Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation Part 5

Over the past few weeks I have posted some pictures from a collection of images taken by Kenneth D. Harris, chief architect for the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation in 1939. I am still as excited about this collection as I was when they arrived unexpectedly by mail in 2002. While the images are of wonderful quality and help to document the building of a structure, they are also more than this. This collection chronicles a community’s efforts to ensure that its history would not be forgotten. It also marks the beginning of a new way for our community to tell its story to the world. Since 1939, countless people have walked the grounds at the Habitation and learned the stories of early French exploration.

Like the original Habitation, the reconstruction has had a transformative effect on the landscape and the people who live around the Annapolis Basin. The original Habitation of 1605 was the first European construction in this part of Nova Scotia. From this location the French would establish a lasting friendship with the Mi’Kmaq and introduce European drama to a new continent. They would also embark on a 150 year long conflict with the British for control of North America.

The reconstruction of the Habitation is the backbone of the local tourism industry. Cars and busses from around the world arrive at the gates of Port Royal. The visitors in these vehicles come to see the site and speak with the interpreters. They can learn about the hardships of the settlers, see the conditions in which they lived and form a connection with history. Today, where living history sites are fairly common, we have grown to expect this sort of personal connection with the past. This was not the case in 1939. The Habitation is the first major historic reconstruction in Canada. This site pioneered a new way of communicating stories of our heritage to the general public.

The final images in this rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation series show the site as it appeared during its first winter. The four gentlemen in the second image are (from left to right) Lt. Colonel E.K. Eaton, Honourary Superintendant at Fort Anne, Kenneth D. Harris, Albert E. Parker, Caretaker, and C.B. Allen, Foreman of Construction.

All for now,

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mysterious Origins of North Hills Museum

After I made my post on North Hills Museum earlier this week I received a question by email. Essentially, the question was about the origins of North Hills Museum and a mysterious beam which is inscribed “1702”. For those of you not familiar with this little museum, it is located across the water from Annapolis Royal in the picturesque community of Granville Ferry. While it is a very charming building, there is indeed a mystery about its origins.

When Robert Pallen Patterson purchased the house from the Amberman family in the 1960s, he did so thinking that it may be the oldest building in Nova Scotia. These thoughts were based on a beam in the house which was inscribed “1702” and the presence of wattle and daub in one wall. Wattle and daub is a technique of infilling walls using clay and a lattice of wooden boards. This technique was quite common in Acadian houses but much less so during the post 1710 British period. Both of these features would testify to an early construction date.

In the 1730s the property was granted to Benjamin Rumsey, Clerk of the Cheque to the Board of Ordinance. Rumsey was essentially in charge of finances for the Garrison at Fort Anne. Rumsey may have built this building sometime in the 1760s as a rental property as his actual house was located on the other side of the Basin in Round Hill.

In 1784 the property comes into the possession of the Amberman family. The Ambermans were Loyalists of Dutch origins who were fleeing New York City at the end of the American Revolution. The deed states that the property was purchased from fellow New York Loyalist refugee Peter Ryerson. The Dutch origins of the Amberman Family may provide another explanation to the presence of wattle and daub in the walls. One of the few remaining examples of this sort of construction in Nova Scotia can be seen in the Ditmars house in Clementsport. The Ditmars, who were also of Dutch extraction, were related by marriage to the Ambermans. Both families could have been using a construction technique commonly found in contemporary buildings in the Netherlands.

So, what of the origins? Despite the “1702” beam I feel that this building was probably built by the Ambermans or in the 1760s. The beam could easily be recycled from an earlier structure on the site or exist within a section of the house which predates the rest. Hopefully, we will be able to undertake dendrocronological (tree ring dating) testing on the building in a future round of testing. This work has already helped to solve some mysteries in Annapolis Royal.

I have chosen this particular picture since it clearly shows the form of the building. This image clearly does not show the property at its best as it was taken in the early Spring, but trees and shrubs can make for obstructions to viewing form. In terms of building style, this house is a fairly standard mid 1700s saltbox. In the traditional saltbox style you can see the differing roof lines on either side of the house. The wishbone chimney, the dominant architectural feature in the interior of the house, can be seen at the left end of the building.

All for now,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Parker's Cove

Recently I made a post where I featured a number of images of an iron anchor located on the Parker Mountain Road. On this same trip across the North Mountain, I took a number of pictures of the wharf in Parker’s Cove, a community located about 10 minutes from Annapolis Royal. I have always liked this little community nestled on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, an area known locally as the Bayshore. Not only is Parker’s cove a picturesque fishing village, it is an actual working fishing village. I stress the word working as many of our quaint fishing villages have become more tourist destination than fishing port. During the open season, lobster boats are seen coming and going from the wharf on a daily basis. The fishermen are actively fixing their traps, tending their vessels and working around the wharf. There is a pleasant air of industriousness about the place.

Like many Bayshore communities Parker’s Cove is named after the original family who was granted land, in the form of a fish lot, on this cove. Other examples of this style of naming include Delap’s Cove, Phinney’s, Cove, Young’s Cove and St. Croix Cove. Unlike many Nova Scotia communities, Bayshore communities historically have stronger ties with Saint John, New Brunswick than with Halifax. This is because it was much closer to trade across the Bay of Fundy than to sail around the end of Nova Scotia to the capital. Lumber, produce from the Annapolis Valley and fish would have been shipped to Saint John but also to ports in New England and the Caribbean. The Parker’s Cove waterfront of the 1880s would have been an interesting mix of fishing schooners and coastal trading packets combined with the occasional deep water sailing vessel.

There are some records of vessels being built at Parker’s Cove. The first such record is for the 47 ton schooner Francis which was built in 1860. Other notable vessels include the300 ton tern schooner Granville and the 175 ton brigantine Nellie Pickup. In the 1980s and 1990s an attempt was made to establish a modern ship building enterprise in Parker’s Cove but this effort failed.

Today, Parker’s Cove is still a quiet fishing community. The wharf and waterfront offer spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy. Many of the residents are descendants of those who first chose to live on the Bayshore.

All for now,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Hills Museum in Bloom

Things are fairly busy around the Annapolis Heritage Society these days. We are currently working to get our North Hills Museum and Sinclair Inn Museum sites open for the season. Returning seasonal and student staff are starting back to work and new staff members are being hired. There is always some training and planning for the season that we need to do at this time of year. Additionally, we are working on two new summer exhibits at the O'Dell House Museum. I will give these new exhibits (Summer Bride and 100 Years of Registered Nursing) a bit of profile in the coming weeks.

As I was making my rounds today, I stopped to take a couple of pictures of the trees in bloom at North Hills Museum. Every year I look at the pink cherry tree in bloom and think "I should get some pictures of that tree". Rarely ever have I actually taken the time to get some pictures when I am thinking about it. Unfortunately, by the time I think of getting back to the site to get some pictures the blooms have usually passed their prime. This is also unfortunate for visitors to the museum since the blooms have usually faded by the time the museum opens for the season. This year the the museum opens on June 1 and some of our early visitors may be able to see both the museum and the cherry tree at the same time. The final image in this collection is of a couple of the blooms on the large chesnut tree at the front of the museum.
All for now,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation Part 4

If there is an unfortunate part of the story of the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation it is this. When the reconstruction of the Habitation started in 1939 there was a small community located near the area where the structure would be built. The community, part of a larger area which stretched from Granville Beach to Victoria Beach, was named Lower Granville. Like many communities in this area, the people made their living from ship building, fishing and farming. In this community, there was a general store, a facility to process and can clams, and a number of families. Included among the families who lived in the community were names like Littlewood, Robblee, Porter, and Parker.

When the Canadian government took control of the reconstruction a decision was made that an attempt should be made to have the Habitation look as it would in the early 1600s. Unfortunately, a 17th century French trading post in the middle of a collection of 19th century houses was sending mixed historical messages. A decision was made that the land for these houses would be expropriated. To somewhat appease the residents, they were allowed to stay in their houses as long as the direct family of those alive in 1939 were in the house. The buildings were demolished when these residents were no longer in the house. Once the construction of the Habitation was complete, the community was renamed Port Royal to reflect the early history of the area. The most recent house was demolished in 2004.

While all but one of the houses have vanished, if you walk the beach beside the Habitation, you can still see some of the remnants of this community. Here you will find the remains of wharves which were once a key part of the community’s economic survival. Sadly, even the pilings which once supported the wharves are now quickly starting to vanish due to the ongoing tides and weather. On a positive note, you can still purchase a memento of the community of Lower Granville. One of the residents of the last surviving house produces wooden wind spinners to sell to tourists. These spinners hang in front of his house for visitors to see as the approach the Habitation’s ticket booth.

Today’s Images were taken in 1939. The first shows the community of Lower Granville clustered around the Habitation with Goat Island in the background. The second image shows the John Robblee House and the final image shows the Albert Parker house which was demolished in 1970.

All for now,

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Tame Moose

Sometimes we will be going through archival material and an image jumps out at me because it is just so odd. Today's image is an excellent example of such an image. This photograph comes from one of Charlotte Perkins scrapbooks which are held by the Annapolis Heritage Society. I have mentioned Charlotte before in this blog. She was a writer and photographer in Annapolis Royal in the early part of the twentieth century. Much of what we know about the town in her era comes from her book "The Romance of Old Annapolis Royal" or from her various photographs.

Charlotte was an excellent photographer. Many of the images in her albums mention prizes that her pictures won. The photograph, taken in 1900, essentially speaks for itself. It is the image of a woman riding a moose. As Charlotte's inscription tells us, it is a "Tame Moose". I have a feeling that this moose is more than tame. I have a feeling that this moose is dead and stuffed. If you look closely at the feet, the grass has grown longer where they were unable to get the mower close enough. This is something I experience frequently as I try to mow around trees at home. There is also something about the posture of the moose. For some reason it seems too rigid to be a living animal.

There is a local story about a stuffed moose who "lived" at the building now known as the Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis Royal. This building was built as a wedding gift for William Ritchie and Fannie Foster. At some point in his youth, their son Norman killed a moose and had it stuffed. Long after the family had sold the house, the stuffed moose remained resident. By 1900, Charlotte Perkins was living at the Hillsdale House which is located almost directly across the road from the Queen Anne Inn. Does this image show her "tame" neighbour?

All for now,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nelson's Yankee Captain

It has been a while since I have written a book review. The reason that I have not been writing reviews is that my reading habits will often send me into extended periods of reading fiction before I return to reading non fiction. Since Christmas I have been in one of these extended fiction periods. I have mixed in a few non fiction titles in, but these have not been related to the overall theme of this blog. Today's review fits the "somewhat related" category but it is a well written and enjoyable history so I will include it as a review.

I was first attracted to Nelson's Yankee Captain: the Life and Times of Boston Loyalist Sir Benjamin Hallowell (ISBN 978-0887807510) by Brian Elson for a number of personal reasons. Included in these reasons were an interest in the British Navy of Nelson's period, an interest in the role of Nova Scotia in the American Revolution and a family connection to the Hallowell Grant (named for Benjamin's father) in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. By the end, this book provided me with some new information on each of these subjects.

This is the first book written by retired Canadian Navy Captain Brian Elson. This book could easily be written by someone who has numerous books under their belt. Elson has a clear and well paced writing style which in many ways reads more like a novel than a history. The central figure of this biography is Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell who was one of Horatio Nelson's famed "Band of Brothers". Unlike most other British Naval Captians of his time Hallowell was born in the American Colonies. The first part of the book tracks Hallowell's early life from Boston to English boarding schools, to enlistment in the Navy. A fascinating picture of a family who was devestated by the American Revolution evolves. Hallowell's father went from being an affluent British official in pre-revolutionary Boston to almost destitute in London at the end of the war. This destitute status would be taken in context of other members of the upper class as they were able to keep a few paid servants. To defer the cost of his education, and posasibly to give him an outlet for a series of boarding school fights, young Benjamin is sent to join the Navy. The remainder of the book traces Hallowell's career in the Navy.

From the beginning of his career, Hallowell appears to be a very capable, albeit somewhat unlucky, figure. Hallowell joined the Navy near the beginning of a period of peace (for someone in the Navy, this is bad luck). What this meant is that his advancement to the position of Captain was stalled by almost a decade. When he finally reaches the rank of Captain, he has the misfortune of losing a ship to the weather and another to the French. Hallowell also has the habit of quarreling with his superior officers which causes him various kinds of censure from Whitehall. Despite this, Hallowell was a participant in the Battle of the Nile (he was sent to re-provision his ship and missed the Battle of Trafalgar). The book finishes by providing a portrait of an aging Hallowell who has finally achieved financial wealth but who becomes increasingly unhappy since he is no longer at sea.

One of the strenghts of this text is that Elson spends a great deal of time telling the stories of people who were related to or interacted with Hallowell. Placing Hallowell in context of his peers and other world events helps to provide a more complete picture of the man. Many of these asides are very interesting stories.

A problem I have with this book is the way in which quotations are cited. In the introduction he explains that quotations were not cited so that it would not break the flow of the text. There are some notes at the end of the book to generally explain where he has sourced his material. Personally, I found this frustrating as I would read an interesting quote from a personal piece of correspondence and I would wonder what the source was. The source was often available in only a general form.

All for now,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Gavaza House

By all accounts, the name Gavaza is not one which is common to Annapolis Royal. In fact, When he came to Annapolis Royal in the early 1800s Antonio Gavaza may have been the town's entire Italian community.

According to historical accounts, Antonio Gavaza was a native of Chava, Italy (note the name of the community on his tombstone). While the name of this community is provided, in many ways he is a man with a mysterious background. A search of modern Italian communities will not produce a Chava. This may be the name of a community which has changed through the years. Maybe it was a name in one dialect which was not carried forth into modern Italian.

I have spoken to various descendants of this family who have visited Annapolis Royal. One family story says that he was given land in Annapolis Royal as part of a personal vote of thanks from the British Monarchy for some service he provided. I am not sure what circumstances would be in place to have the British granting land in Nova Scotia to an Italian but it is an interesting story. Certainly there was some interaction between the British and communities on the Italian peninsula as the British attempted to control shipping in the Mediterranean during the early 1800s. Perhaps he was a refugee from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies who had done something for the British Navy. While he does not appear among the ranks of the disbanded war of 1812 soldiers perhaps this is why he was given land. For better or worse, when there is a mystery you can sometimes fill in your own details.

What we do know is that Antonio Gavaza purchased the Sinclair Inn (now the Sinclair Inn Museum) in 1818 for 350 pounds. Once again we do not know if Gavaza or his sons ever took a direct hand in operating the inn. There is evidence from later in the family's ownership that they leased the opeation of the inn to other people.

In 1825 Antonio Gavaza purchased the property beside the Sinclair Inn and built the house which is shown in the image at the top of this post. This is an interesting structure which incorporates a Georgian massing with an Italianate turret and Victorian bay windows. This house was torn down in the 1970s and, as the final image shows, is now home to a parking lot. As for Antonio Gavaza, he died in 1848 and is buried at the Garrison Cemetery in Annapolis Royal. His stone, the largest in the cemetery, is a granite obelisk.

All for now,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Visitor Season has Begun

Yup, it’s official. The visitor season in the Annapolis Royal region has begun. Like many communities who rely on tourism for a portion of their economic viability, Annapolis Royal has two definite seasons; visitor season and off season. Although these seasons have little to do with the weather, for us, visitor seasons tends to happen when the weather is warmer.

Lately, there have been signs that visitor season is beginning. Like our songbirds from the south, I have started to see our seasonal residents returning. It is nice to see these people coming back as they bring a renewed vibrancy to the community. I enjoy walking down St. George Street and getting the chance to catch up with acquaintances and see how people have fared through the winter.

For me, the clearest sign that visitor season has begun is when our local attractions open for the season. Within the last week the Historic Gardens, Fort Anne and the Port Royal Habitation have all opened their doors. This morning we had what I consider the most exciting annual opening of the year. This was the first day of the Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market. This Saturday morning event is almost a ritual for residents and visitors alike. This is always a time to see friends, buy some food and see what is going on in town. The Farmers Market is a wonderful venue to sample the harvest of the Annapolis Valley or just to watch people.

Now, for the most important question; what food did I get at the market? There are a plethora of interesting and enticing booths at the market. You can find everything from potato pancakes and fruit wine to vegetables, fresh baked goods and preserves. Like most people, my family and I have our favorites. This morning’s purchases included croissants, sushi, rhubarb, coffee, cookies, fiddleheads, and a sausage on a bun. As with any good market day, dinner tonight was made from things purchased this morning. Tonight we enjoyed a meal of local scallops and asparagus done on the BBQ with a fresh baguette. Bring on the visitor season.
All for now,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation Part 3

Today's post is the third in a series of posts containing images of the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation in 1939. Today is a particularly appropriate day to write about the reconstructed Habitation because the site has officially opened for the season. If you have not visited this site before, I highly recommend taking a trip. The professional and knowledgeable staff of the Habitation are among the best historic interpreters that I have ever seen. It is also interesting to see the site itself since it is a very interesting structure.

The Habitation is a reconstruction of the settlement established by Pierre DuGua, Sieur de Monts in 1605. The person who has become the most notable among the original residents of the Habitation is Samuel de Champlain. Prior to 1605, the French had made a handful of attempts to establish settlements in New France and the area they called Acadie. There had in fact been failed settlements in Tadoussac, Sable Island and de Monts own failure on Isle St. Croix in 1604.

In the Spring of 1605 a decision was made to move the remains of the Isle St. Croix settlement to the area which Champlain had named Port Royal the previous year. Their plan was to make this a temporary trading post while they looked for a better venue along the coast. What they found along the coast of New England were native populations who wanted no part of the European explorers. A few tense encounters eventually led to bloodshed with people killed on both sides. The French eventually decided to take their chances at Port Royal where they had friendly relations with the local Mi'Kmaq population. This settlement lasted until 1613 when a British expedition from Virginia arrived to destroy the French settlement.

A few more posts on this topic are probably warranted. In the next one, I will try to deal with the community of Lower Granville which was renamed Port Royal in 1939.

All for now,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lawn Art

I took a drive across the North Mountain to Parker's Cove last night. Parker's Cove is a pretty Bay of Fundy fishing community which is only about a 5 minute drive from Annapolis Royal. This is a regular stop for me since my four year old likes to look at the fishing boats which tie up at the wharf. This is also an interesting location to see some of the animals which inhabit the bay. Among the interesting things I have seen from the wharf are northern gannets, seals, porpoise, and even a humpback whale. As it was also a clear evening we wanted to see if we could see across to New Brunswick. Sadly there was a bit of fog on the bay and we could not see all the way across.

On our way home I noticed the large anchor which sits at the edge of the Parker Mountain Cemetery. The anchor as a form of lawn art is something unique to communities who have made their living from the sea. Anchors are an interesting symbol. As I drive around Nova Scotia I always smile when I find an anchor sitting on someone's lawn. They clearly show a connection to the community's past. Like many communities along the Bayshore, Parker's Cove has a tradition of both fishing and shipbuilding. At the end of the age of sail, many of the shipyards closed and these communities turned to the fisheries to sustain them. Anchors were an essential piece of shipboard equipment and were often needed to keep the crew safe. Ironically, these weathered anchors are often the only surviving evidence of ships and men who have long since passed into history.

The anchor is also an interesting symbol as it currently stands. The anchor sits on land in quiet defiance of the wind and elements. This would mirror the spirit of many maritime communities who have eked out their existence despite harsh climate and countless hardships.

While I do not know the history of this particular anchor, I can tell that it is from the end of the age of sail. This anchor was probably made sometime around 1900. The top shaft on earlier anchors would have been made of wood rather than metal. The anchor itself is made from iron. You can tell that it is iron by the parallel lines which run the length of the anchor. You do not see this type of feature on items made from steel.
All for now,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Bit of Colour

I took a look at a few of the last posts that I have made and I noticed that there were quite a few black and white images. This really does not do justice to Annapolis Royal in the Spring. The town is currently awash in colour (despite the computer telling me that the spelling is wrong, I insist on spelling colour with a u. Call me a traditionalist). From the spring bulbs to the magnolias which have been in bloom for a couple of weeks, there are signs of life everywhere. What caught my eye today was the green of the hills at Fort Anne.

For those of you who are not familiar with Fort Anne, it is a star shaped earthen work fort. If anyone would like to get technical, it is a Vauban style fort. This style of fortification was named for the French military engineer S├ębastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban and later Marquis de Vauban. Fort Anne is one of the finest surviving examples of this style of fort in North America. If you are interested in fortifications, this site is worth visiting. If fortifications are not an interest, the walk around the perimeter of the fort to see the views of the Annapolis Basin is one of the prettiest I can think of.

In a visual sense, what the earthen works mean is a lot of grass. At this time of year it also means a lot of lush green grass. After a long winter, this is a very positive thing. As an aside, the image at the top of the post is from a French brass carronade at the fort. If you look closely, you can see that the mowing crew has left some grass on the face during their first mow of the season.

All for now,

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,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation Part 2

Today’s post is a second installment from the collection of archival images taken by Kenneth D. Harris the architect for the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation. Surprisingly, much of the effort behind the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation did not come from Nova Scotia. When it came to the construction, the workers were largely local, but it was an American woman named Harriet Taber Richardson who worked to make the construction possible. Richardson was a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like many visitors, she was transfixed with the romance of the early French settlement at Port Royal. The stories of men like Samuel de Champlain and Sieur de Poutrincourt trying to survive in an unknown environment and hostile climate have been the fodder for many romantic visions. Unlike other visitors, Richardson’s romantic visions had very a concrete form.

Locally, she began to rally support to undertake archaeological work to find the location of the original Habitation. Unable to raise the necessary funds in Nova Scotia during the Great Depression, she began fundraising in Massachusetts and Virginia. With money in hand, C.C. Pinckney, an archaeologist with experience at Williamsburg, Stratford and Mount Vernon, was hired to oversee the archaeological work in Lower Granville (now renamed Port Royal). It is believed today that Pinckney was close to the location of the Habitation but not exactly correct. The location deemed to be the central well at the Habitation was more likely the location of a forgotten 19th century well. Without the benefit of hindsight, Richardson continued to raise funds with a new plan in mind; the reconstruction of the entire site.

As the Depression worsened, funding for the reconstruction proved somewhat more elusive. Fortunately for Richardson, the Canadian government was looking to invest in projects which would get people working. (Would this be poor timing to remind our current federal government that depression era spending on a heritage project is still paying dividends seventy years later?) With assistance from Ottawa, a crew of local workers were hired to begin work on a reconstruction based on Pinckney's archaeological work and detailed research in France. The Habitation opened to the public in 1940.
All for now

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Ice Piers

The Annapolis Heritage Society Archives are very lucky to have numerous photographs of the Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry bridge. These images chronicle the building of the ice piers in 1910 to the eventual collapse of the bridge in 1960. Many of these pictures document collapse of the bridge, but we do have some which show how the bridge was built.

The construction of the ice piers which supported the bridge is an interesting story. A ferry system had been in place since 1777, but by 1820, local citizens had begun petitioning the government for a bridge. As with many large construction projects, there was a need of government support to build a bridge from Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry. The Hon. Samuel W.W. Pickup from Granville Ferry was this regions Member of Parliament from 1904 to 1911. As our representative in the Federal government, Pickup was a strong proponent of a bridge. Unfortunately, by the terms of Canadian Confederation, the Federal government was not permitted to build bridges with the exception of bridges between provinces. His hands were somewhat tied.

In a stroke of cunning, Pickup realized that the Federal government was entitled to build aids to navigation. If a series of ice piers were placed across the basin from Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry, they would help to control the ice floes which moved along the river during the winter. If these ice piers were built side by side, a bridge could eventually be placed on top of them.

This is exactly what happened. In 1910 construction began on the ice piers. Unfortunately for Pickup, during the 1911 Federal election his opponent, A.L. Davidson campaigned against spending of this sort. The voters had their say and Pickup was out of office. It took a great deal of campaigning until the Provincial government stepped in to complete the bridge in 1921.

Today's image was taken in 1921. It shows one of the sections of the bridge being floated into place. The ice piers can be seen extending along the left side of the picture.

All for now,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rebuilding the Port Royal Habitation

A few years ago I recieved a package in the mail. This was a fairly typical package in a rather nondescript brown paper wrapping. Not expecting all that much, I opened the package to see what was inside. What I found was a treasure for those interested in the history of the Annapolis Royal / Port Royal area.

When I opened the package, I found a black coloured photo album. It took me a few minutes to realize what I was looking at. I flipped through the pages to see some interesting and obviously local images of men building a structure. There were men squaring timbers, men making bricks and men erecting walls. The more complete the structure became, the more excited I got. About halfway through I realized that this was an album chronicling the 1939 reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation. As I continued to look, I realized that this was in fact an album compiled by Kenneth D. Harris the chief architect of the reconstruction. This was actually the architect's personal record of the progress of the project.

As I was driving past the Port Royal Habitiation earlier today, my toughts turned to this album. This photo collection documents the construction of Canada's first historic reconstruction. It also documents the effort which local citizens have put into commemorating their heritage.
The Port Royal Habitation will soon be opening for its 70th season. Over the next few weeks I will post a few more images from this reconstruction project as well as providing some of the background behind the reconstruction itself.
All for now,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Before Sunrise

I have posted numerous pictures sunsets from the Annapolis Royal waterfront in this blog. As I have stated previously, I am transfixed by the changing colours and hues in the evening sky. The interplay between the sunsets and the naturally picturesque village of Granville Ferry provide me with a seemingly endless number of picture possibilities. Today’s post is a little bit different.

I was up early this morning and out the door before the sun was up. I am taking a short course at Dalhousie University and I needed to get to Halifax for 9:00am. To get there on time and allow for any potential traffic problems, I was out the door at about 5:45am. It is usually about a two and a quarter hour drive but I like to leave a bit of time for construction and rush hour. This is probably some of my previous life as an Ottawa commuter coming out.

I made my way up the Granville Road in the early morning light. It was a quiet morning with few house lights turned on although there did seem to be some activity at one of the local dairy farms. When I got to the stretch of the Granville Road where you can look across the basin to Annapolis Royal, I knew that I needed to stop to take a couple of pictures. While not perfectly calm, the water was reflecting the street lights in an interesting way. I also knew that my natural sleep patterns will not have me taking many pictures at this time of day so I should take advantage of the opportunity.
All for now,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Telling Our Story

I am not making this post from one of my usual locations. Most of my posts are either made from my office at the O'Dell House Museum or from home. I am making this one from a hotel room in Yarmouth. I have just spent the last two days working at the Blooms by the Sea gardening and landscaping show. We have been working with our partners at the Historic Gardens to tell people about what Annapolis Royal has to offer. Combined with last week's excursion to the Saltscapes Expo in Halifax, we have spoken with a lot of people in the last few days. Thankfully, we have also spoken with a lot of very nice people. This show has been fun as it has been nice to see the variety of plants which are available.

Trade shows are interesting. They are an excellent opportunity to speak with potential visitors in their own communities. It is different to speak with people in this sort of setting than when we speak with them in Annapolis Royal. When they are in Annapolis Royal they have already seen some of what the community has to offer. They have seen the Historic Gardens, some of the heritage buildings or made a trip to the Farmer's Market. They can see for themselves what the town has to offer. In a trade show we are trying to distinguish ourselves from every other community who is looking to attract visitors. It makes me very happy that people who have already been to Annapolis Royal have very positive things to say about it. Those who have not visited are quite receptive to what we are offering. It has been nice to share some of the history of our community with people who may know very little about it. I cannot always tell all of the stories that I would like, but if we can attract people to town they will have more chances to hear our stories.

The top image shows Trish Fry from the Historic Gardens playing a game with some visitors. The idea is to roll the ball uphill using the posts and drop it into a flower shaped target. This has been a very popular game.
Tomorrow is the last day of trade shows for a while. While they can be fun, I will be happy to have a meal at home tomorrow evening and sleep in my own bed.
All for now,