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Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada


Charles de Menou d'Aulnay - continued

The civil war between the two Frenchmen did not end there. During La Tour’s absence from the Saint John early in February 1645, d’Aulnay unsuccessfully attacked Fort Sainte-Marie. When in April he learned from deserters that La Tour was away at Boston in search of food and trade goods, d’Aulnay resolved to attack again. He arrived at Saint John with a force of around 200 men. In his absence, La Tour’s courageous wife, Françoise-Marie Jacquelin, was left in charge of the fort. After several days of fighting, a hand-to-hand clash ensued within the fort resulting in heavy losses on both sides. Finally, d’Aulnay called off his men and swore that he “would give quarter to all” if Madame de La Tour would capitulate. With her small garrison reduced by casualties, the fort heavily damaged, and both food and ammunition running low, she ordered her men to surrender. But once in possession of the fort, d’Aulnay went back on his word, disregarded the terms of capitulation, and ordered the arrest of the La Tour garrison. D’Aulnay’s forces erected a gallow and all of the soldiers captured at Fort La Tour were hanged, except for one man who agreed to be the executioner of his comrades. Madame de La Tour was forced to watch the hangings with a rope around her own neck. She died three weeks later. News of the capture of his fort and of his wife’s death reached La Tour in Boston where he was gathering provisions. The next year he moved to Quebec, where he was warmly received by the French governor.  

Dyke building D’Aulnay established the building of dykes along the Annapolis River
© Parks Canada/A. Vienneau, Nova Scotia Museum

Even before the ending of this tragic feud, d’Aulnay, realizing how vulnerable the fort was to aggressors, moved to construct a more substantial fortification that would hold several buildings and measure about half the size of today’s fort. This new rectangular earthwork had a bastion at each of the four corners and a triangular-shaped outer work, called a ravelin, facing the river. The design resembled a smaller version of today’s fort.
At the same time, he continued to expand the settlement. According to testimonials of settlers, d’Aulnay built “five pinnaces and several shallops, and two small vessels of about 70 tons each, with two farms or manors, and the necessary buildings." He also established two aboriginal schools. While he is often cited for his battles with La Tour, d’Aulnay’s most notable achievement was the establishment of the Acadian people at Port-Royal.

In 1647, d'Aulnay became governor-general and seigneur of Acadia by royal proclamation. Three years later, his canoe capsized in Port-Royal Basin. After remaining an hour and a half in the icy water, he died of exposure. According to his confessor, he was likely exhausted from working in the pouring rain two days earlier while laying down the traces for a new dyke. He left behind his wife, Jeanne Motin, and eight young children, along with layers of debts. He was buried in the church at Port-Royal. In an ironic twist, D’Aulnay’s widow later became the wife of his former rival, La Tour.