St. Peters National Historic Site of Canada

St. Peters, Nova Scotia
View of the cairn marking the site of St. Peters. (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.)
Address : Highway 4, St. Peters, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1929-05-17
  • 1713 to 1713 (Significant)
  • 1745 to 1745 (Significant)
  • 1748 to 1748 (Significant)
  • 1758 to 1758 (Significant)
  • 1650 to 1758 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Nicolas Denys  (Person)
  • Mi'kmaq  (Person)
  • Compagnie du Cap-Breton  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • St. Peters  (Designation Name)
  • Fort St. Peters  (Other Name)
  • Saint Pierre / St. Peters  (Plaque name)


Existing plaque: Canal Reserve St. Peters, Nova Scotia

Site of Deny's fort and trading post, built 1650. Selected in 1713 as one of the three principal ports in Isle Royale, named Port Toulouse, and fortified by works at Point Jerome. Destroyed by Pepperell's troupes 1745. Re-occupied by the French, 1748; evacuated, 1758.

Description of Historic Place

St. Peters National Historic Site of Canada is an extensive site containing archaeological evidence of 17th- and 18th- century Mi’kmaq and Acadian communities. It is situated on the southeastern shore of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on the isthmus located between the shores of St. Peters Bay on the Atlantic coastline, and Bras d’Or Lake. The designated place extends along what was the Atlantic coastline in the 17th century, and crosses the isthmus within the boundaries of St Peters Canal National Historic Site of Canada.

Heritage Value

St. Peters was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1929 because of its role: as the site of Fort Saint-Pierre, a 17th century fortified trading post acquired by Nicolas Denys to trade with the Mikmaq; and as the site of Port Toulouse, a French community with its military presence that was witness to Anglo-French rivalry during the period 1713-1758.

The heritage value of St. Peters National Historic Site of Canada lies in its strategic location and in the evidence of early Mi’kmaq and Acadian communities embedded there. This site underlines the strategic long-term importance of the narrow isthmus between St. Peters Bay and Bras d’Or Lake as a transportation route, and commemorates evidence of the earliest settlement flanking the route, witnessing its importance as a point of contact between the Mi’kmaq and the French, and as a French post in the commercial rivalry between European nations in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1929, June 2000.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location along an ancient transportation route between Bras D’Or Lake and the Atlantic Ocean; the remnants of the emplacements of Mi’kmaq camps located on the lake and ocean shores; the evidence of the portage corridor linking both shores and of the later haulover road; the remnants of the fortifications and structures associated with the Nicolas Denys fort (Fort Saint-Pierre) situated west of St. Peters Canal National Historic Site of Canada; the remnants of the cemetery and farm known as Petit Pas in the area west of the canal that subsequently became known as Petit Saint-Pierre; the excavated remains of Fort Toulouse and unexcavated remains of the village of Port Toulouse (mostly contained within the boundaries of the present-day Battery Provincial Park); the footprints and materials of any and all remnants of 17th- and 18th-century structures in these areas, and their relative spatial, functional and material inter-relationships; the surviving evidence of 17th- and 18th-century life in these areas.