Common menu bar links

Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada


The French Legacy

After the colony was returned to France, French colonists replaced the Scots. Their leader, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay and his wife, Jeanne Motin, were committed to building a thriving colony. The settlers who had come with d’Aulnay spread out along the shores of the Rivière Dauphin (later named the Annapolis River). They brought with them a distinctive form of agriculture that remains in use today. By building dykes and engineering sluices, or aboiteaux, along the tidal flats, the settlers kept the marshes from being flooded by sea waters. Over a two to three year period, rainfall washed the salt from the soil in dyked areas. This process turned marshes into productive farmland. This group of French settlers evolved into the Acadian people.

Aerial of star-shaped fort Aerial of star-shaped fort
© Parks Canada/J. D’Entremont

Beginning in the 1630s, Port-Royal was the name of the village that encompassed the area from the basin to several kilometres upriver beyond present-day Annapolis Royal. By the early 1700s, approximately 600 Acadians were living at Port-Royal. Other settlements had been established by Acadians from Port-Royal on the upper Bay of Fundy.

Under d’Aulnay, the fort began a period of expansion. D’Aulnay built the first of four French forts, possibly incorporating parts of the Scots’ fort. Two makeshift forts succeeded d’Aulnay’s fort. Then, in 1702, the French began constructing a fort at the junction of the Annapolis and Allain rivers. Pierre-Paul de Labat, a French officer, designed and supervised the construction. Trained under the great military engineer of European fortifications, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, de Labat created a star-shaped fort consisting of four bastions connected by curtain walls, with a ravelin and seaward battery facing the Annapolis River. The ruins of this Vauban-styled fort are known as Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada.

For much of the 17th century, until 1710, the colony of Acadia was governed from this location. It was home to the French Governor, his officials and garrison. Several families as well as carpenters and tradesman also lived at the fort.