August 6, 2017
We crossed the waist of Nova Scotia and reached the western coast mid-morning. We set out to visit the British fortification at Port Royal. As you hopefully are aware, the British and the French struggled to maintain control of the island today called Nova Scotia. In the 17th Century, it was known as Acadia. French settlers successfully farmed the region and prospered. They developed techniques to dike and reclaim the land much like the Dutch. They were able to develop their agri-business to point where they could easily trade for what they couldn’t grow.
Unfortunately, they were caught in the middle between the aspirations of the French and British Empires through the 18th Century. The French built the first of five forts on the point known as Point Royal. The local Acadians were forced to work on the massive earthworks when they would rather be farming. The term Acadian just refers to second generation French settlers who had no plans of returning to France. In 1710 the British captured the fort and the Acadians were forced to emigrate back to France or to the southern colonies. It wasn’t ethnic cleansing but close. Many of the Acasians found shelter with their Micmac Indian friends or hid long enough to be left alone. Their descendants still populate the region along with the many Scots imported to create a Nova Scotia.
We walked the remnants of Fort Queen Anne and enjoyed the sunshine. The park holds regular re-enactments of events. They were dismantling some stuff from the last “play” siege. We then set out to visit the recreation of the settlement called Port Royal by its founder Samuel de Champlain in 1605. The reconstruction was based upon archeology and archives, the log and stone buildings were built under the prodding and financing of a Massachusetts woman who bore a case of belated guilt. She figured that it was her New England and Virginian ancestors who destroyed this settlement in 1613. The result is a masterful recreation of the early 1600s. I found it in some ways better than the similar effort known as Plymouth Plantation on Cape Cod. The docent I talked to is a descendant of those original Acadians. Champlain went on to found a longer lasting settlement in Quebec. We walked through a grove of apple trees planted by a family 400 years ago. They are very wild today.
I had to admire the quality of the construction. The joinery was wonderful even though I knew it was created in the late 1930s. They used traditional tools and techniques. It was inspiring. We were even inspired to have a exquisite lunch of fresh caught, seared Digby scallops. The meal will be remembered. We also managed to drive to a point and lighthouse overlooking the Bay of Fundy. We managed to walk around basaltic rock formations without falling in.
Our ferry is now leaving Digby and we should reach St. John in New Brunswick before dark. That is the plan although we are crossing the Bay of Fundy with its notorious tides. We delayed sailing long enough to get stuck in the mud during low tide.