Go back in time at historic Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nearly three hundred years in time, to be exact! Because that’s what you’ll experience when exploring this restored 1744 French fortress along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Snippets of Fortress Louisbourg History
Fortress Louisbourg’s story begins in 1713 when French settlers established a small fishing port along this remote stretch of coastline. By the 1740’s, the fishing port had grown into a significant French commercial and military outpost. It also became a battleground for English control of the region. Fortress Louisbourg eventually succumbed to the English, and by the mid-1750’s, life had changed drastically for those early French settlers. Eventually Fortress Louisbourg’s strategic relevance diminished, and the fort was all but abandoned by the end of the 18th century, with much of its infrastructure left in shambles.
Today, Fortress Louisbourg has again become a vibrant, thriving colonial French community, albeit one from nearly 300 years ago! Witness first hand how this restored fortress grew from a tiny fishing port into one of the most extensive European forts built in North America. Explore 18th century life in a French outpost, where soldiers co-mingled with fishermen, merchants bartered with sailors, and families came to raise their children.
A Day in the Life – Witness History In Action
A day at Fortress Louisbourg is a day of history come to life! So come along with us and explore this most fascinating moment in Canadian history. Experience history as it comes alive right before your eyes. Witness life as it was in 1744 Fortress Louisbourg.
It’ll be fun. And educational too. Shhhh. Don’t tell the kids the educational part! They’ll just think they’re have loads of fun exploring this reconstructed 1740’s fort.
It’s A Soldier’s Life For Me!
By the 1740’s, Fortress Louisbourg was a substantial military outpost. And what better way to learn about the lives of 18th century French soldiers than from the soldiers themselves? Just listen up as they regale you with stories of soldiers’ life here at 1744 Fortress Louisbourg.
Imagine yourself in the French militia as you wander through the soldiers’ barracks and commanding officers’ houses. Join a group of soldiers as they take a break from the action. Who knows, one might even let you hold his gun! Don’t worry. The guns aren’t loaded.
Hear that? Sounds like the beat of military drums. Hurry along now. It’s time for the governor’s inspection of the militia and the afternoon drills. You don’t want to miss this!
Head up high along the top of the fortress wall. It’s the perfect vantage point to witness the French militia’s inspection by their commanding officers and the governor.
Watch closely as the soldiers drill on the field below. They need to be in tip-top readiness to defend the fort. Afterwards, head on over to the governor’s house and the chapel. It’s all here, ready for you to witness life through the eyes of the 1744 French military.
Complete the circuit along the fortress walls. Get up close with the cannons. Look out past the fort’s walls. Stare down the bore of a cannon, picturing yourself defending the fort from it’s enemies. Yup. This fort is pretty awesome!
Up Close With 18th Century Village Life
Fortress Louisbourg was more than a militarys fortress. It was also a vibrant and lively mid-1700’s village, complete with fishermen, farmers, families, merchants, clergy and a host of feathered and four legged residents.
Explore the village side of the fort. Meander along dirt paths past wagons and village houses. Chat with the locals as they go about their daily business. Stand aside as a local villager takes his feathered friends for a walk.
Stop at the local farm to feed a hungry goat, or talk turkey with the local Tom. Sample local cuisine at one of Fort Louisbourg’s dining options. Buy fresh-baked bread for a pittance at the King’s Bakery. A most yummy treat, indeed.
Continue on your way. See how a merchant’s family might have lived in this 18th century fortified village. Imagine life without – gasp – electricity! Entertainment was a bit different here in 1744. Imagine that, boys. Life without a cell phone!
Watch a real live blacksmith practice his trade in an authentically restored smithy. Witness a woodworker building a new fishing boat, a baker pounding bread dough, or a knife maker creating a new blade. Explore the armory, with it’s gunpowder, rifles and cannons on hand and ready in a moment’s notice to defend the fort.
Wander past villagers and soldiers alike. Stop, ask questions. They’ll fill you in on life here in Fortress Louisbourg. Perhaps they’ll even sing a song! Just don’t ask them about modern stuff like cell phones or iPads. This is 1744 after all!
Who knows what one might experience in a day at Fortress Louisbourg. Maybe it’s a little bit of local justice! Like this dejected husband who crossed his wife with his antics last night. Rumor has it that he filtched a neighbor’s drink and imbibed a little too much!
Planning A Fortress Louisbourg Adventure
Ready to plan your own Fortress Louisbourg visit? Awesome! Fortress Louisbourg is located near the town of Sydney, along Cape Breton Island’s eastern shore. Plan on one to two days to fully explore the fortress, more if you plan for other adventures in the surrounding area. Fort Louisbourg National Historic Site has several nice hiking trails!
Lodging is limited in the immediate area. Book early if you want to stay near the fort. We stayed at the Point of View Suites, a short five minute drive from the park’s entrance. It’s location was ideal! On a clear day, you can see the fortress from the Suites, actually hear the cannons fired.
Have You Experienced Fortress Louisbourg?
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Fortress Louisbourg. Don’t just take my word about how much fun a day here can be. Check out what others have to say about the fortress at TripAdvisor. Learn more about its history at Fortress of Louisbourg Historic Site. You’ll see why we enjoyed it so much!
So what do you think? Did you enjoy this modern day exploration of an historical fort? Have you been to Fortress Louisbourg? Did you enjoy it as much as we did? Do share in the Comments section below.
All images from C.Biederman.