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Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada


Nova Scotia is Born

In spite of their great losses, some of the settlers from the Port-Royal Habitation remained in the region for many years to come. One of the settlers, Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour, eventually established a trading base at Cape Sable.

Meanwhile, the Scots became the next settlers to establish a foothold in the region. In 1621, King James I of England granted a charter to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish nobleman, to set up a Scottish colony in North America, in what are now the Canadian Maritime provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula. Under the charter, this proposed colony was named Nova Scotia, the Latin name for New Scotland.

Nova Scotia’s Coat of Arms Nova Scotia’s Coat of Arms
© Parks Canada

It took eight years to stimulate interest and financial backing for the proposed settlement. Success came in 1629, when around 70 Scottish colonists, led by Alexander’s son, Sir William Alexander the Younger, came ashore several kilometres upriver from the former Port-Royal Habitation, at the site of where Fort Anne National Historic Site now stands.

According to the diary of one settler, the newcomers found the site “… fortified by sea and by land…rising (above) one of the main rivers, having on the east…a small river… (where) we found a ruined water mill built by the French.” Protected on both sides of the river by hills and containing an abundance of seafood and game, they christened the fort Charles Fort in honour of the Stuart ruler, Charles I. They took the name of their settlement from the basin, Port-Royal.

Nevertheless, the conflict between France and England over control of the region continued. In an attempt to appease France, King Charles ordered Sir William Alexander to remove his settlers from Port-Royal. A year later, in 1632, only three years after Alexander’s party set ashore, the colony was ceded to France under the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Although the Scots’ settlement was short lived, it left an enduring legacy. The name, flag and coat-of-arms of Nova Scotia are all derived from this venture.