Louisbourg is a rich contributor to the culture and appeal of Cape Breton Island. A coastal community of just over a thousand residents, Louisbourg provides “Old World” emphasis, primarily through the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, the village’s driving economic force.
The site is a partial reconstruction of an 18th century French Fortress, which began construction in 1798, and became the French’s main commercial centre in the Maritimes, and a place of community. The fortress was subjected to multiple takeovers by the British, who dominated much of the maritime territory at the time. In the 1960s, the fortress was appropriated into a tourist site. Today the Louisbourg site employs local people to play the roles of eighteenth century French soldiers and settlers as visitors tour the grounds and interact with the recreation of the fortress’s history.
Many visitors enjoy the local theater, The Louisbourg Playhouse, which holds time and merit within the community itself. In 1994, the theatre was set as the 17th century “bear pit” in Walt Disney’s movie Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale. The Playhouse’s interior maintains the same rustic character as the original and is open throughout the summer and fall, featuring a variety of entertainments at 8PM each evening.
Another destination stop is the Sydney and Louisbourg Railway Museum, a restored late-nineteenth century railway station. Built in 1895, the station and freight shed are both designated Provincial Heritage Properties. The museum holds artefacts and exhibits relating to the history of the Sydney and Louisbourg railway. In the summer it houses local entertainment, exhibits of quilts, and the Marconi wireless exhibit. A host of history and a community that keeps it alive, visitors can also enjoy fresh lobster and crab, which is another leading industry in Louisbourg.
When it comes to the celebration of cuisine, the annual Louisbourg Crab Festival attracts people from all over the country. The festival is weekend long fiesta, offering prized seafood and a roster of activities and entertainment.
Besides the Cabot Trail, Louisbourg is one of Cape Breton’s top tourist attractions. Its history and appreciation for “what once was” is a streaming factor in its popularity. Families and adventurists with an interest in the Old World are likely to enjoy this destination.