In my last blog, I promised to tell you a bit more about the Fortress of Louisbourg and our time in Halifax. I apologize for the delay – we came home and life as usual is busy. But as I watch figure skating on a Sunday afternoon, let me tell you a bit more about these two areas.
The Fortress of Louisbourg is located on the east coast of Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island) and is a National Historic Site of Canada.
A brief history – the French came to Louisbourg in 1713, after ceding Acadia and Newfoundland to the British by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1719 they began to construct at Louisbourg a fortified town which was only completed on the eve of the first siege in 1745. Although the harbour was well defended, the main landward defences were commanded by a series of low hills, some dangerously close to the fortifications. All provided excellent locations for siege batteries.
The first attack came in 1745 following a declaration of war between Britain and France. Within 46 days of the invasion the fortress was captured. To the chagrin of the New Englanders, only three years later the town was restored to the French by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. In 1758 Louisbourg was besieged a second time. Without a strong navy to patrol the sea beyond its walls, Louisbourg was impossible to defend. Attacking with 13,100 troops supported by a 14,000 crew on board 150 ships, a British army captured the fortress in seven weeks. Determined that Louisbourg would never again become a fortified French base, the British demolished the fortress walls. The British continued to have a garrison at Louisbourg until 1768.
In 1961 the Government of Canada began reconstructing approximately one-quarter of the original town and fortifications. Within this area, the buildings, yards, gardens and streets are being recreated as they were during the 1740s, immediately preceding Louisbourg’s first siege.
We found the re-creation very well done – the buildings, etc. look very authentic and the interpretive material is interesting. Being the off-season, the tours and interpretive activities were not available. However, the advantage was the lack of visitors – for the morning, there were probably only 25 of us on the grounds! We undertook a self-guided tour, using the provided informative map and felt that we were able to capture the history and essence of the Fortress. Adding to the ambiance was the lack of power (a remnant of Monday’s storm) – just like 1740!
As we toured the building interiors, we definitely noticed similarities to many of the European sites we have visited.
We spent two days in the Halifax area. We have visited Halifax a number of times previously, so we didn’t visit many of the typical sites; however, if you travel there for your first visit, be sure to take in the Citadel Historic Site, Pier 21 with the Canadian Museum of Immigration and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
On our first day, we spent a few hours strolling down the harbour front, riding the ferry to Dartmouth and back and enjoying a relaxing lunch in the sun!
A number of years ago, we had enjoyed a lobster supper at the Shore Club in Hubbards, located about a half hour from Halifax. We were lucky on this trip to catch the last night of their season. The Shore Club first opened its doors in 1946, and this was its 70th consecutive season. The club hosts lobster suppers every night from Wednesday-Sunday, all summer long, with weekly dance parties on Saturday. We were welcomed by the owner/operator Rhys Harnish and after being seated, we were surprised by an announcement that I was the club’s 15,000th customer! Rhys presented me a fun prize package with an apron, t-shirts and a book written by his sister about growing up in a dance hall. The salad bar and all-you-can-eat mussels are great accompaniments to the star of the meal, the wonderful lobster. And we can’t forget the delicious blueberry dessert! We would definitely recommend dinner at the Shore Club – www.shoreclub.ca
We have visited the iconic Peggy’s Cove a few times in the past, but decided we would stop in. We are very happy that it wasn’t our first visit, as it was a madhouse. There were 14 tour buses there – craziness!
Our last dinner was of course, fish & chips (and clams & scallops) at Freddie’s Fantastic Fish House – a great hole-in the-wall place. Look carefully and you’ll note that we aren’t the most famous people to eat there. 🙂
Thanks for reading!