Sunday, January 30, 2011

Port Royal's Quiet Footsteps

In the wake of this week's snowstorm I decided to take a drive over to the Port Royal Habitation on Saturday morning. I quite like going to the Habitation when the site is closed to the public. During the summer I will often wander around the site in the evening after the tourists have gone for the day. I also enjoy the odd trip during the colder season. Since the grounds remain open, you are able to leisurely stroll around the buildings. From my perspective, this is a perfect time to explore.

After the crowds have gone home the Habitation is a very tranquil place. The only sounds you are liable to hear are the squawking of seagulls and the crashing of waves. Yet, it is not the tranquility but the proximity to history that keeps pulling me back. This is a spot that has experienced momentous events. In this location the human diaspora came full circle with the meeting of the French and Mi'kmaq. Here you can literally walk in the footsteps of de Monts, Champlain and Membertou.

When the crowds have gone you can start to feel some of the isolation that must have settled upon those living at the Habitation. The isolation is painfully clear on a winter day. These men were thousands of miles away from home on the shores of a land they did not understand. By this point in the winter, they would have started to see the unmistakable signs of scurvy among their mates. I wonder how many of them went to sleep at night wondering if they would ever see France again.

On a lighter note, with its unique architecture the Habitation is a great place to take pictures. Not many buildings in Annapolis Royal offer gun ports and palisade walls. Perhaps my favorite image in this collection is the ice covered bust of Champlain. I enjoy the Phantom of the Opera look with the icicle on his chin. This image is a strange mirror to the image of the de Monts statue at Fort Anne which Trish Fry took late last week.

All for now,
RGS




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