Mersey Heritage Society Holds Second Annual Field Trip with NSAS

November 4, 2000

For the second year in a row, the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society and the Mersey Heritage Society have hosted a tour of archaeological sites in Queens County. The group of 25 society members and other interested individuals spent November 4, 2000 visiting sites in Brooklyn and Port Mouton.

This year, the sites highlighted Queens County's connections with Acadian history, and with the American Revolutionary War period. These connections include names such as Nicolas Denys , Samuel de Champlain and Banastre Tarleton's British Legion.

"People continue to be surprised, not only by the length of recorded European history in Queens County, but also by the importance of the sites," said Mersey Heritage Society president Craig Chandler.

The first stop was the suspected site of Nicolas Denys' first sedentary fishing post. Denys, who went on to become a major figure in Acadian settlement and trade, established a fishery at Port Rossignol (now Liverpool Bay) in 1633.

Archaeologists Mike Sanders and Rob Ferguson commented on site features such as the pebble beach and natural breakwater, and how the establishment might have been laid out along the shore. Local resident and historian Lanny DeLong added local stories that suggests New England settlers in 1762 found stone foundations in the area.

At right, Craig Chandler reads Simeon Perkins' version of the 1778 wreck of the Duc de Choiseul story at Brooklyn.

With a panoramic view of the story's setting, Liverpool Bay, the group heard Simeon Perkins' account of the tale of the ship Duc de Choiseul . Perkins, the noted Liverpool politician and diarist, wascaught up in the events that followed, including the arrival of American Privateers to "reclaim" their goods.

One morning in April 1778, HMS Blonde chased the 24-gun French frigate into Liverpool Bay where it ran on the rocks and was wrecked. The French ship was carrying supplies - and mysterious guests - to the rebellious American colonies.

After lunch, the tour moved to Port Mouton, and the site of the original " Guysboro Township ", where the remnants of the famous Tarleton's Legion landed in October 1783. After fighting the rebel "patriots" for more than five years, and at one point almost capturing Thomas Jefferson, the Legionnaires were part of a group of Loyalists that arrived on the shores of Nova Scotia to face more hardships.

The Town Plot itself was obliterated by a fire that swept through the town in 1784, destroying almost all of the buildings. Today, surface features such as cellars and rock walls are still visible throughout the woods. A small overgrown cemetery is a pitiful reminder of the hardships these largely forgotten heroes faced in those first years after the war.

Right: A stone wall in the woods at Port Mouton is likely 218 years old.

The final stop was the earliest site on the tour, where DeMonts and Champlain established a camp at Southwest Port Mouton in 1604. Looking across a sheltered cove toward Bull Point, Queens County Museum interpreter Kathleen Stitt told the story of the explorers' travels along the coast, and their four-week stay in the area before moving to St. Croix Island for their ill-fated wintering. Champlain's own map, though poorly proportioned, shows the location of their huts, and other features of the bay.

To further its goal of uncovering new information about the history of the county, the Mersey Heritage Society hopes to construct test pits at one of the sites next year. Find out more about these sites, and the Mersey Heritage Society, by exploring this site.

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