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




Friday, January 28, 2011

After the Snow

After the snow plow finally came to set me free at about 10:30 this morning, I was able to make my way into Annapolis Royal to see what our latest snowstorm had left in its wake. I found pretty well what I expected. Large piles of snow, slippery roads and a collection of Annapolitans slowly digging themselves out. I took a few minutes to clear a path to the front of the O'Dell House Museum and then decided to see if I could find a few pictures along Lower St George Street. I knew that fellow photographer Trish Fry had a good representation of the phases of the storm in the Historic Gardens and upper town so I decided to concentrate on the area around the Museum. With a high proportion of 18th century buildings in this part of town, I wonder how many winter storms some of these houses have endured?

All for now,
RGS








Thursday, January 27, 2011

Into each life some snow must fall

It was another wild and snowy day in the Annapolis Royal region. Heavy wet snow started falling through the night and most of the town was shut down by morning. Luckily, I had thought ahead and sent a number of files to my home computer at the end of the day Wednesday. This allowed me to work from home until, as it often does when the weather turns nasty, the power went out. Teach me a lesson for having the temerity to try planning ahead.

With a sigh of "oh well", I decided to head outside to shovel some snow and see if I could find a photograph or two. Tromping through knee deep snow I was able to find a few images in addition to today's Project 365 selection. The two indoor images are of a pierced lantern of the sort that we sell at the O'Dell House Museum's gift shop and a close up of some of the snow accumulated on our window. The lantern was called into service when the power still had not come back on after shoveling.

All for now,
RGS








Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reenacting Neptune

Through the years we have have hosted a lot of historical reenactments in Annapolis Royal. We have had the landing of the French, the landing of the Scots, the baptism of Membertou, the Nova Scotia Pony Express and the British capture of Port Royal to name but a few. Another event which has had a few reincarnations through the years is the Theatre of Neptune. Written by the Parisian lawyer Marc Lescarbot, the Theatre of Neptune was the first European theatre production in the new world. The play was written to celebrate the return of Samuel de Champlain from an exploratory voyage along what is now the New England coast. The play was staged on the waters of the Annapolis Basin with the actors standing in canoes. Neptune emerges from the water and sings the praises of the European adventurers.

When we last held a reenactment of the Theatre of Neptune in 2006, there was a touring company who had a production lampooning the original play. I suppose that they had a point to make but, then as now, I felt that they had chosen a fairly slow moving target for their attack. Is the Lescarbot play in any way politically correct to a modern sensibility? Nope. Do the European characters display an unjustified cultural superiority at the expense of the Mi'Kmaq? Of course they do. Is this a piece of theatre that would be remembered if it was not a first for the New World? Probably not. Is it a great play? Not really. Is the play an interesting and important historical document that should be seen and interpreted as a historical document? Most certainly.

This collection of images comes from the Annapolis Heritage Society's Tommy Rose Collection. While they are undated, I believe that these were taken at the 350th anniversary of the play which would have taken place in November 1956. The original images were slides and they show some signs of deterioration. When slides break down the first colour to fade is usually red. This leaves the image with a blue tinge that you can see here. While the play may have some flaws, I hope to be at the 450th anniversary of the Theatre of Neptune in 2056.

All for now,
RGS





Monday, January 24, 2011

Fire Trucks on Parade

It is cold and snowy in Annapolis Royal. With a wind chill approaching -30 degrees Celsius, I decided to look for some warmer imagery. As I was flipping through the Annapolis Heritage Society's Tommy Rose collection, I saw a group of bright red fire trucks that spoke of warmer days. What better way to think warm thoughts than to work with a collection of fire trucks getting ready to go on parade. I do not think that these were all in the same parade since some of the trucks are in Annapolis Royal while at least three of the images seem to be taken at HMCS Cornwallis.

This is also an appropriate collection to use as an introduction to the 200th anniversary of the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department which they are celebrating in 2011. This hard working and dedicated group of volunteers have endeavoured to keep our community safe for two centuries. There has been quite a change from leather buckets to the modern equipment that the current ARVFD possess. Whether they are historic or current, we owe debt of gratitude to our firefighters for the work that they do. As the year progresses, we will no doubt see some images of the festivities as well as more archival fire equipment featured in this blog.

Now, I will admit that identifying the age of cars and trucks is not a skill that I possess. I have always admired those who can look at a vintage car and immediately know its maker and date of manufacture. Based on the photographic collection, I would say that these images were taken in the early1960s but I would love to have someone provide a more accurate date. The top three images in this collection are of an Annapolis Royal fire truck. The other images are of trucks from Kentville, possibly Kingston / Greenwood, Middleton and an unmarked truck.

All for now,
RGS




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not Quite the Image of the Day

So far I have been having some fun with our Project 365 Annapolis Royal challenge. If you have happened to miss one of the earlier posts on this topic, a handful of people in Annapolis Royal are each trying to take and post a new photograph every day for a year. At a minimum, we will have an interesting pool of some 1500 images of Annapolis Royal at the end of the year. This is also a good opportunity to see if we can look at our community in a fresh way every day and to hopefully learn from each other.

One of the things I have learned early on is that there is about a 10 : 1 ratio of the photographs that I take to what eventually gets posted as my image of the day. Admittedly, not all of the images work but, there are some images that I have a difficult time not selecting as the image of the day. This collection of pictures were, for one reason or another, not selected as my favorite image for their particular day. I had a lot of trouble not selecting the cow with the tongue because this image amuses me a great deal. Some of these topics I may revisit as the year goes along and some may never offer quite the same image again.

All for now,
RGS