2008 Keys 2 Canada travel blog

historic Louisbourg Fortress

a fisherman's home in the 1740's

their chalupa and fish flake with the fortress in the distance

the approach is quite impressive

path to the main gate

the main gate

sentry at the gate

gun emplacements protecting the gate

and this sentry lookout

dry moat that hid the base of the walls from cannon fire

inside the gate the path continues on to the town

an inner second line of defense

fancy gate built in the seawall for the use of the military

a street of the town

a stockade between the town and the fort

another street

looking the opposite direction

drummer and official sallying forth from the fortress - the others are...

fortress wall facing the town

the original fortress had a clock tower like this one

wing where the troops were quartered

this building outside the fortress was probably a guardhouse for the sentries

protected by another dry moat

by now several busloads of tourists had shown up

inside the enclosure it was like any other fort

cannon on the walls with storage rooms and magazines below them

and places where the defenders could take a peek at the enemy

a ramp to drag the cannons to the top

the Catholic Church with St. Louis looking down on the worshippers

he was the patron saint of the army

today a woman soldier guards the church

a soldier in period uniform talks to the tourists

an exhibit in the fort told the story of the reconstruction

original artifacts excavated at the site

stone artifacts and an explanation of building methods of the day

painstaking reconstruction extended even to the clothing

pottery reconstructed from shards

and glass reconstructions as well

these give us a good idea of what kind of day to...

in another building there was an exhibit of Mi kmak Indian craft

and pictures of tribe members today

our tour guide

a lifelong native of Cape Breton Island and well versed in the...

sheep pen

a very good model of the town as it looked in 1750

the fortress defended the town from attack by land

they counted on swamps to keep attackers with artillery out - but...

these foundations are original - as excavated

a 'middle class' woman in period dress

there are a number of 'settlers' on hand to explain life in...

we had lunch in an 18th century tavern, but the 'Gov'ner' now...

there were exhibits on construction tecniques of the day

hardware artifacts

and lath and plaster demonstrations

a typical storeroom

cannons that were as dangerous to the gunner as they were to...

even a lobster trap

docent making lace

a 'public humiliation' in progress

another docent who looks quite authentic

modern painting of the settlement

72 gun warship

the harbor as it may have looked from the crow's nest of...

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Public Humiliation

The history of France in the New World - Saturday, September 20

The historic town of Louisbourg sits on a small but deep harbor on the east side of Cape Breton Island. At one time it was France’s busiest and most important port in the New World. Today it’s fortress and about one fifth of the town have been reconstructed and turned into a Canadian Historic Site that has been compared to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Since we visited Williamsburg earlier this year we were anxious to see the Canadian version in Nova Scotia.

Louisbourg’s importance lay in the role it played in the French/British conflict, which was mainly over control of the lucrative cod fishery. French settlement dates from 1713 and the colony was officially founded in 1720. This lasted only 24 years until France and England went to war, and by 1745 the British with the help of New Englanders had taken the fortress and deported the settlers back to France.

British and New Englanders occupied the town until 1749 when a treaty between England and France handed the area back to France. The French reoccupied the town for a decade, but in 1758 the British retook the town and two years later blew up the settlement so if they had to give it back again there would be nothing left to return. From that time until 1961 when the Canadian government undertook to reconstruct it, the site remained untouched.

Fortunately for the Canadians, the French kept meticulous records, and there were plans and descriptions of every kind on the more than 750,000 documents the researchers found. The government had another motive for engaging in this project, and that was to put the many unemployed miners to work and give them some needed retraining. The results of this effort today speak for themselves. The fortress reconstruction is a remarkable achievement.

Only 20 percent of the settlement has been excavated and reconstructed, but it is enough to give the visitor a good feel for the life and events that took place here. The remaining site is preserved for future exploration, and in the meantime serves as a training ground for young archeologists.

While not as extensive a reconstruction as Williamsburg, and lacking the original structures Williamsburg has, this site is nevertheless a fine opportunity to take a step back into a very interesting period in Canadian history.

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