400 Years of History at Annapolis Royal

Still thinking about what I learned about the fate of the Acadians after my visit to the Grand Pré National Historic Site, I got into the car and started driving westwards through the fertile Annapolis Valley, an area referred to as the “Breadbasket of Nova Scotia”. The gentle North and South Mountain Ranges enclose this agricultural land of orchards and vineyards. The Bay of Fundy is located just on the other side of the northern range. A pleasant drive took me along the Evangeline Trail that runs on the northern shoreline of South West Nova Scotia.

Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal

My destination was Annapolis Royal, a town with more than 400 years of history, located at the mouth of the Annapolis River. Annapolis Royal, founded in 1605, originally was called Port-Royal by the Acadian settlers, but after the territory changed hands to the British in 1713 it was renamed in honour of England’s Queen Anne. The word “polis”, Greek for “town”, was added to the Queen’s name, and the original French word “Royal” was retained. A sign of turbulent times, ownership of this area went back and forth seven times between the English and the French. The town was settled two years before Jamestown, Virginia, three years before the founding of Quebec, and fifteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Massachusetts.

View from Fort Anne across the Annapolis River

Together with today’s Port-Royal across the river, it is the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, north of St. Augustine, Florida. Annapolis Royal is one of five Cultural Capitals of Canada and was also recently selected as “The World’s Most Livable Small Community” in an international competition endorsed by the United Nations. To enter the town I drove across the causeway that houses the Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Generating Plant and drove slowly into one of the most historic and picturesque towns in Canada.

Annapolis Royal lighthouse

Annapolis Royal used to be the capital of Nova Scotia from 1710 until 1749 when Halifax became the capital of the province. Its collection of 135 Municipal Heritage Properties makes it the largest National Historic District in Canada. The town is a popular tourist destination and boasts numerous bed and breakfasts, restaurants, cafes, galleries and retail stores located in heritage properties.

Quaint shopping opportunities in Port Royal

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