Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Habitation at Port-Royal

Habitation at Port-Royal

Ask a question about 'Habitation at Port-Royal'
Start a new discussion about 'Habitation at Port-Royal'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
The Habitation at Port-Royal (1605–1613) was the first successful (though short-lived) French settlement of New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 in North America, and is presently known as Port-Royal National Historic Site, a National Historic Site located on the northern side of the Annapolis Basin
Annapolis Basin
The Annapolis Basin is a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, located on the southwestern shores of the bay, along the northwestern shore of Nova Scotia and at the western end of the Annapolis Valley....

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. After the Habitation was destroyed (1613), Port Royal
Port Royal, Nova Scotia
Port Royal was the capital of Acadia from 1605 to 1710 and is now a town called Annapolis Royal in the western part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Initially Port Royal was located on the north shore of the Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, at the site of the present reconstruction of the...

 was rebuilt on the southern side of the Basin in the present day location of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal is a town located in the western part of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Known as Port Royal until the Conquest of Acadia in 1710 by Britain, the town is the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, north of St...

. Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal after the British conquest of Acadia in 1710.

The settlement

Port Royal was founded after the French nobleman Pierre Du Gua de Monts spent a disastrous winter in Île-Saint-Croix. He was accompanied by Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

, Louis Hébert
Louis Hébert
Louis Hébert is widely considered to be the first Canadian apothecary as well as the first European to farm in Canada. He was born around 1575 at 129 de la rue Saint-Honoré in Paris to Nicolas Hébert and Jacqueline Pajot...

 and Sieur de Poutrincourt. The latter asked the king of France to become the owner of the Seigneurie which encompassed the Habitation. They decided to move their settlement to the north shore of present-day Annapolis Basin
Annapolis Basin
The Annapolis Basin is a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, located on the southwestern shores of the bay, along the northwestern shore of Nova Scotia and at the western end of the Annapolis Valley....

, a sheltered bay on the south shore of the Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine...

 which had been recorded by Champlain earlier in the spring of 1605 during a coastal reconnaissance. Champlain would note in his journals, that the bay was of impressive size; he believed it an adequate anchorage for several hundred ships of the French Royal Fleet, if ever necessary. As such, he would name the basin "Port-Royal", the Royal Port; this was, for many years, the name of both the body of water, and the subsequent French and Acadian settlements in that region.

Nestled against the North Mountain range, they set about constructing a log stockade fortification called a "Habitation." With assistance from members of the Mi'kmaq Nation and a local chief named Membertou
Henri Membertou
Henri Membertou was the sakmow of the Mi'kmaq First Nations tribe situated near Port Royal, site of the first French settlement in Acadia, present-day Nova Scotia, Canada. Originally sakmow of the Kespukwitk district, he was appointed as Grand Chief by the sakmowk of the other six districts.His...

, coupled with the more temperate climate of the fertile Annapolis Valley
Annapolis Valley
The Annapolis Valley is a valley and region in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is located in the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula, formed by a trough between two parallel mountain ranges along the shore of the Bay of Fundy.-Geography:...

, the settlement prospered.

Mindful of the disastrous winter of 1603-1604 at the Île-Saint-Croix settlement, Champlain established l'Ordre de Bon Temps (the Order of Good Cheer) as a social club ostensibly to promote better nutrition and to get settlers through the winter of 1606-1607. Supper every few days became a feast with a festive air supplemented by performances and alcohol and was primarily attended by the prominent men of the colony and their Mi'kmaq neighbours while the Mi'kmaq women, children, and poorer settlers looked on and were offered scraps. Marc Lescarbot
Marc Lescarbot
Marc Lescarbot was a French author, poet and lawyer, best known for his Histoire de la Nouvelle-France , based on his expedition to Acadia and research into French exploration. Considered one of the first great books in the history of Canada, it was printed in three editions, and was translated...

's "The Theatre of Neptune in New France", the first work of theater written and performed in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, was performed on November 14, 1606. It was arguably the catalyst for the Order of Good Cheer.

Unfortunately in 1607, Dugua had his fur trade monopoly revoked by the Government of France, forcing settlers to return to France that fall. The Habitation was left in the care of Membertou and the local Mi'kmaq until 1610 when Sieur de Poutrincourt, another French nobleman, returned with a small expedition to Port-Royal. Poutrincourt converted Membertou and local Mi'kmaq to Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, hoping to gain financial assistance from the government. As a result, Jesuits became financial partners with Poutrincourt, although this caused division within the community.

In May, 1613 the Jesuits moved on to the Penobscot River
Penobscot River
The Penobscot River is a river in the U.S. state of Maine. Including the river's West Branch and South Branch increases the Penobscot's length to , making it the second longest river system in Maine and the longest entirely in the state. Its drainage basin contains .It arises from four branches...

 valley and in July, the settlement was attacked by Samuel Argall
Samuel Argall
Sir Samuel Argall was an English adventurer and naval officer.As a sea captain, in 1609, Argall was the first to determine a shorter northern route from England across the Atlantic Ocean to the new English colony of Virginia, based at Jamestown, and made numerous voyages to the New World...

 of Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Argall returned in November that same year and burned the Habitation to the ground while settlers were away nearby. Poutrincourt returned from France in spring 1614 to find Port-Royal in ruins and settlers living with the Mi'kmaq. Poutrincourt then gave his holdings to his son and returned to France. Poutrincourt's son bequeathed the settlement to Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour
Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour
Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, the French King's appointed Governor of Acadia from 1631–1642 and again from 1653–1657, was born in France in 1593 and died at Cap de Sable in 1666...

 upon his own death in 1623.

Replica construction

In the 1930s the site of the Habitation was located. Archeologists conducted excavations there. 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
Evelyn Eaton
Evelyn Sybil Mary Eaton was a Canadian novelist, short-story writer, poet and academic known for her early novels set in New France, and later writings which explored the spirituality of the western Amerindian peoples....

 set in Port Royal in the early 17th century.

In the 1900s, chiefly under the leadership of Harriet Taber Richardson, native of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

, and summer resident of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotian preservationists and historians began lobbying the Government of Canada to build a replica of the Habitation which stood from 1605 until its destruction in 1613. The government agreed after much persuasion and a replica was built in 1939-1940.

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 was the first National Historic Site in Canada to have a replica structure built.

Today, this replica serves as the cornerstone of Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, and coupled with the nearby Fort Anne National Historic Site
Fort Anne
For a similarly named fort in New York City see: Fort AmsterdamFort Anne is a typical star fort built to protect the harbour of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. The fort repelled all French attacks during the early stages of King George's War....

 in Annapolis Royal
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal is a town located in the western part of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Known as Port Royal until the Conquest of Acadia in 1710 by Britain, the town is the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, north of St...

, continues to commemorate this important historic region for Canadians and visitors. 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. Costumed interpreters provide demonstrations of such historic early 17th century activities as farming, building, cooking, fur trading and Mi'kmaq life.

See also

  • Canadian Register of Historic Places
    Canadian Register of Historic Places
    The Canadian Register of Historic Places is an online, searchable database that includes listings of historic places important to communities, cities, provinces, territories, and the nation...

  • Former colonies and territories in Canada
    Former colonies and territories in Canada
    Former colonies, territories, boundaries, and claims in Canada prior to the current classification of provinces and territories. In North America, ethnographers commonly classify Aboriginals into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits and by related linguistic dialects...

  • History of Canada
    History of Canada
    The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies...

  • List of National Historic Sites of Canada

External links