Sunday, September 9, 2012—Fortress of Louisbourg

We keep getting up later and later as we acclimate to the Atlantic Time Zone—thank goodness, as I can’t get to sleep until early morning. By the way, the Atlantic Time Zone is two hours in front our Central Time, i.e. 8 AM in the Atlantic Time Zone is 6 AM in the Central Time Zone.

After another great breakfast at the B&B, we departed Baddeck, driving east to Sydney and then south to Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada. It was foggy and misting rain, weather which would remain with us for the entire day. We arrived at the Fortress of Louisbourg shortly after 11 AM, presented our Canada Parks pass, and caught the shuttle to the Fortress grounds.120909_Edit_11
The Fortress of Louisbourg (French: Forteresse de Louisbourg) is a national historic site 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 imperial struggle for what today is Canada.

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. These walls were constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740. By the mid 1740s Louisbourg was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America. Fortress 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. Captured by British colonists in 1745, it was a major bargaining chip in the negotiations leading to the 1748 treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession, and was returned to French control from British in exchange for Indian city of Madras. It was captured again in 1758 by British forces in the Seven Years’ War, after which it was systematically destroyed by British engineers. The fortress and town were partially reconstructed in the 1960s, using some of the original stonework and providing jobs for unemployed coal miners in the effort. (Wikipedia)

120909_Edit_12We quickly made our way to the Governor’s Hall and parade grounds to observe firing of one of the cannons.  Only about one pound of powder was used, and it made a big bang—during the real battles, 6 pounds were used.  The photo shows the plume of smoke, and if one looks carefully, the cannon crew has their fingers in their ears.

120909_Edit2_01We toured the Governors Hall, and the many rooms used for living, cooking, meetings, business of the area, and essentially any other activities that would allow it to be self sustaining.

120909_Edit_15While this was a magnificent building, with lavish and luxurious amenities for the upper echelon, it was a real eye opener to see and hear how the young French soldiers lived, for they were ill fed, lack warm clothes, and worked long, hard hours—but it beat what they would have experienced back in France.

We then made our way through the other streets and alleys to the many buildings and their rooms making up the fortress.

120909_Edit_25Because this was a living museum, we were able to visit with the many characters in period dress, reenacting every day life in a mid-1700s French settlement in the new world.  They spoke to us as if we they were actually living in the These included cooks, officers, soldiers, blacksmiths, priests, engineers, sailors, and a full cadre of citizenry making up a village during that time period.120909_Edit_19





We even had lunch in the village, served on utensils that would have been popular during the period and by a waitress dressed in costume.  The food was mediocre at best.

Following our visit to Fortress of Louisbourg, we spent considerable time trying to find the Marconi historical site. Regrettably, this was apparently not an important site despite being designated a national historic site, and road work in the area made finding the site near impossible. Through John and Kay’s astute navigation abilities, we finally found the site, only to find it closed and the building empty. Apparently, Parks Canada has been undergoing severe budget cutbacks.  Nevertheless, we walked among the ruins where the towers had been built, and the first radio signals beamed.

Back at Baddeck, we had lobster dinner at Telegraph Hill and it was both very good and relatively inexpensive, two of my most important criteria for a restaurant.

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