Louisbourg National Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Louisbourg – a fortified town

In 1719, France began construction on a fortified town located along the sheltered southwestern shore of Havre Louisbourg, naming the settlement Louisbourg. Construction would only be finished by the eve of the first British siege in 1745. The sheer volume of the French investment in construction and a growing economy based almost entirely on the Grand Banks fishery, coupled with some out-migration of Acadians living in the British colony now named Nova Scotia, soon saw the town of Louisbourg become a thriving community. The mounting costs for construction[1] also led to King Louis XV‘s famous musing to his ministers (to whom he had authorized the fortress’s construction) if he should one day be able to see Louisbourg rising over the western horizon from his palace at Versailles.


As construction progressed and the settlement and its economy grew, Louisbourg soon became an important hub for commerce between France, New France, and French colonies in the West Indies. The town also became the base of a major fishery. To aid navigation to the often fog-bound harbour, the Louisbourg Lighthouse was constructed on the southeastern headland opposite the town in 1734, the first lighthouse in Canada. A cross-fire battery was planned at this location but never fully constructed.

National Historic Site

In 1961, the government of Canada, under the leadership of Victor Malm, undertook a historical reconstruction of one quarter of the town and fortifications with the aim being to recreate Louisbourg as it would have been at its height in the 1740s. The work required an interdisciplinary effort by archaeologists, historians, engineers, and architects. The reconstruction was aided by unemployed coal miners from the Industrial Cape Breton area, many of whom learned French masonry techniques from the 18th century and other skills to create an accurate replica. Where possible, many of the original stones were used in the reconstruction.

Today, the entire site of the Fortress of Louisbourg, including the one-quarter reconstruction, has been designated a National Historic Site with guided and unguided tours available. Also available at the site are weapons explanations and demonstrations; these include the firing of muskets and a cannon. Puppet shows are also shown. The Museum / Caretakers Residence (c. 1935-6) within the Louisbourg National Park is a Classified Federal Heritage Building on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. [1] The fortress has also greatly aided the local economy of the town of Louisbourg as it has struggled to diversify economically with the decline of the North Atlantic fishery.

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1 Response to “Louisbourg National Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia”

  1. 1 George Zwaagstra
    June 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Tim.Still keeping tabs on you.
    Just plain \”fantastic\”.If you are coming to Halifax yet,get in contact with us.

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