In Nova Scotia: with a Brief Account of Canada, and the British Islands on the Coast of North America (1786), S. Hollingsworth provides the following description of Annapolis Royal, its environs, and prospects in the mid-eighteen eighties:


[N]early opposite to St. John's River . . . we find Annapolis Royal , which has one of the noblest harbours in the world, perfectly sheltered from all winds, the entrance into it being between two capes or head lands, with from 20 to 30 fathoms water.  This entrance is near a mile wide, and has a strong current, both upon the ebb and flood tides; the shore, at the same time, being so steep, that a ship may run her bow-sprit against the rocks, and yet be in 10 fathoms water.  Immediately within this straight, is a large piece of water, called Annapolis Bason, capable of holding a considerable number of ships, with a sufficient depth of water for vessels of any size, and at least 20 miles in circumference, entirely sheltered from all winds.  On this bason, a very handsome town, called Digby, has been built by the loyalists.  The situation of it is exceedingly well chosen, both for the fisheries and every other kind of trade adapted to the province.  A small settlement is also forming at the mouth of Bear River, near Digby, by some Germans, formerly belonging to the auxiliary troops during the war in America.

From the Bason to Annapolis Royal, it is about 12 miles, upon a deep and narrow river, in which there is a great rise and fall of the tide, both sides of it are well peopled, and in many places are highly improved.  A small island, half way between the Bason and the town, may be easily made to command the navigation of the river entirely, as nothing can pass either up or down without going close in with it.  Since the arrival of the loyalists, amounting to 2500, the town has increased to six times its former dimensions, the country about it clearing fast of the woods, having received an increase of population, unknown in any former period.  The raising black cattle will probably be one of their principal employments; as the inhabitants, who came here prior to the war, not only raise the largest and best cattle of any in the Province, but equal to any in America, except Rhode Island and Connecticut *; so that they will be able, in a little time, together with the people of St. John's River, to raise all the live-stock, or nearly so, that will be wanted for the West India market.  The anchorage of the town is very good, and on the side next the river; the fort which defends the harbour is of some consideration, but totally inadequate to a defence toward the land.


This place, when in the hands of the French, was fortified, and called Port Royal, being intended for the capital of the province.  At the peace of Utrecht, it was ceded to Great Britain, and was called by its present name in honour of Queen Anne.  Its fortifications, at present, are but indifferent. [back]

* The people who have lived many years on Annapolis River are confident that, when they have better opportunities of mixing the breed of their cattle with that of other countries, they shall be able to equal those of the two states here mentioned; the time, indeed, seems to be at no great distance, when the New Englanders will have sufficient cause to repent their having driven into exile some of their best farmers. [back]