Charles Fort National Historic Site of Canada
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
© Public Works / Travaux , Heritage Recording Survey, HCD 489505, 2007
Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1629 to 1629
1629 to 1632
Event, Person, Organization:
Sir William Alexander
Scots Fort / Fort Scots / Fort des Écossais
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Charles Fort National Historic Site of Canada Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
A group of about 70 Scottish settlers began a colony here in 1629, eight years after King James I granted `Nova Scotia' to Sir William Alexander. Led by Alexander's son, the Scots built a small fort, the remains of which lie beneath Fort Anne. Despite many deaths during the first winter, the surviving colonists thrived on agriculture, fishing, and trade with the Mi'kmaq. Most returned to Great Britain in 1632 after France reacquired the region by treaty. Although the colonization attempt was short-lived, the province of Nova Scotia owes its name, flag, and coat of arms to this early Scottish settlement.
Description of Historic Place
Located underneath the restored Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada, there are no above ground resources to show where Charles Fort once had been. Nevertheless, from the site where the fort once stood, one can look out over the confluence of the Annapolis and Allain Rivers. Official recognition refers to a perimeter around the supposed location of the fort.
Charles Fort, also known as Scots Fort, was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1951. The reasons for designation, as derived from the text of the plaque erected in 1952, are: it was the fort built by Sir William Alexander to plant the colony of “Nova Scotia”; it was occupied by Scottish colonists from 1629 to 1632, when the territory was restored to France.
Charles Fort was erected in 1629 by Sir William Alexander, as the base for his colony of New Scotland, or “Nova Scotia” in Latin. James I of England and VI of Scotland had granted this colony to Sir Williams Alexander by charter in 1621. The charter covered the geographical area made up today of the Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé peninsula. At this time, the French claimed part of this area as Acadia and the Aboriginal peoples knew it as Mi’kmaki. Scottish colonists occupied the fort from 1629 to 1632 when Nova Scotia was restored to France by peace treaty. Charles Fort forms part of the important story of early European colonization in Canada.
Source: Commemorative Integrity Statement.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the landscape provided a strategic location for construction of Charles Fort; the elevated terrace which gives a commanding view of the Annapolis River and the entrance to the river from the Annapolis Basin; the relationship with the Annapolis and Allain rivers provided natural barriers to attack; all archaeological remains, both underground and in the object collection related to Charles Fort; the object collection retrieved during recent archaeological investigations.