• FRENCH AND ACADIAN DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE: PART III – Port Royal/Annapolis Royal and Belleisle

    In 1605 France established its first permanent settlement in the New World. For well over half a century it had done nothing to exploit the new lands found by Jacques Cartier because of a drawn-out war of religion caused by the Protestant Reformation. Early in the Seventeenth Century with stability established in the country France was ready to turn to the New World. The greatest explorer of the time was Samuel de Champlain who crossed the Atlantic many times, established settlements in Nova Scotia and Quebec, and wrote profusely about his adventures. As Geographer to the King, he also produced several maps of the New France, in at least one…

  • French and Acadian Domestic Architecture: Part II – Ile Saint Jean

    Ile Saint-Jean When France decided to colonise Ile Saint-Jean in 1720 settlers from France and parts of Acadia came and established the various towns built on the Island. It was intended that forts in the style of Vauban should be built in key locations and I will discuss those in a future post. Suffice it to say that by the 1730s a four-pointed star fort was in the process of being built at Port la Joye, the capital of Ile Saint-Jean. An image of it – reality or wishful thinking – has survived in this splendid 1734 watercolour of the settlement with accompanying plans.   CARTE DU PORT LA JOYE…

  • French and Acadian Domestic Architecture: Part I – Louisbourg

    This post is the first in several about French and Acadian houses in the Maritime Region during the years of the Eighteenth Century that ended in the deportations of 1755 and ’58. In Part I of this post, I will focus on the evidence from Louisbourg. But first it is necessary to provide a brief historical note on France of the Rococo period and of the nature of French interests in New France. First, I begin with a quick overview of the Enlightenment, born in the salons of France and spreading to other European countries. The developments that took place in all the arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, literature, philosophy,…

  • Mi’kmaq Architecture

    The Mi’kmaq, as a distinct ethnic group, may have inhabited what they called Epekwitk, and what we now call Prince Edward Island, for several millennia. It is here that they settled and lived in birchbark shelters called wigwams.   … animate thing lying in the water ... Photo from the internet, by WestJet pilot Steve MacDonald Last year I came across an aerial photograph of the Island taken by WestJet pilot Steve MacDonald which had a profound effect on my perception of the Island. In this photo, I saw for the first time, an island disconnected from all evidence of French and British colonial contact. I realised at once that…

  • Settlement in the Forest Primeval

    THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest. From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1847 epic, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie.   The forest primeval, of course, had been inhabited, and in various ways managed, by the indigenous people ever since climate change had permitted the growth of these massive trees. William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854), Wigwam in…