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Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada

191 Haché Gallant Drive, Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1958/05/27

General view showing the high, picturesque setting of the site with its grassy hills.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
General view
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Other Name(s)

Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada
Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1748/01/01 to 1758/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/02/28

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Skmaqn–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 in a strategic location on a height of land overlooking Charlottetown harbour and several rivers. 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. Official recognition refers to the limits of the property currently owned and administered by Parks Canada.

Heritage Value

Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1958. It is recognized because:

- from 1720 to 1770 it served as the seat of government, first for the French and later for the British, and port of entry for settlers to the island;
- it was a colonial base of importance for France, a location where Mi’kmaq and French leaders renewed their close relationship, a place of conflict in the English-French struggle for dominance in North America, and
- the forcible removal of 3,000 Acadians from the island in 1758 was overseen from Fort Amherst; the removal was the largest and most tragic of all the many Acadian deportations that occurred between 1755 and 1762.

The heritage value of the site resides in its long history related to the struggle for colonial dominance involving the original Mi’kmaq residents of the island, the French, and later the British. It is illustrated by its setting with 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 Île Saint-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.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1958 and December 2008 ; Status of Designation (SDC) Minutes, September 2016 and December 2017 ; Commemorative Integrity Statement, June 1997.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this 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 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 and farm remnants;
- the surviving relics of Acadian agricultural practices and lifestyle;
- the artifacts, from the 1720-1770 period, displayed in the visitor centre; its 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;
- the integrity of any archaeological remains which may be found within the designation, including features and artefacts relating to Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst in their original placement and extent.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

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.

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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