I had to post this article as soon as I saw it. Visiting this graveyard was one of the best family experiences we’ve ever had – and it was a great opportunity to explore our own family history.
As a matter of fact, the tour guide, Alan Melanson and I are 7th great grandchildren of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas (Charles was a son of the original Melanson couple – Pierre and Priscilla.)
It’s been a century since Fort Anne became Canada’s first administered national historic site, but much of the history surrounding the once hotly contested grounds in Annapolis Royal, N.S., is still shrouded in mystery.
On Monday, a team of researchers hope to use new technology to unlock some of the old secrets buried within Fort Anne’s Garrison Graveyard, which is one of the oldest English cemeteries in Canada.
“To understand where we’re going, we need to understand where we’ve been,” said Ted Dolan, Parks Canada’s site and visitor experience manager for historic sites in southwestern Nova Scotia.
“Any additional information that we have as to what happened on our landscape in the past is really going to inform us as to who we are and where we come from.”
Dolan describes Fort Anne as “the most fought-over piece of land in Canadian history since European colonization.” Originally fortified by the Scots as early as 1629, the site was later taken over by the French, before it fell to British troops in 1710. It would remain a regular battle scene for another 50 years.
While over 200 British headstones still stand in the Garrison Graveyard, Dolan said researchers believe there could be more than 2,000 people buried at the site whose wooden markers have since decayed over time.
In addition, prior to 1710, Dolan said French soldiers and Acadians from the region were buried at the nearby St. Jean-Baptiste parish, which had a cemetery located close to the fort.
While researchers aren’t completely sure where the French and Acadian cemetery is, he said they have a “pretty good idea. . .”