Authors A.J.B. Johnston and Jesse Francis recently released their book Ancient Land, New Land: Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada.
The Mi’kmaq have inhabited Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island) for millennia. At the site known in Mi’kmaq as Skmaqn or “waiting place,” the Mi’kmaq met the French in the 18th century. As Europeans settled on what had become to be known as Isle Saint Jean, the major European players started constructing forts and sending soldiers, warships and settlers. A key strategy of the French was to establish a close alliance with the Mi’kmaq, one that was maintained by missionaries. Thus Skmaqn became the French fort Port-la-Joye.
One of the first permanent French settlements on the Island, Port-la-Joye was the seat of colonial government and a port of entry. The site was surrendered to Great Britain in 1758 and renamed Fort Amherst. The British organized the deportation of more than 3000 Acadians.
Published by Acorn Press, Ancient Land, New Land is the second book co-authored by Johnston and Francis. Their first, Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, won several awards including the 2014 prize for that year’s best Atlantic-Canada-published book.
Francis works in a partnership position for L’nuey and Parks Canada. He lives in Wellington, PEI.
Johnston is the author or co-author of 21 books. He lives in Halifax.