Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Award Winning Town

Thanks to the complexities of the internet this is not exactly breaking news but, it is still important news for supporters of heritage in Annapolis Royal. Our little town has recently been selected as one of the top old house communities in North America by This Old House Magazine. To be a little more exact, we are one of only 10 communities in Canada to receive this distinction. This is a significant acknowledgement to all of the people who have worked to preserve properties and businesses in the Annapolis Royal region. Recognition of this sort is indeed about ongoing community effort and the shared belief that heritage is an important asset.

Strangely, on a day to day basis we rarely take the time to reflect on the good work that we have done to preserve the heritage of Annapolis Royal. This is even the case for those of us who work in heritage. As we go about our daily business, we blithely drive by buildings and landscapes that are historically important on an international scale. Perhaps because we are constantly surrounded by heritage we can almost forget how unique Annapolis Royal is. As a community, we make our individual and collective efforts to protect our heritage assets because we realize that it is the right thing to do. Because of this, it is nice when someone from the outside shines a light on us and commends us for the work that we have done.

I actually knew about this award a couple of weeks before it was announced. The magazine had sent me some information to do a fact check. When we were discussing the distinction, they requested that I not mention anything until the article was published. I was not totally successful in keeping this a secret and may have mentioned it to a few people who would appreciate such an award. I had a great smile when I saw the article posted on Facebook this Wednesday.

I am not sure how long the above link will stay active so, I offer my apologies if you are reading this post a couple of years from now and the link is dead. If the link is in fact dead, let me assure you that Annapolis Royal and the surrounding area is still an astounding heritage community to either visit or inhabit.

All for now,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Loyalist Provisioning

Over the past few months I have been spending the occasional Thursday evening working with one of our volunteers on an archival scanning project. We have been working our way through the documents in the Cronin Fonds in an attempt to make this material available to the public. While this has been a fairly enjoyable way to spend a Thursday evening, We have tended to fall into a common trap of those who work with archival collections. Those who have spent time with archival documents will tell you that there is a great hazard of spending more time reading the documents than actually doing the work. Thankfully, our scanning project is being done on an after hours, volunteer basis so I do not mind getting drawn into the world of Lower Granville in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The document in this post is an excellent example of one that captured our attention. This is a
1786 letter from Joshua Quereau to Dennis Cronean (Cronin). In most respects this is a fairly simple letter instructing Cronin to pass the word about where Loyalists were to go to collect provisions from the government. It is when you stop to consider the context of the letter that you get temporarily lost in history. There in my hands was a letter loosely connected to one of the turning points in history.

Quereau, a Loyalist of Huguenot origins, was informing Cronin, a Loyalist from New York, of where to send their fellow refugees to get provisions. The first years after the American Revolution were difficult for the Loyalists in Nova Scotia. In addition to the upheaval of war and needing to leave their homes, in an area like Lower Granville they were carving a new life out of the wilderness. They were not coming to lands that had previously been used by Acadian or Planter settlers. Hardships quickly led to Loyalists referring to Nova Scotia as Nova Scarcity. For many Loyalists there would have been more meal times than meals. For this reason, government provisions were essential for the survival of the population over the first few years after the Loyalists established themselves. This was an important letter to those in need of food.

What had those who were receiving provisions endured? Did this aid help them? All things considered, a trip through more than 225 years of history is not bad entertainment for a Thursday evening. As with all of our transcriptions, the original spelling has been maintained.

All for now,

Black Point Augt 14 1786

Dear friend

After my respects to you and yours, these are to inform you that you here have Inclosed an advertisement, for the Loyalists, in regard of their drawing provision, wich I beg the faver of you to make nown, Down in your Quarter, & all that Does apply to send to Mr Cornwells, on Saturday Next, for None will be heard after that Period, the provisions will be given out on Monday the 28 Int.

From your Sincear Friend and

well wisher Joshua Quereau.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are They Coming Back?

The Annapolis Royal area has welcomed visitors for hundreds of years. From the arrival of the French at the Port Royal Habitation to the tourists who venture here every summer, there has usually been someone here to bid them welcome. I say there was usually someone always because we do have a history that includes a couple of European powers who used this area as a piece in a global conflict. Despite those seeking world domination, this has generally been a welcoming place. In fact, when I arrived here ten years ago, the first words spoken to me in my new community were "welcome here".

Now, perhaps the strangest visitors that we have greeted in recent years arrived in the Spring of 2011. On a snowy morning, patrons at the Winter Farmers Market at the Historic Gardens noticed that there was a series of tiny houses randomly cropping up. This caused a great deal of chatter among those buying their coffee, fish and bread. Over the coming weeks these houses started popping up in locations all around Annapolis Royal. They were found at locations like the Home Hardware, the Post Office and the banks. We even found a house in front of the O'Dell House Museum. There was great excitement as the houses were photographed and even had their co-ordinates entered into a GIS database. While the word faerie may have been whispered at first it became a well accepted term after a couple of weeks.

Then, as suddenly as the houses arrived they stopped arriving. It seems like the faerie folk were somewhat nomadic and only stayed in Annapolis Royal for the spring and summer. Those of us who live here year round know that they are not the only ones to follow this pattern. Without their keepers some of the houses started to look a bit sad. When I left the O'Dell House Museum this afternoon I decided to gather some of the toadstools that had once formed a faerie ring in front of the museum. As I gathered the toadstools, I started to wonder if the faerie folk were planning to return to Annapolis Royal when the weather gets warmer. I hope that they are since they brought a great deal of fun with them. If they do come back, I have some slightly aged toadstools that they can use.

All for now,