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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(July 27, 2003/August 10, 2005)


According to the book The Flora of Nova Scotia, (A.E. Roland & E.C. Smith, 1969), of the fifty-some species of angelica that exist, Cape Breton is home to two: Angelica atropurpurea, the native North American species, and Angelica sylvestris, the common wild angelica of Europe. Research conducted by Parks Canada in the 1970’s would indicate that A. sylvstris (the European strain) is the strain found growing in and around site, although some hypothesize that it is a hybrid of the two strains which now grows here.

“From medieval times, angelica has held a high position in herbal lore, so esteemed as to be termed Angelica archangelica – ‘the Herb of the Holy Ghost’, and similarly praised in astrological terms. It was mainly known for its medicinal uses in combating the plague, aiding digestion and elimination processes, an aid against poisons, snake bites and rabies, in calming swoons, tremblings and passions of the heart, and for combating witches’ spells.

The forms in which angelica can be ingested are many; the roots may be ground into a powder and mixed in wine or other drinks, or chewed and swallowed, and the leaves can be boiled as a tea, or simply eaten.

As well as medicinal uses, angelica is also widely used in food preparation. The whole plant is sweetly aromatic and resembling that of liquorish. It is used as a spice for flavouring, in salads with vinegar and oil, as a candy, for pastry decoration, and may be blanched with celery and eaten like a relish, while the roots may be used to make a yellow dye. In 1640 the juice was being distilled as a flavouring.

Though no specific reference has been made to angelica being grown in Louisbourg gardens, the abundance of this plant in the area points to the French occupation as its point of origin. …

So far no historical record has made mention of angelica having been transported from France to Louisbourg. Its possible origin may be that of a useful and blessed herb carried among the belongings of a doctor or settler who wished to bring along a practical reminder of the Old World.”(E. Matheson and A Tratnik, A. Angelica, Louisbourg National Historic Site, 1977, pp 1-2).