Description of Historic Place
Port Toulouse Archaeological Site, Borden Number BjCf-03 was archaeologically surveyed in 1985, and is situated mostly within the boundaries of Battery Provincial Park, near St. Peter's in southwestern Cape Breton. Port Toulouse village consisted of a string of buildings along the shore of St. Peter's Bay, and was created in 1716 by settlers from other Acadian areas that had been transferred to British authority by the Treaty Utrecht. The recognized archaeological site occupies seven hectares of an 800 meter deep stretch of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Bras D'Or Lakes, in Southwestern Cape Breton. The property consists of the archaeological remains registered under Borden number BjCf-03.
Port Toulouse is valued as part of a truly impressive concentration of historical remains in the St. Peter's Portage/Canal area. Taken together with the conglomeration of 17th century French fort and habitation of Saint Pierre immediately west of the park, Port Toulouse forms part of a truly impressive concentration of historical remains in the area.
Port Toulouse was founded in 1716 by Acadian settlers who relocated to Isle Royale, rather than come under British authority after Acadian areas in mainland Nova Scotia had been ceded by France under the Treaty of Utrecht.
Port Toulouse, which was built close to the location of Nicolas Denys's 17th century community, lasted as a French settlement for approximately 50 years. It soon became a major supply centre for Louisbourg, 120 km to the north. Despite attack and destruction by the British in 1745, the settlers returned and Port Toulouse remained French until again set on fire and destroyed by another British force in November 1758. In 1768, the village was renamed St. Peter's and French settlement was abandoned.
The architectural remains of French settlement, which was intertwined with military occupation of nearby Fort Toulouse, differ in many aspects from those at the more famous site of Louisbourg. Although the village site has been partially disturbed by subsequent cultivation and to some extent by the later British period Kavanagh settlement, the site appears less affected by erosion than the fort. Excavation of one or more Port Toulouse structures would contribute to our knowledge of relatively simple village, and frontiere-style military structures. Port Toulouse is valued for its potential to extend our knowledge of Acadian adaptation during the final 40 years of French domination in maritime Canada.
Source: Archaeological Investigations in Battery Provincial Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 1985, Walla00002, Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, Staff Archaeologist, Parks Canada, Atlantic Region; Preliminary Report The Port Tolouse and Sand Hills Sites, Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, Staff Archaeologist, Environment Canada - Parks, Atlantic Region Office, Halifax.
The heritage value of the Port Toulouse Archaeological Site resides in the following character-defining elements:
- the site in the context of the large concentration of 17th and 18th century French forts and habitation remains in the area;
- those elements shown by archaeological exploration to be related to Port Toulouse village;
- those elements shown by archaeological exploration to be related to Fort Toulouse military activities;
- archaeological evidence embedded in the site of post-Treaty of Utrecht Acadian adaptation to shifting French/British dominance in the region;
- those artifacts which are in storage; and
- any other yet-to-be identified features and artifacts related to the concentration of French period occupation in the St. Peter's area.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6
Cross-Reference to Collection
Collections Unit, Nova Scotia Museum, Summer Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia