Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada
Links and documents
1748/01/01 to 1758/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada is a remnant 18th-century fort built by the French and later occupied by the British. Situated on the west side of the channel entrance to Charlottetown harbour, it is a landscape of gently rolling hills with remnants of a fort earthworks, of an early settler’s house, of at least three other French / Acadian farms, and of the French garrison, as well as 19th- and 20th-century facilities.
Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst was designated a national historic site of Canada, in 1967, because:
- from 1720 to 1770 it served as the seat of government and port of entry for settlers to the island [Ile-St-Jean/ Prince Edward Island]; and
- it played an important role as a colonial outpost in the French-British struggle for dominance in North America.
The heritage value of the site resides in its historical associations as illustrated by the site, setting and remnants of the fort and evidence of French and British military occupancy as well as early Acadian settlement. Port-la-Joye was established as headquarters for the French protection, trade and administration of Ile-St.-Jean in 1720. Despite being abandoned and captured by the British several times between 1720 and 1758, Acadians established farms in the surrounding area, and the French built a Vauban-style star-shaped fort in 1748-1758. A former farm belonging to Michel Haché-Gallant is still visible. After the British added a rectangular earthwork in front of the fort and called it Fort Amherst, it remained the major administrative centre for Prince Edward Island until 1770.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1958; Commemorative Integrity Statement, June 1997.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- the location of the site at the entrance to Charlottetown harbour;
- the high, picturesque setting of the site with its grassy hills;
- the evidence of British and French military as well as Acadian occupation, and remnants of 1720-1770 occupation of the site, including the earthwork of the British bastion and remains of Fort Amherst, Port-la-Joye, the Haché-Gallant residence and three Acadian farms;
- the pentathalon-shaped footprint of the French fort, the rectangular footprint and physical profile of the British bastion, their relative proportions, positions and spatial relationships;
- the dimensions, materials and construction techniques of these two military remnants;
- the relative position of military remnants to the Haché-Gallant residence and three Acadian farms on the west side of site across the creek;
- the relationship of the settlements to one another and to water transportation;
- the dimensions, materials and construction techniques of Acadian settlement / farm remnants;
- the surviving relics of Acadian agricultural practices and lifestyle;
- the artifacts, from the 1720-1770 period, displayed in the visitor centre;
- its panoramic viewscape of Charlottetown harbour;
- the viewscapes between the fort location and the settlements;
- the viewscapes from the Acadian settlements to the water;
- the visibility status of the fort site from both land and water.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1720/01/01 to 1770/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Military Defence Installation
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection
The archaeological artifacts (collection) from Port-la-Joye – Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada belonging to Parks Canada are housed in the Archaeology Lab - Brunswick Place (formerly The Trade Mart Building), Suite 314, 2021 Brunswick Street, Halifax, NS.