The reconstruction of Port Royal not that far away, a few miles northwest of the site of Fort Anne. This is the parking lot entry.

A little less fireproof and substantial than the English fort. This is the approach from the north. In the summer of 1605, French adventurer-merchants and explorers built a settlement, the first
European settlement in North America north of Florida.

st croix island

Having been raised on at St. Stephen, N.B., on the Rivière Sainte-Croix  and summered for many years at Oak Bay which is within spitting distance of Ile Ste. Croix,  I was quite aware of of the history of this place established after the French experienced a very bad winter in my part of the world. As you can see from Champlain's drawing, buildings were not placed to serve as wind breaks for one another. A big oversight is the fact that there was no potable water on the island, and snow and ice conditions in 1604 -o5 made it impossible to get to the mainland. Then too it was recorded that their supply of wine froze in the bottles.


Conditions were  so harsh on Saint Croix Island 35 of 79 men died. In 1605, they moved the settlement to  a sheltered harbour across the bay in what is now Nova Scotia. They called this new settlement Port-Royal, and it became the capital of Acadia, the first colony in New France. The French built a wooden fort, two stories high, with a courtyard in the middle, a great barrier to mid-winter winds. Champlain's drawing of the habitation is inset. The two palisades at the north and south contained cannons and loop holes through which the the colonists could defend themselves with rifles.  Pierre Du Gua de Monts who held a monopoly on the fur trade in New France had private quarters in the building at extreme upper right. The main entrance is seen across the courtyard from it.

This park guide was helpful in creating a group photo for our guests.

.Purists continue to criticize this reconstruction as unauthentic, but the reconstruction has been praised as coming very close to the original plans. The only thing which is off the mark is the cleared land around the place. Graham was photographing the entrance gateway framed of hand-hewn oak with walls en colombage.

The studded oak doors  are handmade and hung and fitted with wrought iron of the period. The main outer door is open and not seen but contains a peep hole known as a "Judas." The small building left of the gateway was describes as used "to house the rigging of our pinnaces (small open sailing ships). The leaded glass windows are authentic to the period.

.The embossed and painted coat of arms over the door are those of France (left) and Navarre (right) of which his highness Henry IV was king.

.In the courtyard we found this jovial fellow lecturing a large group of young people. apparently summer students from Université Sainte-Anne, the only French-language post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia. This small eductional unit is based in southwestern Nova Scotia surrounded by a population of about 10,000 French speaking residents. It boasts the only immersion program in Canada where the entire staff lives on campus with the students at all times during the five week program. We were a bit worried at seeing this crowd thinking it might be hard to get about the habitation, but the speaker was, fortunately, long-winded.

The blacksmith shop is thought to have fashioned the habitations hardware using malleable metals imported from France. In addition the ironmonger created pots and pans, arrow heads for trade with the Indians.

The forge is an authentic French pattern built using local available sandstone and handmade bricks.

Here are samples of the hardware created in this room.

The casement windows of hand made of oak all show the square proportions of Normandy windows of this time. They are filled, not with glass, but oiled parchment, the best substitute that could be found to stand in for oiled buckskin or linen.

Moving through connected rooms on the front east face of the complex, one enters the kitchen. Lescarbot mentioned that the colonists stored peas, beans, rice, prunes, dried cod, salted meat, oil and butter in this area, where food preparation and cooking took place.

In season they procured mussels, lobsters, crab and cockles as well as sardines, sturgeon and herrings.

Lescarbot thought that "of all their meats none is so tender as moose-meat."

He noted that moose-meat made excellent "pasties" and that beaver-tail was prized as "the most delicate."

At one point eighty-four people lived here so a lot of baking had to be done.

Utensils seen in the separate bakery room.

The wheat used in baking was at first ground by hand but later in an mill built outside the habitation by Poutrincourt.

This not quite standard log-cabin construction as we know it. AS you can see vertical timbers were placed first and then horizontal hand-hewed timbers cut to fit between them. Note the pegging, no nails were used.

Stepping out of the bakery we find the largest room in the place. This was not only a place to eat but a room where men gathered  in assembly to exchange  information or participate in self-entertainment. The steps seen in part at left lead to the cannon platform.

This photo, looking westward gives a better idea of the size of the room. In 1606, to relieve the winter blahs, Champlain created "The Order of Good Times" where groups of individuals successively came up with some grand plan for entertainment.

One of two west facing palisades looking back to the doorway of that community room. Note the loop-holes and trapdoor giving access to the powder room.

This photo takes in a part of the south wall whose rooms we just viewed

Champlain mentions platforms like this where four cannons were mounted.

He also mentioned the presence of loop-holes for rifles and observation benches.

Frankie reenters the dining hall from the platform.

All the dining room utensils are pewter.

A gentleman-adventurer has misplaced his hat.

The immersion students are still immersed

The woodworking shop next door to the dining hall.

Like other rooms heat is supplied by open-hearth fireplaces.

The sleeping pallets of ordinary "artisans" is above the dining hall, a place measuring 21x 66 feet. Some folk have a view of the inner court yard a plus in the summer, a minus in winter.

The sleeping pallets of ordinary "artisans" is above the dinging hall, a place measuring 21x 66 feet. Not the "knees" supporting the root. These are crafted of wood taken from trees where a major branch intersect the trunk.

These bunks are above the southern end of the community room.

We have come down the stairway on the ocean side of the building and taken one last picture of the dining hall.

We all passed through the chapel whose right wall on the north wall of the building. There is no evidence of one having existed in the past and no documentation showing that the priest had private quarters but one is included in the reconstruction. In point of fact this expedition was a weird mix of Protestant Hugenots and Roman Catholics.  There had been ministers to both factions on St. Croix Island and they bickered so constantly that when they died there they were buried in a common grave so that they could carry on as usual.

We all passed through the chapel on the north wall, although there is no evidence of one having existed in the past. There is no documentation showing that the priest had private quarters but one is included in the reconstruction. A bit of turned wooden whimsy.

I sometimes despair of people ever getting anything right,They may be right about the grand sweep (of history) but it doesn't seem to be possible to get the little details as they really were." -Isaac Asimov. This is supposedly a typical gentleman's room on the north side of the compound. There is some to be had in being picky and as long as visitors understand that this is an attempt at "correct" rather than "objective" fact...

Some of these little attached houses contained provision for two sleepers.

With perhaps provision for another person in the second storey.

Looking eastward toward the storage room and trading room.  Oh, oh, that crowd around the well had dispersed. The governor's place projects from the north wall.

The more highly regarded residents had usually had a desk a wardrobe and upstairs storage space.

As well as a fireplace.

Draft catcher curtains were a luxury item.

I remained for a moment wanting a photo of the governor's place interior. Technically it belonged to de Monts, but he returned to France in 1606 and Samuel de Champlain occupied the place afterwards.

The arms over the fireplace were those of  de Monts on the left and Poutrincourt on the right. Between them, the Arms of France.

Firearms were not a matter of display.

Champlain's diggs were unusual in allowing for a second storey bedroom window with an outlook on the interior court. The roof slop in the foreground stood above a storeroom and rope and rigging loft.

. The upstairs was better lit and had a more interesting attic look.

Some of the nautical gear here was associated with their larger ships.

View from this area showing a shingle making device.

The fur trading room was closer the front of the habitation. Lescarbot said that a doorway connected it with a storeroom. There was a broad negotiating counter in the centre of the room.

Beaver pelts were reformed as headgear.

After exchanges with tribesmen were complete furs went into storage on the second floor. Most were shipped off to France.

Beaver fur was the most valuable since there was a craze for tall beaver-skin hats at the European royal courts. The early settlement of Canada would have been slower and less fractious if this had not been the case. Rabbit fur was also used to make hats, but in order to remove the keratin from the hair, mercury was employed with severe effects on the mental health of the craftsmen producing such hats. "Mad as a hatter" was once apropos.

Here Ruth is seen examining that austere guard room which stands close by the entryway and even closer the doorway to the cannon platform.

The other side of the doorway showing the platform elevated a couple of feet above ground.

A habitant-soldier on this platform would have this view of interlopers approaching from the west. He also had a view of that other cannon platform.

The original Habitation at Port-Royal survived for eight years. Ultimately, the colony lost its financial support due to conflicts between the Biencourts (Poutrincourt and his son Charles) and the Jesuits. In May 1613, a relief ship removed the Jesuits to Penobscot, Maine, where they founded another settlement named Saint-Sauveur. In July, Samuel Argall of Virginia, commissioned to expel all Frenchmen from territory claimed by England, attacked and destroyed the colony. While the habitation was completely destroyed by arson, many of the French escaped and went to live with the Indians.

beaver skin hat

Bet you'v forgotten this incident Frankie? The hat is rather valuable being of beaver skin. Another 1600s French-English misunderstanding?