Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada

Virtual Tour - continued


The Common Room The Common Room
© Parks Canada/A. Rierden

The Common Room

Upon entering the common room, you’ll notice the huge wooden beams used in the construction. “Mortise and tenon” construction was used in the framework of the Habitation. The large wooden tables, well appointed with pewter, suggest that much food and wine was enjoyed within these walls. Samuel de Champlain began a social club called “l’Ordre de Bon Temps” ( The Order of Good Cheer ) to ensure the men at Port-Royal had a proper diet, a source of activity, and a source of entertainment to help pass away the long winter nights. Such delicacies as fricassied beaver tail and boiled moose nose were common fare.

The Artisans The Artisans
© Parks Canada

The Artisans

Many skilled workers built the Habitation. Joiners, carpenters, masons, stonecutters, locksmiths, workers in iron, and woodsawyers were among the artisans present at the Habitation. Required to work three hours a day at their trade, these men were then free to do such things as hunt, tend to their gardens, or gather mussels. The foot-powered spring pole lathe found in the room next to the Common Room can be used to turn wood for many objects from spindles to goblets and candlesticks. An interpreter demonstrates how it works.

Artisans' sleeping quarters Artisans' sleeping quarters
© Parks Canada/A. Rierden

Artisans' Sleeping Quarters

Upstairs, bunk beds with straw mattresses and wool blankets represent the artisans’ sleeping quarters. Some of the mattresses are on the floor as the place could get quite crowded in the summer. Sick people rested in the two small enclosed areas next to the chimney. What do you think the men would have used for toilets? At the far end of the room, you will see a wooden bucket. If you think you get cold in your room from time to time, imagine what it would be to sleep here in the winter.

Gentlemen's Dwelling Gentlemen's Dwelling
© Parks Canada/A. Rierden

Gentlemen's Dwelling

Each gentlemen’s dwelling (or room) has bunk beds with draw curtains. There were usually two to four gentlemen per room, and each room is equipped with a fireplace, table and chair, a wardrobe, and a large bench called a settle.

 

 

Apothecary Apothecary
© Parks Canada/C. Reardon

Apothecary

One of the four gentlemen’s dwellings belonged to the apothecary. Here he crushed herbs with his mortar and pestle to make various remedies. The Mi’kmaq taught many herbal remedies to the French.


 

 

  

Decorated smoked moosehide Decorated smoked moosehide
© Parks Canada

Sieur de Mons Room

This well-furnished room displays the coats of arms of Sieurs de Mons and Poutrincourt as well as the French fleur-delis above the large fireplace. Take a look at the decorated smoked moosehide. The Mi’kmaq elders wore similar painted hides and the French admired their work so much they used these hides as murals or tapestries.

Beaver felt hat Beaver felt hat
© Parks Canada

The Fur Trade

Sieur de Mons’ colony was closely tied to the success of the fur trade. The storeroom and trading room illustrate this economic activity. The key to merchant support and economic survival was the fur trade. Beaver felt hats were very popular in France, and as the supply of beaver was dwindling in France, people looked to North America. The Mi’kmaq brought pelts such as beaver, muskrat, otter, fox, wolf and raccoon in return for the trade goods like iron axes and knives, copper or iron kettles, cloth, beads and iron fish hooks.



Other areas that remain to be explored: the cannon platform, palisade, wine cellar and gunpowder room. The beautiful view of the Annapolis Basin and river inspires the imagination: a sailing vessel arriving laden with supplies for the coming winter.

Come visit us at Port-Royal National Historic Site this season and we’ll be happy to show you our doorway to the past.

 

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