After the death of his Mi’kmaq wife, Charles de La Tour married Francoise Marie Jacquelin, an industrious and capable French actress, who often stepped into her husband’s role for business. This included stepping in to defend Fort La Tour when La Tour was away on business in Boston and his rival, co-governor Charles d’Aulnay Charnisay, took advantage of his absence to attack the fort.
While Francoise defended the fort valiantly for three days with the garrison of 40 men, she was forced to surrender after a guard betrayed her by opening the gates to the attackers on Easter Sunday, 1645. Her one condition was that her men be spared.
d’Aulnay agreed, but went back on his word, hanging the men and jailing Francoise, who died three weeks later, just five years after her wedding to La Tour.
L’ACADIE, MY HOME
Charles de La Tour was just 14 years old when he arrived in Acadia’s Port Royal in 1606 with his father, who was there to establish large French colonies and make money for French investors in the fur trade. Acadia, or Acadie, the French name for the area, offered many other riches, including fish, wood and limestone.
Charles settled in well at Port Royal, acquiring woodland skills, visiting the Mi’kmaq camps, taking easily to the Indigenous ways and becoming proficient in their language. In 1626, he took a Mi’kmaq bride, who he had three daughters with before she died.
By 1631, Charles was one of the governors of Acadia, and he built Fort La Tour, then known as Fort Ste Marie, at Portland Point because of its strategic location and its use by First Nations. With this strategically located post, Charles controlled the largest and richest river in Acadia, the St. John River, which virtually guaranteed control of access and traffic to the interior of what had become New France.
He was very proud of his home and centre of commerce.
FEEDING AN ARMY!
No matter the season, a priority at Place Fort La Tour was feeding the occupants who called it home and the soldiers who protected it and its trading treasures.
Imagine, biscuits drizzled in molasses brought by ships from the West Indies along with other treasures such as raw sugar, spices and raisins. Pies and pastries made with fresh wild berries, sweet apple cider, baked apple pudding and other apple delights. Piping hot fish and corn chowders, turtle soup and Acadian favourites like chicken fricot and a delicious stew of salt pork and potatoes called Chiard (pronounced She-are). Celebratory times deliver hearty venison pies and, with the leftover pastry, a savory dessert with cinnamon and sugar called pets-de-soeurs. Yum!
It wasn’t always this way. In the earliest days of this trading fort, Governor La Tour provided his soldiers each with weekly rations of two seven-pound loaves of bread, two pounds of fat bacon, two ounces of butter, oil and vinegar, cod livers, half a bushel of dry peas and a daily pint of beer or cider.
But, as the settlers learned about plants and animals native to the area, as well as hunting and fishing techniques, from their Indigenous friends, they added fish, corn, potatoes and squash. Pork, mutton, chicken and venison became popular meat dishes as well.
We invite you to pull up a chair for a delicious feast at Place Fort La Tour!