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Report 1902: A Quick Scamper Round Nova Scotia

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 4 of 16: Fortress of Louisbourg - Our Impressions

photo by Michael

Entry into the Fortress through the Dauphin Gate

The first sight of the Fortress of Louisbourg across the bay from the town is amazing. Only 20% of the site has been reconstructed which makes you realise just how big and important it was.

The date chosen for the reconstruction is 1744. The Fortress was nearly complete and the town had reached its full potential as a fishing and trading centre, with an extensive fishing settlement outside the walls.

Most of the items on display are reproductions based on original articles. Costumes are as accurate as possible and made from natural materials.

We spent a whole day visiting the Fortress and that wasnít really long enough as we didnít do the guided tour, watch the video or look at the exhibition in the Visitor Centre. It was one of the highlights of our trip and a well worth while visit.

The Parks Canada website is disappointing and there is little detailed information about the Fortress. I have therefore given a lot of detail in the following pages.

There are several large car parks at the Visitor Centre, which is a short bus ride from the Fortress. The entry ticket covers the cost of the bus and a guided tour as well as entry to the site. We were given a leaflet with some information and a map of the site with our entry ticket. The bus leaves every 15 minutes from outside the Visitor Centre to the Fortress.

There are costumed interpreters, soldiers on duty and townsfolk. All are knowledgeable and willing to talk and answer questions. On the day we visited there were two 75 minute guided tours in English and French as well as 30 minute orientation tours. The morning guided tour was very busy, the afternoon less so.

We were given a schedule of activities taking place during the day which included the blacksmith, rifle firing, public punishment, bobbin lace making and 18thC cooking. Unfortunately it didnít tell you the cooking was only in the morning, as it had to finish in time for the fire to go out before the Fortress closed. We were too late to see this.

At 4.40pm the canon is fired. This is a clever ploy to get everyone to the Dauphin Battery to watch this, so they would then be ready to leave by 5pm. (Staff do check all buildings to make sure everyone has left before locking up.)

Bread is baked daily in the Kingís Bakery and sold to visitors. There is a choice of soldiers' bread (rye and wholemeal flour), middle class bread (wholewheat flour) or high class bread (refined white flour). We bought a $3.50 loaf of soldiers' bread which was tasty but very filling. The $2 loaf would have been enough for our lunch.

There is a restaurant serving lunch and a small cafe with a seating area, which sells cinnamon and old fashioned sugar and molasses biscuits or apple turnovers as well as tea and coffee.

The shop in the Fortress is disappointing with a small selection of craft items, the usual tourist presents and some books and post cards.

The bus drops visitors off outside the town walls near the Dauphin Gate in the area known as the Fauxbourg. We were welcomed by two costumed interpreters and invited into the Fishing Proprietor's House for a short introductory talk (English and French) about the site and its history. This is carefully timed so you leave as the next bus load arrives.

Entry to the Fortress is through the Dauphin Gate with a manned guardhouse. Here you are Ďchallengedí by a soldier who checks you are not an English spy before letting you in.

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