The French arrived in Louisbourg in northern Cape Breton in 1713 after losing Acadia and Newfoundland to the British under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the Spanish Succession war.

France was only able to retain the islands of Cape Breton Island (then known as Isle Royale) and Prince Edward Island (then known as Isle Saint-Jean) in what is known today as Atlantic Canada. The French used these islands as a base to continue fishing for Cod off the Grand Banks. The cod fishery was a lucrative industry in those days. In 1719 they started construction of the fortified town of Louisbourg in northern Cape Breton. The town was only finished on the eve of the first siege in 1745 and soon became a thriving settlement and community along the shore of the harbour.

The cod fishery industry accounted for most of Cape Breton’s prosperity. The fish was laid out on stages which lined the beaches of Louisbourg and surrounding outports and were dried and salted before export. Louisbourg became a major source of commerce trading manufactured products and in various materials imported from France, Quebec, the West indies and New England.

The harbour was well defended, and you would think that a fortified town with a fortress wall would be well defended. However, on the land side of the fortress there are a series of small hills which provided excellent locations for siege batteries, some of them being dangerously close to the fortress.

After a declaration of war between Britain and France in 1745 the fortress was attacked for the first time. New Englanders having been informed that the Fortress was in disrepair and that the troops were on the verge of mutiny due to poor supplies charged the Fortress of Louisbourg with a passion normally associated with that of a religious Crusade.

The fortress was captured within 46 days of the commencement of the invasion. 3 years later much to the chagrin of the New Englanders the town was returned to the French by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The Fortress was besieged a second time in 1758.

The Fortress of Louisbourg was impossible to defend without a strong Navy to patrol the sea out in the harbour. In 1758 13,100 troops attacked from 150 ships with supporting crews of 14,000. The British army captured the Fortress in just 7 weeks. To ensure that the Fortress could never again be used as a French Based Fortress the British demolished the walls around the Fortress.

Today the Fortress is a National Historic site open to the public, and is a wonderful place to visit. Animators relive the days of the French occupation and even the restaurant serves food as it would have been in the days Louisbourg was a thriving community.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Avril Betts, I have over 25 years experience in all aspects of Travel and Tourism. I hold a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator). Along with my partner Khaled Azzam we own A-Z Tours and Action Travel in North America along with Travelocity Travel Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

I have co-chaired Atlantic Canada Showcase an International Travel Trade Show, managed 450 volunteers for the Tall Ships Visit in July 2000, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. In 1996 I hosted the president’s wives luncheon for the G7 conference. In 1988 I founded the Country Inn Association in Nova Scotia.

As an experienced speaker I have presented seminars for many years on subjects ranging from Marketing and Sales and Life Skills to Tourism, Travel and Real Estate, and operating an online Travel business.

I enjoy working with tourists to pass on my knowledge to help our clients make the most of their vacations. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or travel inquiries.

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