Fortress of Louisbourg
Fort Louisbourg reflects a chapter of Nova Scotia history when things were very different. In the 1700s, the fort on Cape Breton watched over a fortified French city long before the British gained control and the confederation of Canada was created. Now tourists have replaced soldiers. While times have changed, the views sure haven't—Cape Breton is one of the most scenic places in Eastern Canada.
Today, Fort Louisbourg is one of the most visited attractions in the entire province. You'll feel like you've stepped back into another era when you visit the same ramparts once watched over by the French military. This National Historic Site offers a wide range of interpretive programs that explain the history of the fortress of Louisbourg, especially in the summer. The living history brings alive the city at the height of its power in 1744 when Louisbourg was the capital of what was then called Île Royale, one of the busiest seaports in North America.
Because there are so many things to do at Fort Louisbourg, you should plan to spend the better part of the day at the National Historic Site. The fort's island home is easily accessible by car via the Canso Causeway from the mainland. Once you've arrived, you can begin exploring at the visitor center and see artifacts from the earliest days of the fort. This is just one of the places you'll find exhibits that explain the history of the fortress of Louisbourg. You could step into the Carrerot House to learn about the building techniques of the 1700s and spend time at another historic house to explores the legacy of the Sisters of Louisbourg, who faithfully served the Notre Dame Congregation for 35 years. In yet another house, you can watch a video detailing the lives of the soldiers who served the fort during its golden years.
As you wander through the fort on Cape Breton, you'll see many people dressed in clothing of the past. Poking into the museums, shops, and buildings will lead to interesting discoveries. Along the busy streets and bustling waterfront, costumed staff go about the tasks of the daily life, just as the people did in 1744. The fort's residents are eager to talk to visitors and how what Canada was like before the British gained control of the New World. Interpreters young and old will help explain the past, including how families, commerce, and even dining worked in this once-thriving village.
Good food continues to be a central experience at Louisbourg; the restaurants throughout feature drinks and food crafted from old-school recipes The bakery serves treats fit for a king, and two restaurants staffed by costumed waiters provide dining experiences that are not easy to to forget. The Grandchamps Inn and the Hôtel de la Marine serve grand meals and quick lunches in a place where the average solider or townie would have gathered to eat. In late August, one of the grandest events on the schedule is centered around a good meal and good company. The annual Feast of Saint Louis is filled with fun and hearty food.
Not all visits have to take place during the day, making planning when to go even easier. Many of the nighttime events focus on the history of the fortress of Louisbourg, including lantern light tours and dinner theater performances. On Thursday nights between July and September, visitors to this Cape Breton Island landmark can experience a fun murder mystery experience.
Because of the weather, the fort on Cape Breton is only open between May and October. The restaurants and bakeries have an even shorter operating schedule consisting of the months between June 1 to September 30. When the weather is the kindest, you'll have the chance to visit the place where history is never far away.
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