Westboro Beach, Ottawa, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fortress of Louisbourg

A short Canadian history lesson today, and lots of pictures in today's post.  It was foggy all day, so it's not that I forgot to clean the camera lens!

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.


  1. Great history lesson! We have the same problem over here too in our historical area. Women were scarce in places like that, so much for authentic? LOL

    Good that you speak up and leave comments.

    Might have to put that place on our bucket list just to check it out for a good "on the road" history lesson!


  2. Very interesting place.Not a thing wrong with speaking up.

  3. Glad you had a good time there and enjoyed the day, nice to get use of your parks pass.

  4. It's kind of too bad about the political correctness or whatever it's called (affirmative action?) in terms of the hiring practises. Did the girls at least have pencilled in moustaches? I'm sure none of them were old enough to grow their own. This might not be the proper place for any mention of women and facial hair however...
    I've been fortunate enough to get to Louisbourg on a couple occasions. The first time was in 88, and you could drive right down almost to the shore. There was only about a third of what is there now. Then when we went back in 2001, the parking area had moved way, way back away from the settlement. They had obviously discovered or unearthed more of the buildings and had it pretty much finished.
    I had a bit of a chuckle watching a young lad (in period costume) try and sharpen a scythe. He had no clue. I offered to show him how, and he didn't mind at all. We never had a lawn mower on the farm, my Dad only ever used a scythe, it's use and keeping it sharp were kind of second nature, even later when I became a "city boy". Funny how a person never forgets certain things.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  5. This was a great post... I really enjoyed it! Thanks for all the detail and information.
    Have fun & Travel safe

  6. Life's a Journey...It's just not the same having "female" soldiers when you knew that the soldiers were men back then. Really enjoyed the fort though and if in the area it is a definite must see.

    Kenny and Angela...That is what Kevin's says, if you don't tell them how will they know.

    George and Suzie...The Parks Pass has definitely paid for itself now.

    Bob...No penciled in mustaches, but one soldier said she was a older feminine looking soldier. We noticed that we weren't the only ones asking that question. I was also there back in the 70's and it was a real hubbub of activity. Lots of tourists which actually made the streets busy and gave it more atmosphere. It was interesting at the time watching the building going on.

    Donna...Thanks and you're welcome.

    Kevin, Ruth and Whiskey

  7. Great history lesson! I'm always ashamed when I read of Britain 'conquering' the world, but then I suppose it's no different to the French, Dutch, Portuguese & Spanish! I am, however, fascinated by the history of it all & love visiting places with a previous British connection. If I ever visit that part of Canada Louisbourg will definitely be on my list of places to visit!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Happy travels!
    Sharon x

    1. This place is fabulous. I visited it when I was a child and they were doing the reconstruction then, using the same old fashioned tools that would have been used in those days to build the entire fort. The people doing the construction were also in period costumes, so it was really interesting to see.

      I agree, The British weren't always so nice. We have seen this before in other parts of the world, with their treatment of others. It makes be feel bad because my parents are both Britsh, but as you say many other countries did much the same thing.

      We highly recommend a visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg, well worth the money.


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