Visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg

There is a gem of a location to check out in Cape Breton, only about 30 minutes outside of the city of Sydney. It’s a place you don’t want to miss, and is an incredible sight to see: The Fortress of Louisbourg.

Introduction

The Fortress of Louisbourg is full of history, and is a National Historic Site of Canada. When you attend the site, all of the actors treat you as though you are in the year 1744, wearing the attire, and teaching you about their way of life at the Fortress. This year Parks Canada required that everyone wear masks while indoors at any building, so since it is the year 1744, we are wearing masks to protect us from small pox! So they do a really great job of making you forget about what year it is and focusing on learning how the French lived in the 1700s.

The Fortress is a reconstruction of the original after archaeologists spent many years excavating the site. Between the 1960s and 1980s Parks Canada worked to rebuild about one quarter of the original Fortress, so that guests could come and experience this amazing Fortress themselves.

In front of the Frรฉdรฉric Gate

A Brief History

This site is full of history, the Fortress was occupied by the French and was a centre of off shore trading and fishing. The British ended up capturing this Fortress on two occasions, once in 1745 and 1758. The original settlement was founded around 1713, and in the 1740s it became “Louisbourg” after King Louis XIV of France. While visiting the Fortress, we learned a lot about the history here – including how King Louis XIV was very loved by his people, and would even go to battle with his men.

In the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, the British successfully took apart the Fortress so that the French weren’t able to return. Today, we are lucky that we are able to see the Fortress reconstructed since the French documented so much information for us to use.

Soldiers at the King’s Bastion

Actors and Immersive Experience

When locals think of the Fortress of Louisbourg, they immediately start telling you about all of the fun stories and memories they have there. Cannon demonstrations, firing a musket or trying on the 1700s attire, tasting freshly baked bread, getting yelled at by the French guards as to why you are at the Fortress and so much more. Unfortunately this year due to COVID, there is a lot less of the park open to visitors, as they didn’t have a lot of time to get the site ready for guests when they finally heard they had permission to open. So this year there is a lot less of the more immersive experiences, as a lot of buildings are closed. There is no food other than a small canteen to get a quick bite to eat, and this year the entrance is at the back of the site rather than through the big drawbridge “Dauphin Gate”.



However, even though there is a lot less of that “full immersive experience” that Louisbourg is so famous for, I need to point out that the Parks Canada staff and the actors there all went above and beyond with us. Since there is a lot less happening at the site this year, there are also less guests. So the employees here took so much extra time with us to joke, to explain their culture in the 1700s and to even play some musical instruments for us! I can’t say enough that the staff still made this a truly memorable experience and did such a great job. It was fun to have more one-on-one interactions with them. At the Commissaire-Ordonnateur’s property, he made sure to explain the history of each location we were originally from (and in our party we had three different locations, two in Canada, and one in the United States) and he was able to historically connect each of us somehow to the Fortress and explain what our land was known as during the 1700s. He also took the time to joke about my ankles showing. Apparently I would have been a bit too popular in the 1700s showing off my ankles!

So all in all, despite that a lot less of the Fortress was opened, the staff truly made this a lot of fun, and probably even more educational by how much information they took the time to act out or provide us.

COVID Updates

As mentioned earlier, there is a lot less opened currently due to the corona virus pandemic. Parks Canada has worked especially hard to still make sure that the historic site is as safe as possible for your family to visit this year such as:

  • Wear masks in all buildings (watch out for the small pox outbreak in 1744!)
  • Notices on all buildings with COVID-19 information and physical distancing markers of 6 feet
  • Sanitizer available upon entry of every building
  • Only one person per party to enter the admission building to gain entry
  • Only 9 buildings are currently open to the public at the site
  • Restaurants are closed – with only a small canteen open for a bite to eat

As always, businesses are trying very hard to follow provincial guidelines during the pandemic, but we need to make sure that we all do our part as well to ensure a safe area and that these wonderful places can stay open for our enjoyment!

Conclusion

The Fortress of Louisbourg is an incredible place to visit in Nova Scotia. If you have never been to the Fortress before, I would highly recommend to wait until the pandemic is over or when life is slightly more “normal” to be able to fully enjoy the immersive experience that the Fortress has to offer.

If you have already been to the Fortress before, or you are local to the area, I do recommend to still visit this year! If you’ve already had the full immersive experience before and are still interested in the history and the Fortress, this is actually the perfect time to go back and learn more. There are not many people there and like I said earlier, the staff is absolutely incredible and will spend so much time with you – even more than they could normally to tell you stories about their way of life and answer any questions that you may have.

The Fortress is a Canadian treasure, and we can’t wait to go back again after COVID and enjoy it again. Make sure to add this gem to your list of places to visit in the Maritimes!

Check out our YouTube Channel!

To see some of the amazing sites at the Fortress of Louisbourg, check out our YouTube vlog below:

Let us know in the comments below where you think we should visit next in the Atlantic Bubble!

Published by MaritimeMeg

Hey Maritimers and fellow explorers! My name is Meg, and my sidekick is Greg! Iโ€™m a Canadian/maritimer born and raised, and Greg is an American living here in the maritimes now. Join us on our adventures together!

23 thoughts on “Visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg

  1. haha, “Maritime Meg and her side kick Greg” gets funnier every time I read it, there’s a similar place to this in Jamaica with the same infrastructure and history behind it called “Port Royal”, It was a port where they did a lot of importing exporting as well as for wars and stuff like that. It kind of does make the experience a little less fun with all the covid regulations as you said but it’s good that they are maintaining those and it seems like you both still had a good time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I still laugh everyone I say it too! ๐Ÿ˜‚

      And I would LOVE to visit Port Royal someday, Iโ€™ve heard of it before and lots of history!! Next time we are in Jamaica I would love to visit there! Thank you so much for reading ๐Ÿ’œ and we still had a lovely time!

      Like

  2. I have never heard of the Fortress of Louisbourg. I love everything related to reenacting history. This sounds like such a fun place to visit. It’s even amazing how they are able to adapt their tours and include mask-wearing but for the sake of smallpox and not COVID. That’s just awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  3. I love how they came up with the masks being for smallpox in the 1700’s! Perfect idea to blend it in with the history! I love going to those historical places. I went to one in the USA called Plimoth Plantation and it was so fun interacting with the actors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes they were so creative! I love that they attempted to make it blend with the history. And places like these are so cool!! So neat you experienced something similar! Thanks so much for reading ๐Ÿ’œ

      Like

  4. Reading this post is the first time I have learned about the Fortress of Louisbourg. What an interesting history and how great it is that they essentially recreate how life was back then for people to visualize what daily living was. It’s so great that the staff is really pulling together to make visits so enjoyable for the reduced numbers they are catering to at the moment. I would love to visit and experience this first hand when the pandemic is finally able to be brought under control.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fortress of Louisbourg looks like a great place to visit and learn about the history of the place. Nova Scotia is on my bucket list so I am going to pin this post…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It a lovely place and glad that you had a good time there with pleasant weather. the pandemic does have all of us missing traveling so much~ hopefully, we will be able to move around again soon! – Knycx Journeying

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fun experience it was visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg through your eyes! I love how they are all re-enacting the time of the mid to late 1700s and actually giggled a little as they were requiring you to wear a mask to protect you from SMALL POX! That is genius! The fortress looks like a beautiful location to walk around but I think the interaction with the actors is the best part for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! Wasnโ€™t that a wonderful touch? I loved the small pox integration to keep the illusion alive. The actors are incredible and this is truly a gem of a spot! Thanks so much for reading! ๐Ÿ’œ

      Like

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