Friday, September 6, 2019

Annapolis Royal, a Bird Walk, a Historical Tour, and beautiful Gardens!

Today began bright and early with a bird walk around the Salt Marsh Trail. We had a group of 18 people attend, including three youth. This beautiful treed trail circles a small lake and marsh. The shrubs were full of migratory warblers, including many Yellow-rumped Warblers, a few Yellow Warblers, and a Common Yellowthroat. We also enjoyed seeing a Sora, a flock of Wood Ducks, a couple Buffleheads, a Pied-billed Grebe, a group of Black Ducks, and lots of Mallards on the pond. This was a fantastic spot to bird, in all seasons!


After the walk Richard gave us a ride to the Port Royal National Historic Site. In 1605 Samuel de Champlain helped establish a French habitation in the area, which was one of the earliest European settlements in North America.

The habitation was a wooden compound consisting of a kitchen, a dining area, bunk houses, a blacksmith shop, a woodworking area, and a chapel.


When the French settled the land it was already occupied by the Mi'kmaq, and the French developed a trading partnership with this indigenous group. Part of the site had a Mi'kmaq settlement on it, but it was closed in preparation for Hurricane Dorian.


The habitation is a reconstruction of what historians and artists believe the site would have looked like. When it was built in 1939 it created habitat for bats, and Parks Canada has enhanced the facilities by installing bat boxes on the property. We were delighted to see an effort being made to protect nature at this beautiful historic site.

We walked back to Annapolis Royal after visiting the Habitation, stopping at the Tidal Power Generation station on the causeway on the way. This is the only tide-driven power station in North America. When the tide comes in it fills a deep basin, and is then released at a constant speed to turn a turbine which generates power.

Once back in Annapolis Royal we visited Fort Anne. In 1917 this fort became Canada's first administered National Historic Site, and it is located on the banks of the Annapolis River in one of the most highly contested regions on the continent. The land was originally Mi'kmaq territory, it was fortified by the Scotish in 1629, fell under French control, and then was taken over permanently by the British in 1710. Fort Anne was attacked 13 times, changed hands seven times, and is the site where the Treaty of Boston was ratified.


We walked through the grounds, explored the museum inside the Officer's Quarters, visited the stone powder magazine, and looked into the black hole.

We particularly enjoyed a large tapestry in the museum, which was embroidered by over 100 volunteers to illustrate 400 years of history at the fort.  The coolest part being that each panel had "secret stitches" which highlighted cultural and historical moments of importance.  My favourite being the porcupine quill stitch in the first panel highlighting indigenous history.


After our hike and walk through history we visited a fantastic German Bakery on the main street of Annapolis Royal. The Apple Streudel and cappuccino were absolutely delicious, and brought to mind the wonderful European pastries we've enjoyed while hiking in Europe.

After this we made a quick stop by the Artspace Gallery to check out the work of Jess Lincoln, whom we met this morning. The new exhibition, which is set to officially open on Sunday afternoon, was beautiful and thought provoking.  Her exploration of the boundaries between the personal, sensual and created interiors and spaces of our lives is fascinating.  It is definitely worth checking out.  Out of respect for her work we have utilized the advertising image rather than taking pictures of her originals which deserve to be seen in person. 


Our next stop was the Historic Gardens. This 17 acre historically themed property showcased gardening methods, designs, and materials spanning 400 years. There was a Victorian Garden filled with colourful annuals, a Governor's Garden with herbs, fruit trees, and plantings typical of the 1700's, an Acadian dwelling with an adjacent vegetable garden, and a pine forest typical of the wild lands inhabited by the Mi'kmaq. There was also a garden including modern sculptures of colourful porcelain birds!it was a beautiful and peaceful property with huge trees.


The gardens also offer a walk along the Acadian dyke that runs along the Annapolis River. There were a pair Deer grazing in the marsh, and a beautiful Great Blue Heron fishing in the shallows.

We very much enjoyed our day of being tourists, and exploring historical sites. Tomorrow we will hopefully find safe shelter from Hurricane Dorian, and then set our minds towards continuing our hike along the trail.


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