I read the following article today and was appalled at what the CBC miniseries Canada: The Story of US is attempting to do: manipulate history. The article begins:
The new CBC miniseries Canada: The Story of Us has caused an uproar in a small Nova Scotia town after claiming that the first permanent European settlement was close to what is now Quebec City, not Port-Royal.
Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald posted on Facebook this week that he was “very troubled that the CBC has misrepresented Canadian history in the first episode of its television miniseries.”
The location of Port-Royal is not far from modern-day Annapolis Royal and is a national historic site. Samuel de Champlain helped establish the settlement in 1605, although it was temporarily abandoned by the colonists in 1607.
“Annapolis Royal is the cradle of our nation, and this erroneous representation of history is disrespectful — as it erases (in a national broadcast) the true origins of our country,” MacDonald said.
“This misrepresentation of Canadian history warrants a campaign to set the record straight.”
I completely agree with Mayor MacDonald. The producers are wrong and the record needs to be set straight.
The reason behind the producers choosing Quebec City over Port Royal was, “they decided to define permanence as a continuous, year-round population,” so they, “settled on Champlain’s 1608 settlement in what is now Quebec”. This in spite of Port Royal being settled in 1605 and still settled to this day.
It appears they arbitrarily decided to make the definition to suit their needs because they wanted to choose Quebec City. Perhaps they could have defined the first European settlement as the first place more than two individuals from Europe slept on land. If they were partial to Vikings, they could have stipulated the first settlement had to contain a type of structure—which would put L’anse Meadows, Newfoundland, in contention.
Or perhaps they could have chosen the first settlement where they spoke French…or English…or Gaelic. Or where the first European woman gave birth.
I’m sure the First Nations people are laughing at the fuss of Europeans debating their first permanent settlement, since they had settlements—permanent, though many seasonal—across the country.
Yet, there really is no debate. Port Royal is and always will be the first permanent European settlement in Canada, bar none. This CBC document—which was probably financed with tax-payers’ money—is spreading misinformation. It should be taken back to the cutting room, corrected and re-aired with the note the producers were in error. Nothing short of that will do.
Sadly, those who lack common knowledge of Port Royal will believe the slop the creators of this miniseries is serving up, erasing the original settlement from its well-deserved status.
Also, knowing how biased and distorted the creators’ views were on our history, it leaves me to question everything else in the documentaries. How many other misrepresentations and errors will they contain?
The full article Why ‘Canada: The Story of US’ has angered a Nova Scotia town can be read on the CBC website.
UPDATE (Friday March 31, 2017; 7:55 pm): I was just alerted to the following article, also on the CBC website: CBC’s Port-Royal snub headed to House of Commons, Nova Scotia’s premier wants omission fixed.
UPDATE: (Friday March 31, 2017; 8:06 pm): This article published online by Annapolis County Spectator contains many comments that support my view of Port Royal being the first permanent European settlement in Canada: What You Said: Readers step up with their thoughts on Port-Royal and CBC.
UPDATE: (Saturday April 1, 2017; 7:05 am): Joseph Gagné, author of Electronic New France website, provides more insight into what is wrong with this mini series. Although he mentions—in general—there were many mistakes presented, he doesn’t single out the error of Port Royal’s not being names as the first permanent European settlement in Canada . Read “The Story of Us” is Not Quite Our Story…