The Fortress of Louisbourg was built by the French between 1720 and 1740. The town itself was part of the fort, and by 1750 there were 4,000 people living there, about 90% of them men.
The French and the British did not get along during most of the 1700's, and the fort was attacked by New Englanders with British Royal Navy backing in 1745. The fort was then handed back to the French as part of a treaty in 1748. It was attacked again in 1758 as the British used it as a launching point for the Battle of the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City. British forces then spent four months systematically destroying the fort so that it and the town could never be used by anyone. The site was abandoned.
And that is the way it sat until 1961 when the Canadian government decided to rebuild the fort and part of the town as it was in 1745. Louisbourg was a planned community at the time and there were a lot of documents in existence in France that detailed where everything was located and how it was built. Excavation proved that a lot of building foundations were still in place and the government spent $25M over the years back in the 1960's to build a world class tourist destination, and they put unemployed Cape Breton coal miners to work for the years during the rebuilding effort.
Every building was rebuilt to exacting standards the way it would have been in 1745.
The main part of the fort is an amazing building.
Firing the muskets
Firing the cannon.
We didn't bring lunch, and we could have gone back to Sherman for lunch if we wanted to. But we decided to use the period restaurant there that served your meal the way it might have been in 1745. The tables were shared with whoever else may be sitting there and you had one eating utensil, a large spoon. So it was kind of fun and we decided to treat ourselves to a rare meal out. It was $14.99 per person, plus taxes and tip was $75 for the four of us. Definitely an expensive lunch, but it was fun, and the food was delicious!
Ready for grub!
Split pea soup
Turkey pie and gravy, with carrots and turnip which are the only two vegetables that were easily grown here in 1745.
Townsfolk in period costume.
Not many people around in late afternoon.
It was a fun day overall, despite the dreary weather. However as one of the townfolk said, the fog adds to the ambiance because it is typically a foggy place.
But you know me, so of course I have criticism. The place is run by the federal government, and it costs $18.60 per adult to get in. We used our annual parks pass, so we didn't have to pay at all because up to seven people arriving in the same vehicle get in with use of the pass. We paid $136 for the pass, and today would have cost $74.40 just for admission. So we got some value out of our pass.
The fortress and it's summer employees are supposed to be putting on a reinactment of life as it was in 1745. You'll remember that I mentioned that 90% of inhabitants were male, and of course there would be no female soldiers. The first person we met at the gate was a female in soldiers outfit, and I questioned her about whether females would have been in that role at the time. Nope, and she joked that she was allowed to for today. I asked the tour guide later about this, and after whaffling back and forth on the answer a few times she finally admitted that due to government hiring practices they had to hire as many women as men for the summer jobs. I don't have a politically correct bone in my body, so this didn't sit well with me. The tour guide said off the record that she had been working there since 1977 and that of course the male roles at the time were filled by men and that she didn't agree with current practices either. So much for an accurate depiction of life as it was.
My only other complaint was that the landscaping at the visitor centre was in deplorable condition. I actually filled out a comment card about this because for a supposedly world class tourist destination, it actually looked run down. The grass hadn't even been cut, and we all agreed that it looked terrible.
But other than that, we enjoyed the day. The building reconstruction is amazing, and there are a lot of the original artifacts on display that they have found through archaeological excavation. It really is a worthwhile visit, even if there is room for improvement.