"A fascinating day in Louisburg..." Louisbourg by stodmyk

Louisbourg Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 14 photos

I'm not usually captivated by the past, but...

My day at Louisbourg in Nova Scotia was probably the first time in my life I found myself interested in history. I think it's just the visceral quality of the place -- it's not a representation of a text book, or recreation of some cheesy tourist town. The experience here seems more realistic than that. The fortress at was originally established by French settlers in 1713, and was one of the busiest stops on the east coast of North America for decades, with fishing and trade as its two main industries.

It was besieged twice, and captured both times after lengthy battles. Due to problems with the locals (native Canadians) and changes in trade routes, the British abandoned Louisbourg in the late 1760s, and destroyed the fortress walls to keep the French from ever holding the territory again.

Today, it is an intriguing and captivating piece of Canadian, British and French history. The life the settlers led is rebuilt here using a huge archeological site unearthed in decades ago -- in 1961 various levels of government started a $25 million project to reconstruct just under 1/4 of the original town and fortifications. The time chosen was the early 1740's, just before the first siege took the fort from the French.

You can see how people lived when the French, English and Americans were battling for control of this area -- check out the fish drying in the sun on wooden tables at the outskirts of town. Watch the soldiers "guarding" the fortress, changing guard, and just hanging out when they're off duty. There are shops, restaurants, schools, farms and houses -- the prices, of course, aren't 300 years old, but you can have a damn good meal for a very reasonable $12-15 Canadian.

This is inside the fortress' main courtyard, which was, and is, used by the general population for day to day activity and larger assemblies, and by the soldiers for marching exercises and rifle exercises. Here's a shot of two soldiers at ease with the marching band doing their rounds in the background.

And, uh... Is it just me, or does the guy in blue look like Mel Gibson from The Patriot?

Imagine how much this property would go for today.

Louibourg is, as I mentioned, absolutely stunning from many points of view. Take a look at this oceanfront property!

Imagine the fish teeming in these waters 300 years ago. No wonder settlers were willing to die for this place.

Possibly the most interesting thing here was the amount of Chinese porcelain in the fortress' museum. Apparently, Jingdezhen, China, had been shipping out massive amounts of intricately designed whtie and blue porcelain to world markets for over 400 years by the mid 17th Century. Due to its skookum location on the trade routes, Louisbourg was rich with the stuff for many years. Even after looters and time took their toll on the old town, archaeologists found nearly 69,000 pieces of Jingdezhen porcelan at Louisburg.

There is now a program underway that partners the Louisbourg restoration team with the great-great-great-great grandsons -- and current master potters of Jingdezhen -- of those who made the porcelain, to reproduce some of the Louisbourg originals from fragments found onsite.

If you're interested in this story of unlikely sister cities, check out more at http://fortress.uccb.ns.ca/archaeology/china/c@l.htm

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:history, character, charm, personality
  • Cons:a little out of the way if you only have a few days in the area
  • In a nutshell:Excellent for history buffs, and pretty good for the rest of us, too.
  • Last visit to Louisbourg: Jul 1999
  • Intro Updated Oct 13, 2003
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  • dinhyen's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2003 at 9:18 PM

    I have no idea what a "wicket" is. But I believe the opening is called a crenel and the solid section is called a merlon. But don't quote me on it!

stodmyk

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