John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Fortress Louisbourg

Cooking a meal in 1744 style

Tatting (lace-making) demonstration

A convicted thief begins his punishment procession

July 9

After our great night's sleep, Roslyn prepared us a full breakfast, where I certainly enjoyed the first eggs I had eaten in a while. We continued our drive to Cape Breton through Antigonish and across the Canso Causeway. Once again, we were pleased to have very little traffic that, along with the gorgeous scenery, made for a very pleasant trip.

I had made reservations for 5 nights at the Trailsman Motel, 10 km outside of Baddeck. The Internet site had shown a pleasant setting with a grassy lawn gently sloping down to Bras d'Or Lake and featuring bright rooms. Our rooms were off to the side behind a dense grove of bushes and were quite dingy but relatively clean (although not stain free).

We were at odds whether we wanted to stay here for the full five days as we had hoped our efficiency unit would have a stove inasmuch as Brenda wanted to cook more complete meals. Because we lacked the stove, we dropped into a number of other places with cottages but could not find any with vacancies. With the weather threatening we had lunch in Baddeck and did a quick grocery and wine shop.

We returned later to our hotel and found that in our absence, 6 bikers had booked into the rooms on either side of us. They were from Ontario and heading for Newfoundland via the ferry. Fortunately, they were all around our age so their party steam after a long day of driving was pretty limited. They had a few beers and packed it in so we could get a reasonable night's sleep.

July 10

Clouds were the order of the day for our planned 120 km drive to Fortress Louisbourg. Brenda and I had been there several years ago with Kurt and Heather and some of our national telecom committee friends during a conference on Cape Breton. We had also received an e-mail from Marty Allen recommending the reconstructed Fortress and town site.

The scenery along Bras d'Or Lake and over Kelly's Mountain is quite impressive but the last part of the drive from Sydney is flat scrub forests out to the Fortress. From the Visitors Centre we were bussed to the entrance to the Fortress where we were greeted by a French fisherman and his wife in period costume in their small home. While he greeted the Francophones in our group with French, she greeted us Anglophones in English.

The period in which the staff at the Fortress is re-enacting is 1744, when the French are at war with the English. The guard at the entrance gate made quite a show of asking for the password to single out English spies but let us by anyway. The reconstructed site is only about one fifth the size of the original site but has been faithfully rebuilt according to historic records and descriptions.

The period players do a wonderful job of demonstrating household and commerce scenes of life from the early 1700's. We saw various forms of cooking, crafts and trades from the period but one of the most fun things was a demonstration of public punishment. A young man who had stolen a bottle of wine was drummed into the town square in shackles with a sign indicating his crime hanging from his neck.

A proclamation was read as he had an iron ring attached to a post fastened around his neck. We had followed the procession into the square as wenches from the town harangued him mercilessly. He gave as good as he got with very funny retorts and observations about his predicament. Apparently for minor crimes, humiliation replaced pain as a deterrent in the tight community of those days.

By this time we had seen most things we had come to see and decided to head back to the buses for the drive home. We were able to stock up on provisions and liquor in Sydney with its larger stores providing more choice than Baddeck.

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