Annapolis Royal is a small town located in the western part of Annapolis County, and was known as Port Royal until the Conquest of Acadia in 1710 by Britain.
The town was the capital of Acadia and later Nova Scotia for almost 150
years, until the founding of Halifax in 1749. It was attacked by the British six
times before permanently changing hands after the Conquest of Acadia in 1710.
Over the next fifty years, the French and their allies made six unsuccessful
military attempts to regain the capital. Including a raid during the American
Revolution, Annapolis Royal faced a total of thirteen attacks, more than any
other place in North America.
As the site of several pivotal events during the early years of the colonisation of Canada, the historic core of Annapolis Royal was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1994.
Annapolis Royal is situated at the western end of the fertile Annapolis Valley, nestled between the North and South mountains which define the valley. The town is on south bank of the Annapolis River facing the heavily tidal Annapolis Basin. The riverside forms the waterfront for this historic town. Directly opposite Annapolis Royal on the northern bank of the river is the community of Granville Ferry. Allains Creek joins the Annapolis River at the town, defining the western side of the community. The Bay of Fundy is just over the North Mountain, 10 kilometers north of the town.
Tourism is a significant part of the economy of Annapolis Royal. Fort Anne,
contained within the boundaries of the town, was initially designated a National
Historic Park in 1917 and then a National Historic Site in 1920. The French fort
was renamed Fort Anne and established as a British garrison. The fort, built
originally around 1703, was designed to defend the capital of Acadia/ Nova
Scotia from seaward attack. Today, much of the original earthen embankments are
may be visited, as well as some buildings original to the military facility and
the Garrison Cemetery. This is the oldest formal cemetery in Canada, dating back
to the French and later the British. The oldest English gravestone in Canada is
among the graves, that of Bathiah Douglas who was buried in 1720. (Rose Fortune,
a Black Loyalist and the first female police officer in what is now Canada is
In addition to the town's historic district and Fort Anne, the Annapolis County Court House, the site of Charles Fort, and the Sinclair Inn/Farmer's Hotel are also each individually designated as National Historic Sites.
The trains of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, running from Halifax to Yarmouth, were suddenly shut down in 1990 and the track removed, bringing much industrial commerce within the confines of Nova Scotia's smallest town to a halt. Today, after many years of neglect, the old brick railway station has been privately renovated into professional office space.
The fleet of scallop boats using the Annapolis Basin as a base continue to generate millions of dollars of economic activity each year, and support many businesses in the Annapolis Royal area. The "haul-up" beside the Government Wharf (recently divested by the federal government to the local citizenry) continues to overhaul and refurbish many scallop boats every year.
The town also contains the largest registered Historic District in Canada, as well as a waterfront boardwalk, a variety of unique shops, and a picturesque landscape. Visitors can enjoy a fine selection of inns, bed-&-breakfast, and hotel accommodations, as well as the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens (established in 1986), many shops and galleries, including Westside Studio, the Lucky Rabbit Pottery, and Catfish Moon. There is a very lively Annapolis Region Community Arts Council gallery at ArtSpace, and King's Theatre offers both live and motion-picture entertainment regularly. Every Saturday morning there is a Farmers Market (summers at the Market Square), off-season at the Historic Gardens. Visit the Town website at www.annapolisroyal.com for a full listing.
The town also offers various historical walking-tours. During the summer, late night, guided candlelight Garrison Cemetery tours are available and very popular. An added benefit is the scenery of the surrounding countryside, much of which is agricultural. The mild climate and scenic location make this a favourable destination in all seasons. Nova Scotia's largest amusement park, Upper Clements Park and Adventure Park, is west of the town in nearby Upper Clements.
The town, along with most of Annapolis and Digby counties, experienced a severe economic decline during the mid-1990s after a nearby military training base, CFB Cornwallis, was closed as a result of federal government budget cuts. The former base located on the shores of the Annapolis Basin was formerly the site of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, but this too was closed by the federal government after a decade of successful operation with international participants from over 130 countries. It is now the home of the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre and an industrial park for small businesses. The HMCS Acadia sea-cadets camp is held there every summer.
The Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia served as the cradle for both French and English language theatre in Canada. Théâtre de Neptune was the first European theatre production in North America. The tradition of English theatre in Canada, also started at Annapolis Royal. The tradition at Fort Anne, Nova Scotia, was to produce a play in honour of the Prince of Wales's birthday. Prior to Paul Mascarene's productions, the Boston Gazette (4–11 June 1733) reported that George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer was produced on Saturday, 20 January 1733 by the officers of the garrison to mark the Prince's birthday. Paul Mascarene translated Molière's La Misanthrope and then staged at least two productions of the work during the winter of 1743-1744. The second performance on 20 January 1744 had also coincided with celebrations in the colony to mark the birthday of Frederick, Prince of Wales. The text of the first three acts is contained in the Mascarene papers, British Library. And four years after the Mascarene production, on 20 January 1748, Major Phillips and Captain Floyer also produced a play in honour of the Prince's birthday. Unfortunately, the Boston News Letter (3 March 1748) fails to indicate the title of the play. It does reveal, however, that the same play was staged a second time on 2 February 1748, at the request of Captain Winslow, after the colony received the news of Admiral Edward Hawke's success Second Battle of Cape Finisterre (1747), in October 1747.
- Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet, of Kars was born at Annapolis Royal. - The most distinguished native of Annapolis Royal living in the nineteenth century was the Hon Sir William Williams, Bart, known from his distinguished services in the Crimean war as the "hero of Kars. '
- Noel Doiron was born at Port Royal.
- Rose Fortune - considered first black woman police officer in Canada
- Daurene Lewis - first black woman mayor in Canada; recipient of Order of Canada
- Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna
- John Bradstreet - British officer fought in King Georges War and Seven Years' War
- William Johnstone Ritchie