Go Back in Time

Cape Breton’s historic Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest historical reconstruction in North America, spanning 16,000 acres, sixty of which are located within restored stone walls. Each summer, historical re-enactors breathe life to this unique living museum, playing their French colonial part of soldier, settler, merchant or peasant. Spotting Louisbourg for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d fallen through a worm hole.  In 1744, this was a  settlement that rivalled New York and Philadelphia.

Overview

Length of Trip : Half / Full Day

Cost : Click here for the latest fees from Parks Canada.  Register early for the cannoneer in training program, for an additional $36.80.

Best time to go : Open 7 days a week, May to October

Wheelchair friendly : Yes, although some buildings are not fully accessible.

Family friendly : Yes

Where to eat : Keeping with the theme, eat in a traditional on-site tavern with the same meals, and type of utensils, as people did in the 1700's. Costumed servers serve authentic lower-class French meals like pea soup, cod and meat pie, prepared from 250 year-old recipes.   Dining takes place in the Hôtel de la Marine and the Grandchamp Inn.   Click for menu, serving times and prices.  You can also sample bread and other baked goods from the King's Bakery. 

Official Site : Louisbourg Historical Site (Parks Canada) Fortress of Louisbourg Association

Where to Stay : The Point of View Suites are nearby and lovely, with a bonus of hosting the Beggars Banquet, an 18th century evening of lobster, song and shenanigans.   Costumes are provided. Watch out for Sabine, a tavern wench well worth the price of admission.

Getting There : After crossing the Causeway into Cape Breton:

1) Take Highway 105, the TransCanada Highway.  At Bras d'Or, take Highway 125 to Sydney until you reach Exit 8; then turn right onto Route 22. This route will take you straight to the modern community of Louisbourg. Follow the signs to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.   Approximate travel time: 3 hours.

2) Take Route 4, also called Highway 104.  In Sydney River, take the turn-off onto Highway 125, then take Exit 8, turning right onto Route 22.  This route will take you straight to the modern community of Louisbourg. Follow the signs to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours.

Note from Robin : As with most experiences, you'll have a much better time getting into the spirit of things.  Leave the modern world behind with your car at the Visitor Centre parking lot.  Interact with the locals, have fun with it.   Dress in layers as it can get quite chilly.  The Have a Blast program is a lot of fun, but reserve your spot early as they are limited and book up fast.  One thing is for certain:  when you see the Fortress for the first time, it will blow you away.

Gallery

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View form the Visitor Centre

louis-welcome

Bienvenue to the Past

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Entrance road

louis-sheep

Just like Sheep...

louis-bread

Making traditional cookies

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Interact with the locals

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Canon Firing Ceremony

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Lobsters await at Beggars Banquet

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17th Century Lusty French Wenches at Beggars Banquet

Map

Further Reading

Poll

Does Louisbourg belong on The Great Canadian Bucket List?

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