Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island – Cold wind at the fort

Unfortunately Fortress Louisbourg completely opens just in the beginning of June. So we miss the actual attraction of the national historic site. In the fort, built up in 1961, the life of the 18th century is perfectly imitated. Originally costumed officers and soldiers, bakers and smiths, housewives and pub-crawlers pursue their original occupations and don’t recoil from dragging the visitors into quarrels or alleged fights. We can only visit a part of the restored buildings, but even they are worth an excursion.

In 1719 the French had begun to build up the fortified city of Louisbourg on Cape Breton. Walls and buildings were made of massive stone, but the location between the surrounding hills was not chosen very well. In the years 1745 and 1758 the fort was besieged two times by the English and captured without a problem. But it took them five months to demolish the walls.

Cape Breton Island has rich coal deposits, reaching down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The decline of the steel industry built on the coal was foreseeable. So the Canadian government built up one third of the completely destroyed city with enormous efforts to substitute lost jobs – in the beginning for the reconstruction, later in tourism. The plan seems to be quite successful. Fortress Louisbourg is considered to be one of the best “living museums” in Canada. Hundred thousands of visitors get every year to the historic site.

The lady at the fort’s parking lot who gives us first instructions has covered herself very non-Canadian: fleece vest, winter jacket, cap and gloves. Up here a strong ice-cold breeze blows. The thermometer puts on an act for our benefit and shows 25°C in the shadow.

Just a couple of kilometres further in the protected city the Fire Department organized a public car washing for fund raising. For 5 c$ you can get your car washed by hand. The young self-confident Head of Fire Department and her colleagues are already ringing in the summer with sun tops, shorts and sandals. In the evening we reach Pat and John, friends of Vivian and Wally from Nova Scotia, whom we absolutely should visit. Pat is an artist as well and John is a wonderful cook. Nobody can resist his blueberry cake.


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