The Port Royal settlement as it was named was built in the summer of 1605 by French settlers. The settlement was built on a beautiful river basin near the town known today as Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This was an ideal spot as the soil was fertile and there was plenty of fish and game in the surrounding area.

For thousands of years the ancestors of the Mi’kmaw native Indians had lived in the region and they welcomed the settlers and taught them how to survive in what was a new climate for the French.

Jean Biencourt de Poutrincourt, lieutenant governor arrived from France in the summer of 1606. In the spring of 1607 the King’s council revoked Sieur de Mons’ trading monopoly just as the colonists were starting to sustain themselves. The settlers had built a Habitation and grown crops in the fertile soil and the news was a devastating blow to most of them. It was a major setback especially for Samuel De Champlain.

By the autumn of 1607 the settlers were returning to France leaving the Habitation in the care of the Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq in the Port-Royal area. Later the King reinstated the trading monopoly of Sieur de Mons and Champdoré a member of the early settlers returned to trade with the Mi’kmaq in 1608. The Port Royal Habitation was temporarily on hold. That year,Champlain led a group of French settlers up the St. Lawrence River, where they established the Habitation of Quebec.

Poutrincourt returned to Port-Royal in 1610 with a small expedition that included his 18/19 year old son Charles de Biencourt. They received a warm welcome from Membertou the Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq. Hoping to regain royal favour and financial backing, Poutrincourt persuaded the chief and several of his family and people to convert to Catholicism. Even so the colony’s viability remained on shaky ground.

The Jesuit were interested in establishing missions in Acadia and their influence in the Royal Court ensured their participation. They became financial partners with Poutrincourt. Conflicts at Port Royal were made worse by the arrival of Fathers Massé and Biard. Eventually the colony lost its financial support due to conflicts between the Biencourts and the Jesuits. In May 1613, the Jesuits were removed to Maine where they founded another settlement named Saint-Sauveur.

In July 1613 Samuel Argall of Virginia, attacked, looted and burned the Habitation while the inhabitants were away up river under direction from England to remove the French from all British territory. When Poutrincourt returned from France the following spring he found his Habitation in ruins, and his son and companions living with the Mi’kmaq. He returned to France transferring his holdings and leadership to his son.

The settlements at Saint Croix, Port-Royal and Quebec were the beginning of French settlement in Canada and the generations following ensured the integration of the French culture in North America.

Although Port Royal only existed for about 8 years it became a model for future explorers and settlers showing what could be accomplished and achieved. It was the first European settlement north of Florida.

The Port Royal Habitation was rebuilt by the Canadian Government in 1939-40 after a great deal of lobbying and research by preservationists. Today the Habitation not only commemorates historic events in the settling of Canada but is an important Canadian preservation landmark.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Avril Betts, I have over 25 years experience in all aspects of Travel and Tourism. I hold a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator). Along with my partner Khaled Azzam we own A-Z Tours and Action Travel in North America along with Travelocity Travel Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

I have co-chaired Atlantic Canada Showcase an International Travel Trade Show, managed 450 volunteers for the Tall Ships Visit in July 2000, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. In 1996 I hosted the president’s wives luncheon for the G7 conference. In 1988 I founded the Country Inn Association in Nova Scotia.

As an experienced speaker I have presented seminars for many years on subjects ranging from Marketing and Sales and Life Skills to Tourism, Travel and Real Estate, and operating an online Travel business.

I enjoy working with tourists to pass on my knowledge to help our clients make the most of their vacations. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or travel inquiries.

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