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Annapolis Royal is arguably Nova Scotia's most historic town -- it bills itself, with some justification, as "Canada's birthplace" -- and it remains a treat to visit. Because the region was largely overlooked by later economic growth (the bulk of the trade and fishing moved to the Atlantic side of the peninsula), it requires very little in the way of imagination to see Annapolis Royal as it once was. (The current year-round population is less than 500.) The original settlement was rebuilt on the presumed site of explorer Samuel de Champlain's famous 1604 visit; the old Fort Anne still overlooks the upper reaches of the basin, much as it did when abandoned in 1854; and the village maintains much of its original historic charm, with narrow streets and historic buildings fronting a now-placid waterfront.

Annapolis Royal is also considered by many historians to be the birthplace of the continent's historic preservation movement. Town residents have been unusually activist about preserving the character of their town, and as a testament to their dedication some 150 buildings and homes in town are now officially designated heritage sites (and presumably can't be altered much by future owners). For anyone curious about Canada's early history, Annapolis Royal is one of Nova Scotia's absolute don't-miss destinations.