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    Two French soldiers in period uniforms guard the entrance to the historic site.
    Two French soldiers guard the Dauphin Gate. There are only three land entrances to the Fortress of Louisbourg.

    A journey through time at the Fortress of Louisbourg

    Day 30 of my solo bike trip across Canada.

    A quick detour to explore the largest reconstruction of an 18th-century French fortified town in North America.

    As the morning mist slowly dissipates, I discover massive fortifications, followed by some thirty varied buildings. On a map, I can see the Desroches house, the Perelle store, the King’s bakery, the engineer’s residence, the military chapel, barracks and so on. As I walk along, I’m amazed to realize that the Louisbourg Fortress is coming to life as it once did!

    At the Dauphin gate, I passed two soldiers in traditional dress, and a little further on, a fisherman chatting with a tradesman. The lacemakers are busily at work, while the baker is resting after a busy night. True, the site isn’t crawling with thousands of inhabitants or hundreds of soldiers as it was in the 1700s, but every street has its share of encounters and every house its surprises. I walk with all my senses on the alert. My ears feast on a wide variety of everyday sounds. Some are noisy near the forge, others more melodious near the taverns and cabarets. But the highlight of the show is the French soldiers firing off several cannon shots! And what about the smell of the sea? They carry me away, and I imagine the bustling activities of this seaport, where schooners from all horizons sought a little rest. In short, this national historic site offers visitors a real trip back in time! 

    General view of the Fortress of Louisbourg, with a field dotted with yellow flowers in the foreground.
    Just steps away from the governor’s residence, a number of officers’ houses near the icehouse. This small, conical building crowned with a fleur-de-lys was used to store perishable foodstuffs, probably for the governor and his family.

    Cedar-shingled roofs on the historic buildings of the Fortress of Louisbourg.
    Here’s a working-class neighbourhood with cedar-shingled roofs and small wooden houses. The vast mansions of the seigneurs, on the other hand, were built of stone and covered with slate.

    Perhaps I could discover the lives of my ancestors here? I tried to look at the map, but no, there doesn’t seem to be a mill or miller. And for good reason: there was no farm on the site back then, so there was no wheat. But since most people in the 18th century lived on bread, the colony had to import some 500 pounds of flour per inhabitant every year! So local sustenance is not a problem of yesterday…

    The silhouette of a soldier in period uniforms passes under an archway against the light of a yellow building.
    This French soldier emerges from the barracks, the most important building on the site, and walks towards the De la Plagne house. This family left Louisbourg shortly after the first British siege in 1745.

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