Granville Ferry Things to Do
Were the visitor not given very comprehensive details on various noticeboards then he or she might think that they were just waking along a fairly short and pretty path in the Nova Scotian countryide with lovely views over the Annapolis river that indeed would merit a visit by themselves. What the Melanson settlement actually reperesents, though, is a very important piece of Acadian / Nova Scotian history and an archaeological site of considerable importance albeit that it has not yet been fully excavated.
To start at the beginning, which is usually helpful, we have a man called Charles Melanson dit La Ramée, son of a French Hugenot father and English mother who was born in England. About 1644 he married Marie Dugas who was French Acadian and they began a settlement on the site. Melanson died in 1700 but not before fathering 14 chidren, many of whom stayed on in the settlement. There were some other families there although the community never exceeded more than about one dozen households. All this came to an end in December 1755 when the British expelled all the Acadian French from Nova Scotia in the "Great Deportation".
There are a number of things that make this site very interesting Firstly, it survived on a system of dyke agriculture, common in coastal France at the time and brought to North America by a man named d'Aulnay by which previously unworkable land was rendered productive by a clever system of dykes and sluices. The attached website gives an excellent explanation should you be interested. The area around the Annapolis river is the only place in North America where this was practiced at the time.
From the historians point of view the site is of huge value due to the amount of contemporary documentation pertaining to it. This was brought about by it's proximity to Annapolis Royal which was the administrative centre of the region. Becuase of this, the historians and archaeologists have been able to piece together a detailed picture of what pre-expulsion Acadian life was like. Whilst it may sound fairly spartan on the face of it, artefacts from as far away as China have been found here indicating a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. This relative affluence reflects the importance of the Melansons as one of the premier families in Acadian society.
After the deportation the place was left uninhabited for some years and one English military officer remarked on the trees over-laden with unpicked fruit on one occasion. Eventually New England settlers came and re-comenced work on the dyke agriculture but they did not build on the previous site instead preferring to build along a road slightly uphill which has left the original relativey undisturbed. Some Acadians eventully returned but not many.
Whilst is may lack physical structures above ground, it certainly does not lack historical value and is worth a look. It only takes a short while to walk the trail whch appears to be wheelchair accessible. Admission is free and the trail is always open although the toilets onsite are only open May 19 – October 13 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
I have created a tip on my Nova Scotia page about the odd practice of closing all provincially administered sites on Sunday and Monday (even in high season) and so we were very lucky that we were able to gain admission to the North Hills Museum in Granville Ferry on a Sunday in late June 2014. This was due to it being a special anniversary and was a one-off event but I am glad it happened as it is well worth seeing.
As the title of the tip suggests, this Museum really is a small time capsule in an old typically constructed Nova Scotian wooden farmhouse that was built i 1760. It is not however, the original artefacts of the house that make it what it is but rather the private collection of an avid antiques buff called Robert Patterson who acquired the place in the 1960's. By profession he had been a banker but had always had an interest in antiques an on his retirement he opened an antique shop in Toronto specialising in English items, specifically English Gergian furniture, ceramics, silver and glass and what you see here today is one of the finest collections in Canada. I hope the images do it justice.
The Museum is open From June 1 to October 15: Monday to Saturday – 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and
Sunday – 1 pm to 5:30 pm. A member of staff is available to give a guided tour if desired. Admission is by donation. Regrettably, due to the nature of the property it is not wheelchair accessible.
If you are in the Granville Ferry / Annapolis Royal area it really is well worth a visit and it is on the same road as the Port Royal and Melanson Settlement sites so you can easily combine all three.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
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