The first permanent settlement in Canada by white men was at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. It was discovered by Champlain in 1604, when he made his first voyage to Canada with de Monts and Pontgravé. They called it Port Royal, and so it remained for many turbulent years, sometimes in the possession of the French, sometimes occupied by Britain.
One of the most delightful stories about Port Royal is that of the creation of the “Order of the Good Time,” in the winter of 1606-1607. De Monts had returned to France in 1605, and with the help of Sieur de Poutrincourt, fitted out a second expedition which sailed from La Rochelle on May 11, 1606.
Champlain organized the “Order of Good Time,” the first social club in North America. Each of the fifteen members of the colony took his turn at being the Grand Master of the day, and wore the insignia of office. At dinner he led the way to the table, at the head of the procession of members.
It became a point of honour with each member to try to outdo the others in providing the finest possible dinners. The party made friends with the Native Indians and went hunting and fishing. The dinner table groaned with the luxuries of the forest and streams. There were roasts of moose, caribou, beaver, otter, bears, porcupine and rabbits. For poultry, they had wild ducks, geese and ruffled grouse. Seafood was usually represented by salmon, trout, bass and cod, caught through the ice.
The Indian Chiefs were invited to the feasts while warriors, women and children crouched in the corners of the dining hall where they would be given biscuits and bread which were novel treats for them.
One of the members of the group was Marc Lescarbot, who might be called Canada’s first historian. He wrote, “Whatever our gourmands at home may think, we found as good cheer at Port Royal as they at their Rue aux Ours in Paris, and that, too, at a cheaper rate.”
Want to learn even more about the “Order of Good Time”? A good place to go to would be Fred Hutchinson because it has a good article, and then there’s thecajuns.com, and you’ll definitely want to visit Nova Scotia Archives, believe me. For some really good photos of the event, you really must go to Lieutenant Governor, Nova Scotia’s flickr page.