A “French military fort” is said to have once stood in New Minas, overlooking the Cornwallis River; folklore has it that the fort was located at the western edge of the village.
Regard this folklore with skepticism. Possibly the French once had a fort in what is now New Minas. But from a military point of view, the Acadian settlement here probably was never important enough to require fortifications, or even a French military presence.
There may be a simple explanation for this folklore. There was a military fort in this area around the time of the expulsion, but it wasn’t of French origin. The fort had an unusual, French sounding name, which perhaps may account for the folklore. The fort was called Vieux Logis, so named say historians for the Acadian locale where it was built. Vieux Logis may have been an Acadian place name.
But let’s go back to the year 1749 when Governor Edward Cornwallis founded Halifax. At the time Nova Scotia was a contested land and the French, along with their Mi’kmaq allies and some Acadians were waging an undeclared guerilla war against the British. As a result of the unsettled situation in Nova Scotia, Cornwallis ordered the building of a fort in the Minas region. Some references place Fort Vieux Logis in what is now Grand Pre, but most likely it was located near the Gaspereau River, possibly near the old wharf at Horton Landing.
In the history of Kings County, Arthur W. H. Eaton has four references to Fort Vieux Logis. Briefly, the fort was established by Cornwallis late in 1749 and abandoned in 1753 with the establishment of Fort Edward in Windsor. Eaton tells us the fort was attacked in 1749 by a “company of Micmac and Maliseet Indians.” While the fort was held after several attempts to take it, a British officer and 18 of his men were captured and taken to Chignecto where they were held for ransom.
While the troops stationed at Vieux Logis were removed to Fort Edward, the old fort still remained. Vieux Logis served the people of Horton Township long after arrival of the Planters. One of the prerequisites of settlement was the erection of palisaded forts in the various townships. Eaton says that the fort established in Horton was “probably …. Vieux Logis restored.”
Neither Eaton nor any other sources I’ve looked at on the history on this area tell us what became of Fort Vieux Logis. In fact, little has been written about the fort. Vieux Logis was occupied by English speaking troops, around a hundred in all, who lived among the Acadians for over four years; there must be a story there that needs telling.
Like other forts built in Kings County after the Planters arrived, Vieux Logis undoubtedly was torn down or eventually destroyed by the elements. No trace of it remains today, but archeologists believe they have pinpointed the area where it once stood.