Tuesday, January 6, 2009

deGannes - Cosby House

I recently had a request to mix in a bit more of the built heritage of the Annapolis Royal region in this blog. It has always been my plan to profile the buildings in and around Annapolis Royal but, these profiles usually take a bit more time and thought since I try to make sure I am factually accurate. That being said, I usually try to keep the tone of this blog fairly light so, it is in that spirit that I will write my built heritage profiles.

Where to begin with built heritage in Annapolis Royal? As I have previously mentioned, we are blessed with a collection of heritage buildings that would be the pride of any community. From imposing buildings like the Annapolis Royal Courthouse, and the Fort Anne Officer's Quarters to more fanciful buildings like the Queen Anne Inn and the Pickels-How House, we have a wide variety of historic styles and sensibilities represented in our architecture. I suppose that the proper place to begin is at the start.

The oldest surviving house in Annapolis Royal is the deGannes-Cosby House on upper St George Street. This is a small colonial style house built with a gambrel roof and two chimneys. The house is notable for its remnants of wattle and daub, a clay wall infill used during the Acadian Period. In fact, this is only one of two buildings in Annapolis Royal (the Sinclair Inn Museum is the other) whose origins can be linked to the pre-1710 French regieme in Nova Scotia. This house was built in 1708 for Louis deGannes de Falaise, a French Major who was posted to the fort at Port Royal (Fort Anne). The house was built on the ashes of a structure built in 1690 that had been destroyed during the British attack in 1707. It is believed that elements of the foundation and masonry for the chimney are remnants of this earlier structure. deGannes and his Family returned to France sometime between the British capture of Port Royal in 1710 and the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

For much of the 18th century the house was owned by members of the Cosby Family. Alexander Cosby arrived in Nova Scotia in 1721 as a Major in the 40th Regiment of Foot who were stationed in Annapolis Royal and Canso. Cosby, who has been described as habitually quarrelsome, was appointed Lt. Governor of the Fort and Town of Annapolis Royal and fell into a bitter power struggle with Lawrence Armstrong the Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia. After serving as a Lieutenant in Admiral Boscowen's fleet at Louisbourg in 1758, Cosby's son Philipps went on to become an Admiral of the White in the British Navy.

Almost amazingly, the house has had only 16 owners over 300 years and remains a private dwelling today. Today, the deGannes-Cosby House leads a quiet yet prominent existence on upper St George Street. In the summer of 2008 the deGannes-Cosby House celebrated its 300th anniversary with a Garden Party hosted by the Honourable Mayann Francis, Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia.

All for now,


  1. As a decendant of the de Gannes family I am very interested in the history of our family. We emigrated to the West Indies via the French territories in the now USA. Being Catholic our family was instrumental in obtaining a Cedula Of Population from the Spanish King which encouraged Catholic families to populate the then spanish island of Trinidad, WI. Feel free to get more on the de Gannes family at sacemange@hotmail.com


    Lieu de baptême: BUXEUIL (paroisse Saint-Pierre) Diocèse de POITIERS,
    aujourd'hui Canton de DANGE-SAINT-ROMAIN, Département de la VIENNE (08/1664) découvreur: Jean-Marie Germe (AGCF/POITIERS) voir dictionnaire
    CEA MONCTON p. 657 et bulletins AGCF (A. FAUTEUX avait reproduit des
    données d'un Mémoire erroné de 1743, données annulées par le généalogiste de la famille GANNES, Jean-Marie Germe, voir bulletins AGCF et CEA MONCTON, NB, entre autres).

    Lieu de naissance: indéterminé (non précisé sur l'acte de baptême, les
    parents ayant diverses habitations à cette date sur Balesmes, Poisay-le-
    Joli, Buxeuil...). Les dates et lieux de naissance étant très rarement
    indiquées sur les registres BMS du XVIe ou du XVIIIe s. La résidence de référence, liens entre la commune des Ormes-sur-Vienne et l'Acadie, soit
    propriété ensuite des Acadiens, est la Chancellerie à Poisay-le-Joli, où
    était la chapelle de Falaise (dans l'église paroissiale de Poisay-le-Joli
    dont certains font une confusion avec la chapelle domestique du lieudit
    Falaise, paroisse de Buxeuil jusqu'au début XIXe s.). (voir bulletin périodique AGCF-1996) Découvreur des liens Les Ormes-Acadie: Jeannine Germe (voir Quotidien NRCO Vienne 11-1986, etc).
    Précision: la branche aînée, de François de GANNES, était fixée au lieudit
    Falaise, comme c'était la coutume (non acadien) (voir Dictionnaire
    BEAUCHET-FILLEAU et autres), dont le frère, également nommé François,
    baptisé à Buxeuil en 1675, était en fonction à Montréal, Québec.

    Conclusion: en l'état actuel des recherches, le lieu de naissance est
    indéterminé, puisque seul le lieu de baptême en 1664 est attesté et
    communiqué exclusivement par les membres AGCF-POITIERS (sources omises
    par des copieurs).

    Contact: AGCF - B.P. 10435 - 86011 POITIERS CEDEX - FRANCE

    Courrier électronique: agcf.acadie-quebec@orange.fr

  3. Seule association de descendants acadiens dans la Vienne: Les Cousins Acadiens du Poitou