Cape Breton Day 5 

Another day of purely tourist stuff took us (myself, my sister & niece) to the Fortress of Louisbourg. The Fortress was a summer day trip as our family got larger in the 60’s – we were lured out with the promise of ice cream because at that time there was only one building that had a model of the proposed reconstruction, a few artifacts & some cannons outside. Boring for children.

Now it is an amazing recreation of the original fortress with several buildings, a couple of streets – giving one a sense of stepping back into that time. The village is populated with people in period costumes etc. Much of the wear has been fabricated on site or near by. You can buy lace made right in the Fortress before your very eyes. Farms have plants that the settlers would have grown.

Though most of it is ‘look & photograph’ there are some experiential opportunities: firing a musket, or even a canon – one can be arrested, jailed & publicly humiliated (all for a fee). Having survived high-school public humiliation this didn’t appeal to me.

There is also a building devoted the the Indigenous people who were responsible for saving the lives of the first settlers to the area & also the defence of the fortress when the English attacked it.

There are cafes – one for common folk, one for the more well to do, & one for those afraid of the other two. Food served at the first two is what would have been available to the populace & is served on pewter dishes, with a single spoon – knives & forks for dining weren’t used at this social level. I had a great pea soup & grilled haddock. 

We walked part of the Ruins Trail to visit a site where they are preserving buried remains to move them before that side of the area is eroded by the sea. We did get to talk with the historian. Photographs were not permitted. The staff & the costumed were all eager to explain & prepared for questions like ‘were there blacks at the Fortress?’ Yes.

I was tempted to ask about ‘molly boys’ but perhaps on my next visit. Maybe by then they will have reconstructed one of the brothels but for now it is purely family friendly.

On the way home we stopped at the Train Museum – fascinating but run by teenage boys more interested in their cell phones & who knew nothing about the history of the train service between Louisburg & Sydney. 

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