Port-Royal snub and what CBC left out

Samuel de Champlain re-enactor Wayne Melanson spoke last year about the early days of French settlement at Port Royal when Parks Canada celebrated the 75th anniversary of the reconstruction of Samuel de Champlain’s Habitation. The original was built in 1605.
Lawrence Powell

 

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. - The first episode of a TV mini-series proclaiming it will tell Canadians their story drew ire from many, including the residents of a little town near the site of the first European settlement on Canada's mainland.

A day after the March 26 debut of Canada: The Story of Us, Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald took to Facebook to question why the story left out Samuel de Champlain's first settlement at Port-Royal. 

The mini-series wipes out three years of history, the multicultural origins of modern Canada, and his town’s designation as the Cradle of Canada,  MacDonald told TC Media. 

Others took to social media to protest short shrift to First Nations, Acadian and Norse explorers, among other complaints. 

[Annapolis Royal mayor upset CBC docu-drama rewrites history]

CBC replied that there was a reason Port-Royal was not part of the show. 

“While some historians have referred to Port-Royal as a permanent settlement, the producers and historians of this series chose to define permanence as demonstrated by Quebec City's continuous population year-round and their ability to endure the harsh winters from 1608 onward, while the previous attempt at Port-Royal was cut short in 1607,” said CBC spokesperson Emma Bédard in a message to TC Media.

CBC’s FAQ outlines why stories were chosen for the series, noting: "Canada: The Story of Us is not intended to be a comprehensive history of Canada."

['Make the story right': CBC explanation for mini-series slight not enough for Annapolis Royal mayor]

Here's the Facebook post that launched a controversy: 

By the end of the week, the area’s member of Parliament, Colin Fraser, and Nova Scotia’s Premier Stephen McNeil - the MLA for the area - had also weighed in on Port-Royal’s legacy, as well as the omission of the Acadians and Mi’kmaq. 

“I am fully supportive of Mayor MacDonald on this and will be signing a joint letter to the CBC expressing our dissatisfaction on this issue,” Fraser told TC Media. “It is very concerning that not only was the history of Samuel de Champlain at Port-Royal omitted, but apparently so, too, was the entirety of the Acadian experience.” 

The Habitation at Port-Royal reconstruction is 76 years old. The original was constructed in 1605. But a CBC mini series claims Quebec in 1608 is the first permanent European settlement in what is now Canada.
Lawrence Powell

“The nation of Canada was founded in 1605 in Port-Royal when Membertou greeted the first European settlers here in peace and friendship,” McNeil said in a March 29 interview. “And the values Canadians represent, and that are spread across Canada, started with that gentle reception by Membertou.”

[CBC’s Port-Royal snub headed to House of Commons, Nova Scotia's premier wants omission fixed]

TC Media’s Facebook pages lit up with comments. Read some of the reaction here: What You Said: Readers step up with their thoughts on Port-Royal and CBC

Twitter users also voiced concern about what the episode left out:

The series’ second episode airs April 2. What story will it tell?