The Fortress of Louisbourg is an spectacular place for families. We have seen, experienced, and learned so much this past week that we can’t really put it all into words. Why is this such a special place? The short answer is that life in a bustling 18th-century city lives and breathes here (literally). The great condition of the ruins and meticulous records kept of its construction and daily life made it possible to recreate the original port city of Louisbourg, and now it stands as the largest historical reconstruction on the continent. Louisbourg is also the only major colonial city in North America not to have a modern city built on top of it. So when you take the 5-minute bus ride from the Visitor’s Center to the Fortress, you truly are transported to another world with minimal intrusion from the present. Here is a glimpse into our magical week here.
Architecture: The buildings of Louisbourg are accurate reconstructions of the original 18th-century French seaport. From the lavish governor’s residence to humble inns for the common traveler, the walls and buildings themselves taught us about fortifications, food storage, metal working, and everything in between.
Archaeology: We were thrilled to be visiting during Louisbourg 300, a series of special activities celebrating the town’s 300th anniversary. In addition to all the regular demonstrations, we were treated to the opportunity to observe and speak with Parks Canada archaeologists who were recovering artifacts from the harbor, excavating around the walled city, and identifying and preserving artifacts for future generations to enjoy.
Residents of the City: The amount of knowledge the residents of the city (park staff reenactors ) have is truly impressive. Spending time speaking with the residents and learning about their world was one of our favorite parts of our time at Louisbourg. And not only do the residents “know” lots of interesting things, they also “do” lots of interesting things. We saw a ship being built, stew simmering over the hearth, bread baking in a brick oven, and even played a Basque bowling game and learned a period dance.
Beyond the Fortress Walls: The Historical Site is much more than just the walled city itself. We swam at the sandy beach where the attacking British launched their ground assault in 1745, explored the ruins of the town hospital, and posed next to the site of the first lighthouse in Canada, all without leaving the park boundaries.
Fun, Fun, Fun: At the Fortress of Louisbourg, we found surprises and delights around every corner for the young and not so young of us alike. For some of us, it came from climbing into a massive lime kiln used to make mortar. For others (High Five), it came from riding the bus to the Fortress and back. In the end, we could never have wished for a more perfect, fun, and educational week.