Friday, October 31, 2008

Diggin' in

Jonathan Fowler explaining his finds to Jim and Pauline How.

Archaeology involves a great deal of contemplation.

This past weekend brought another visit from our friendly neighbourhood archaeologist. Jonathan Fowler, from St Mary's University in Halifax, has been digging intermittently at the deGannes-Cosby House on St George Street over the past two years. A visit from Jonathan and his crew is always refreshing. They always have a great deal of enthusiasm for archaeology which I belive is a testament to Jonathan's abilities as both an archaeologist and as an educator.

I will only mention the deGannes-Cosby House in passing as it will be the subject of a blog in the future. The house itself celebrated its 300th anniversary this summer with great pagentry. This building is without a doubt one of Canada's architectural treasures. The house's current owners, Jim and Pauline How have been very gracious in sharing their residence with the community through they years. The Hows are also generously funding the archaeology at the house.

This past weekend was an extension of the work which was done in the summer of 2007. When they were digging at the front of the house that summer, they had discovered a cobblestone type surface about 25cm below the surface. These cobblestones, known as pave, were a very exciting discovery as they would have been a freature sometime around the time that the house was built in 1708. This time, the crew were digging on the oposite side of the front door and hoping to discover a matching pave surface. As often happens with archaeology, they didn't find what they were looking for. They also didn't find any gold although a nice early Victorian penny did come to the surface. Other finds included many pottery shards including a couple of nice examples of Rennish pottery, a forged iron hook and the ubiquitous clay pipe stem.

The image at the bottom of this post shows the pit itself. The distinctive feature of this pit is the large root which cut almost directly though the middle.

All for now,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ground Rules

I suppose that this would be the proper opportunity to lay out some ground rules for this blog. There is no time like the beginning to set expectations where they should be. I am going to be primarily writing about the heritage of the Annapolis Royal region. I do differentiate between heritage and history. Heritage, in my opinion, is more all encompassing and tends to include diverse elements like music, culture and natural history. History, while quite possibly the key element of heritage, is more concerned with the preservation of the record of events. That is as clear as mud I am sure.

I am professionally a Museum Director in Annapolis Royal and as such I will try to feature some of the interesting artifacts and archival resources in our collections. I can immediately think of a recipe book hand written by Fanny O'Dell, one of the inhabitants of the O'Dell House before it was a museum, which I will transcribe in sections and include in future blogs. If anyone actually tries one of the recipes, let me know how they work. I will also try to feature some of the interesting architecture, building elements and landscapes in our region. To an extent, this blog will also chronicle the ongoing life of heritage, with all of its events activities and programming, that take place in the Annapolis Royal region. A behind the scenes look at life in heritage in our small town.

As I mentioned, while I will be concentrating on Annapolis Royal and region, like everyone, I do travel to an extent. If I see something of interest I will be sure to make note of it. This may be a museum display someplace, interesting interpretive panels, a landscape that should be seen or some other heritage related item.

The image at the top of this blog is the Sieur deMonts statue at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. I have always been partial to this monument. deMonts was the leader of the 1604 French expedition to the coast of what is now Nova Scotia. It is on this trip that the French first named this area Port Royal as the basin was large enough to hold the entire French Royal fleet. While Champlain has gone on to be the most famous participant in this adventure, deMonts was in fact the leader. The monument was unveiled in 1904 during the town's 300th anniversary celebrations. Initial reaction on the part of Annapolitans (someone from Annapolis Royal) was mixed. People were expecting to have a full standing statue rather than the bronze bust of deMonts. Despite the original dissapointment, this monument has become an iconic part of the Annapolis Royal waterfront.

All for now,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Washing Soldiers 1797

This post is a bit after the fact, but it seems like a natural place to start this blog. The Annapolis Heritage Society's second foray into drama took place in late September 2008. This was our "low and vulgar" look at life in Annapolis Royal in the late eighteenth century. The play was complete with dancing soldiers, rampaging bears, a bath house and even a visit from the Duke of Kent.

The play, "Washing Soldiers 1797" was written and directed by Kent Thompson and starred Wayne Currie, Rich Cianflone, Brenda Thompson, Mike Gunn and Brenda Keen. Wayne Currie's original music added a great deal to the play as some people have still not been able to get the songs out of their heads. This play was held at the Farmers and Traders market in Annapolis Royal with the exception of the last night which escaped the rain in King's Theatre.

Historical drama has proved to be a great way to bring elements of the story of Annapolis Royal to a wider audience. Thankfully, people have been very willing to learn a bit about history while enjoying a few laughs and a cup of cider.