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Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada


Charles de Menou d'Aulnay

Interpreter as Charles de Menou d'Aulnay Interpreter as Charles de Menou d'Aulnay
© Parks Canada/F. Gaudet

After Port-Royal officially returned to France in 1632, the new French governor for Acadia/Nova Scotia, Isaac de Razilly, arrived to begin a new settlement. One of his key collaborators was his cousin and lieutenant, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay. In the beginning, d’Aulnay transported furs, fish and lumber to France and brought back supplies and skilled labourers to construct a fort at LaHave.

When Razilly died suddenly in 1636, his brother, Claude de Razilly, became responsible for the Acadian colony. Obligated by business dealings to remain in France, Razilly authorized d’Aulnay to lead the colony in Acadia. One of d’Aulnay’s first decisions was to relocate the settlement Isaac de Razilly had establish in LaHave to Port-Royal. The site had been operating as a satellite post to LaHave since the Scots’ departure. Unlike LaHave, Port-Royal offered fertile lands and the potential for agricultural development. With the arrival of more French settlers including salt-marsh workers, the construction of the dykes began.

While the colony began to evolve as a farming community, its main focus remained the fur trade. For years, D’Aulnay’s battles with his adversary and the former governor, Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour, over control of the trade in Acadia consumed much of his energy and finances. La Tour had survived the destruction of the Port-Royal Habitation as a boy and grew to develop a robust trading base at Cape Sable and later at the mouth of the Saint John River. D’Aulnay, as a newcomer with ties to the aristocracy and as Razilly’s second-in-command, clearly threatened La Tour’s power base. An awkward bipartite administrative system only aggravated the situation by giving each of them one-half the profits from the fur trade and the right to inspect the other’s territory. This dynamic led to a clash of interests and personalities that continued to escalate. Eventually, the acrimony that developed between the two Frenchmen spiraled into a progression of raids, reprisals, ambushes, blockades, pursuits, escapes, imprisonment and desperate appeals from both sides to the powers in France for help.

A pivotal shift came in 1643 when La Tour attacked Port-Royal. The raid was incited by a rash of events the past year starting with d’Aulnay returning from France with four ships loaded with supplies, a five-month blockade of the La Tour fort on the Saint John River, Fort-Sainte Marie, and La Tour, who managed to escape, returning from Massachusetts with reinforcements. D’Aulnay, in turn, fled to Port-Royal with La Tour in pursuit. When d’Aulnay refused to meet with his enemy, La Tour attacked, burning a mill, killing livestock and seizing a ship loaded with furs and supplies.