DescriptionOff Hwy. 1 on the north shore of the Annapolis River opposite Goat Island, the historic site is a reconstruction of Port-Royal, one of the oldest European settlements in Canada and one of the first French settlements in North America.
In 1604 French explorer Samuel de Champlain named the harbor. The next year the colonists who survived the terrible winter of 1604 on Dochet's Island (St. Croix Island), where 35 out of 79 people died of scurvy, founded the Port-Royal colony.
In 1613 English captain Samuel Argall led an expedition from Virginia and captured the Port-Royal Habitation. The attackers pillaged and burned the buildings and destroyed all French markings.
The Port-Royal settlement spawned several significant accomplishments before it was destroyed, however. The colonists grew one of the first cereal crops in Canada and built one of the country's earliest water mills.
Canada's first European play, “Le Théâtre de Neptune,” was written and produced in Port-Royal by Marc Lescarbot, and Champlain established North America's first recorded social club, “L'Ordre de Bon Temps” (Order of the Good Time) in 1606. Visitors to Nova Scotia can join this historic order free at Nova Scotia provincial tourist information centers by pledging to “have a good time, remember us pleasantly, think of us kindly and come back again.”
Port-Royal Habitation has been rebuilt near what is believed to have been the original site, using Champlain's plan and studies of early 17th-century French architecture. The settlement, protected by a palisade and a cannon platform, centers on a courtyard in the style of a 17th-century French farm. The buildings include a governor's residence, gentleman's quarters, chapel, guardroom, kitchen, bakery, blacksmith shop, living quarters, an artisan's workshop and a common room.
All timber framing has been joined together without spikes or nails. The buildings are furnished with early 17th-century reproductions, and guides are dressed in period costume. Allow 30 minutes minimum. Hours: Daily 9-5:30, late June-early Sept.; Tues.-Sat. 9-5:30, mid-May to late June and early Sept to mid-Oct. Cost: $3.90; $3.40 (ages 65+); $1.90 (ages 6-16); $9.80 (family). Phone (902) 532-2898 or (902) 532-2321 in the off-season.
Costumed interpreters and period demonstrations re-create the original settlement of Port-Royal, a 17th-century trading post.