Monday, May 11, 2009

Annapolis Royal Circa 1860

This is among the earliest known photographic images of Annapolis Royal. This photograph was taken sometime around 1860. To give a bit of perspective to this date, Nova Scotia had not yet joined Canada, the American Civil War was getting ready to begin (Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November 1860) and Charles Dickens was preparting to publish the first installment of Great Expectations. This world of horses, oxen and unassisted sail was very different from our world.

In Annapolis Royal itself, the town was in a difficult period. In 1854 the last soldiers had marched out of Fort Anne. With the exception of Andrew Gilmore, who had permission from Queen Victoria to live at the fort until he died in 1894, the fort was deserted. When the fort closed, much of the infrastructure which existed to serve the fort also vanished. This did not make for prosperous times. It was observed in 1865 that "Annapolis is now an "old town" exhibiting all the characteristics of increasing dilapidation. Many an old roof is verdant with moss, and many a dwelling there has the appearance of having been beaten by the storms of a century". With the arrival of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway in 1869 and the beginning of the "Golden Age of Sail" in Nova Scotia in the 1870s, better times were coming. In fact, many of Annapolis Royal's grand Victorian homes were built in the decades shortly after this image was taken.

As the perspective may be difficult for people familiar with the town today, this photograph was taken looking down St. George Street from the corner of Victoria Street. To give some further detail, the Royal Bank is currently located where the white fence stands along the right side of the image.

All for now,
RGS

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