(continuer en français) – Published: August 12, 2022

Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada

In 1713, France set up a new stronghold at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on what was then Ile Royale, which has since become Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia.

In 1758, after several struggles, the British finally captured the fortress and destroyed it without any intention of settling there.

In 1961, the closure of the Cape Breton coal mines led the federal government to finance major works to employ the population, leading to the reconstruction of Louisbourg.

Military stronghold

With the organisation of New France, stretching from Quebec to Louisiana and covering the whole of the central North American continent, the French king took matters into his own hands after having left the early days of colonisation to commercial companies.

The growing rivalry with the British called for a stronger military presence to provide safe conditions for the settlers, sailors and fishermen, who were still coming in great numbers to fish on the banks of Newfoundland.

A fortified port was therefore set up at Louisbourg facing the Atlantic, at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Located in the Château Saint-Louis, the garrison numbered less than 2,000 men in 1745 during the first confrontation with the British. In 1758 they were 7,000, illustrating the importance of Louisbourg in the French defence system.

Fortified wall
Saint-Louis Castle
Fortified Gate
Musket Fire

Economic activity

The first important activity was provided by French fishermen who came to fish cod in the Strait of Belle Isle off Newfoundland. They had to unload their catches in order to process them and ship them to the mainland or the West Indies.

The surplus agricultural products of the Acadian settlers were also looking for carriers to other markets and the fleet of merchant ships calling at Louisbourg was an opportunity. Transport between Quebec and France was growing, especially with the lucrative fur trade. Louisbourg offered warehouses and security for all these goods.

This explains the rapid growth of the town around the fortress. Within a few years, several thousand civilians settled in the fortified precinct or in the surrounding villages.

Civil dwelling
Civil dwelling
Civil dwelling


After the British victory, assisted by American settlers, Louisbourg was looted and the fortifications dismantled. Some of the stones were used for other buildings in the region.

From the end of the 19th century, the historical interest encouraged a policy of land purchase in order to protect the site and allow historical research. Apart from a small amount of agricultural activity, no new construction disturbed the site for two centuries.

With the closure of the coal mines and the continuing lack of employment in Nova Scotia, the authorities developed a project to rebuild Louisbourg based on the research carried out. From 1961 onwards and over a period of 20 years, some fifty buildings were carefully rebuilt according to the original construction techniques.

The rebuilt part of Louisbourg
Reconstructed houses in Louisbourg
Reconstructed street in Louisbourg


During the two summer months, numerous interpreters and guides in period costume play their roles for the visitors while explaining the living conditions of the past. Not only does this provide work, but the immersive visit is all the more instructive.

Building on such a fine historical site, groups of volunteers with a passion for historical re-enactments meet at Louisbourg on occasion to re-enact the battles. For a few days re-enactors even try to live as close as possible to the conditions of the time.

Today, Louisbourg has become a major tourist attraction in the Maritime provinces. Not only have the buildings been restored to their former glory, but the interiors have been reconstructed as faithfully as possible. In summer, the presence of costumed guides adds an extra touch.

Interpretive Guide
Interpretive Guide
Dining Room
Interpretive Guide
Interpretive Guide
Interpretive Guides
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Articles about Nova Scotia:

Introduction to Nova Scotia

For a long time, France and Britain fought over this land that formed the heart of French-speaking Acadia. Several waves of immigrants progressively replaced the French who had established from 1604. Scots, Germans, American settlers and finally Loyalists fleeing the independent United States. In 1755, the Acadians were expelled in the Great Upheaval, which still fuels passions.

Halifax : Top 10

Nova Scotia’s capital was created in 1749 by the Brittish with the intention of rivaling the French port of Louisbourg further north. After its military origins, Halifax became a major commercial city.


Lunenburg is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of a colonial settlement in North America. Its people have made a name for themselves in shipbuilding, notably with the racing schooner Bluenose.


En 1713, la France installe une nouvelle place forte à l’entrée du golfe du Saint Laurent, sur ce qui était alors l’Ile Royale, devenue depuis l’île du Cap Breton de la province de Nouvelle-Ecosse.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).


    • I haven’t tried the bread, but I’m guessing it’s baked like in the old days when it was often the main part of the meal. These historical reconstructions across Canada are great opportunities to learn more about the country. For children it must be much more lively than history classes. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad Louisbourg is attracting interest, there are many historic sites in Canada that are wonderfully brought to life and a visit is a dive into history. Thank you for your kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • When you think about it, it’s completely artificial since there is no longer a real city there. All this is only possible because there are tourists who justify all this effort.


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