French built largest fort in North America at Louisbourg NS
The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstructed fortification in North America.
While still three days away from boarding the ferry to Newfoundland/Labrador, we drove southeast to Louisbourg to see the historic old Louisbourg French Fort and lighthouse.
Other than driving through Sydney, there were a couple small communities we bypassed along the way and the countryside was mostly flat and empty. Late afternoon traffic was minimal as we drove through the little unincorporated town of Louisbourg, population about 1,000 to the fort visitor center.
The Louisbourg Lighthouse is on the site where Canada’s first lighthouse was constructed. This one is the fourth in a series to occupy the same site.
Like most of Nova Scotia, the French founded the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1773 on a spit of land across the harbor which would later be the fishing settlement of Louisbourg. The French probably chose this site because the harbor remains ice free during winter. In fact, the harbor was used to bring bodies ashore in April, 1912 from the Titanic which sank 400 miles east of Halifax, NS.
At the time of its construction in 1740 the fortress was the largest European fortification in North America. It was captured by the British in 1758 and the fort, which took 28 years to complete, was destroyed.
Today’s fort was studied for five decades and upon completion is now only one-quarter the size of the original construction but is still a huge, very authentic representation of the original. It is the largest reconstructed fort in North America.
Operated by Parks Canada, the fort offers tours, demonstrations and explanations of weapons,as well as, puppet shows and a museum.
French soldiers in full uniform march through the streets and conduct cannon firings while period costume town residents are doing the daily routines such as baking bread at a stone bakery, cooking over open fires, knitting socks etc., recreating life in an 18th century military town.
NEXT: Hiking the mountains of Cape Breton Island