Fortress Louisbourg: Wikis


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Fortress of Louisbourg
Location Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Type Canadian National Historic Site
Website www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index_e.asp

The Fortress of Louisbourg (in French, Forteresse de Louisbourg) is a Canadian National Historic Site and the location of a partial reconstruction of an 18th century (1744) French fortress at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.

Contents

Early history

Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island.

French settlement on Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island) can be traced to the early 17th century following settlements in Acadia that were concentrated on Baie Française (now the Bay of Fundy) such as at Port-Royal and other locations in present-day peninsular Nova Scotia.

The settlement at Ste-Anne

A French settlement at Ste-Anne (now Englishtown) on the central east coast of Île Royale was established in 1629 and named Fort Ste-Anne, lasting until 1641. A fur trading post was established on the site from 1651–1659, but Île Royale languished under French rule as attention was focused on the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes colony of Canada (which then comprised parts of what is now Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois), Louisiana (which encompassed the current Mississippi Valley states and part of Texas), and the small agricultural settlements of mainland Acadia.

The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 gave Britain control of part of Acadia (peninsular Nova Scotia) and Newfoundland; however, France maintained control of its colonies at Île Royale, Île St-Jean (now Prince Edward Island), Canada and Louisiana, with Île Royale being France's only territory directly on the Atlantic seaboard (now controlled by Britain from Newfoundland to Florida) and it was strategically close to important fishing grounds on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, as well as being well placed for protecting the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Havre Louisbourg

In 1713, France set about constructing Port Dauphin and a limited naval support base at the former site of Fort Ste-Anne; however, the winter icing conditions of the harbour led the French to choose another harbour on the extreme southeastern part of Île Royale. The harbour, being ice-free and well protected, soon became a winter port for French naval forces on the Atlantic seaboard and they named it Havre Louisbourg after the king.

Louisbourg: a fortified town

Panorama of Fortress Louisbourg.

The Fortress of Louisbourg was the capital for the colony of Ile-Royale [1], and was located on the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island at its most southern point. The location for the fortress was chosen because it was easy to defend against British ships attempting to attack Quebec City. South of the fort, a reef provided a natural barrier, while a large island provided a good location for a battery. These defenses forced British ships to enter the harbor via a five hundred foot channel. The fort was built to protect Quebec City from British invasions.[2] For this reason it has been given the nicknames ‘Gibraltar of the North’ or the ‘Dunkirk of America.’ The fort was also built to protect France’s hold on one of the richest fish deposits in the world, The Grand Banks. One hundred and sixteen men, ten women, and twenty-three children originally settled in Louisbourg.[3]

Citizens and Establishments

Louisbourg was a large enough city to have a commercial district, a residential district, military arenas, marketplaces, inns, taverns and suburbs, as well as skilled laborers to fill all of these establishments.[4] For the French, it was the second most important stronghold and commercial city in New France. Only Quebec was more important to France.[5] The population of Louisbourg quickly grew. In 1719, 823 people called this maritime city their home. Seven years later, in 1726, the population was 1,296, in 1734 it was 1,616, and by 1752, the population of Louisbourg was 4,174.[6]. Of course, population growth did not come without consequences. Smallpox, a huge problem in this maritime city, ravaged the population in 1731 and 1732.[7] Despite this, Louisbourg continued to grow, especially economically.

Economy

Inside a restored building at Fortress Louisbourg.

Unlike most other cities in New France, Louisbourg did not rely on agriculture or the seigneurial system.[8] Louisbourg itself was a popular port, and was the third busiest only behind Boston, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania.[9] It was also popular for its exporting of fish, and other products made from fish, such as cod-liver oil. The North Atlantic fishing trade employed over ten thousand people, and Louisbourg was seen as the ‘nursery for seamen.’ Louisbourg was an important investment for the French government because it gave them a strong commercial and military foothold in the Grand Banks. For France, the fishing industry was more lucrative then the fur trade.[10] In 1731, Louisbourg fishermen exported 167,000 quintals of cod and 1600 barrels of cod-liver oil. There were roughly 400 shallop-fishing vessels out each day vying for the majority of the days catch. Also, sixty to seventy ocean going schooners would head out from Louisbourg to catch fish further down the coast.[11] Louisbourg’s commercial success was able to bring ships from Europe, The West Indies, Quebec, Acadia, and New England.[12]

Fortifications

Building housing the Governor's Apartments and the King's Bastion Barracks.

Louisbourg was also known for its fortifications, which took the original French builders twenty-five years to complete. The engineer behind the project was Jean-Francois du Verger de Verville. Verville picked Louisbourg as his location because of its natural barriers.[13] The fort itself cost France thirty million livres, which prompted King Louis XV to joke that he should be able to see the peaks of the buildings from his Palace in Versaille.[14] The original budget for the fort was four million livres.[15] Two and a half miles of wall surrounded the entire fort. On the western side of the fort, the walls were thirty feet high, and thirty-six feet across. The city had four bastions, and two gates that allowed entry into the city. On the eastern side of the fort, fifteen guns pointed out to the harbor. The wall on this side was only sixteen feet high and six feet across. Louisbourg was one of the “largest military garrisons in all of New France”, and many war were fought here because of it.[16] The fort had the embrasures to mount one hundred and forty-eight guns; however, Historians have estimated that only one hundred embrasures had cannons mounted. Disconnected from the main fort, yet still a part of Louisbourg, a small island in the harbor was also fortified. The walls on the island were ten feet high, and eight feet thick. Thirty-one, twenty-four pound guns, were mounted facing the harbor. The island itself was incredibly small, with room for only a few small ships to dock there, yet it provided the extra protection Louisbourg needed during the sieges of 1745 and 1758.[17]

First siege: 1745

The fortress was attacked in two major sieges: the Siege of Louisbourg (1745) and the Siege of Louisbourg (1758). The first siege involved a New England force backed by a British Royal Navy squadron. The New England attackers succeeded when the fortress capitulated on June 16, 1745. A major expedition by the French to recapture the Fortress led by Jean-Batiste De Roye de la Rochefoucauld Duc d'Enville the following year was destroyed by storms, disease and British naval attacks before it ever reached the fortress.

Louisbourg returned

The New Englanders' elation turned to disgust three years later, in 1748. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, restored Louisbourg to France in return for the British trading post at Madras in India. The New England forces left, taking with them the famous Louisbourg Cross, which had hung in the fortress chapel. This cross was rediscovered in the Harvard University archives only in the latter half of the 20th century; it is now on long-term loan to the Louisbourg historic site.

Having given up Louisbourg, Britain in 1749 created its own fortified town on Chebucto Bay which they named Halifax. It soon became the largest Royal Navy base on the Atlantic coast and hosted large numbers of British army regulars. The 29th Regiment of Foot was stationed there; they cleared the land for the port and settlement.

Second siege: 1758

Britain's North American (American) colonies were getting restless, and the efforts by French forces, with aid from their First Nations allies, to seal off the westward passes and approaches through which American colonists could move west soon led to the skirmishes that would develop into the French and Indian War in 1754 and devolve into the larger Seven Years' War by 1756, which also involved all the major European powers.

A large-scale French naval deployment in 1757 fended off an attempted assault by the British in 1757. However, inadequate naval support the following year allowed a large British combined operation to land for the 1758 Siege of Louisbourg which ended on July 26, 1758, with a French surrender. The fortress was destroyed by British engineers in 1760 to avoid its future use by the French and the site was abandoned at the end of the Seven Year's War.

National historic site

Fortress at Louisbourg

In 1961, the government of Canada, under the leadership of Victor Malm, undertook a historical reconstruction of one quarter of the town and fortifications with the aim being to recreate Louisbourg as it would have been at its height in the 1740s. The work required an interdisciplinary effort by archaeologists, historians, engineers, and architects. The reconstruction was aided by unemployed coal miners from the industrial Cape Breton area, many of whom learned French masonry techniques from the 18th century and other skills to create an accurate replica. Where possible, many of the original stones were used in the reconstruction.

Today, the entire site of the Fortress of Louisbourg, including the one-quarter reconstruction, has been designated a national historic site with guided and unguided tours available. Also available at the site are weapons explanations and demonstrations; these include the firing of muskets and a cannon. Puppet shows are also shown. The Museum / Caretakers Residence (c. 1935-6) within the Louisbourg National Historic Site is a classified federal heritage building on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.[18] The fortress has also greatly aided the local economy of the town of Louisbourg as it has struggled to diversify economically with the decline of the North Atlantic fishery.

See also

References

  1. ^ John Foriter. Fortress of Louisbourg. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1979, page 4.
  2. ^ Robert Emmet Wall. “Louisbourg ,1745” in The New England Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (March 1964), page 64 – 65.
  3. ^ A.J.B Johnston. “From Port de peche to ville fortifiee: The Evolution of Urban Louisbourg 1713 – 1858” in Aspects of Louisbourg. The University College of Cape Breton Press, Sidney Nova Scotia 1995, page 4
  4. ^ “The Fortress of Louisbourg and its Cartographic Evidence” in Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology, Vol. 4, No 1 (1972), page 3.
  5. ^ R.H Whitbeck. “A Geographical Study of Nova Scotia” in Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Vol. 46, No. 6 (1914), page 413.
  6. ^ B.A. Balcom. “The Cod Fishery of Isle Royale, 1713-58” in Aspects of Louisbourg. The University College of Cape Breton Press, Sidney Nova Scotia 1995, page 171
  7. ^ Christopher Moore, The Louisbourg Portraits, Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 2000)
  8. ^ John Foriter. Fortress of Louisbourg. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1979, Pg 4
  9. ^ John Foriter. Fortress of Louisbourg. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1979, page 3.
  10. ^ A.J.B Johnston. “From Port de peche to ville fortifiee: The Evolution of Urban Louisbourg 1713 – 1858” in Aspects of Louisbourg. The University College of Cape Breton Press, Sidney Nova Scotia 1995, page 4
  11. ^ Christopher Moore, The Louisbourg Portraits, Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 2000), page 109, 261-270.
  12. ^ John Foriter. Fortress of Louisbourg. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1979, page 3.
  13. ^ An Appearance of Strength The Fortification of Louisbour by Bruce W. Fry pg 20
  14. ^ John Foriter. Fortress of Louisbourg. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1979, page 11
  15. ^ B.A. Balcom. “The Cod Fishery of Isle Royale, 1713-58” in Aspects of Louisbourg. The University College of Cape Breton Press, Sidney Nova Scotia 1995, page 171.
  16. ^ The Fortress of Louisbourg and its Cartographic Evidence” in Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology, Vol. 4, No 1 (1972), page 3
  17. ^ Christopher Moore, The Louisbourg Portraits, Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 2000), page 66.
  18. ^ http://www.historicplaces.ca/visit-visite/affichage-display.aspx?id=3158 Canadian Register of Historic Places.
  • Louisbourg: From Its Foundation to Its Fall J.S. McLennan (1918)
  • Endgame A.J.B. Johnson (2008)
  • The Great Fortress: A Chronicle of Louisbourg 1720–1760 William Wood
  • The Taking of Louisburg 1745 by Samuel Adams Drake, Lee and Shepard Publishers Boston Mass. USA 1891 (reprinted by Kessinger Publishing ISBN 9780548622346)

External links

Affiliations

The museum is affiliated with: CMA, CHIN, and Virtual Museum of Canada.

References

Coordinates: 45°55′17″N 59°58′13″W / 45.92139°N 59.97028°W / 45.92139; -59.97028








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