Though its governor was subservient to the governor general of New France at Québec, Île Royale functioned as a separate colony. The centre of French power in the region, Louisbourg was an important military base with a permanent garrison. A major fortification program began in 1719 and by the 1740s cannon-bearing stone-and-mortar ramparts encircled the town. Military engineers under Jean-François VERVILLE shaped the town in accordance with the FORTIFICATION theories of Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707) and the urban design theories of early 18th-century France.
Louisbourg was besieged in 1745 during the WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION by troops from New England supported by the Royal Navy, and in 1758 by the British army and navy. Each time, the town was obliged to capitulate after suffering serious damage from artillery fire and naval blockade, and the population was exiled to France. After the first siege, France recovered the colony by treaty, but soon after the second the fortifications were demolished and the town permanently abandoned. The fall of Louisbourg, with the capture of Québec in 1759 and Montréal in 1760, ended France's military and colonial power in N America, although SAINT-PIERRE AND MIQUELON, acquired by France in 1763 after the SEVEN YEARS' WAR, partly replaced Île Royale as a base for the fishing industry.
The modern town of Louisbourg, a small fishing port, grew up at the other end of Louisbourg harbour. The fortress of Louisbourg became a national historic site in 1928, and in 1961 Parks Canada began reconstruction based on comprehensive archaeological investigation and the colony's well-preserved historical records. Part of the fortifications, the citadel buildings, the town quay and several streets with their homes, shops and taverns are now rebuilt in intricate detail. Open to the public from spring to fall and interpreted for visitors by guides, costumed animators and museum displays, the reconstruction of 1744-era Louisbourg is today a major visitor attraction, an important contributor to Cape Breton's tourist economy and a world-class model of historic-site reconstruction.
Author CHRISTOPHER MOORE
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
The Siege of Louisbourg
This multimedia site chronicles the siege of Louisbourg. From "New France - New Horizons."
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada site commemorates the 18th-century Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia.
New France, New Horizons
An informative and entertaining multimedia website about the founding and development of New France. Features abundant illustrations, documents and multimedia clips. A Canada/France collaboration.
The Canadian Register of Historic Places
Canada is home to a vast array of fascinating historical sites. Many of them are illustrated and described in this searchable online database of Canadian historic places that are of local, provincial, territorial, and national significance.
Galaup, Jean-François De, Comte de Lapérouse
A biography of the noteworthy French naval commander Jean-François de Galaup. From the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.”
Montcalm, Louis-Joseph de, Marquis de Montcalm
A biography of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, Marquis de Montcalm from the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online."
The "conquest" of Acadia, 1710
This site offers online excerpts from "The 'conquest' of Acadia, 1710," a book about the conquest of Port-Royal by British forces in 1710. Relates to Acadian history, native studies, native rights histories, and the socio-political history of the eighteenth century.
Bras d'Or Lakes Scenic Drive
Explore the many historic communities along the Bras d'Or Lakes Scenic Drive in Nova Scotia.
Louisbourg 300 celebrations officially kick off
A news story about the 300th anniversary of the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site in Cape Breton. From the Cape Breton Post.
Louisbourg300 - Let Us Take You Back in Time
View a brief 2013 video that highlights the 300th anniversary of the founding of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. From Parks Canada.