Louisblourg Fortress is located on a spit across the bay from the mainland. To visit you have to take a shuttle bus. Our tour of Louisbourg Fortress began with a lengthy history lesson. The original settlement in Louisbourg was made by the French in 1713. Subsequently, the fishing port grew to become a major commercial port and a strongly defended fortress. The fortifications eventually surrounded the town. By the mid-1740s Louisbourg was one of the most extensive and costly European fortifications constructed in North America. The Fortress of Louisbourg was far from impregnable, since it was erected on low-lying ground commanded by nearby hills and its design was directed mainly toward sea-based assaults, leaving the land-facing defenses relatively weak. A third weakness was that it was a long way from France or Quebec, and when it was besieged it could only endure for two or three weeks. It was captured by British colonists in 1745, and was a major bargaining chip in the negotiations leading to the 1748 treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession. It was returned to the French in exchange for border towns in what is today Belgium. This really irked the New Englanders who had fought so hard to capture the fort and were now living there. Some thinks the roots of the American Revolution began here.
It was captured again in 1758 by British forces in the Seven Years' War, after which its fortifications were systematically destroyed by British engineers. As we listened to the tour guide talk, we were struck by how often folks living here were affected by maneuverings and shenanigans in Europe that had absolutely nothing to do with them. Just a bit like the rest of the world feels today as they watch our elections and hope that we choose someone who will make good decisions and think clearly.
Over the centuries what was left of the fortress was looted and fell apart until the 1960's, when government projects that looked to give work to unemployed coal miners started to rebuilt the fort. They were greatly helped by the French policy to make three copies of every important document: one went to France, one went to Quebec City and one stayed here. This enabled them to recreate the fortress very accurately, although the vast complex we toured today is only 20% of the original complex. Some folks who work here like our tour guide were garbed in park ranger clothing, but the rest are reanimates who wear clothing of the time and appear to have no knowledge of what is going on in the world today.
The friendly folks at Disney also appreciated the beauty of the reconstructed fort and used it a s a movie set. As part of the film they built a sort of Globe theatre, which has been moved away from the fort to the town and is used as a performance space. We walked there from the campground for another ceilidh. This one was more polished and professional than the one we saw in Baddeck. The performers give concerts here four nights a week all summer and played a variety of instruments and sang harmony. We have seen more live musical performances on this trip than we have seen in the last ten years. And after the show we could walk home. What a treat!