AskDefine | Define habitation

Dictionary Definition



1 the native habitat or home of an animal or plant
2 housing that someone is living in; "he built a modest dwelling near the pond"; "they raise money to provide homes for the homeless" [syn: dwelling, home, domicile, abode, dwelling house]
3 the act of dwelling in or living permanently in a place (said of both animals and men); "he studied the creation and inhabitation and demise of the colony" [syn: inhabitancy, inhabitation]

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  • /ˌhæb.ɪˈteɪ.ʃən/, /%h

Extensive Definition

The Habitation at Port-Royal was an early French colonial settlement and is presently a National Historic Site located at Port Royal in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

The settlement

Port Royal was founded after the French nobleman Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) spent a disastrous winter in Île-Saint-Croix. He was accompanied by Sieur de Champlain, Louis Hébert and Sieur de Poutrincourt. The latter asked the king of France to become the owner of the Seigneurie which encompassed the Habitation. They decided to move their settlement to the north shore of present-day Annapolis Basin, a sheltered bay on the south shore of the Bay of Fundy which had been recorded by Champlain earlier in the spring of 1605 during a coastal reconnaissance. Champlain would note in his journals, that the bay was of impressive size; he believed it an adequate anchorage for several hundred ships of the French Royal Fleet, if ever necessary. As such, he would name the basin "Port-Royal", the Royal Port; this was, for many years, the name of both the body of water, and the subsequent French and Acadian settlements in that region.
Nestled against the North Mountain range, they set about constructing a log stockade fortification called a "Habitation." With assistance from members of the Mi'kmaq Nation and a local chief named Membertou, coupled with the more temperate climate of the fertile Annapolis Valley, the settlement prospered.
Mindful of the disastrous winter of 1604-1605 at the Île-Saint-Croix settlement, Champlain established l'Ordre de Bon Temps (the Order of Good Cheer) as a social club ostensibly to promote better nutrition and to get settlers through the winter of 1606-1607. Supper every few days became a feast with a festive air supplemented by performances and alcohol and was primarily attended by the prominent men of the colony and their Mi'kmaq neighbours while the Mi'kmaq women, children, and poorer settlers looked on and were offered scraps. Marc Lescarbot's "The Theatre of Neptune in New France", the first work of theater written and performed in North America, was performed on November 14th, 1606. It was arguably the catalyst for the Order of Good Cheer.
Unfortunately in 1607, Dugua had his fur trade monopoly revoked by the Government of France, forcing settlers to return to France that fall. The Habitation was left in the care of Membertou and the local Mi'kmaq until 1610 when Sieur de Poutrincourt, another French nobleman, returned with a small expedition to Port-Royal. Poutrincourt converted Membertou and local Mi'kmaq to Catholicism, hoping to gain financial assistance from the government. As a result, Jesuits became financial partners with Poutrincourt, although this caused division within the community.
In May, 1613 the Jesuits moved on to the Penobscot River valley and in July, the settlement was attacked by Samuel Argall of Virginia. Argall returned in November that same year and burned the Habitation to the ground while settlers were away nearby. Poutrincourt returned from France in spring 1614 to find Port-Royal in ruins and settlers living with the Mi'kmaq. Poutrincourt then gave his holdings to his son and returned to France. Poutrincourt's son bequeathed the settlement to Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour upon his own death in 1623.

Replica construction

In the 1900s, chiefly under the leadership of Harriet Taber Richardson, native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and summer resident of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotian preservationists and historians began lobbying the Government of ]. The government agreed after much persuasion and a replica was built in 1939-1940. Today, this replica serves as the cornerstone of Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, and coupled with the nearby Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada in Annapolis Royal, continues to commemorate this important historic region for Canadians and visitors.
habitation in French: Habitation de Port-Royal
habitation in Simple English: Habitation at Port-Royal

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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