Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Military Town

While you may not see it on first glance, Annapolis Royal is historically a military town. If you look closely the signs of the military are all around. From the names inscribed on the stones at the Garrison Burial Ground to the multitude of plaques and monuments that dot the town, the military has left its mark. To this day, Fort Anne acts as the most important cultural landscape in the community. This is where civic events like the Natal Day sunset ceremony and fireworks are held. Thanks to the participation of the cadets, the sunset ceremony itself has the air of a military pagent.

The simple fact that a settlement was established at this location was a strategic military decision. This elevated headland projecting into the Annapolis Basin offered an excellent defensive position for a fort. The unobstructed view of the Annapolis Basin allowed defending forces time to rally the troops should the masts of hostile ships appear on the horizon. Through the years, French, English, Scottish, Mi'Kmaq and Mohawk soldiers have fought and died in our community. We are in fact the single most fought over piece of land in Canada. Our ground has been soaked by the blood of both attacking and defending forces.

In the modern era, life has been peaceful in Annapolis Royal. The garrison marched out of Fort Anne 1854, but another military presence arrived in 1942. HMCS Cornwallis quickly became the largest naval training base in the Commenwealth. Thousands of sailors did their training at this base. Children of the sailors based at HMCS Cornwallis came to Annapolis Royal for high school. After the base closed in 1994, many of these families have chosen to return to Annapolis Royal as a retirement destination.

Soldiers from the Annapolis Royal region have supported the Canadian efforts in WW1, WW2, Korea and Afganistan. These brave men and women left their homes in the Annapolis Valley to travel to conflicts around the world. Many never returned. The names of our war dead can be found on a plaque at Annapolis Royal's Town Hall. This collection of archival images shows some of our soldiers, militia units and local military installations.

All for now,

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