Tuesday, July 29, 2008

travel saga: national historic sites

do we have any national historic sites in BC? i can only think of fort langley...

anyways, there are many around here - i guess this side of Canada is a lot older. but have any of you (umm...judy and rachel? haha) ever heard of Louisbourg? have any of you? because i had not. i took canadian history courses in university and had not heard of Louisbourg.

the fortress of louisbourg is a fort that was built in the mid 1700s by the French. it was attacked by the British in 1745 when France and Britain declared war with each other. in the next couple years, a treaty was made and the French got Louisbourg back, rebuilt it, only to lose it again when the British attacked in 1758. it was in ruins, nothing was really ever built over it and in the 1960s, it was decided that it would be reconstructed. it was a government job-creation project for all the coal miners that were out of work. the site was an archeological site and they found lots of items from the 1700s. the coal miners were trained in how to reconstruct 1/4 of Louisbourg according to all the blueprints and trained in how to make it look just like it did back then. it took years and years to reconstruct.

it is amazing.

tim and i had heard about the fortress of louisbourg in some tourism brochures so we thought, we might as well go - it looks pretty big on the map. we get there and it's $17 each to get in. i'm thinking...no way. but tim's like, "we're here now - we should go in." so we pay and get in and on the shuttle bus...shuttle bus? we had NO idea what we were headed to see.

as we're driving, we see this city on the hill and we're thinking, "wow, it IS big." but then we walked through the gates and realized that it's not the size that is the most impressive (though it's impressive)...it's the fact that there are hundreds of people in this fortress who look like the 1700s. Hundreds of people. As we were walking into the fortress there are rows of tents with people selling their wares. And they were things you could actually buy. there was a british soldier getting his shoes polished and the polisher and him were talking about the best types of buckles to use. whaaaa? what is going on? it's phenomenal. there are kids running about dressed in period clothing. there are people dressed as mik'maq first nations people wearing only the little butt-flap piece that we all giggled at in our social studies books as kids and they were trading furs. let me tell you, i was in too much shock to giggle. it was so real.

tim and i were wandering around going, "why have we never heard of this place?" "this is crazy." and i'd only thought we'd be there for about an hour! umm...no.

as it turns out, we were lucky to be there on "encampment" weekend. this is when many extra people show up, dress up, and live in tents in the village just for the weekend. which is why it was so many extra people around. (though apparently it's just as amazing with just the people who work there)

anyways - many many buildings, the castle, people - if you are ever in Cape Breton, you cannot leave without seeing it. it made the halifax citadel look silly. (no offense Halifax)


judymacd said...

hey.. i just checked your blog here for more updates, and there wasn't one, and by the time I read the comments of other entries, I clicked back and boom... the historic sites!

And yes.. I have heard of it.. Jamie & I really wanted to go there last time, but it was too far to travel with the amount of time we had. Friends that have been there recommended that we HAD to go there if we were anywhere near it. Looks like you hit pay dirt by arriving on the right weekend to get all the extras! Good pics.

Alyssa said...

Wow, what an amazing place to stumble upon! What I want to know is, how do you get a job working there for the summer... that would be crazy.

Anonymous said...

The last photo of the ladies cooking on the fire... That was our camp. Glad you enjoyed your visit. We drove over 1200 miles to be there, but boy was it worth it! Come see us next year at the Fort Niagara encampment and at the Quebec encampment. Both of those are also 250th anniversary reenactment celebrations and will be really big events.

therachel said...

i feel like sharelle would love this.

i also love it. You and Tim look so happy in the pic! Great find!

Anonymous said...

I have really been enjoying your posts about the Maritimes. That is one place I really want to visit! Thanks for all the great details and pics.

Sharelle said...

you are right rachel.

i DO love it.

wow. i have been mired in schoolwork the last couple days of semester - then come to the blog and see this.


and of course i have heard of Louisbourg. this is the material i will be teaching your children one day :) got to love Social Studies class.

can't wait to see more pics, and MAYBE steal them for class powerpoints. oh the places i wish i could take students to....