Disposable Camera Tour
Fortress of Louisbourg (continued)|
Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia
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the full storey here
Everyone visiting the fortress by
sea came eventually through the ornate Frederic Gate. This guard
would, in 1744, likely be watching over
valuable goods on their way from the dock to the King's
Warehouse just up the street. The details on the side of the
wooden are that look like giant slot machine handles are decorative only.
Here's another shot of the King's
Bastion. Our puny digital camera cannot do the massive
stone building justice. Visitors can tour the milirary barracks, chapel
and governor's quarters indoors. There's a neat little museum
display on the bottom floor and military drills would have
been practiced here in the courtyard. We were looking just
today at a faux medieval mansion in Connecticut that cost the state
there $11 million to rebuild. How the Canadians rebuilt this whole
city for $25 million if beyond our ken, not including the
exchange rate. Must be a loaves and fishes miracle.
Across from the prison, inside the
King's Bastion, you'll find this chapel, ornate considering that in
1744 it was as inaccessible to France as the moon is today. That
is fortress namesake Louis IX depicted on the portrait behind the chandelier.
Louisbourg does a superb job of making the most out
of a very small army of paid and volunteer reinactors.
Here two women greet us and fill in the backstory of their master
who was apparently away for the day on business. Yes, that's a
rabbit hanging on the left.
Another key re-enactor station is
the lace-making display in the parlor of the Michel de
Gannes home at the top of the street. De Gannes was a
military captain in 1744, having worked his way up in Louisbourg society for 20
years. We were amazed to see how precisely events going on in the
reconstructed town match those promised in the guidebooks. The underlying planning
and scholarship never detracts from the lively interpretation due to
what must be superb training which begins when potential cast
members are very young. Re-enactors still appear to be
spontaneously moving and working around the city, despite what is a
clearly orchestrated regime of tasks. Bravo!
The presence of a small and tidy
group of domestic animals enhances the realism. Geese hook, sheep graze and goats eye visitors
from the neatly kept pocket gardens of village homes. Each
residence has a garden, some lush, carefully planted and honed to fit the era.
All three of the main eateries offer
local 1744 cuisine only. Potatoes were not eaten at the
time and tomatoes were considered deadly, so there were none to be
seen. The appropriately limited menu here included a wonderful
soup of root vegetables, coarse bread and butter, tea, blocks
of cheese and beer. Lower-class visitors like us must
wear a naplin the size of a tablecloth and eat only with a
giant pewter spoon. Those who cannot handle the realism can get
sandwiches in a little modern stand nearby, one of the few bows
to modern technology visible. Luckily the rest rooms where
state-of-the-art 21st century.
go to Louisbourg we strongly suggest that you take the narrated tour
in the morning. Then wander in the afternoon. Our guide was a native
of the town across the harbor and offered a brilliant introduction
to the city.
We wandered into a bit of local
justice. A Louisbourg man (who had previously been a soldier at
the gate) was led through the town and sentenced in front of an
angry mod. Re-enactors led the crowd into a jeering
session as the prisoner taunted back. The kids in the audience loved it. "Cut
off his head!" one young American boy shouted to the man accuesd
of petty thievery. Obviously TV has had no effect on our youth.
Punishment, not rehabilitation,
was the order of the day, and it could be severe in an isolated town
where the elements alone were often punishment enough. Here
our local rascal is subjected to a few moments of public
humiliation. Shackled in neck, arm and leg irons, he insists on his
innocence. The crowd was not buying it, but he was released on a
technicality and a pledge of good behavior.
More than 1,000 New Englanders lost
their lives, largely to exposure, disease and harsh conditions while
mounting the six month siege that brought down the fortress in June
1745. A portion of Louisbourg has been left in ruins and today makes
a beautiful seaside walking tour on a sunny day. A few tombs
remain along with interpreted archealogy. The momument on the right
was erected at the turn of the 20th century by a colonial
preservation society from New England, a group that also installed
monuments around this region in the USA.
A light rain was falling the following morning as we
took our leave of Louisbourg. But we still had to get a
look at the location where the New England troops first came ashore and established
a stronghold outside the walled fortress. Try to imagine
thousands of troops on shore and ship, many sick and
homesick, sutviving here through a brutal Nova Scotia winter. Today
visitors picnic and cross country ski here. Louisbourg, for our
money, lived up to its repuation as the finest historic restoratoin
in North America.
OUR LOUISBOURG CAMERA TOUR START
Visit the official Louisbourg
Fortress web site (which is kind of confusing)
entering Louisbourg via
Opinions and photos courtesy of J.Dennis Robinson
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