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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Fort La Tour is an open and grassed archaeological site located on Portland Point at the Mouth of the Saint John River within Saint John Harbour on the northern shore, between the Long Wharf and the Harbour Bridge. It presently exhibits no surface historic architectural elements or structural features.
Fort La Tour is designated a Provincial Historic Site for its strategic place at the mouth of the Wolastoq (Saint John River) and its layered human history as indicated by its archaeological resources.
The earliest component consists of a mid-to-late Moorehead tradition cemetery, which is about 4000 years old. The people of the Susquehanna and Maritime Woodland periods, ancestors to today’s Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq and Passamaquoddy peoples, made use of the Menaqesk (Saint John) area from about 4000 to 400 years ago. Subsequently, although the area was used primarily by the Wolastoqiyik, as an important ceremonial, gathering and trading area, Mi’kmaq and Passamaquoddy would also have used the site. The site has been associated with a traditional First Nations portage route around the Reversing Falls that includes the Bentley Street Provincial Historic Site.
Because of its strategic location and its use by First Nations, Portland Point was selected in 1631 by Charles de Sainte-Etienne de La Tour, Governor of Acadia, for his fortified trading post. With this strategically located post, La Tour controlled the largest and the richest river in Acadia, establishing one of the earliest centres of French fur trade with the Aboriginal peoples of the region. Its location at the mouth of the Saint John River virtually guaranteed control of access and traffic to the interior of what had become New France. Today, the remains of the fort are located under the "Green Mound," a small grassy knoll at this site.
The site became LaTour’s base of operations against rival Governor Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, with bases at Port Royal and Pentagoet. With increased tensions arising from competition over controlling the lucrative fur trade and the administration of Acadia, matters escalated into an open 10-year civil war between the two antagonists. In 1645, during his absence, La Tour’s second wife, Françoise-Marie Jacquelin lead the small garrison in a valiant but unsuccessful defence of the fortified post against the superior force of Governor Charles de Menou d’Aulnay. Madame La Tour died shortly after. After the death of d’Aulnay in 1650, La Tour took for his third wife the widow of d’Aulnay, thereby cementing their fortunes and the interests of Acadia.
In the 1760s, Pre-Loyalist English-speaking settlers from New England began to trickle into the future colony of New Brunswick. Often referred to as Planters, this group included three young partners who set up a trading post on the ruins of Fort La Tour. Simonds, Hazen and White brought their families to settle around their new trading post, and, soon after, the community of Portland Point became a centre of commercial activity. Portland Point and other Planter communities are credited with giving the ill-prepared Loyalists of the 1780s a foothold by supplying necessities in what was, in the settler’s eyes, predominately a wilderness.
Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Heritage Branch, Site File # 28.
The character-defining elements that describe the Fort La Tour include:
- location in the harbour;
- viewscapes of the bay, harbour, river and the Bentley Street area;
- the ‘Green Mound’;
- trading posts constructed on the ‘Green Mound’;
- cultural associations of the site with several groups and associated elements of sacredness;
- archaeological evidence of the Aboriginal burials, of Fort La Tour and of the later post of Simonds, Hazen and White;
- potential undisturbed pockets of archaeological resources.
Province of New Brunswick
Historic Sites Protection Act, s. 2(2)
Historic Sites Protection Act – Protected
1631/01/01 to 1631/01/01
1760/01/01 to 1760/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Tourist Facility
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Aboriginal Sacred Site
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Trading Post
- Military Defence Installation
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport. Heritage Branch.
File number 28
Cross-Reference to Collection