Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1744 Map of Annapolis Royal

After yesterday's post, the proper thing to do would have been to write about the new artifact I am so excited about. I could have gone on about what a wonderful addition we have made to the collection at the O'Dell House Museum. I could have enthused about how nice it feels to bring a piece of provincial heritage back to Nova Scotia after we have watched so many pieces go down the road. Well, I am moving toward discussing that particular artifact but, I am not quite there yet. I may as well try to draw out the suspense just a little bit longer.

What I am writing about today is the second part of the package which we received from New Hampshire yesterday. As part of the deal to secure our mystery artifact, we agreed to purchase this 1744 map of Port Royal / Annapolis Royal. At any other time, this map would be of great interest. At any other time, I would be trumpeting about how nice it is to add an original edition of this map to our collection. Sadly and undeservedly, it has taken a backseat. I figured that I should give it an opportunity to get some much needed attention.

On its own merit, this is a wonderful map. Printed in French on laid linen rag paper, it is in almost perfect condition considering that it is a 266 year old document. With the exception of a few wrinkles it has been very well cared for. One of the features I like about printed maps is that you can often see a border around the paper from where it overlapped the press. When I see these faint borders I always get the image of a busy, ink stained printer hauling his press down by hand to create the impression. I can then see him holding the damp paper in the air by its corners to see what his print looked like. With a smile he would have set this print aside to dry and inked the press for another impression.

I will also mention that this map was printed at a very interesting time. In 1744, this would have been the map of the capital of Nova Scotia. In the 1740s Annapolis Royal still had a small British population surrounded by larger Acadian and Mi'Kmaq populations. After some initial tensions between the groups after the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht which confirmed the British victory in 1710, relations had been relatively peaceful since the 1720s. In the 1740s this period of peace came to an end with an unsuccessful series of combined French, Acadian and Mi'Kmaq sieges on Fort Anne. After these, sieges the British made the decision to move the capital to a more defensible location and Halifax was founded in 1749. I wonder if the French printer of this map was hoping that it could be used in a newly reacquired French colony of Acadie?

The final thing I will point out about this map is where the anchorage is shown. Today we are accustomed to boats making their way up the Annapolis Basin and tying up at the Government Wharf. In the early nineteenth century the community's primary wharf was the alternately named King's / Queen's Wharf on the waterfront by Fort Anne. If you look at the section of the map I have enlarged, you can see the outcropping in the river where Annapolis Royal is located. If you follow the numbers past the location of the current wharf, you will find an anchor shaped icon in the area known as the French Basin. It is in this location where the French had their anchorage. In many ways this is a more sensible anchorage since it is more protected from the winds which blow up the Annapolis Basin.


All for now,
RGS

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