Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 23- Fort Louisbourg

Cape Breton is a big island that is just off the tip of Nova Scotia, and is connected to the mainland by a land bridge called a causeway.  There seems to be a lot of these causeways out here….. my dad was saying that they blast the side of a large hill and use all the rocks to fill in the ‘land bridge’.  Along all the causeways, there are always these pretty black birds with long necks perched on the rocks and posts.  They dive into the water for their food – I think they are called Cormorants.  If you have ever read the book “Ping” they look like one of those birds.

It was fun to cross the causeway going into Cape Breton. I remember it vaugely from when I was visiting here with my parents as a child. We wanted to drive all the way to Fort Louisbourg to spend the afternoon there, as it was the last day of their summer season so we got up nice and early and were on the road before 9 am. Almost a record for us!! I think we are finally getting used to the time zone out here.  It was a beautiful, clear day. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too muggy or hot, and we just enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we were driving along the big ‘lake’  Bras d’or.  

We were enchanted by the island within the first few minutes as it is filled with rolling hills, beautiful water and charming houses and cottages.  The roots of Cape Breton are mostly Scottish and some people still speak gaelic thered! In fact all the road signs were written in both English and Gaelic. It was so interesting.   Cape Breton is so beautiful. It’s very rugged and hilly.  Everything is green, except the crisp blue water, and there is hardly anyone living here.  But those who we met were very friendly. The kids didn't like it as much as we did- with all the twisty up-and-down roads that make such a scenic drive for the parents, they felt it in their stomachs and were all motion sick in the first 20 minutes.  It was a long drive to Fort Louisbourg for them.  

Luckily, we just about had the fort to ourselves.  There were hardly any tourists there!  All the costumed soldiers, characters and shop owners were there and it was like walking back in history to an old French fort in the 1800s. 
Old stone buildings, cannons along the stone walls, a guarded port at the water’s edge, a blacksmith, bakery, gardens and the king’s battalion.  We learned so much, and it was exciting to discover that the very same Wolfe who attacked and won the battle on the Plains of Abraham had, a few years before that famous battle, taken this fort from the French so he would have a staging ground to go further into the continent.  Visiting all of these historical places one after another in the same summer is really solidifying our knowledge of the history of our country. I have learned more than I ever knew about Canada on this trip than in all my years of schooling.

The highlight of the day was when we got to see the soldiers load and fire a huge cannon along the fort’s walls.  Because there was hardly anyone there, one of the ‘soldiers’ who was keeping the tourists from getting too close spent a lot of time talking to the kids about the fort and the cannon. She even gave Sammy a real piece of flint that is fitted for the inside of a musket.  (I had no idea that’s how they worked… when you pull the trigger it scrapes the flint and makes a spark to light the gun powder).  She told us that to fire a cannon, you need 1/3 the weight of the ball in gun powder to pack into the cannon.  When the English took the fort and turned the cannons on the village, they ended up blowing themselves up as apparently they didn’t know the right ratio for these finicky cannons. 

Louisbourg is very authentic and so gluten free food was rather scarce.  There was a big loaf of bread (one loaf was a  week’s ration for the soldiers at the time), and a restaurant that sold fried fish and pea soup which the kids turned their noses up at.  (plus the restaurant fit about 20 people, and I’m not sure they would have been happy with our big brood).  We ended up having chocolate bars and doritos from the gift shop for lunch.  The first of a trend in unhealthy lunches for the rest of our sans-Wiens trip.

After one last cannon blast, we slowly made our way back to the trailer, through the gift shop (of course) and drove to an interesting KOA past North Sydney and had a quiet evening of mini golf and cards.  The kids have enjoyed playing this fast paced game called James Bond which has been keeping them busy every evening for the past week.  Even Sammy can play- and its so nice to see them all getting along so well.

1 comment:

Kimberly@Homeschooling in Nova Scotia said...

I just stumbled across your blog. We've always wanted to drive across the country, too! What a great trip you had. This stop at the Fortress of Louisbourg was just 20 minutes away from my home in Marion Bridge :) I'm glad you enjoyed the fortress - it's one of our favourite haunts!