Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fort Anne History and Images

Now I may be verging dangerously close to personal opinion but, I would argue that Fort Anne National Historic Site is the most important historical landscape in Nova Scotia. I say this in full knowledge that important sites like the Fortress of Louisbourg, Grand Pre and the the Halifax Citadel can be found around Nova Scotia. I do not want to take anything away from other sites and the important stories that they tell. I am simply convinced that the various layers of history represented at Fort Anne are unsurpassed for their cultural significance. In all honesty, it would not take very much to convince me that this is is one of the two or three most important historic landscapes in Canada.

This outcropping of land, a moraine created by glacial debris during one of , sits at the convergence of the Annapolis and Allains Rivers. For thousands of years before Europeans arrived this land was used as a seasonal encampment by the Mi'Kmaq and their ancestors. This site provided easy access to the seaside resources of the Bay of Fundy as well as the inland waterways of Nova Scotia. After the arrival of the French in 1605 this area was used as agricultural land. This is where the inhabitants of the men were tending their crops when Samuel Argall arrived to burn the Port Royal Habitation in 1613.

When Sir William Alexander the younger arrived to establish Nova Scotia in 1629, this is the site that was chosen. While there was conjecture as to the location of his fort, archaeological work in the 1990s as well as the archival discovery of the Guthry Letter established this as the location of the Scottish Charlesfort. After the English returned the land to France in 1632 this outcropping became the center of the ongoing life in Port Royal and Acadie. This is where much of the conflict between Charles d'Aulnay and Charles LaTour for the control of Acadie plays out in the 1630s and 40s.

In the 17th and 18th centuries this now peaceful location became a key piece in attaining the colonial dreams of both England and France. Due to their aspirations of controlling eastern North America, this fort is the most fought over location in what is now Canada. 13 battles take place here with the fort changing hands seven times. It is here that the crucial 1710 siege takes place which marks the end of French rule in Acadie.

This was, interchangeably, the seat of government for the French colony of Acadie and the British Nova Scotia until the founding of Halifax in 1749. This site saw the growth of the Acadian population and sadly became one of the sites for the 1755 deportation. In the second half of the 18th century this site witnessed the arrival of the New England Planters and the bedraggled United Empire Loyalists. There was even a privateering raid on the Fort during the American Revolution. Local citizens were herded into the earthenworks surrounding the fort while the town was ransacked. The Americans left with goods including the glass for the windows of St. Luke's Anglican Church, the belt buckles of the townsfolk and a couple of hostages. In the 19th century the Fort's Queen's Wharf becomes a strategic location for the developing mercantile economy of Nova Scotia. Ships were not only built on the waterfront but the wharf received goods from around the world.

Today Fort Anne exists as the oldest National Historic Site in Canada. Fort Anne is currently a place for recreation, home to a wonderful museum and the site of many of our community's civic events. Even in this vastly condensed version of the site's history, I feel fairly secure in my belief in the importance of this historic landscape.

All for now,
RGS







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