Port Royal, at Annapolis, Nova Scotia

Today, Annapolis Royal is known for its well-preserved historical sites, vibrant cultural scene, and scenic beauty. It continues to celebrate its diverse heritage through museums, historic gardens, and community events.
Annapolis Royal’s history is a testament to its resilience and significance, from its early days as a French settlement to its role in British colonial history and beyond.

Town of Annapolis Royal

Annapolis Royal History

Before European settlement, the area now known as Annapolis Royal was inhabited by the Mi’kmaq people, who called the region “Nme’juaqnek,” meaning “extending out into the water.” The Mi’kmaq had a long-established presence in the area,

Annapolis Royal was settled two years before the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1605, French explorers led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, and Samuel de Champlain established one of the earliest European settlements in North America at Port-Royal, which was intended to be a fur trading post and a foothold for further exploration and colonization. This group of settlers formed The New World’s first social club, “The Order of Good Cheer”. For its entertainment, Marc Lescarbot, a young Parisian lawyer, wrote and produced the first drama in North America, “The Theatre of Neptune.”

In the 1630s the French constructed earthwork defences, known as Port-Royal, which included a living quarters, a storehouse, and a chapel. Despite harsh winters and challenges, the settlement survived and played a crucial role in the fur trade and relations with the Indigenous peoples.

In 1710, during Queen Anne’s War, British forces captured Port-Royal after a siege. The British renamed the settlement Annapolis Royal in honor of Queen Anne. This marked the beginning of British control over the region, which was formally recognized by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

Its enviable location at the sheltered meeting of valley and bay made it a center of commerce and shipping for many years. The town features America’s first water powered grist mill, and America’s first tidal power generating station, and today Annapolis Royal has a Farmers and Traders Market, and a great waterfront with scenic boardwalks, a public wharf, fishing boat haul-up, boat building and maintenance.

Annapolis Royal served as the capital of the new British colony of Nova Scotia until 1749 when the capital was moved to Halifax. During its time as the capital, Annapolis Royal was a strategic military and administrative center, with Fort Anne playing a key role in the defense of the colony.

In the mid-18th century, during the French and Indian War, the British government forcibly removed the Acadian population from Nova Scotia in an event known as the Expulsion of the Acadians (1755-1764). Many Acadians were deported, and their lands were confiscated and redistributed to British settlers.

Following the American Revolution, Loyalists fleeing the newly formed United States settled in Annapolis Royal and the surrounding areas. This influx of settlers contributed to the growth and development of the town.

That name was renamed when the post office opened in 1785, and the ‘Royal’ was formally added in 1903, following local usage. Throughout the 1800s, Annapolis Royal experienced economic growth  with shipbuilding, fishing, and agriculture.

The construction of the Annapolis Royal Generating Station in the 1980s, one of the few tidal power plants in the world, highlighted the town’s continuing importance in innovative energy solutions.

In the 1900s, efforts were made to preserve Annapolis Royal’s historical heritage. Fort Anne became Canada’s first National Historic Site in 1917. The town’s rich history, charming architecture, and beautiful landscapes have made it a popular destination for tourists.

Annapolis Royal - Fort Anne National Historic Site walls and cannon
Annapolis Royal - Fort Anne National Historic Site walls and cannon

Annapolis Royal Attractions

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

441 Saint George St, Annapolis Royal
7902 532-7018
The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens has 17 acres of gardens and displays. Several theme gardens, collections and displays illustrates the history of gardening and horticulture in Nova Scotia. Theme gardens include the: Victorian Garden, Governor’s Garden, Rose Collection (with more than 2000 rose bushes), Innovative Garden, Acadian House (reconstruction of 1671 dwelling) and Garden. The Historic Gardens enjoys a unique setting overlooking the wetlands and meadows of a tidal river valley. Open May 13 to October 9 – Admission fee.

Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Project

236 Prince Albert Rd, Annapolis Royal
(One the causeway 1 km east on Hwy 1)
902 532-5454

Demonstrates the generation of hydro-electric power from the Fundy tides–the only saltwater generating station in North America. Display of tidal-power plant and a scenic view of the tidal flow at the interpretive centre. Open May 15 to October 15,  daily 8 am to 8 pm. No charge. This demoonstration project was cancelled in 2021.

Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum

21 School St, PO Box 925
Middleton, NS, B0S 1P0
902-825-6116 Fax: 902-825-0531

The museum occupies the first consolidated school in Canada. Features include the Nova Scotia Museum’s collection of clocks and watches, a recreated school classroom and general store, a genealogical and historical research library, a temporary exhibit centre, Sports Heritage Wall of Fame, and various other displays. In an attached greenhouse there is an extensive natural history display. In addition, an Art Gallery presents the works of local artists.

Open June 15-September 30, Mon-Sat 9 am-5 pm, Sun 1 pm-5 pm; October 1-June 14: Mon-Fri 10:30 am-5:00 pm, Sat-Sun closed. Hours subject to change, Please phone ahead for research library hours. Admission fee.

Arts Festival 19

396 St. George St., Annapolis Royal

Theme “Cycles”, art exhibits, workshops, readings by famous Canadian authors. A celebration of the arts. Admission Free or by donation. Open year-round


396 St George St, P.O. Box 534
Annapolis Royal, NS, B0S 1A0
902-532-7069 Fax: 902-532-7357

Art gallery is operated by the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council. Exhibitions by local,  regional and visiting artists, a visiting artist studio, workshops and coffee houses make ARTsPLACE a vibrant cultural centre. No charge Open year round, Tues-Fri 10 am-5 pm, Sat-Sun 1-4 pm.

Cornwallis Military Museum

{726 Broadway, Cornwallis Industrial Park, Deep Brook}
mailing address: Box 31, Clementsport, NS B0S 1E0
(902) 638-3118

The museum ensures that the spirit and history of HMCS/CFB Cornwallis lives on after the closure of the base, and providing comradeship among all with links to HMCS/CFB Cornwallis. The interior display has over 1500 artifacts from various wars and peacetime consisting of: many military pictures depicting scenes from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Merchant Navy uniforms, some small arms, badges, equipment, books, flags, etc. The exterior display consists of: two aircraft — a Voodoo and a T-33, two tanks — a Centurion and a Sherman, two 5 1/2 ton propellers from a destroyer, and two granite memorial monuments. Open May, Sat & Sun 10:00 am-4:00 pm, June-August, daily 10:00 am-4:30 pm; September, daily 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Admission fee.

Fort Anne Historical Site

Fort Anne National Historic Site

Upper St George St, Annapolis Royal
(1 block north of junction #1, #8)
902 532-2397

Fort Anne is located in the town of Annapolis Royal on the oldest town street in Canada. The fort is a huge attraction by it’s own right, but be sure to explore the grassy hills and other structures surrounding the grounds. The white building is hard to miss and is worth a closer look. From the grassy hillsides you can get a number of different viewpoints . Fort Anne National Historic Site is of national historic significance because of the site’s role in the early European colonization, settlement and government in Acadie and Nova Scotia in the 17th and 18th centuries;. Open May 15-October 15, daily 9:00 am-6:00 pm. Admission fee.

James House Museum

12 Queen Street
Box 645, Bridgetown, NS B0S 1C0
(902) 665-4530

This 1835 frame house, now a Provincial Heritage Property, was the home of Richard James, a merchant of Bridgetown. The museum features changing exhibits of fine arts and local history. Genealogical information on local families available, including extensive local cemetery records and photographic files. Royal Canadian Legion Branch #33 has exhibits on the Boer War and World  Wars I and II. Open May 6-October 11, Mon-Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm Tea Room Hours, May 6-October 11, Mon-Fri 8:00 am-4:00 pm. Admission free, donations welcome

King’s Theatre

209 St George Street
Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0

Films, live theatre (including annual Summer Festival), concerts and many other community activities. See playbill, available locally, for times and prices. Rates: Admission fee. Open year-round.

North Hills Museum

5065 Granville Road, Granville Ferry
c/o Historic Restoration of Annapolis County,
Box 503, Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0
(902) 532-2168 (during season) 532-7754 (off-season)

The site was an Acadian farm, according to a map of 1710. This modest wood-framed house, overlooking the Annapolis Basin, was built in the second half of the 1700s. It is a lovely setting for antique collector Robert Patterson’s English Georgian fine ceramics and furniture, which he bequeathed to the province. This site helps us understand the development and design of English furniture, ceramics, silver and glass in the 1700s Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Chippendale furnishings, English and Chinese-export ceramics, Sheffield plate, pewter, and English glass. Also on display is an 18th century Acadian wooden aboiteau. Open June 1-October 15, Mon-Sat 9:30 am-5:30 pm, Sun 1:00 pm-5:30 pm. Admission fee.

O’Dell House Museum

136 St. George Street, Annapolis Roya
Box 503, Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0
(902) 532-7754 fax (902) 532-0700

This Victorian stagecoach tavern/inn (1869) has 12 rooms of exhibits including furnished interiors and theme displays on funerals and mourning, shipping and shipbuilding, and clothing from the 1780s to 1940s. Visit the ‘Fairy Sisters’ exhibit, Nova Scotia’s diminutive answers to General Tom Thumb and other midget artistes of the 1870s. Wheelchair-accessible main floor. Open year-round. Hours vary. Free, donations encouraged, some genealogical fees apply.

Old St. Edward’s Anglician Church

34 Old Post Road
Parish of Clements, Box 171, Clementsport, NS B0S 1E0

The primary artifact is Old St. Edward’s Church, situated on a hill overlooking the Annapolis River. Built of local materials in the New England meeting house style with classical detail, the church was consecrated in 1797. Inside are the original pulpit with sounding board and the box pews. Also on display are artifacts of church and community life. Graves of early settlers are nearby in the churchyard. Annual Church service the third Sunday of August. Operated by: Anglican Parish of Clements. Open July & August, Tues-Sun 10:00 am-4:00 pm, subject to change. Admission free

Port Royal Farm And Country Museum

RR 2, Granville Ferry, NS B0S 1K0
Allison or Virginia Hurlburt
(902) 532-5019

In a setting which overlooks the Port Royal Habitation and the Annapolis Basin. Come see the display of farm implements and tools, farm household utensils, and other items covering the period from first land-clearing and settlement to the post-war era of electricity and modern farm operations. Small farm animals and poultry are on display. Scenic walk to a picnic area and look-out. Antiques, collectibles and Mi’kmaq crafts offered for sale. Open May 15-October 15, 9:00 am-dusk. Admission free, donations welcome

Port-Royal National Historic Site

leave Route 1 at Granville Ferry, follow signs, 11.5 km
Box 9, Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0
(902) 532-2898 fax (902) 532-2232

Port-Royal is one of the most historically important sites in North America, and offers a fascinating insight into early European settlement of the New World. A colony and fur-trading post built in 1605 by Sieur de Mons, the Habitation is a reconstruction based on a sketch by Samuel Champlain.
Inside the Habitation costumed interpreters bring to life the daily existence of these early adventurers, including French culture, commerce and colonization, and the experiences of Mi’kmaq and French colonists from 1605-1613. Operated by: Parks Canada. Open May 15-October 15, daily 9:00 am-6:00 pm. Admission fee; school rates.

Sinclair Inn Museum

232 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal
Box 503, Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0
(902) 532-7754 fax (902) 532-0700

This structure, built in 1710, offers fascinating insight into construction techniques spanning nearly three centuries, from the mud-filled walls of the 17th century to the wood-panelling of the 1960s. Wheelchair-accessible main floor. Open June 1 to August 31. Admission fee.

The Design Fort Computer Museum

302 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal
PO Box 340, Annapolis Royal, NS B0S 1A0
(902) 532-2546 fax (902) 532-7635

Computer museum includes interesting system in its collection beginning with an early Commodore PET acquired in 1998 to open “The First Computer Museum Of Nova Scotia”. Open year-round: Summer: daily 9:00 am-9:00 pm, Winter: daily 10:00 am-5:00 pm, No charge Donations welcome

Tupperville School Museum

RR 3 Bridgetown, NS B0S 1C0
(10 miles southeast of Annapolis Royal, and 6 miles west of Bridgetown on Hwy 201)
(902) 665-2579

One room country school is over one hundred years old. Many school artifacts on display including original teachers desk and chair, school bell, old pine desks and photos of past community members. Large collection of pre-1970 school books. Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival last Saturday in July. On site small thatched roof building and Acadian clay oven. Open mid May to Labour Day, daily 10:00 am-6:00 pm. Admission free, donations welcome.

Annapolis Royal Nova Scotia Area Map