Nicholas Denys First Permanent Settlement of St. Peters - 1650


This mural depicts St Peter’s in 1650 as a bustling settlement of trade and activity. The sea was an essential part of life in St Peter’s and the two dock scenes demonstrate its importance in local and foreign trade including frequent exchanges between European colonists and Indigenous populations.
Nicholas Denys, located in the lower left of the mural, was responsible for transforming St Peter’s into a significant hub for fishing and trade. Although Denys was an important figure, no image of him exists. As a result Lewis Parker based the illustration of Denys on a portrait of himself.

In the upper corner, a large fort is being erected near the log path that would later become a canal used to transport boats between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bras d’Or Lake. The finished fort structure is depicted beneath it. Archaeologists have found fragments of the charred remains of this fort but, if it still stood, the fort pictured here would be much further inland. Today the St Peter’s Canal is a National Historic Site of Canada.

In the bottom right corner, teams of oxen represent the sowing of the first seeds in Cape Breton at St Ann’s, where Denys and his brother Simon also established a settlement.
132 x 213.4 cm ; 48 x 84 inches
Work Type
acrylic on Belgian linen