The Fort Anne National Historic Site in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
In 1985 it was suggested to do a heritage tapestry as a Centennial Project for the Parks. Plans were started but it was not until 1988 that they were ready to start putting those plans into motion.
First thing was to come up with a design, something that would cover the 400 years of history here. They put on a National competition, and the winner was Kiyoko Grenier from Shelburne County. Kiyoko studied tons historical data including many pictures. She then came up with a design that would fit on four panels, one for every century of our history. The design covered everything from the building of the Habitation, the Order of Good Cheer, building dykes, expulsion of the Acadians, battles at Fort Anne plus events concerning the town of Annapolis Royal itself.
Next the design had to be painted onto 12 pieces of canvas that would fit together to form the four panels. A needlepoint expert was brought in to match the colours of paint with wool charts and calculate how much would be needed. After the wool arrived volunteers sorted it and divided it up for each panel, labeling it all.
Finally on January 24, 1991, six years after the first suggestion was made, stitching began. Over a hundred volunteers did the cross-stitching that took four years to complete. Everyone got involved, even Queen Elizabeth II stitched a couple of squares on her visit to Halifax. The native scenes were sent to the local Micmac who incorporated birch bark, porcupine quills and moose hair into their work. Fred Longtin, a local shoemaker created tiny little boots, belts and harnesses which were added to the tapestry.
Then after four years, 20,000 hours of stitching, and over 3 million stitches the tapestry was finished. The finished size is 5.5 meters (18 feet) long and 2.5 meters (8 feet) wide. The town showed up to have the first glance of the finished product on July 1, 1995 during the Canada Day Celebrations. This wonderful Heritage Tapestry now makes it's home in the Fort Anne for everyone to view.
While you are here make sure you take a stroll around the Garrison Graveyard. This is the oldest graveyard known in Canada, with the earliest tombstone dated 1720. This was first started as the burial site for the French soldiers at the fort. It was also used by the Acadians and later by the British military and St. Lukes Church.
You can take a walk around it yourself looking at the different tombstones. I recommend the best way to get the most out of the information here is to participate in one of the Candlelight Graveyard Tours. These are held three evenings a week during the summer and start at the Fort Anne. You will be lead through the graveyard by a guide, dressed in black and with only the light of the lanterns. Be prepared to learn much about the people who served both at the fort or lived in the town. You will also be shown different tombstones and explained how the artwork and verses have changed over the years. I fully recommend this tour as it is very well done.
Well that was a little look at the Fort Anne National Historic Site in Annapolis Royal. There is so much more to see here than what I have gone over. For more information you may go to their website: Fort Anne National Historic Site. Or better yet, plan to visit this wonderful site during your visit to Annapolis Royal and the Annapolis Valley. I recommend you give yourself lots of time to take in all the information and history that is there.
The fort Anne National Historic Site is open daily from May 15 until October 15. From October until May they are open weekdays by appointment or chance. There is a small admission to visit the museum building.
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October 29, 1926 - Weather today - brilliant sunshine, rain, a flurry of snow, heavy wind, and at 11 in the morning a hailstorm, accompanied by lightening and several crashes of thunder! This is definitely a full day of weather.
“The Four Daughters” is a cute story about how one man managed to bring up his daughters alone. It takes place back in the time of the stage coaches and shows how inventive our valley residents can be.