Monday, 12 September 2011

Fortress Louisbourg

The National Historic Site of Fortress Louisbourg is a definite 10 out of 10.  We planned to spend a full half day there and had to go back for a couple more hours the next day - not a problem as we bought the Ntl. Park pass before leaving on this trip - and it has pretty much paid for itself already.

Our tour guide using Barry and his good looking calves (well developed and strong calves were an object of admiration on men in this era) to demonstrate the Minuet dance!  For women, the  object of beauty was a tiny waist and apparently they started corseting the young girls at age  3 to achieve this!!!

Dipping and bowing during the dance.  Our guide was awesome!

Women's work - lace making

Looking down toward the Frederic Gate in Louisbourg

The Soldiers' quarters in the Kings Bastion in Louisbourg

Soldier's bed and foot locker - they had to sleep 3 to a bed but worked 24 hr. shifts with 48 hrs off, so there was only 2 in the bed at any given time.  The Soldiers life was brutal.

Cod Liver Oil lamp hanging from the ceiling in the Soldier's quarters.

Standing guard on the rampart behind the Kings Bastion

A resident soldier flirting with the ladies - there  were  7 - 8  soldiers for every woman - but soldiers' were lower class so the women preferred fishermen who were more  wealthy!

Interpreter in period dress playing the harpsichord - Barry asked - 'can you play a tune?' and he did!

Upper class dining  in the fortified village - the boughs mean the soldiers can get rum - they were illiterate - so signs had to be with symbols.

Drummers and flute players in Louisbourg

Preparing to fire the canon - Sandra did get a picture of the firing but JUMPED - so had to delete the pic!

Quality time in the evening with Buddy after a day of touring!  Belly scratch please!

Fisherman's  wife in period costume explaining the cod fishing line

Fisherman in period costume

Fisherman's Schloop (3 to a boat went out and they each manned two lines.  They'd catch 2000 lb of cod a day) and fish flakes for drying.  In a year in this area they'd catch and process 30,000 lb of cod a season.

Original floor in the soldier barracks where they were housed before being shipped back to France

Bottom 3/4 is the original wall in the Powder Magazine

Canons in the wall of the fortification

Inn Keeper in period costume

Kings Bastion - the Governor's quarters were on the right along with his officers, the soldier's quarters (700 +) were on the right.

Civilian part of the restored colonial town

Soldier demonstrating the musket firing - she surprised herself because it worked!

Taking the 1.5 km hike through the 3/4 of the historic site that has not been restored.  Lots of foundations etc are visible.  This was the site of a 100 bed hospital!

More hiking

Rugged coast along the spit that was part of the fortified town.  The Island in the background was the site of a battery fortification.

Rugged trail to walk on!

More quality time with Buddy around the campfire
We learned that a Fortress - as opposed to a Fort is a fortified town with civilians and military whereas a Fort is military only.  Never understood that distinction before.  Louisbourg is a reconstructed French colonial town of the era 1744 - and is the largest 18th century historic reconstruction in North America.  The French came to Louisbourg in 1713 after ceding their holdings in Nfl to the British with the exception of St. Pierre & Miquelon.  Louisbourg was a strategic choice because of its protected deep  harbor and its closeness to the Grand Banks for the lucrative and productive cod fishing and the high demand in Europe for the salted/dried fish - as 2 days a week (Fri. and Sat.) it was fish only for the millions of Roman Catholics - something else we didn't know - thought it had always been Friday only.

Louisbourg was one of the busiest ports in New France - and at this time was the 3rd busiest port in North America after New York and Boston.  Frances' policy at the time was to retain absolute control over its colonies - shipping all supplies to meet the needs of the civilians and soldiers - a fact that proved to be a weakness in defence - as in 1745 after a harsh winter and diminishing supplies, the British blockaded the harbour - cutting off the French supply ships then attacked overland at the rear of the fortified town - the British also had 3 times as many military.  So Britain gained control, but the French won Louisbourg back through the terms of a later treaty only to lose it again to the British in 1758.  The British abandoned the site in 1760 - and there still remains a treasure chest of artifacts under what would have been 3/4 of the fortified town.  1/4 of the fortified colonial town has been reconstructed based on evidence gleaned from archaeological digs, millions of recovered artifacts, and numerous records and documents (copies) retrieved from Archives in France, Britain and Canada (Acadia).  The French kept absolutely impeccable records - so this has been invaluable for the reconstruction.

The reconstruction started in 1961 - Cape Breton miners who had been laid off from the mines at that time were retrained in the necessary trades to accomplish this massive reconstruction project.  A wonderful make work project for these men who suddenly were without work to support their families.  Something else we didn't know or had forgotten!

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