Fortress of Louisbourg: A Historical Treasure in Canada
The reconstructed Fortress of Louisbourg in the town of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, is a major tourist attraction and has been designated as a Canadian National Historic Site. This 18th century French fortress was carefully reconstructed in the 1960s to resemble as closely as possible the settlement as it was in the 1740s when it was at its peak. A visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg is a memorable experience, with cannons on stone ramparts, cobbled streets, a busy waterfront tavern and homesteads creating the look and ambience of a bygone era.
It was in 1961 that the Government of Canada undertook a $25 million project to reconstruct one quarter of the original town, complete with fortifications. Within the designated area, buildings, gardens, yards and streets were restored to what they were in the time period preceding the first siege of the town. The project was huge and required the input of expert archaeologists, historians, architects and engineers. Unemployed coal miners from the Industrial Cape Breton area were given the opportunity of working on the project and many of them learned 18th century French masonry skills and other skills in order to create an accurate replica. In many cases the stones from the original buildings were used in the reconstruction. These stones had been recovered from archaeological excavations, which also yielded vast quantities of artifacts. Moreover, around 750,000 pages of historical documents and 500 maps and plans were copied from archives in France, Scotland, England, the United States and Canada. These have all provided valuable insight into daily life in Louisbourg in the 18th century, which has assisted in both an accurate reconstruction of the fortified settlement as well as providing a basis for the inter-active displays carried out in the fortress for the benefit of visitors. These include demonstrations of the use of old weapons, such as muskets and cannons.
Due to its spacious, well-protected and ice-free harbor, as well as its thriving fishing industry, Louisbourg developed into a strategic center of merchant trade in the 18th century, welcoming vessels from France, the West Indies and along the Canadian coastline. Visitors to the Fortress of Louisbourg can let their imaginations run free while experiencing what life was like back then in this thriving coastal settlement.