Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada
Detail of Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry © Parks Canada/Landmark Designs Ltd.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Annapolis River (formerly the Dauphin River) in southwestern Nova Scotia became a centre of the European colonization of North America. For more than 3,000 years, the Mi’kmaq and their ancestors had used the river as part of an important overland route to the south shore of Nova Scotia. In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, three years before the founding of Quebec, and two years before founding of Jamestown in Virginia, French explorers established a settlement on the shores of where the river meets the basin. Because of its expanse and beauty, they named the basin Port-Royal.
With the aid of the Mi’kmaq, the settlers set out to establish a fur trading post and an agricultural colony. They cleared land upriver at the present locations of Annapolis Royal and Fort Anne National Historic Site, where they grew wheat and other crops. To grind grain from the site, they constructed a grist mill on the Allain River. Despite financial and other hardships, the small colony developed important ties with the Mi’kmaq and set about introducing French culture in this territory they called Acadia.
In 1613, an English expedition from Jamestown, led by [Captain] Samuel Argall, appeared in Port-Royal to find the Habitation undefended. They raided and burned most of the settlement to the ground, killed livestock and destroyed crops. This episode marked the beginning of a 150-year conflict between Britain and France.
It is at this juncture where the story of Fort Anne National Historic Site begins.