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Port Royal or Annapolis Basin, 1609
Port Royal is a small rural community in the western part of the Canadianmarker province of Nova Scotiamarker. It is located on the north shore of the Annapolis Basinmarker, a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundymarker, near the town of Annapolis Royalmarker. Port Royal is the first permanent European settlement in North America north of Florida, having been founded in 1605 by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain.

De Mons built the Habitation at Port-Royalmarker in 1605 as a replacement for his initial attempt at colonising Saint Croix Islandmarker, located in the Saint Croix River between present-day Mainemarker and New Brunswickmarker. The Saint Croix settlement failed because the surrounding river became impassable in the winter, cutting off supplies fresh food, water, and fuel wood on the island.

The original settlement was burned to the ground in 1613 by an English invasion force from Virginiamarker led by sea captain Samuel Argall.

King William's War

Port Royal was the scene of major fighting during King William's War. Port Royal served as a safe harbor for French cruisers and supply point for Indians hostile to the New Englandmarker colonies. In 1690 Port Royal was attacked and destroyed by an overwhelming force sent from New England. The force was commanded by William Phips and consisted of "7 ships, armed with 78 cannon and carrying 736 men, 446 of them being militiamen." The Frenchmarker garrison consisted of only 80 soldiers and the fortifications were in a state of disrepair with the cannon that were available not even being mounted.

Realizing the hopelessness of the situation Governor Meneval negotiated an honorable surrender, although Phips refused to put it in writing. After some of his men began plundering the town, Phips reneged on the agreement, and the New Englanders began 12 days of looting and pillaging. The cannons were removed and anything that could be deemed a fortification was levelled. Phips also ordered the Acadian peasantry to swear an oath of allegiance to William and Mary of England. Phips then determined to install a new government, he organized a provisional government by personally selecting French Acadian leaders to form a council.

France regained control of Port Royal the following year. Joseph Robineau de Villebon, one of Meneval's assistants, returned to Port Royal from France and reestablished French authority in Port Royal.

Queen Anne's War

Port Royal was attacked three times by the British and their colonists during Queen Anne's War.

On September 24, 1710, 36 ships and 3,600 men laid siege. The French held out until October 13 when the 150 defenders of the fort surrendered, ending French rule in Acadia.

Present day

In the 1930s the site of the Habitation was located and underwent archaeological excavation. The results of the excavation fed public interest in the period of the original French settlement, interest that was already increasing due to the publication of Quietly My Captain Waits, an historical novel by Evelyn Eaton set in Port Royal in the early 17th century.

The discovery of a duplicate set of plans in France for the original Habitation, together with public and political interest, led to the reconstruction in 1939-1941 of the Habitation on the original site. This reconstruction made the Habitation the very first National Historic Site in Canada to have a replica structure built. Today, the replica of the Habitation is considered a milestone in the Canadian heritage movement. Open to the public and staffed by historical interpreters in period costumes, it is a major tourist attraction.

See also


  • John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from their American Homeland (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005).

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