National Historic Site, located in Nova Scotia, Canada
In 1605, a group of French colonists built the Habitation at
Port-Royal on the shore of the Annapolis River in Nova Scotia's
Annapolis Valley. Led by voyager and merchant Pierre Dugua,
Sieur de Mons, the group also included renowned explorer and
mapmaker Samuel de Champlain, whose diaries provide vivid descriptions
of life at Port-Royal. As a result of the power struggle between
French and English forces, the wooden Habitation was burned
to the ground in 1613 by a Virginian raiding party on orders
from England. More than 300 years later, a group of persuasive
American and Canadian preservationists successfully lobbied
the Canadian government to rebuild this important historic site.
In the summer of 1939, architectural student Ronald Morse Peck,
from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, was hired to assist the Dominion
of Canada's project architect K.D. Harris during the construction
of the replica. The student's comprehensive notes provided the
research for this article. Although he details many fascinating
accounts of the construction process, including the manufacturing
of handmade bricks that were formed and kiln fired on site,
this article focuses on some of the techniques used to create
the wood frame and the wooden roof shingles.
As the reconstruction occurred during the Great Depression,
there was no shortage of available laborers, many of whom were
highly skilled wooden boat builders. They came from all parts
of Nova Scotia, eager to work. It was considered essential that
construction methods remain faithful to those the French colonists
would have used in the early 1600s, so the builders used broad
axes and adzes to work the logs and mortise-and-tenon joints
secured with oak pegs to frame up the walls and roof trusses.
No 20th century machinery was on site.