We spent the 5th of July at Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. We had never heard of Louisboug, NS (named after King Louis XIV), so it was not in the plan when we started our tour of the Maritime Provinces. We were told at a couple of visitor centers that we should add it to our route, and we are glad that we did. Louisbourg, NS was established by the French in 1713, and the Fortress was constructed to protect the fishing village. In 1713, French Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays or Saturdays. Cod could be salted, dried, transported, and it did not spoil for a couple of years. So, fishing on the Grand Banks was big business. The Fortress was designed to protect the harbor, and thus the merchant class. The lower class fisherman were also protected because they could enter the fortress in times of attack. Unlike a fort, a fortress surrounded a town. The fortress was captured twice by the British, and the French were sent back to France each time (1745 and 1758). Nova Scotia remained in British hands after it was destroyed in 1758. In 1961, Cape Breton’s mining economy had hit bottom, and unemployed miners needed work, so the Canadian government decided to reconstruct Fortress Louisbourg to provide jobs, to preserve heritage, and to create a tourist industry around the fortress. They have done a wonderful job creating 18th century buildings, furnishings, and clothing for docents. We are definitely glad that we added this town to our tour. We took the 10:30 guided tour, and a Parks Canada guide gave us a wonderful history lesson. You will be welcomed at the gate by a French soldier looking for British spies. We were treated to musket fire. Of course they had to fire the cannon at noon. Soldierly punishment was tough in those days. On could end up riding this wooden horse during morning and evening movement of soldiers into and out of the barracks. One was tied onto this triangular back with a cannon ball attached to each leg. This is the front gate, where people entered the fortress from the harbor, and the military chapel. This is the French Governor’s Apartment. Pictures of the interior of the Fortress. The single soldiers slept in the barracks, three to a bunk. Here is a picture of us next to a cannon. Here is the powder magazine. We were told that any of the military buildings would have been built by the King, with a fleur-de-lis on the roof. We had arrived a little after 10am, and here is our exit about 4:30pm.
Some more trivia we learned at Fortress Louisbourg were the names of the islands used by the French. Nova Scotia had been named L’Isle Royale by the French, and Prince Edward Island was known as L’Isle Sant-Jean.
In Glace Bay, our first stop was the Cape Breton Miner’s Museum. In addition to exhibits about mining coal, they give you a tour of a coal mine (under the museum) by a retired miner. We had to put on capes and hard hats. Horses and rats and parakeets were used in the mines, up to 6 miles under the ocean. They were even able to grow gardens in the mine.
That’s all for today. Type at you later.