Port-Royal / Annapolis Royal

Port-Royal is a place of interest to descendants of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry, and also to Acadian descendants in general.

Port-Royal was the name given by the French to the settlement built on the mainland north of what is called Goat Island in the Annapolis Basin. This was the first successful settlement built by the French in the New World. The Habitation was the name of the French fort built in Port-Royal. It was burned down by the English in 1613. Soon after, the fort and town were relocated upriver to the peninsula where Annapolis Royal is today. Port-Royal (and, subsequently, Annapolis Royal) served as the capital of the Acadian region until the administration was moved to Halifax after its incorporation in 1749.

Some Facts and Statistics

It may be helpful to note here that the English and French competed for control of the area from 1603 to 1763. It changed hands several times. The geographical names changed as the government changed. Here are some of the names and words that pop up when researching Acadian history.

Rivière du Dauphin Annapolis River
arpent roughly one acre
Le Bassin Annapolis Basin
rivière inlet
Île Saint-Jean Prince Edward Island
ruisseau stream
Île Royale Cape Breton
marais marsh or swamp
Baye Françoise Bay of Fundy
Île island
Île aux Chèvres Goat Island
Port Toulouse St. Peter's
Seal Cove Louisdale

The population of Port-Royal was never great in modern terms. I find it interesting that so few people had such a significant impact in Canadian history.

This table has been produced with numbers and dates from Wikipedia. It shows the population increased six fold in 120 years.


For comparison, Boston, Massechusetts was founded in 1630 by 700 English Puritans (primarily from Boston, England). 50 years later, its population was already 6 times larger. By 1742, the population there had increased by more than 23 times to 16,382.

The population for New York is harder to compare. Dubbed New Angoulême in 1524 by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the area on the southern part of the island of "Manahatta" became known as New Amsterdam in 1624. It wasn't until forty years later that the name New York is given, to honour the English Duke of York. New Amsterdam had a population of just several hundred. In 1688, New York already had a population of about 20,000, and by 1749, its population had grown to 73,448.

And, these population statistics are interesting...

Region / Year
Nova Scotia peninsula
Île Royale (Cape Breton)

The Deportation and war greatly reduced the population of the region between 1755 and the end of the last French/English contest in the New World (1763). Once the region had stabilized, the decade between 1771 and 1871 shows dramatic growth, with the population increasing eleven fold across the province.

Locating Port-Royal

To begin, here are several maps that will help with orientation.

(Click on most pictures to enlarge.)

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This is a Google Earth aerial view of the New England coast and Nova Scotia. The black arrow points at where Port-Royal would be.

Boston and New York are visible, but they are by no means as far south as traders travelled.

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This Google Earth aerial view of Nova Scotia (and P.E.I.) shows the relative size of the Annapolis Basin.

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This Google Earth view shows the Annapolis Basin, with the channel connecting it to the Bay of Fundy.

It also shows the Annapolis River as it meanders into the mainland.

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This map shows what the French thought the area looked like in 1630.

Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences.

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This map shows the Annapolis Basin area in 1744. Interestingly, this map has water depth markings for ship navigation.

There is a notation on the mpa that I believe says "R'au des Bourgs", which I think is an abbreviation for Ruisseau des Bourgs, or Bourg Creek.

Digital reproduction from the W. K. Morrison Special Collection of the J. B. Hall Library at the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences.

The location of the Bourg property

In 1636, Antoine Bourg settled in Port-Royal on land, either purchased or granted (earned, in any case), on the opposite side of the Rivière du Dauphin (Annapolis River today) from where the mouth of Allain Creek is. The settlement of Port-Royal (having been moved from its original location some four miles to the west) would easily be in view across the river to the east, on the peninsula of land almost extending across the river, where Annapolis Royal is situated today.

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In this 1733 survey map of the Annapolis Royal area, note "Bourg's Vill." on the north side of the river along with references to the neighbouring properties of other individuals and families, and other geographical features, along the river's length. The "villages" would grow as houses for increasing family numbers, barns and other outbuildings were added. (There may even have been an effort by the map maker to indicate the number of buildings each village had with the drawing of little circles on the map.)

Notes were written for this map by Placide Gaudet, genealogist to the Public Archives of Canada. For the Bourg village, Gaudet wrote: "Antoine Bourg, born in France in 1609, married Antoinette Landry, and came to Acadie in 1632 with the Commander de Razilly. He was ancestor of the Acadian families of Bourg or Bourque, and grandfather of Alexander Bourg, sieur de Bellehumeur, royal notary of Mines District."

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This graphic is a kind of remake of the 1733 survey map. It has been labeled with upper case letters on the north side of the river and lower case letters on the south side. Text from the 1733 map, along with text from this image, and other additional text, can be correlated with these letters to their approximate location.

(I have added the text this way so the names and subject can come up in an Internet search.)

A) small remains of the Scot's fort (likely referring to the location of Port-Royal Habitation, although Scottish setttlers may have been here from 1620 until they were sent home in 1624), Lower Granville B) Melanson village, Pointe aux Chènes (Stoney Beach) C) De Laurier D) Bourg village E) Billy Johnson F) Mathieu Doucet village G) La Montagne village H) La Noue I) Jean Brun, Granville Center J) Brun village, Willett Corner K) Barnabé village L) Belisle, marsh where Pierre Melanson left M) 1,500 acres N) Will Denis O) Les Blanc village (Geener's Creek) P) Mass House Q) Guillot R) Jean Brossard S) Beaulieu T) Antoine Herbert U) François Bastarache V) Bernard Gaudet W) Gaudet village X) Paradis Terrestie

a) Fisher's Point b) Dugas village c) Belliveau village d) Robichaud village e) mouth of Allain Creek f) Port-Royal, town, fort g) vicinity of Poutrincourt's mill on the Lequille River (now Allain Creeek) h) Ruisseau Fourche (forked stream), Sawmill Creek i) Pierre Vincent j) The Narrows k) L'Esturgeon l) La Rosette village and marsh, Leger m) Thibodeau village, mill n) Prée Ronde (Round Hill) o) Girouard village p) Deru village q) Claude Girouard r) Beau Prée s) Alex Hebert t) Rene Forest village u) Jean Prince v) Bastarache

This image is a portion of a map in a book called Port Royal/Annapolis Royal, 1605-1800, by Brenda Dunn. Besides wanting to mention the book, I wanted to include the map as it shows a few things of interest. Firstly, it shows the relative location of Bourg's Village, across the river from the town. Ths map positions the property as being a bit further west, but the water feature beside the village seems overly prominent and is inconsistent with other maps, including modern satellite views. The number of buildings represented is interesting and appears unrealistic when compared to the town itself. And secondly, the area around Allain's Creek has two notes: "Marsh at Spring", and "Covered high Tides". The lines indicate a wide area that may have been too difficult to dyke off. The next map shows this in a different fashion by using a lighter water colour around the main creek flow.

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As they do today, people came and went, property changed hands and new owners took up residence where previous owners had lived. This map, presumed to be from before 1698 (death of Laurent Granger), shows some different names in addition to the names from the earlier map. To assist with being found in searches, here is a list of the additional names...

Laurent (the father of), Claude and René Granger; Abraham Bourg, René Doucet, Clément Vincent, François Leveron, Alexandre and Julien Lord; Bonaventure Thériault, Barthélemy Bergeron, Claude Doucet, Etienne and Alexandre Comeau, and Jacques Michel.

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This map shows Abraham Bourg as being the owner of the Bourg property. (The map has been inverted to make it more understandable geographically.)

Undoubtedly, there were others that lived in the area in its nearly 150 year French history, including non-property owners, so the list of names overall is far from complete.

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This map, believed to be from 1757 by the U.S. Library of Congress, still shows some of the Acadian names even though these families would have been deported by this time. It may well be the source of the tracing-like survey map above. This map has an interesting feature - it indicates areas that are dry or are under shallow water due to the tides. Goat Island, for example, becomes a much larger obstacle for passing ships when the tide is out.

Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. Copyright.

The method of land division that the French used at this time was the "seigneurial system". Lots tended to be narrow and long in a proportion of perhaps 1 wide to 10 long, beginning at a feature like a riverfront or coastline, road or property line. In the case of the land the Bourgs were on, the land received (or bought) began at the bank of the Dauphin and continued up and over the mountain to the Fundy coastline. If there were conditions of ownership, they seemed to be to build, to populate, to enrich and to pay seigneurial dues.

The population would come to follow the Custom of Paris in matters of law when under French rule. (The issues of governance and loyalty under both French and English rule would later cause the rift that would lead to the Deportation.)

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With this image, one can imagine a point opposite the mouth of Allain Creek as being perhaps the center of the strip of land that was owned by the Bourg family. Note that this is a modern map, so the causeway that incorporates Hogg Island that was built in the 1960's between Annapolis Royal and the north side of the river (Granville Ferry) is visible. The causeway was in the process of being built when the existing bridge collapsed. Presumably, Granville Ferry was named after a service that preceded the bridge system. In the 1980's, a tidal power plant, the first in the world, was built between the peninsula and Hogg Island, altering part of the causeway.

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With this image, tilted, one can get a better sense of the land owned extending from the river's edge to the Bay of Fundy coastline.

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This is a map drawn by British Captain John Hamilton. (I did alter the map by flipping the text in the bottom corners - on the original image, the text oriented the map in an inverted manner which made it hard to comprehend.) It adds a little more detail to the peninsula and Allain Creek area.

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Captain Hamilton also created drawings of four forts of the period, including one of Fort Anne (1753), which effectively shows what Annapolis Royal would have looked like in the mid-1700's from an imagined elevated perspective, mid-river, somewhat in the direction of the north side.

Annapolis Royal Visit

Cam's note: In a trip to the Annapolis region made off-season in November of 2015, I was able to locate, and walk upon, the land that had been owned by the Bourg family back in the 1600's. Almost all of the pictures are unpopulated, and the river is virtually void of ships and boats. Presented here are a few of the pictures that will help give a sense of the lay of the land...

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It is very hard to appreciate the colour and beauty of the area from old maps and satellite views. These two photos were taken near the mouth of Allain Creek.

Click here go to a page with quite a number of other pictures taken from around Annapolis Royal, including pictures from, and of, the Bourg property.

Click here to be taken to a page of pictures of this house.

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens has a replica of an Acadian house from the days of the thatched roof (mid-1600's). Click on this picture to be taken to a page of twenty-one pictures overall of this house.

It is possible to walk out to the Allain Creek from the rear of the Historic Gardens property. (Two of the pictures above were taken there.)

Click to go to the page on Port-Royal habitation.

Since it was November, the Port-Royal Habitation historic site (with a replica of the fort burned down in 1613 by the English) was closed, but I did take a number of pictures of the exterior, and some of the surrounding area. I created a page for these pictures alone which one can view by clicking here.

This file last modified 3/5/2016...

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