1606 Building a Farming Community

Poutrincourt returned to Port Royal in July 1606 with 50 men (including his son Biencourt, Louis Hebert, and Marc Lescarbot) and supplies. He found that all but 2 men had left for Canso, where the fishing was good. They men were called back and attempts at farming were begun. They built a lime kiln and set up a forge. Paths were cut from the settlement to the valley and fields. Tradesmen would work at their trade for part of the day, and spend the rest hunting, fishing, and collecting shellfish. [Clark, p. 79]
Poutrincourt and Champlain visited the north side of the Basin of Minas that year. They found a cross … old, rotten, and covered in moss. Christians had been here at some time in the past … perhaps itinerant fisherman or another explorer. [Herbin, p. 22]
Our best record of those days can be found in Marc Lescarbot’s History of New France, where he tells of “the pleasure which I took in digging and tilling my gardens, fencing them in against the gluttony of the swine, making terraces, preparing straight alleys, building store-houses, sowing wheat, rye, barley, oats, beans, peas, garden plants, and watering them, so great a desire had I to know the soil by personal experience.” The rye, he tells, grew “as tall as the tallest man.” Seeds were planted in March/April to see how early they’d “take.” Hogs and sheep were brought to Acadia the year before (1605). Lescarbot tells how the hogs multiplied quickly and how they liked to lay abroad, even in the snow. There weren’t many sheep (he says he had one). They also had hens and pigeons, though they didn’t reproduce well. The ships brought the gray rat to Acadia with them. A water-powered gristmill was constructed to grind the grain. There’s mention of an axe, hoe, and spade, but not a plow.

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