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Fortress of Louisbourg

Fortress of Louisbourg

The Fortress of Louisbourg (Forteresse De Louisbourg) was an 18th century French fortified town which has been carefully reconstructed. In fact, this is the largest reconstruction of its kind in North America.

Begun in 1719 on what the French called the Ile Royale (Cape Breton Island), the Fortress of Louisbourg was a thriving cod fishing port town and trading centre. Twice successfully besieged by the British in 1745 and 1758, the Fortress of Louisbourg was also dismantled by the British.

Restored from 1961, today the Fortress of Louisbourg is a time capsule of its own past frozen in its heyday in 1744. Visitors can tour the town including shops, homes and defences. From June to mid-October, there are daily guides and costumed actors around the site (available by pre-booking at other times).


The French military founded the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1713 and its fortified seaport on the southwest part of the harbour, naming it in honour of Louis XIV. [1] The harbour had been used by European mariners since at least the 1590s, when it was known as English Port and Havre à l'Anglois. The French settlement that dated from 1713. The settlement was burned the first day the British landed during the Siege of Louisbourg (1745). The French were terrorized and abandoned the Grand Battery, which the British occupied the following day. It was returned to France in 1748 but recaptured by the British in 1758.

After the capture in 1758, its fortifications were demolished in 1760 and the town-site abandoned by British forces in 1768. A small civilian population continued to live there after the military left. [2]

English settlers subsequently built a small fishing village across the harbour from the abandoned site of the fortress. The village grew slowly with additional Loyalists settlers in the 1780s. The harbour grew more accessible with the construction of the second Louisbourg Lighthouse in 1842 on the site of the original French lighthouse destroyed in 1758. A railway first reached Louisbourg in 1877, but it was poorly built and abandoned after a forest fire. However the arrival of Sydney and Louisburg Railway in 1894 brought heavy volumes of winter coal exports to Louisbourg Harbour's ice-free waters as a winter coal port. The harbour was used by the Canadian government ship Montmagny in 1912 to land bodies from the sinking of the RMS Titanic. In 1913 the Marconi Company established a transatlantic radio transmitting station here.

Incorporated in 1901, the Town of Louisbourg was disincorporated when all municipal units in Cape Breton County were merged into a single tier regional municipality in 1995. [3]

Historical population
YearPop. ±%
19411,012
19511,120+10.7%
19561,314+17.3%
19611,417+7.8%
19811,410−0.5%
19861,355−3.9%
19911,373+1.3%
19961,267−7.7%
20011,157−8.7%
2006988−14.6%
2011946−4.3%
[4] [5] [6] [7] 2006 population adjusted to match 2011 boundaries.

Pronounced "Lewisburg" by its largely English-speaking population, the present community has been identified by slightly different spellings over the years by both locals and visitors. The town was originally spelled Louisburg and several companies, including the Sydney and Louisburg Railway adopted this spelling. On 6 April 1966, the Nova Scotia House of Assembly passed "An Act to Change the Name of the Town of Louisburg" which resulted in the town changing its official name to the original French spelling Louisbourg.

Louisbourg's economy is dominated by the seasonal tourism industry and seafood processing. The depletion of groundfish stocks has negatively affected local fish processing operations in recent decades.

In the 1960s, Parks Canada completed a partial reconstruction of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Today this National Historic Site of Canada is the town's dominant economic engine, employing many residents and attracting thousands of tourists every year. The fortress holds large scale historical reenactments every few years to mark important historical events and attract visitors to the town. The most recent in July 2008, commemorated the 250th anniversary of the first British siege victory over French forces in July 1758. [8] The town's more recent history is preserved at the Sydney and Louisburg Railway Museum located in the restored railway station in the centre of town. [9]

Annually, the community hosts the Louisbourg Crab Fest. [10] A large golf course and residential resort is planned near the community designed by Nick Faldo, the resort was expected to open in 2010 but development stalled in the recession. [11]

Louisbourg is home to the Louisbourg Playhouse, a theatre company operating in an Elizabethan theatre that was used as a prop in the live-action 1994 Disney film Squanto: A Warrior's Tale. [12]

Louisbourg experiences a marine influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The highest temperature ever recorded in Louisbourg was 34.0 °C (93 °F) on 2 September 2010 and 15 July 2013. [13] [14] The coldest temperature ever recorded was −26.0 °C (−15 °F) on 18 January 1982. [15]

Climate data for Fortress of Louisbourg, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1972–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
(57.2)
13.0
(55.4)
26.0
(78.8)
19.0
(66.2)
29.0
(84.2)
31.7
(89.1)
34.0
(93.2)
32.0
(89.6)
34.0
(93.2)
25.0
(77.0)
20.0
(68.0)
13.5
(56.3)
34.0
(93.2)
Average high °C (°F) −1.0
(30.2)
−1.1
(30.0)
1.4
(34.5)
5.6
(42.1)
11.0
(51.8)
16.4
(61.5)
20.3
(68.5)
21.4
(70.5)
18.3
(64.9)
12.5
(54.5)
7.0
(44.6)
2.3
(36.1)
9.5
(49.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.9
(23.2)
−5.2
(22.6)
−2.2
(28.0)
2.2
(36.0)
6.9
(44.4)
11.9
(53.4)
16.2
(61.2)
17.6
(63.7)
14.3
(57.7)
8.9
(48.0)
3.8
(38.8)
−1.1
(30.0)
5.7
(42.3)
Average low °C (°F) −8.9
(16.0)
−9.3
(15.3)
−5.9
(21.4)
−1.3
(29.7)
2.7
(36.9)
7.4
(45.3)
12.2
(54.0)
13.8
(56.8)
10.3
(50.5)
5.2
(41.4)
0.6
(33.1)
−4.5
(23.9)
1.9
(35.4)
Record low °C (°F) −26.0
(−14.8)
−25.0
(−13.0)
−23.0
(−9.4)
−13.5
(7.7)
−7.0
(19.4)
−1.5
(29.3)
4.0
(39.2)
3.5
(38.3)
−1.7
(28.9)
−4.5
(23.9)
−12.0
(10.4)
−20.6
(−5.1)
−26.0
(−14.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 147.0
(5.79)
138.0
(5.43)
143.6
(5.65)
147.5
(5.81)
127.6
(5.02)
113.1
(4.45)
108.4
(4.27)
107.8
(4.24)
133.0
(5.24)
158.3
(6.23)
168.9
(6.65)
153.1
(6.03)
1,646.3
(64.81)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 83.4
(3.28)
77.9
(3.07)
100.1
(3.94)
127.9
(5.04)
126.9
(5.00)
113.1
(4.45)
108.4
(4.27)
107.8
(4.24)
133.0
(5.24)
158.3
(6.23)
160.7
(6.33)
106.3
(4.19)
1,403.6
(55.26)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 58.5
(23.0)
56.6
(22.3)
41.2
(16.2)
17.9
(7.0)
0.8
(0.3)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
8.2
(3.2)
44.6
(17.6)
227.8
(89.7)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 15.4 13.3 13.7 15.3 15.2 14.0 13.9 14.3 15.2 16.8 18.9 17.8 183.8
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 8.3 7.2 9.6 13.6 15.1 14.0 13.9 14.3 15.2 16.8 17.5 11.9 157.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 9.3 8.0 6.3 3.1 0.24 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.2 8.0 37.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 89.9 109.0 138.4 150.7 170.7 185.5 184.7 182.1 159.8 130.9 74.9 74.2 1,650.7
Percent possible sunshine 31.9 37.3 37.5 37.2 36.9 39.5 38.8 41.6 42.4 38.6 26.2 27.4 36.3
Source: Environment Canada [15] [16] [17]

Louisbourg (spelt Louisberg) was mentioned in Nathaniel Hawthorne's story Feathertop. The town is also a major setting for Thomas H. Raddall's 1946 novel Roger Sudden. The town "Louisburg" is mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline. The 2011 film Take This Waltz begins with a re-enactment scene from the fortress and features the lighthouse in several shots.


Fortress of Louisbourg: from History to Historic Site

Standing on a low-lying peninsula along the north-eastern shore of Cape Breton Island, the Fortress of Louisbourg seems to rise right out of the sea when approaching by water. Coming by land along Route 22 from Sydney this picturesque complex of fifty or so buildings that appear to have survived from another era is equally impressive. Once close enough to make out the details, visitors see that the ensemble is nearly surrounded by fortifications, an 18 th -century set-piece that looks as if it has been there for centuries. It hasn't, of course. For this is the Fortress of Louisbourg, a fortified town-site that is a one-fifth reconstruction of what had once stood on that very spot: the 250-buildings ville fortifiée erected by French colonists between 1713 and 1745. The goals of the ambitious Canadian reconstruction project of the second half of the 20 th century, built between 1961 and 1982, were to create a major cultural tourism attraction in Atlantic Canada and to encourage interest and pride in a then little-known part of Canadian history.

A Heritage Site Laden with History

The end result is the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, a 10-acre reconstruction zone surrounded by 1.17 km [roughly ¾ of a mile] of fortifications (a quarter of the original total), which in turn is set within a protected area of nearly 60 square kilometres [23 square miles]. In total, the Fortress is one of the largest national historic sites in the country. The largely forested area beyond the reconstructed 18 th -century town-site is much more than a buffer it has tremendous heritage value all its own. Beyond the rebuilt walls of the fortress are found the archaeological vestiges of French settlement areas and defensive positions the remains of Canada's first lighthouse the beaches where attackers came ashore in 1745 and 1758 and what remains of the many siege camps and batteries erected by New England forces in 1745 and British forces in 1758. Though the official name given to the entire protected heritage area is the Fortress of Louisbourg, that is a 20 th -century designation. In its 18 th -century heyday the town and port and surrounding hinterland was known to the French who lived there and to the administration at Versailles that valued it so highly simply as Louisbourg, or Port de Louisbourg, or Ville de Louisbourg.

The Fortress became a Canadian national historic site in 1928, decades before any reconstruction would be undertaken. Initially only a small portion of what is now protected was set aside. The focus was on the town-site and lighthouse location and it was preceded by a wave of land expropriations and building removals. In 1935-36 the Canadian government constructed a masonry museum, a building that still stands today. For a quarter century it presented the history of Louisbourg through artefacts, maps, documents, portraits and a large model. Only when the government decided in the 1960s to research and rebuild an entire section of the historic site was the museum rendered redundant, though in the 1980s it would be refurbished as an exhibit area telling the story of Louisbourg after the departure of the French up to the time of the reconstruction era. A second wave of expropriations and building removals took place along the north shore of Louisbourg harbour and at Kennington Cove during the 1960s, to make way for a range of new services and because historic site aesthetics of the period called for removing what were thought of as "modern intrusions".

The "Real" Louisbourg

In its original 18 th -century manifestation, Louisbourg was an assertion of France's determination to retain its economic and strategic interests in Atlantic Canada. The primary desire was to retain a base for the lucrative cod fishery after Newfoundland was ceded to Great Britain by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). The overall North Atlantic fishery was far more valuable to France than the fur trade ever was, whether as a source of direct profits or as an invaluable nursery of seamen for the navy. In Louisbourg's case, the port was not just the centre for cod exports to France but also a pivot or transhipment port in a triangular trading system that involved France, the Antilles, and Canada. Voltaire himself described the Cape Breton colony as "the key" to France's possessions in North America, because of its impact on the maritime economy of the mother country.

To the British and the Anglo-Americans on the other hand, the Louisbourg that developed between 1713 and the 1740s loomed as a threat, for economic, military and naval reasons. To the mercantilist thinking of the era, Louisbourg's maritime prosperity (with an average of 150 vessels sailing in and out of the port each year) meant that it was taking away codfish and trading wealth from the Anglo-American colonists. Compounding the situation were the European-style masonry fortifications the French erected at Louisbourg between 1720 and 1745. That was an approach rarely found in North America where the usual defences were blockhouses and earthworks. As a result, the French stronghold on the shoreline of Cape Breton Island loomed large in British and Anglo-American thinking. Benjamin Franklin, for instance, wrote on the eve of the 1745 New England attack on Louisbourg that the Cape Breton fortress was a "tough nut to crack". Once captured (in fact it was captured twice, both in 1745 and 1758), Louisbourg ceased to be a symbol of the French presence in Atlantic Canada. Instead it became a symbol of how British men-at-arms and emerging superiority of the Royal Navy on the high seas had prevailed in the long Anglo-French imperial rivalry in the Americas.

Reconstructing Louisbourg on the Ruins of the Past

With the reconstruction of the Fortress of Louisbourg in the mid-20 th century, the earlier symbolic associations became less important. The Government of Canada's decision to rebuild an entire corner of the long-vanished French colonial town as a sort of "Williamsburg North" gave the Fortress of Louisbourg a new significance as the country's most ambitious example of a then popular way of dealing with heritage: that of reconstructing a representative sample so that the public can experience what is often described as "living history". The term meant using costumed interpreters within buildings and exterior spaces that are furnished to give the appearance of a bygone historical period. In the case of the Fortress of Louisbourg, the period selected for the interpretation program was the summer of 1744, just before the town first felt the damaging effects of bombardment and defeat. Yet the Fortress staff never limited themselves to an exclusive "living history" approach. The Parks Canada administered site also uses didactic exhibits, models, films and guided tours to communicate aspects of the site's complex history that are difficult or impossible to talk about with a focus on 1744.

It is worth noting that the Louisbourg of the 18 th century included not just what today falls within the boundaries of the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Historical Louisbourg included the entire shoreline stretching around the kidney-shaped harbour, including what today is the modern community of Louisbourg. The compartmentalization of that once unified settlement area into two main parts-one part located in a lived-in modern municipality and the other on a historic site set aside for public education and enjoyment-did not happen overnight. Soon after the second and final capture of Louisbourg in 1758, the British rounded up and shipped off every French soldier and civilian they could the combatants went to Britain and the civilians to France. The forced relocation involved perhaps as many as 10,000 people, because there were nearly a dozen other French communities on Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) affected as well. Two years later, in 1760, Britain's Prime Minister William Pitt ordered the systematic demolition of all Louisbourg's fortifications just in case the place was again handed back to France. (That didn't happen, for when the treaty process to end the Seven Years' War concluded, of all that had once been New France, only the islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon were retained as French possessions.) A British garrison stayed at Louisbourg until 1768, without rebuilding the masonry fortifications yet still living in the town that had been severely damaged during the bombardment of 1758. When the soldiers finally pulled out, so did the majority of the community of several hundred British, Irish and Anglo-American civilians that had grown up after the conquest.

In the decades that followed, a small civilian community continued to live in the area of what had once been the French intra muros of Louisbourg, though they numbered in the dozens where the French population had once reached nearly three thousand. Over the course of the 19 th century a new Louisburg began to grow (spelled without the second "o" until it was re-inserted in the 1960s). The new community that began to take shape was located increasingly across the harbour from the low-lying peninsula where the ville fortifiée had once stood. And so the town continues today, the houses, businesses, etc of the modern Louisbourg being primarily established along what the French in the 18 th century called the côte nord.

The Heritage Appropriation of Louisbourg a Question of Ownership

As far as commemorating the 18 th -century occupation of the area and associated events of military significance, the British garrison put up a makeshift stone marker to what they had accomplished in capturing the place just before they withdrew in 1768. The next monument was erected in 1895 when a private American organization (General Society of Colonial Wars) erected a tall column in the area of the site's most prominent ruins, in what had once been the Bastion du Roi [Royal Fortress]. The occasion was the 150 th anniversary of the New Englanders' victory in 1745. The commemoration drew protests from Acadian Senator Pascal Poirier and other groups in Canada, who contended that the federal government should not allow foreigners to come into the country to erect monuments to what French Canadians regarded as a defeat. Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell replied that it was a private society putting up a monument on private land the government had no role in regulating such matters.

And so it remained until 1919, when the federal government created an arms-length advisory body (Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada - Commission des lieux et monuments du Canada) to give advice on matters of historical commemorations. One of the first sites considered for commemoration at the initial 1919 meeting was Louisbourg. Neverthless, it was not made an official national historic site until 1928, after the initial project of land expropriations was over. At the time, the bygone intra muros of Louisbourg consisted of mounds of rubble and earth with a couple of dozen modest wooden houses, fence lines and grazing animals.

In the 1930s and 1940s a number of non-governmental organizations (religious orders and others) put up additional monuments at Louisbourg, within what had become a national historic site. All those monuments are still there, though in the case of the tall column of the General Society of Colonial Wars, it was relocated to Rochefort Point during the early 1960s to make way for the reconstruction of the Bastion du Roi. It was damaged in the move and is now only a little more than half its original height.

A Precarious Heritage Site

That the Fortress of Louisbourg is a multi-layered place, across time, is obvious. Less obvious, perhaps, is the challenge of its very setting, the low-lying peninsula on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a spectacular setting that offers a strong and vivid sense of place. Yet there is an ominous part to the setting because sea level at Louisbourg today is already at least a meter higher than it was in the mid-18 th century. The rise in sea level has been going on for thousands of years - 5000 years ago what is now the harbour at Louisbourg was an inland lake - and there are predictions that the Atlantic could rise another meter over the next hundred years. Already, during certain storms when winds combine with a rising tide there are huge surges, which on occasion have flooded and damaged a few areas of the Fortress reconstruction and nearby Rochefort Point. Might it be that the sea and coastal location that was crucial to Louisbourg's 18 th -century prosperity and significance will lead to the gradual subsidence and eventual disappearance of an important national historic site? It's a question that must be asked of many coastal historic sites, with the Fortress of Louisbourg in the vanguard.


Fortified town [ edit | edit source ]

Fortifications of Louisbourg.

The Fortress of Louisbourg was the capital for the colony of Île-Royale, ΐ] and was located on the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island near its southeastern point. The location for the fortress was chosen because it was easy to defend against British ships attempting to attack Quebec City. South of the fort, a reef provided a natural barrier, while a large island provided a good location for a battery. These defenses forced British ships to enter the harbor via a five-hundred-foot channel. The fort was built to protect and provide a base for France's lucrative North American fishery and to protect Quebec City from British invasions. Α] For this reason it has been given the nicknames ‘Gibraltar of the North’ or the ‘Dunkirk of America.’ The fort was also built to protect France’s hold on one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, the Grand Banks. One hundred and sixteen men, ten women, and twenty-three children originally settled in Louisbourg. Β]

Citizens and establishments [ edit | edit source ]

Louisbourg was a large enough city to have a commercial district, a residential district, military arenas, marketplaces, inns, taverns and suburbs, as well as skilled laborers to fill all of these establishments. Γ] For the French, it was the second most important stronghold and commercial city in New France. Only Quebec was more important to France. Δ] The population of Louisbourg quickly grew. In 1719, 823 people called this maritime city their home. Seven years later, in 1726, the population was 1,296, in 1734 it was 1,616, and by 1752, the population of Louisbourg was 4,174. Ε] Of course, population growth did not come without consequences. Smallpox ravaged the population in 1731 and 1732, Ζ] but Louisbourg continued to grow, especially economically.

Economy [ edit | edit source ]

Unlike most other cities in New France, Louisbourg did not rely on agriculture or the seigneurial system. ΐ] Louisbourg itself was a popular port, and was the third busiest port in North America (after Boston and Philadelphia.) Η] It was also popular for its exporting of fish, and other products made from fish, such as cod-liver oil. The North Atlantic fishing trade employed over ten thousand people, and Louisbourg was seen as the ‘nursery for seamen.’ Louisbourg was an important investment for the French government because it gave them a strong commercial and military foothold in the Grand Banks. For France, the fishing industry was more lucrative than the fur trade. ⎖] In 1731, Louisbourg fishermen exported 167,000 quintals of cod and 1600 barrels of cod-liver oil. There were roughly 400 shallop-fishing vessels out each day vying for the majority of the days catch. Also, sixty to seventy ocean going schooners would head out from Louisbourg to catch fish further down the coast. ⎗] Louisbourg’s commercial success was able to bring ships from Europe, The West Indies, Quebec, Acadia, and New England. Η]

Fortifications [ edit | edit source ]

Building housing the Governor's Apartments and the King's Bastion Barracks.

Louisbourg was also known for its fortifications, which took the original French builders twenty-eight years to complete. The engineer behind the project was Jean-Francois du Vergery de Verville. Verville picked Louisbourg as his location because of its natural barriers. ⎘] The fort itself cost France thirty million livres, which prompted King Louis XV to joke that he should be able to see the peaks of the buildings from his Palace in Versaille. ⎙] The original budget for the fort was four million livres. ⎚] Two and a half miles of wall surrounded the entire fort. On the western side of the fort, the walls were thirty feet high, and thirty-six feet across, protected by a wide ditch and ramparts. The city had four gates that lead into the city. The Dauphin gate, which is currently reconstructed, was the busiest, leading to the extensive fishing compounds around the harbour and to the main road leading inland. The Frederick Gate, also reconstructed, was the waterfront entrance. The Maurepas Gate, facing the narrows, connected the fishing establishments, dwellings and cemeteries on Rocheford Point and was elaborately decorated as it was very visible to arriving ships. The Queen's gate on the sparsely populated seaward side saw little use. Louisbourg was also home to six bastions, two of which are reconstructed. Dauphin bastion, commonly referred to as a 'demi-bastion' for its modification, the King's bastion, Queen's bastion, Princess bastion, Maurepas bastion and the Brouillon bastion. On the eastern side of the fort, fifteen guns pointed out to the harbor. The wall on this side was only sixteen feet high and six feet across. Louisbourg was one of the “largest military garrisons in all of New France”, and many battles were fought and lives lost here because of it. ⎛] The fort had the embrasures to mount one hundred and forty-eight guns however, Historians have estimated that only one hundred embrasures had cannons mounted. Disconnected from the main fort, yet still a part of Louisbourg, a small island in the harbor entrance was also fortified. The walls on the Island Battery were ten feet high, and eight feet thick. Thirty-one twenty-four pound guns were mounted facing the harbor. The island itself was small, with room for only a few small ships to dock there. ⎜] An even larger fortified battery, the Royal Battery was located across the harbour from the town and mounted 40 guns to protect the harbour entrance.

First siege: 1745 [ edit | edit source ]

The fortress was attacked in two major sieges: once in 1745 and the again in 1758. The first siege involved a New England force backed by a British Royal Navy squadron. The New England attackers succeeded when the fortress capitulated on June 16, 1745. A major expedition by the French to recapture the fortress led by Jean-Baptiste de La Rochefoucauld de Roye, duc d'Anville the following year was destroyed by storms, disease and British naval attacks before it ever reached the fortress.

Louisbourg returned [ edit | edit source ]

In 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, restored Louisbourg to France in return for territory gained in the Netherlands and the British trading post at Madras in India. Maurepas, the minister of marine, was determined to have it back. He regarded the fortified harbor as essential to maintaining French dominance in the fisheries of the area. The disgust of the French in this transaction was matched by that of the English colonists. The New England forces left, taking with them the famous Louisbourg Cross, which had hung in the fortress chapel. This cross was rediscovered in the Harvard University archives only in the later half of the 20th century it is now on long-term loan to the Louisbourg historic site.

Having given up Louisbourg, Britain in 1749 created its own fortified town on Chebucto Bay which they named Halifax. It soon became the largest Royal Navy base on the Atlantic coast and hosted large numbers of British army regulars. The 29th Regiment of Foot was stationed there they cleared the land for the port and settlement.

Second siege: 1758 [ edit | edit source ]

Britain's North American (American) colonies were expanding into areas claimed by France by the 1750s, and the efforts of French forces and their Indian allies to seal off the westward passes and approaches through which American colonists could move west soon led to the skirmishes that developed into the French and Indian War in 1754. The conflict widened into the larger Seven Years' War by 1756, which involved all of the major European powers.

A large-scale French naval deployment in 1757 fended off an attempted assault by the British in 1757. However, inadequate naval support the following year allowed a large British combined operation to land for the 1758 Siege of Louisbourg which ended after a siege of six weeks on July 26, 1758, with a French surrender. ⎝] The fortress was used by the British as a launching point for its 1759 Siege of Quebec that culminated in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

The fortifications at Louisbourg were systematically destroyed by British engineers in 1760 to prevent the town and port from being used in the future by the French, should the peace process return Cape Breton island to France. The British kept a garrison at Louisbourg until 1768. ⎞] Some of the cut-stones from Louisbourg were shipped to Halifax to be re-used and, in the 1780s, to Sydney, Nova Scotia.


Contents

From 1688 onward there had been a number of military campaigns fought between the French and their allies and the English in the region. Under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession, the French colony of Acadia had been ceded to Great Britain. The tribes of Wabanaki Confederacy, had a long history of raiding British settlements along Northern New England in present-day Maine. During the 17th and early-18th century, the Wabanaki fought in several campaigns, including in 1688, 1703, 1723, 1724. [4] [a] Many of the British military leaders of the siege of Louisbourg came from Northern New England, whose family members were killed in the raids.

In the summer of 1744, New Englanders' concerns of further attacks on the Northern New England increased after a French and Wabanaki force sailed from Louisbourg to the nearby British fishing port of Canso, attacking a small fort on Grassy Island and burned it to the ground, taking prisoner 50 British families. This port was used by the New England fishing fleet however, the Canso Islands (including Grassy Island) were contested by both Britain and France.

The prisoners taken during the Canso raid were first brought to Louisbourg, where they were given freedom to move around. Some of the military men took careful note of the fortress design, layout, and condition, as well as the size and condition of its garrison and armaments. [5] These men were eventually released to Boston, where their intelligence, along with that provided by merchants who did business at Louisbourg, proved useful in planning the attack.

The French, military and civilian alike, were not in the best of condition at Louisbourg. Supplies were short in 1744, and the fishermen were reluctant to sail without adequate provisions. The military rank and file claimed that they were promised a share of the spoils from the Canso raid, which had instead gone to officers, who sold those same provisions and profited in the endeavour. [6] In December 1744, the troops mutinied over the poor conditions and pay that was months overdue. Even after acting Governor Louis Du Pont Duchambon managed to quiet the discontent by releasing back pay and supplies, the following winter was extremely tense, as the military leadership maintained a tenuous hold on the situation. Duchambon was even reluctant to send for help, fearing the message would be intercepted and spark further unrest. Word of the unrest did, however, make its way to Boston. [7]

In 1745, the governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, William Shirley, secured by a narrow margin the support of the Massachusetts legislature for an attack on the fortress. He and the governor of the Province of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth, sought the support of other colonies. Connecticut provided 500 troops, New Hampshire 450, Rhode Island a ship, New York ten cannons, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey funds. [8] The force was under the command of William Pepperrell of Kittery (in the portion of the Massachusetts colony that is now the state of Maine), and a fleet of colonial ships was assembled and placed under the command of Captain Edward Tyng. Governor Shirley sent to Commodore Peter Warren, the chief officer of the Royal Navy's West Indies station, a request for naval support in the event of an encounter with French warships, which would significantly outclass any of the colonial ships. Warren at first declined this offer, lacking authorization from London to assist. Only a few days later, he received orders from the Admiralty to proceed to protect the New England fisheries. The expedition set sail from Boston in stages beginning in early March 1745 with 4,200 soldiers and sailors aboard a total of 90 ships.

Canso and Port Toulouse Edit

The force stopped at Canso to reprovision. There they were met by Commodore Warren, enlarging the expedition by 16 ships. In late March, the naval forces began to blockade Louisbourg, however ice fields were being swept from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the seas off Louisbourg that spring, presenting a considerable hazard to wooden-hulled sailing ships. The poor weather and general state of disorganization of the New England naval forces resulted in numerous delays to the expedition, however, they kept busy harassing French fishing and shipping in the waters surrounding Île-Royale.

With the ice fields gone by late April, the siege began in earnest. Pepperell's land forces sailed in transports from Canso. On May 2, he besieged Port Toulouse (present-day St. Peter's, Nova Scotia) as well as destroying several coastal villages in the area between Canso and Louisbourg.

Landing Edit

On May 11, John Gorham and his rangers led the charge to land troops on the shores close to the fortress. They tried to land their whale boats at Flat Point Cover while covered by the fire power of the Lord Montague, Boston Packet and Massachusetts. Gorham was repelled by 20 French troops that occupied the cove. Gorham quickly regrouped with several other vessels and the operation was re-directed to Kennington Cove. The French troops were unable to re-position themselves in time to stop the landing of British troops. After 1500 British were already on shore, 200 French troops arrived to repel the British, led by Pierre Morpain and De la Boularderie. Morpain retreated while De La Boularderie gave himself up as a prisoner. The British would land 2000 troops by the end of the day. [9]

Destroying the fisheries Edit

While most of the troops were employed at attacking the Royal Battery, the Island Battery and Fortress Louisbourg, others were scouting around the perimeter of the fortress, destroying small fishing villages. On May 8, the Mi'kmaq defended against an attack on near-by Margaret's Bay and killed seven of Warren's troops. [10] On May 11, the English killed or took prisoner seventeen French and the French wounded three English. [10]

On May 19, Edward Tyng in the vessel HMS Prince of Orange along with the ship Massachusetts destroyed St. Ann's Bay, burning the town and shipping. [11] They killed 20 people and took 25 prisoners. The French killed one British troop. [12] On May 21, the Prince of Orange is joined by the Defence and they destroy Ingonish, burning a town of 80 houses. They continued to destroy the towns of Bradore and Bayonne. [13]

On May 23, 20 British troops from Jeremiah Moulton's Regiment attacked a small village. While they were in the village, they were surrounded by 100 fighters made up of French and Mi'kmaq. They killed 18 of the 20 British troops. [14]

On May 30, the Mi'kmaq at Chapeau Rouge (L'Ardoise) attacked thirteen English soldiers from Captain Fletcher's crew on the Boston Packet, who were seeking wood and water. [15] They killed seven English soldiers, three of whom were scalped. They also took three prisoners, two of whom were later found butchered and one later died of wounds. [16]

On June 24, the Defence and the Boston Packet sent a plundering expedition on shore near "Laten". [17]


Fortress of Louisbourg – Come for the History and Stay for the Bread!

Louisbourg is a coastal community located on beautiful Cape Breton Island’s East Coast. This area is also home to the Fortress of Louisbourg! While in town you can also feast on fresh local seafood, hike and bike the beautiful surrounding nature, enjoy local culture and kick your feet up and relax. The community consists of about 1000 residents, however this grows exponentially during summer with tourists visiting from all over the world.
The area offers something for all preferences with cabins, cottages, campgrounds, inns and bed & breakfasts. Take your time to truly enjoy the area and it’s hospitality! Like any coastal Nova Scotia community the best months to visit are June through October, however the Fortress itself is open year round albeit with limited hours during low season. What Louisbourg lacks in size it makes up for in events and points of interest. There’s an annual crab fest in early August and it’s home to the Louisbourg Playhouse Theatre Company and the Sydney and Louisbourg Railway Museum. There’s also a picturesque lighthouse which is a can’t miss. But of course the main draw is the National Historic Site – The Fortress of Louisbourg!

How to get to The Fortress of Louisbourg

Whether you fly into the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport or arrive by car, all roads will lead to Route 22. It’s located at exit 8 off Highway 125. The great thing about Route 22 is that it takes you through Louisbourg, so you get to explore the town. Well-marked signs will take you directly to the Fortress of Louisbourg which will be on your right hand side.
Driving from the Canso Causeway will take you approximately 2.5 hours to arrive at the Fortress. Travelling from Sydney the drive will take you 50 minutes and from Glace Bay it’s about an hour. Route 22 is tree lined and in good condition. Drive safely and your next stop, the Fortress of Louisbourg, will transport you back in time!

What to expect when you arrive at The Fortress of Louisbourg

During the height of the tourist season you can expect the Fortress to be a busy spot. There were license plates from all over North America which was awesome to see!

When you turn onto the road leading to the Fortress you are advised of what parking areas have spots available. They are numbered P1-P5. The road travels one-way through the parking areas and to the Visitor Centre, then you can either loop back to the parking areas or Exit. Parking lots P1 and P2 were the busiest with not a parking spot in sight.

We ended up parking in P3. There were a lot of campers and trailers but also some passenger cars as well. From there you walk to the Visitors Centre to buy tickets and catch the bus – yes the bus! Let me explain!
At the Visitors Centre you are served in either of Canada’s official languages, French or English. The cost of entry for the 2018 season is $17.60 for adults, $14.95 for Seniors with youth (17 and under) free! At the time of payment staff give information regarding the bus to the Fortress as well as a map/guidebook for the visit. This helped us decide what to see based on location and purpose of each building as the Fortress is quite elaborate!
The Visitor Centre has washroom facilities, a gift shop and a spot to leave comments regarding your visit. It also includes exhibits to view and of course, this is where you get on the bus.

Only with a special pass can you drive to the Fortress yourself, otherwise you take a comfortable park provided and air-conditioned bus. The drive from the Visitor Centre is approximately 2 kilometres and a loudspeaker gives you some history as the Fortress of Louisbourg comes into view.

The drop off is at location #1 as marked on the map in the guidebook and the bus runs every 15 minutes. When you’re ready to leave simply return to this location and catch the bus back to the Visitor Centre.

The Fortress of Louisbourg – How Historical Is It?

The Fortress itself IS historical but the history of the Fortress is quite intriguing! It became a National Historic Site in 1920, and for good reason.

Originally settled in 1713 by the French, the port became a well-defended fortress, primarily against the English for strategic reasons. I t’s location made it easy to defend against British ships entering the St. Lawrence River which was the only way to get goods to other parts of French Canada like Quebec and Montreal. Extensive fortifications grew all around the town of Louisbourg and were also supported by two smaller surrounding garrisons.

The fortress was captured in 1745 by British Colonists due to several weaknesses including its distance from France and Quebec. It would then be used as a bargaining tool and eventually returned to the French in exchange for a town in Belgium in 1748. British Forces c aptured it again during the Seven Years War in 1758 and a few years later the fortifications were destroyed by British Engineers. The British subsequently held a garrison at the site until 1768.

Obviously we are just scratching the surface. To read more on this fascinating topic google: Fortress of Louisbourg!

The Restoration Project

Many moons later, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Louisbourg became the largest reconstruction project in North America. This brought the fortress and part of the town back to life, sometimes using the original stonework.

This project also helped employ many out-of-work miners in Cape Breton, retraining them where needed. The skills learned also helped the many locals earn a livelihood for themselves when the project ended The picture below depicts part of the project where they unearthed the original stone floor of this building.

What will you see when you visit The Fortress of Lousibourg?

As you arrive at the bus drop-off you’ll see the Desroches House with its green sod roof and rustic interior. Here you get a glimpse of what you will also see inside the Fortress itself.
You then head toward Dauphin Gate, the entryway to the Fortress grounds. At the gate you will be greeted by a “soldier” in period clothing. In character they will ask “What is your business here?” and explain the do’s and don’ts along with what to expect inside.
Some basics are available inside the Fortress including WiFi, washrooms, restaurants and gift shops. The food is based on the time period and consists of an actual sit down restaurant in the style of an 18th Century tavern. There’s also a small café serving food-to-go and they also bake bread from the 1700’s to enjoy. We missed out on the bread however it comes highly recommended as ‘ an experience to be had’. Go buy a paper bag full of bread from the olden days – well, baked fresh but LIKE the olden days! You can purchase this delicacy in Building #9 at the King’s Bakery!

For a cost there’s an opportunity to shoot a musket and fire a cannon so plan for that if it suits your fancy!
We loved seeing folks walk around in period costumes, performing tasks as they would have in the 1700’s and the overall feeling that you are walking though history – well because you are.

What’s in the Buildings?

Some of our favourite spots among the many were buildings like #27 Carrerot House, where you can see building techniques of the era. It is amazing to think of what we have today, with modern construction at our fingertips, in contrast with the ingenuity of the era that allowed them to construct such buildings – incredible.

Another favourite was building #19 in the Visitor Guide, the military chapel. We chatted outside with an “actor” in period costume who told us about the chapel and it’s meaning for the larger community at the time.

Once inside, it was beautiful with vibrant blue and gold all around plus we had to get the obligatory pictures in the confession booth.

In Building #21, King’s Bastion Barracks, we learned all about the fortresses reconstruction. This included how they brought all of the crew, blue prints and hours of labour together to rebuild portions of the Fortress. A very well laid out and informative exhibit.

Building #20, is the Governor’s Apartments. Here we saw how the other half lived during those times. The apartments gave an inside look into the grandiose kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms and offices of those in charge during those trying times. We even saw how the other half went to the potty. You never know what you will find at the Fortress of Louisbourg!

There are animals including geese and roosters as well as maintained gardens to see.

Another truly interesting sight is in back of building #34/35, the Louisbourg Cross. New England forces took the cross from the fortress chapel in 1748. In the latter half of the 20 th century it was rediscovered in the Harvard University archives and is now on loan to the historic site!

Why Should YOU visit the Fortress of Louisbourg?

Cape Breton Island is a beautiful part of our province with so much to offer including friendly people, rich culture and natural wonders.

Louisbourg is a lovely community and the Fortress of Louisbourg is a Historic Site that should be on any traveller’s itinerary when in the area. If you are into history, architecture, cannons, or a foodie – there is something for everyone here! We had a great afternoon and it was well worth our time to step back in history!

Check out more about Louisbourg and this region of Cape Breton by listening to Meggan’s podcast – The Travel Mug Podcast episode here:

What was your favourite part about visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment!

Are you looking for more to do in Nova Scotia?? Consider checking out some of our other posts for some great ideas!
Magic Winery Bus Tour
Polly’s Cove Hike
Cape Sable Island

*This is not a sponsored post, our opinions are our own.
**All rights reserved – this content may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without written consent.
***Special thanks to Holly MacDonald for the use of her town of Louisbourg photos


Fortress of Louisbourg

The Fortress of Louisbourg (French: Forteresse de Louisbourg) is a National Historic Site of Canada and the location of a one-quarter partial reconstruction of an 18th-century French fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Its two sieges, especially that of 1758, were turning points in the Anglo-French struggle for what today is Canada. [1]

The original settlement was made in 1713, and initially called Havre à l'Anglois. Subsequently, the fishing port grew to become a major commercial port and a strongly defended fortress. The fortifications eventually surrounded the town. The walls were constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740. By the mid-1740s Louisbourg, named for Louis XIV of France, was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America. [2] It was supported by two smaller garrisons on Île Royale located at present-day St. Peter's and Englishtown. The Fortress of Louisbourg suffered key weaknesses, since it was erected on low-lying ground commanded by nearby hills and its design was directed mainly toward sea-based assaults, leaving the land-facing defences relatively weak. A third weakness was that it was a long way from France or Quebec, from which reinforcements might be sent. It was captured by British colonists in 1745, and was a major bargaining chip in the negotiations leading to the 1748 treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession. It was returned to the French in exchange for border towns in what is today Belgium. It was captured again in� by British forces in the Seven Years' War, after which its fortifications were systematically destroyed by British engineers. [2] The British continued to have a garrison at Louisbourg until 1768.

The fortress and town were partially reconstructed in the 1960s and 1970s, using some of the original stonework, which provided jobs for unemployed coal miners. The head stonemason for this project was Ron Bovaird. The site is operated by Parks Canada as a living history museum. The site stands as the largest reconstruction project in North America. [3]


The French military founded the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1713 and its fortified seaport on the southwest part of the harbour, naming it in honour of Louis XIV. [1] The harbour had been used by European mariners since at least the 1590s, when it was known as English Port and Havre à l'Anglois. The French settlement that dated from 1713. The settlement was burned the first day the British landed during the Siege of Louisbourg (1745). The French were terrorized and abandoned the Grand Battery, which the British occupied the following day. It was returned to France in 1748 but recaptured by the British in 1758.

After the capture in 1758, its fortifications were demolished in 1760 and the town-site abandoned by British forces in 1768. A small civilian population continued to live there after the military left. [2]

English settlers subsequently built a small fishing village across the harbour from the abandoned site of the fortress. The village grew slowly with additional Loyalists settlers in the 1780s. The harbour grew more accessible with the construction of the second Louisbourg Lighthouse in 1842 on the site of the original French lighthouse destroyed in 1758. A railway first reached Louisbourg in 1877, but it was poorly built and abandoned after a forest fire. However the arrival of Sydney and Louisburg Railway in 1894 brought heavy volumes of winter coal exports to Louisbourg Harbour's ice-free waters as a winter coal port. The harbour was used by the Canadian government ship Montmagny in 1912 to land bodies from the sinking of the RMS Titanic. In 1913 the Marconi Company established a transatlantic radio transmitting station here.

Incorporated in 1901, the Town of Louisbourg was disincorporated when all municipal units in Cape Breton County were merged into a single tier regional municipality in 1995. [3]

Historical population
YearPop. ±%
19411,012
19511,120+10.7%
19561,314+17.3%
19611,417+7.8%
19811,410−0.5%
19861,355−3.9%
19911,373+1.3%
19961,267−7.7%
20011,157−8.7%
2006988−14.6%
2011946−4.3%
[4] [5] [6] [7] 2006 population adjusted to match 2011 boundaries.

Pronounced "Lewisburg" by its largely English-speaking population, the present community has been identified by slightly different spellings over the years by both locals and visitors. The town was originally spelled Louisburg and several companies, including the Sydney and Louisburg Railway adopted this spelling. On 6 April 1966, the Nova Scotia House of Assembly passed "An Act to Change the Name of the Town of Louisburg" which resulted in the town changing its official name to the original French spelling Louisbourg.

Louisbourg's economy is dominated by the seasonal tourism industry and seafood processing. The depletion of groundfish stocks has negatively affected local fish processing operations in recent decades.

In the 1960s, Parks Canada completed a partial reconstruction of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Today this National Historic Site of Canada is the town's dominant economic engine, employing many residents and attracting thousands of tourists every year. The fortress holds large scale historical reenactments every few years to mark important historical events and attract visitors to the town. The most recent in July 2008, commemorated the 250th anniversary of the first British siege victory over French forces in July 1758. [8] The town's more recent history is preserved at the Sydney and Louisburg Railway Museum located in the restored railway station in the centre of town. [9]

Annually, the community hosts the Louisbourg Crab Fest. [10] A large golf course and residential resort is planned near the community designed by Nick Faldo, the resort was expected to open in 2010 but development stalled in the recession. [11]

Louisbourg is home to the Louisbourg Playhouse, a theatre company operating in an Elizabethan theatre that was used as a prop in the live-action 1994 Disney film Squanto: A Warrior's Tale. [12]

Louisbourg experiences a marine influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The highest temperature ever recorded in Louisbourg was 34.0 °C (93 °F) on 2 September 2010 and 15 July 2013. [13] [14] The coldest temperature ever recorded was −26.0 °C (−15 °F) on 18 January 1982. [15]

Climate data for Fortress of Louisbourg, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1972–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
(57.2)
13.0
(55.4)
26.0
(78.8)
19.0
(66.2)
29.0
(84.2)
31.7
(89.1)
34.0
(93.2)
32.0
(89.6)
34.0
(93.2)
25.0
(77.0)
20.0
(68.0)
13.5
(56.3)
34.0
(93.2)
Average high °C (°F) −1.0
(30.2)
−1.1
(30.0)
1.4
(34.5)
5.6
(42.1)
11.0
(51.8)
16.4
(61.5)
20.3
(68.5)
21.4
(70.5)
18.3
(64.9)
12.5
(54.5)
7.0
(44.6)
2.3
(36.1)
9.5
(49.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.9
(23.2)
−5.2
(22.6)
−2.2
(28.0)
2.2
(36.0)
6.9
(44.4)
11.9
(53.4)
16.2
(61.2)
17.6
(63.7)
14.3
(57.7)
8.9
(48.0)
3.8
(38.8)
−1.1
(30.0)
5.7
(42.3)
Average low °C (°F) −8.9
(16.0)
−9.3
(15.3)
−5.9
(21.4)
−1.3
(29.7)
2.7
(36.9)
7.4
(45.3)
12.2
(54.0)
13.8
(56.8)
10.3
(50.5)
5.2
(41.4)
0.6
(33.1)
−4.5
(23.9)
1.9
(35.4)
Record low °C (°F) −26.0
(−14.8)
−25.0
(−13.0)
−23.0
(−9.4)
−13.5
(7.7)
−7.0
(19.4)
−1.5
(29.3)
4.0
(39.2)
3.5
(38.3)
−1.7
(28.9)
−4.5
(23.9)
−12.0
(10.4)
−20.6
(−5.1)
−26.0
(−14.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 147.0
(5.79)
138.0
(5.43)
143.6
(5.65)
147.5
(5.81)
127.6
(5.02)
113.1
(4.45)
108.4
(4.27)
107.8
(4.24)
133.0
(5.24)
158.3
(6.23)
168.9
(6.65)
153.1
(6.03)
1,646.3
(64.81)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 83.4
(3.28)
77.9
(3.07)
100.1
(3.94)
127.9
(5.04)
126.9
(5.00)
113.1
(4.45)
108.4
(4.27)
107.8
(4.24)
133.0
(5.24)
158.3
(6.23)
160.7
(6.33)
106.3
(4.19)
1,403.6
(55.26)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 58.5
(23.0)
56.6
(22.3)
41.2
(16.2)
17.9
(7.0)
0.8
(0.3)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
8.2
(3.2)
44.6
(17.6)
227.8
(89.7)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 15.4 13.3 13.7 15.3 15.2 14.0 13.9 14.3 15.2 16.8 18.9 17.8 183.8
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 8.3 7.2 9.6 13.6 15.1 14.0 13.9 14.3 15.2 16.8 17.5 11.9 157.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 9.3 8.0 6.3 3.1 0.24 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.2 8.0 37.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 89.9 109.0 138.4 150.7 170.7 185.5 184.7 182.1 159.8 130.9 74.9 74.2 1,650.7
Percent possible sunshine 31.9 37.3 37.5 37.2 36.9 39.5 38.8 41.6 42.4 38.6 26.2 27.4 36.3
Source: Environment Canada [15] [16] [17]

Louisbourg (spelt Louisberg) was mentioned in Nathaniel Hawthorne's story Feathertop. The town is also a major setting for Thomas H. Raddall's 1946 novel Roger Sudden. The town "Louisburg" is mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline. The 2011 film Take This Waltz begins with a re-enactment scene from the fortress and features the lighthouse in several shots.


Louisbourg

In 1713, the French established a colony on the eastern side of Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia. The administrative center was called Louisbourg in honor of King Louis XIV and had the great advantage of being located on an ice-free harbor. A fortress of the same name was constructed (1720-40) to protect against enemy incursions into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1745, as part of King George's War (or the War of the Austrian Succession in Europe), Louisbourg was successfully attacked by English colonial forces under William Pepperrell and a royal naval contingent under Peter Warren. Louisbourg was of particular concern to New England shipping and fishing interests, since it served as the base for French privateers. Much to the colonists' chagrin, the fortress was returned to the French under the terms of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748). Many American colonists, while still proud subjects of the king, were outraged when their greatest military conquest was negated by the stroke of a pen in a faraway land. The Siege of Louisbourg The colonial rivalry between France and Britain continued into the next decade. It final chapter occurred in the Franch and Indian War and the fortress at Louisbourg was again a facal point. In 1758, the French garrison at Louisbourg was manned by only 3,000 men. Those forces were supplemented in the early spring by the arrival of five ships, which were assigned the task of protecting the harbor from an expected British assault. French concerns were well founded. A 12,000-man British army was en route under Jeffrey Amherst. The soldiers were carried on 120 transport ships and were supported by a naval squadron under the command of Admiral Edward Boscawen.

A landing was undertaken on June 8 in a small cove to the west of the fortress. Conditions were extremely hazardous — the seas were rough and the French held a position on the cliffs above. Despite early setbacks, the British were able to get their soldiers ashore due in a large part to the planning and drive exhibited by James Wolfe. In the following weeks the British extended their control in an arc across the land area to the west of Louisbourg and initiated a siege. On June 12, to further enhance the British position, Wolfe led a 1,200-man force through a thick fog to Lighthouse Point, an undefended promontory across the harbor from the fort. From this point the British guns could command Battery Island — the French outpost that guarded the entrance to the harbor. The presence of British firepower on Lighthouse Point forced the French to move their ships out of range and closer to shore. This move soon had the unfortunate consequence of placing the vessels within range of the shore-base British artillery as the siege line tightened to within 200 yards of the city. Three of the ships were destroyed by artillery on July 21 and the other two fell to a surprise raiding party four days later. The siege had taken a heavy toll on the French soldiers and civilians within the fort. The commander had no reasonable expectation of relief and surrendered on July 27. The fall of Louisbourg was a pivotal event in the war, giving the British control of the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and opening the door to the fateful Quebec campaign of the following year. News of this British victory followed closely on the heels of the reports from forts Duquesne and Frontenac, and indicated a sharp change in the fortunes of the war. See Louisbourg regional map.
See also French and Indian War Timeline.
Also Indian Wars Time Table.


Explore the History of the Fortress of Louisbourg

Are you wondering why the Fortress of Louisbourg was built? Why does Cape Breton link it so strongly to their history?

What is the connection between the Fortress of Louisbourg and the history of New France? And what does this have to do with the hints of resentfulness between the English and the French in Canada?

The French settle in Louisbourg following the Treaty of Utrecht. This treaty was to end the War of Spanish Succession which was raging in Europe. In the deal, France was to retain Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island in what is now Atlantic Canada.

I think that some historians would say that this treaty was the beginning of the end of France's expansion into the New World!!

At that time, Cape Breton was called isle Royale and Prince Edward Island was called Isle Saint-Jean. These two little islands were the only bases along the Atlantic coast that belonged to the French.

Louisbourg would become a vibrant community and a busy commercial economy. For the French, it became the second most important port and commercial centre in New France, next only to Quebec. Remember, at this time the cod fishery was very important as was the fur trade.

However, wars were still raging in Europe!

The year is now 1745:

The problem is that the British are not far away on mainland Nova Scotia and further south in New England.

War was declared between Britain and France in 1745. This was not a stand-alone incident as the War of Austrian Succession was in full swing in Europe. It was only a matter of time before British forces and French forces were at it again in North America.

New England wanted the Fortress of Louisbourg and now they had their chance. They knew that the fortress was ill-prepared for an attack and they took full advantage. The expedition was lead by Massachusettes Govenor William Shirley. It would take less than two months!!

Three years later, the war ended with the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle. France would regain Louisbourg in exchange for their support of the Protestant monarchy in Britain.

New England was outraged!! They now knew they could not trust Britain!!

1758: the final battle.

The year 1758 would change the course of history for Canada. This would be the second seige at Louisbourg by the British. The seige would only take 7 weeks!!

General James Wolfe was there! He would continue on to Quebec and lead the British troops into battle on the Plains of Abraham.

Several years ago I visited Boston. I was to come across a statue of General Wolfe. I got the impression that he was seen as a hero. I remember being struck with a feeling of contempt at his fine statue! An odd feeling I would say!

The second seige at Louisbourg would set the stage for the Fall of New France in North America! Louisbourg was merely a steppng stone to Quebec City and then Montreal. The fall of Montreal in 1760 meant that France no longer held any power in Canada.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 would formally cede Canada to Britain by France. This included Cape Breton. Isle Royale was no more!

France would retain the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon just off the coast of Newfoundland. To this day (albeit, some interesting history of their own), they belong to France and are used as a fishing base for French fishermen.

The British wanted to be sure that Louisbourg would never again rise up from its ashes. It ordered the total destruction of the fortress.

However, its demise would not last and, yes, indeed, it would once again, rise up from the ashes.

The reconstruction would start! The only seiges for the future of the Fortress of Louisbourg is by the thousands of tourists who flock to Cape Breton to visit each year!


Watch the video: Giorgio Vanni - Gormiti, The Legend is Back (January 2022).