Tag Archives: May 11

A Marvellous Sight!

Replica of Champlain's habitation at the Port-...

Replica of Champlain’s habitation at the Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, Nova-Scotia, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One of the happiest meetings in Canadian history occurred off the shore of Nova Scotia on July 27, 1606.  De Monts, Champlain and party had spent their first winter in Canada on Dochet Island in the St. Croix River, not far from the wealthy summer resort of St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick.  Dochet Island were unsatisfactory as a base, so the party moved to Port Royal, now Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia, where they spent the winter of 1605.

This was a pleasant experience.  The winter was mild, and Champlain directed the building of houses surrounded by a ditch that carried running water.  He even designed two reservoirs, — one of fresh water to hold trout, and the other, salt water for fish from the sea.  There was a safe harbor big enough to hold 2,000 ships!

De Monts had returned to France, seeking to have his monopoly renewed by Henry IV.  He left instructions that if he had not returned by July 16, the colony was to be abandoned and the settlers were to return to France.  As it happened, Henry IV would not renew De Mont’s monopoly.  It was a sad day for the Port Royal colonists when July 16 came, heralding no ship from France.  They loaded their supplies into small P, the only boats they possessed, and sailed along the south shore, hoping to find fishing vessels that would take them back to France.

De Monts never saw his colony again, but the Sieur de Poutrincourt had managed to buy the rights to Port Royal.  On July 24, as his sip Jonas was sailing along the south shore of Nova Scotia, it sighted the pinnaces for Port Royal.  The colonists were told the good news and returned to Port Royal with the Jonas.  On July 27, the entire group gathered at the first permanent French colony in Canada, described by Mark Lescarbot, a young historian in Poutrincourt’s Party, as “a marvellous sight.”  The future of New France seemed to be assured. (see my May 11 post, Order of the Good Cheer)

To read more about today’s post, I can suggest a few sites to visit. For instance, there’s The History of Nova Scotia, and the Acandian History (good place for genealogy, too). Another good read is to be found at Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

And finally, if you have the time, you can read the complete book History of the County of Annapolis : including old Port Royal and Acadia : with memoirs of its representatives in the provincial parliament, and biographical and genealogical sketches of its early English settlers and their families (1897) – very interesting reading!


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Order of the Good Time

Port Royal from Samuel de Champlain's diagram,...

Port Royal from Samuel de Champlain’s diagram, circa 1612 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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, 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.


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