Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Disecting a Sunset

When it comes to sunsets the late fall is my favorite time of year in Annapolis Royal. When I am leaving work the sky over the Annapolis Basin is often awash with reds, oranges purples and yellows. Since my family was running late tonight, we decided that a trip to our local Chinese take-out restaurant was in order. When I stepped out of the car I noticed that there was a particularly interesting sunset.

While I am an admitted fan of our sunsets, let me see if I can go a bit deeper with this image. This is after all a heritage blog. Today's image shows the location where the Allains River meets the Annapolis River with the North Mountain in the background. The confluence of these rivers has witnessed many of the events which have formed Nova Scotia as we now know it. This spot was a particularly important area for the Mi'kmaq and their ancestors. Archaeological records have shown that these river systems were used by the Mi'Kmaq for thousands of years. With their typical high sided canoes, the Mi'kmaq used these inland waterways to travel throughout the area they called Kespukwitk. This particular location was also used as a seasonal location to hunt and fish.

By turning directly to my right I would be looking at Fort Anne. In fact, the dark land at the front of the photograph is part of the fort grounds. It is in this area that the inhabitants of the Port Royal Habitation in the early 1600s kept their wheat fields. This is actually where the French were tending their fields when the British Samuel Argall arrived from Virginia in 1613 to destroy the Habitation. This site has been host to battles between groups of French settlers claiming ownership of Acadie, as well as numerous contests between the French and British. Allains River was often used as a way to gather troops behind the fort in an attempt to lay siege from the less defensible landward side. This is also the site of the 1710 battle which gave Port Royal and later mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the British.

In a non military perspective, it is from this location that the Acadian people began to develop. The headland to the left of the photograph is the modern incarnation of a dyke which was established by the Acadians several hundred years ago. From this spot we can see the areas along the Annapolis River where Acadians reclaimed fertile land along the shore of the North Mountain. It is here that Acadians start to develop a cultural identity which is not that of either the French or the British.

From here you could have seen the Loyalists as they arrived as refugees from the American Revolution. You would have seen them come off their boats to an uncertain fate in a community which was not ready for such an influx of people. Among the people arriving at this time were a group of Black Loyalists who had already endured unimaginable hardships to come even get to Annapolis Royal. From here you could also see the coming of the Golden Age of Sail in the late nineteenth century. In an economy which was dominated by shipping intertests, Annapolis County ships would have made their way to ports all around the world. It would have been a common site to see schooners, barques and a variety of other sailing vessels making their way to the wharves in Annapolis Royal and Granville Ferry.

I was actually standing on the remains of the old rail bed for the Dominion Atlantic Railway when I took this picture. This is part of the extension which was pushed through to Digby in 1891. Locally, this section was called the missing link. The only reminder of this railway is the old iron railway bridge which is found a little way to the left of this image. During the latter half of the nineteenth century the railway worked with the shipping industry to bring unprecedented prosperity to Annapolis Royal. A quick walk around town will show that much of our impressive architecture dates to this period.

Annapolis Royal is an interesting community for many reasons. Personally, I love the fact that the stunning physical beauty of our community often holds a treasure trove of historical information.

All for now,

1 comment:

  1. The high sided canoes were the ocean going canoes; the regular sided canoes would have been used inland. (AFAIK)Cheers!