We had one thing to do today and that was go to Louisburg. It is about 30 km from Sydney right on the coast and is the largest restored fortress in North America. There are over 60 buildings or marked sites and this comprises only 1/5 of the original fortress. The remainder is preserved and untouched.
Louisburg was a unique site because there had never been a settlement of any kind there before the French fishing community was established and after the British sacked the Fortress in 1745 nothing else was built later. Archaeologists spent 20 years documenting artifacts and building sites. There were over 250,000 diaries, documents, etc and 500 maps of the city; plot plans, architectural drawings of buildings, date of death inventories of the citizens and merchants of Louisburg. A treasure trove of data. Plus researchers, historians and archivists combed through thousands of documents, letters, diaries, maps, and government papers; both in Canada and in France to locate things, confirm things, pieces together differing accounts or conflicting information.
There had been a museum with a model of the fort build in the mid-1930’s and during the 1960-1970 work at the site people would come and see what was going on. The ‘official’ opening of Louisburg was about 1987. One of the things I liked was that Parks Canada, during the construction of the fortress buildings, employed many of the out-of-work coal miners from the area. They were re-trained on-site. It took almost 20 years to complete the project.
We were there walking around non-stop for five hours and did not read all the information in the exhibit buildings nor take in any of the special talks or entertainment. Many of the buildings are ‘manned’ by people in period costume portraying the lives of actual citizens of this 18th century French community.
This lady is making willow lobster traps.
The Fortress was built solely to provide security for the cod-fishing. As in the British community on Grassy Island, just up the coast, Louisburg was a seasonal job for most people. At the height of the summer there would be between 6,000 and 7,000 but in the winter there would be about 2,500. 30,000,000 fish would be taken from the waters of the coast off Louisburg each season. This amounted to 4 times the value of the fur trade every year.
Virtually everything used in the fort was imported through codfish trading with Europe, the US and the Caribbean.
Today was Acadian Day at Louisburg so there was the History of Acadia told – accompanied by French songs – in the Governor’s Chapel, an Acadian Kitchen Party (impromptu, amateur entertainers) in the tent a the end of the street, and other special events during the day. These children were gathering for their turn entertaining at the Kitchen Party.
There were a lot of very interesting articles, paintings, models and artifacts in the many exhibits throughout the fort. I liked the ship models.
This is a three-man French fishing shallop
I must admit that my feet hurt a bit; but it was another good day.