Thursday, September 6, 2018 (Arm of Gold Campground, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)

We were woken super early this morning by the wind and had to get up around 5:00 to put the awning in. It was a very windy day...especially in Louisbourg!

We arrived at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site at 9:45, just after they had opened. There is a walking tour out at 10:30, so we immediately went to the bus that takes you out to the Fortress...we'll check out the displays here at the visitors centre on the way out.

The Fortress is absolutely amazing! And apparently only 4 out of 34 blocks have been re-created.
By the way, there is a difference between a “fort” and a “fortress”: the fortifications of a fortress enclose a town, while those of a fort do not.

On Cape Breton’s rocky shoreline, east of Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Fortress of Louisbourg brings you back into one of North America’s busiest 18th-century seaports. Founded by the French in 1713, it fell under siege to the British twice before being demolished in the 1760s. Reconstruction began in the 1960s, rebuilding one quarter of the original French town and fortifications. Today, the reconstructed Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest – and best – of its kind in North America, offering a wealth of experiences for you, our visitors, to enjoy.

Louisbourg Harbour
At its peak, Louisbourg was the busiest port in French North America. The harbour was large enough to contain all the ships and boats that ever needed to be anchored. The French Ministry of Marine provided navigation services such as pilots, hydrographers and a lighthouse, plus a careening wharf for ship maintenance, and port services in the form of cargo warehouses and an Admiralty Court.

The Harbour at War
In the 1758 siege, naval forces played an integral role in supporting the defence of the fortress; most French warships carried between 64 and 74 cannons. The British forces took the upper hand, however, when their assaults set several French warships on fire in the harbour crippling French naval defences. These vessels still lie on the ocean floor today.

The bus drops it's passengers off outside of the Desroches House
This building is an example of a traditional piquet and sod-roofed house. It represents the home of Jeanne Galbarette, a fishing proprietor, and her third husband, Georges Desroches. It also served as an unlicensed tavern for Basque fishermen and sailors. The harbourside area outside the walls was known as the Fauxbourg, where fishermen cleaned and salted their catch of cod, then laid it out to dry on “flakes” and gravel beaches.

There is a bit of a walk to the Fortress from there...
The Dauphin Gate
There were only three land gates and several wharves to give entry to Louisbourg. This one, the principal land entrance, was manned around the clock by an officer and soldiers. Through the massive doors the path is flanked by guardrooms: soldiers’ on one side, officers’ on the other. Beyond the soldiers’ guardroom is a sea-drained latrine, neatly built into the wall.

We immediately made our way to Building 23, the information building where tickets for activities are purchased. We paid for the one-hour walking tour and waited a few minutes as tour-goers gathered.

Frédéric Gate...
Through this ornate arch came most of the people, news and merchandise of the colony. The gate’s name honours the Minister of the Marine, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, who managed France’s colonies and navy. The construction of the gate in 1742 capped off Louisbourg’s fortifications on the eve of war.

Our view as we wait for our tour to begin. Steve decided to take photos after the tour as there are too many people in the way...
King's Bastion...

For a mere $55.20, you can fire a cannon...
Fire a Cannon: Have a Blast!
Add an explosive element to your visit — train to be a cannoneer and fire a cannon! Light the fuse and wait for the blast of a cannon identical to those that defended 18th-century Louisbourg. An exclusive, exciting 45 minutes of French colonial artillery techniques shared by fellow soldiers will officially make you a cannoneer in training.
It was incredibly windy out...the soldiers were enveloped in smoke immediately after firing the cannon...
King’s Bastion Barracks (Reconstruction, Tools of War, and Archeological Typography Exhibits)
Over 500 men were housed in rooms like this, twelve to sixteen men per room, two per bunk. There were no mess halls and no workrooms in the barracks – throughout their service the men cooked, ate, drank, smoked, gambled and lived in these rooms.
While wandering around the lower floor the ceiling tiles were actually lifting off of their frames from the wind!
Thousands of iron objects had to be fashioned for the reconstruction - from locks and latches to grill-work and hinges. All were made by the project's iron-workers, using excavated artifacts and period illustration as their models.
Casemates served many purposes. In peacetime they were ideal spaces for storage, or for a prison. In times of war their thick vaulted ceilings offered the best possible shelter available in the era. During the sieges of 1745 ad 1758, when Louisbourg came under heavy bombardment, women and children sought refuge in casemates like this.
We walked up to the cannon that was fired earlier...

.Governor’s Apartments (on the right)..

We don't recall anything about the buildings on the right...
There was a wedding happening there later in the day...

Governor’s Apartments
Most of the governors who lived in these apartments were middle-aged naval officers, more practised in military affairs than in government. Commandant JeanBaptiste-Louis le Prévost Duquesnel was one of them. Representing the King’s Majesty in person, the Governor lived lavishly. The Superior Council met in the chambers downstairs and served principally as the colony’s court of appeal. Unmarried officers lived in this section of the building, unlike married officers who lived in their own homes within the town.

No plumbing in that chair LOL!

Guardhouse (Building on the far right)
This guardhouse is located in the open place d’armes. This was an area where soldiers mustered for drill and guard changes. From the squad of soldiers stationed at the guardhouse, the officer-of-the-guard posted the sentries you now meet around the Bastion.
The strange-looking wooden horse is anything but a toy. It was a punishment devised to inflict both pain and public humiliation to enforce military discipline. 
Apparently they would tie your hands behind your back and add weight to your feet. You could be there for hours for a day or for hours for several days...Ouch!!!!
Life of a Soldier
Listen to his story and watch a musket firing.
Fire a Musket: Have a Ball!
$36.80 and you will be able to fire a musket.
Sign up with the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and get a soldier’s basic training (no push-ups required!). You will fire an exact replica of an 18th-century musket. Safe and fun, you’ll have a ball!
You can see the white puff of smoke as the flintlock ignites the powder...

De la Perelle Storehouse
In 1744, this storehouse was rented to house British prisoners captured at Canso Islands

King’s Bakery
Several commercial bakeries competed to serve the townspeople but this royal one supplied the garrison only. The four bakers employed here lived upstairs. The bakery was destroyed by fire in the 18th century but its original floors survived intact and have been preserved in this reconstruction

Artillery Storehouse and Artillery Forge (the King's Bakery is in the far corner)
The gunners stored and tended their cannons and carriages here. Buildings topped with a fleur de lis indicate that they are owned by the King and are to serve the needs of the garrison and the royal administration.

Engineer’s Residence
The military engineers were responsible for the overall design and construction of the fortress. Étienne Verrier (1683-1747) was chief engineer from 1725 to 1745. He oversaw the completion of the design of the town and its fortifications. His house, which he designed, was regarded as one of the most desirable residences in Louisbourg, the envy of all including the Governor

They hold free Upper-class Dancing in the Engineer's House
Join the elite as they practise their steps at an afternoon ball.

Public Punishment...she has a chain and collar around her neck...
Follow the crowd to the iron collar
Reading the charges against her...
Hôtel de la Marine (far right the corner building)
Pierre Lorant, a 35-year-old fisherman, lived here with his wife and three children. He operated a cabaret frequented by fishermen, merchants, and soldiers. In 1744, British prisoners were housed here during the summer months.

Grandchamp House (building with the red shutters)
Julien Auger dit Grandchamp (1666-1741) owned two adjacent properties. He brought his family to Louisbourg when he came as a soldier, and the inn was his retirement plan. With its busy waterfront location, Grandchamp’s home grew into a lucrative business that kept two slaves busy.
Grandchamp Inn (building on the left)
Auger’s widow, Marie Thérèse Petit, was operating this inn in 1744. In this smaller building you may meet a soldier or fisherman who has stopped by to share a song or story over a glass of rum.

King’s Storehouse (building on the far right)
This was the central receiving depot for merchandise needed by a fortress and its garrison. Supplies kept here included flour, butter and lard, molasses, biscuits, vegetables, and salt. Uniforms, ropes, and tools were also kept here.

Ordonnateur’s Residence (building in the centre)
This large property housing private apartments, offices, and a storehouse, along with stables and a garden, was the official residence of the commissaire-ordonnateur. The administrator and his clerks filled up books of correspondence, maintained the colonial accounts, and compiled their statistical reports for the Ministry of the Marine. François Bigot (1703-1778) arrived in Louisbourg in 1739. As commissaire, he held responsibility for pay, supply and justice. From 1749 to 1758 he was the Intendant of all New France and lived in Québec.
The stables form part of the property used by the commissaire-ordonnateur.

Bigot Storehouse
This space was built as a storehouse for the use of the commissaire-ordonnateurs who lived here.
Fizel Family
These are the remains of a two-and-a-half storey masonry house built in the late 1730s for merchant Julien Fizel and his wife Francoise Tetard. In the basement was a storehouse for Fizel's mercantile enterprises, while upstairs there was an inn and the family's private apartments. In addition to many business interests, Fizel served as a militia captain. The Fizel family lived here until July 1758, when Louisbourg fell to British forces. Julien Fizel was tragically killed in 1757. The French, on heightened alert anticipating a surprise attack, mistook Fizel for an Englishman lurking outside the town walls.
Next to the ruins...
This home erected in 1731, was owned by military officer Jean-Chrysostome Loppinot, who lived here with his wife and their eight children. They employed a servant and owned two slaves, Marie Marguerite Rose and her son, Jean-Francois. Marguerite Rose was freed by the Loppinots in 1755 (her son had died in 1751) and became the first Black woman to run a business in what is now Canada. A plaque commemorating her as a person of national historic significance is across the field in front of you.

Dugas Family
Joseph Dugas, an Acadian carpenter and coastal trader, built this house in 1723 and lived here with his wife, Marguerite Richard, and their nine children. Jeanne Dugas, one of Joseph's daughters, was born in Louisbourg in 1731. Her life became one of numerous deportations, imprisonment and uprootedness at the hands of the British. She and her husband, with several other Acadian families, finally enjoyed a permanent home when they founded the village of Cheticamp in 1785. A plaque commemorating Jeanne Dugas as a person of national historic significance is located there.
Joseph Dugas died in the smallpox epidemic of 1732-33 along with three of his daughters and his African slave, Pierre Josselin.

De la Vallière Storehouse
A range of goods were contained in these warehouses, reflecting this military family’s extensive involvement in maritime trade.

At 3:00 we were back at De la Plagne House (building 23, the information building) where those going on the run tasting tour...
Rum: The Spirit of Louisbourg
Discover the taste and aroma of Fortress™ Rum and the story of this drink made from sugar. Rum was one of the most popular drinks of 18th-century Louisbourg. Sample an authentic rum punch recipe and learn how sugar cane and its alcoholic offshoot influenced trade, shipping, and slavery in colonial North America. Parks Canada has partnered with Authentic Seacoast Company, who created a signature edition rum that is maturing in oak barrels at the Fortress of Louisbourg. Fortress™ Rum captures the authentic spirit of New France’s historic rum trade. À la santé and cheers!

Our bartender was a very interesting fellow. We were also given a small glass of water to wash the rum down. Steve didn't think he needed it but soon joined the rest of us as this stuff was rough going down!
After the rum tasting, it was time to start making our way back to the entrance to the fortress and catch the spots we missed this morning as we hurried to the walking tour.

Dauphin Demi-Bastion / Semi-Circular Battery
This half bastion forms part of Louisbourg’s defence system. The cannons here are reproductions of French 24 livres guns – they fired a round iron ball weighing 24 livres (almost 12 kg or 26 lb)
Postern Tunnel
A secret passage? Not quite. The troops fighting in battle needed swift access to the outerworks and this winding passage, one of three in the fortress, was easy to use and to defend.
Barracks (larger building on the left)
These soldiers’ barracks were used to house discharged soldiers awaiting transport to France
Powder Magazine (building on the right)
The magazine, though carefully constructed to minimize the risk of explosion, eventually proved both too vulnerable and too small, yet it has survived well: extending almost to the eaves are the original eighteenth-century stone walls.
Embrasures at Lartigue
As part of the harbour defences, these small 8 livres cannons were loaded with canister shot to repel attacking forces trying to come ashore in small boats.

Exiting out the Dauphin a waiting bus back to the visitor centre.
Back at the visitor centre, we went through the displays that we had missed on our way in this morning. It was after 4:30 when we finally walked back out to the car.

The Louisbourg Lighthouse in the distance...

We took the windy road to the lighthouse...
Louisbourg Lighthouse is an active Canadian lighthouse in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. The current tower is the fourth in a series of lighthouses that have been built on the site, the earliest was the first lighthouse in Canada.
The lighthouse todayAn octagonal concrete lighthouse decorated with neoclassical architectural features was built in 1923. The tower is a twin of the Georges Island Lighthouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Louisbourg lighthouse was destaffed in 1990. The lighthouse is a popular lookoff point and in 2008 became the start of a coastal walking trail. Interpretive plaques mark the ruins of the previous lighthouses.

Lighthouse Point
During the 1745 and 1758 sieges, the English built artillery batteries on Lighthouse Point. From here, they could fire on French warships and on the Island Battery, a fortification that contributed significantly to the defence of the harbour and fortified town. By disabling the Island Battery, the English were able to move their ships closer to the harbour and provide naval reinforcement to the landward assault.

The French abandoned a defensive battery here several days after the British successfully landed troops several kilometres to the southwest of the fortified town on June 8, 1758.

Careening Wharf
Many ships entering Louisbourg's Harbour were in need of repairs and maintenance. The careening wharf, located on a naturally sloped beach, made it possible for workers to tilt ships on their sides during low tide. This allowed them to make repairs, clean barnacles and other natural debris and apply tar to make the hull watertight.

We passed this restaurant on the way home...thought it was an interesting name...
It was late by the time we got home...but wow, what a great day!

Needless to say, Steve took a lot of pictures...and there are more to see. If you are interested, click on the album 'Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site'. Click on the first photo and use the arrows to scroll through as there are descriptions on some pictures.


  1. Wow, we are not that into history but that is the kind of place we could walk around all day. Love that period in history.

    1. It was amazing! They did an awesome job re-constructing it.

  2. What a huge place. Thanks for the tour. There is no way Ray could have walked for that many hours.

    1. It was a lot of walking for sure! But very interesting and well done.

  3. Lots of walking but lots of History.
    It is beautiful to see today but imagine living life back then.
    Great Pictures documenting your visit.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. An amazing place. Well worth the visit....we loved it!