony in Lousiana and are the direct ancestors of today’s Cajun Americans.
As always, I thank you for looking 🙂
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