Big Year: Annapolis Royal's Fort Anne to host summer full of anniversary events

Published on February 6, 2017

Annapolis Royal Mayor William MacDonald, Town Crier Peter Davies, West Nova MP Colin Fraser, and Parks Canada’s Lillian Stewart use a sword to cut the cake at Fort Anne Jan. 27 as the fort celebrated its 100th anniversary as a national historic site – the first one in Canada.

©Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - From new exhibits at the Officers’ Quarters to cricket matches, a massed band concert, and encampment days, Fort Anne will be the centre of a lot of attention in 2017.

While the fort has been in existence in one form or another for almost 400 years, 2017 marks its 100th anniversary as Canada’s oldest administered national historic site. Jan. 24 marked that birthday and the public had a chance to tour the fort’s newly renovated Officers’ Quarters and catch a glimpse of what the new exhibits will look like come spring.

Parks Canada’s Lillian Stewart, National Historic Site and Visitor Experience manager of the national historic sites in Southwest Nova Scotia hosted the tour on Jan. 27 with help from long-time interpreter Wayne Melanson who also passed out free Parks Canada passes and information on the department’s year-long celebration across the country. Also on hand was Annapolis Royal Mayor William MacDonald and town councilors who had earlier re-enacted a town council meeting from Jan. 24. 1917.

I am so proud to celebrate this place and especially the citizens of the Town of Annapolis Royal who successfully petitioned the Government of Canada to have the site preserved for future generations. West Nova MP Colin Fraser

Even Catherine McKenna, minister responsible for Parks Canada, brought greetings through West Nova MP Colin Fraser who spoke to a very packed room.

“We’re here today not only because we understand the importance of today’s event locally, but also its subsequent national impact,” said Fraser. “Canada’s history is endlessly fascinating. And today, we celebrate an important milestone in that history. A century ago today. Canada designated Fort Anne as a ‘National Historic Park.’ This step marked the beginning of Canada’s system of national historic sites.”

Annapolis Royal Town Crier Peter Davies held the door for guests at Fort Anne’s Officers’ Quarters Jan. 27 as Parks Canada offered a sneak peak at the new exhibits that should be in place for an official opening in late June.

©Lawrence Powell

Parks Today

Fraser said that today there are more than 900 historic places in Canada – from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia and in the north.

“Each national historic site reflects the rich and varied heritage of our nation and commemorates defining moments of our history,” he said. “They provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history. They represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell the stories of who we are, including the history, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous Peoples.”

He said Nova Scotia is rich with these important places – from the Fortress of Louisbourg and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Cape Breton to the Halifax Citadel in Halifax to Fort Anne and Port-Royal – his favourites.

“But of course, Fort Anne is exceptionally important. The recognition of Fort Anne as a ‘historic park’ initiated a new national movement of preservation,” Fraser said. “I am so proud to celebrate this place and especially the citizens of the Town of Annapolis Royal who successfully petitioned the Government of Canada to have the site preserved for future generations.”

He said 2017 is special also because it is the 150th anniversary of Confederation – and the government is offering free admission to national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites operated by Parks Canada.

Annapolis Royal’s Fort Anne was refurbished outside and in over the past year, in time for its 100th anniversary as the country’s first national historic site.

©Lawrence Powell

Summer Events

Numerous events have been planned for Fort Anne this summer. Following are some of those events.


-- First Fridays – June 2, July 7, Aug. 4, Sept. 1 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. As part of Annapolis Royal’s ‘First Fridays’ enjoy musical entertainment on the grounds.

-- Official Openings of New Exhibits – June 22 at 11 a.m. The official opening of the new interpretive exhibits in the Officers’ Quarters museum. Date subject to change.

-- Canada Day – July 1 from 12 to 3 p.m. Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Starts at Town Hall and proceeds to Fort Anne.

-- Parks Day Weekend – July 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interpretive programming at Fort Anne. Play croquet on the parade square. Take part in a guided grounds tour ande a ‘white glove tour’ of the museum.

-- Massed Band Concert – July 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. As part of Annapolis Royal’s Band Fest, enjoy an afternoon of fine music on the grounds of Fort Anne. Bring a chair or blanket, pack a picnic lunch, and savour the music.

-- Victorian Cricket Matches – July 29 and July 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. Fort Anne hosts the fifth annual Cricket Tournament. The matches, complete with a traditional players’ tea break, will be contested wearing uniforms of the 1980s.

-- Encampment Days – Aug. 4 to Aug. 6. From the evening of Aug. 4 to noon on Aug. 6 stroll the grounds and the encampment of the 84th Regiment of Foot 2nd Battalion (Royal Highland Emigrants). Sights, sounds, and smells from 18th century military camp.

Hands Around the Fort – Aug. 5 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Take part in a spectacular aerial photograph with as many as 500 participants creating a human link on the pathway surrounding Fort Anne. A drone will capture the moment. Everyone welcome. Sunset ceremony by 84th of Foot to follow weather permitting.

-- International Town Criers’ Competition – Sept. 15 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Take in the pageantry of the elegantly attired town criers and their escorts. Listen to each competitor execute their finely crafted ‘cry.’ Mix and mingle with international guests.