Story by Ilona Kauremszky
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
FORTRESS LOUISBOURG, CAPE BRETON ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA — Peel back the curtains and turn back the clock to 1713. Now get set for the biggest birthday bash done in vintage Maritime style as this National Historic Site celebrates the old French colonial capital’s 300-year anniversary. Here are five must-dos during your visit to Louisbourg, Vacay.ca’s No. 1 Place to Travel in Canada for 2013:
July 24-28: Culture Fête
Plenty of soldiers and settlers called Louisbourg home during its heyday, when more than 5,000 people walked through these grand gates, some to homestead others to apply their trade. Diversity was in its infancy. The French town was a huge entrepot port and thousands of ships sailed into the harbour. Culture Fête brings the colony’s multicultural theme through food, dance and music.
Music is synonymous in Nova Scotia with all the ceilidhs occurring it seems nightly in some places. This music festival will highlight tunes from olden days to current rock favourites. It even will feature classic baroque songs … only the hottest sound of 18th-century France.
July 4-7: Forge 300
How do they do it? An international gathering of blacksmiths will put blacksmithing to the ultimate test. The big showdown takes place at various spots like the Louisbourg Firehall, the Dauphin demi-bastion, and the Artillery Courtyard. And if you feel like putting your forearms to the test there will be hands-on blacksmith workshops too, led by Grant Haverstock, Canada’s leading artisan blacksmith and owner of Firehouse Ironworks.
Chocoholics in 18th-century France craved the sinful and forbidden pleasures of all that is chocolate, and Louisbourg was no exception. Only the elites like high-ranking officers were favoured to taste this new fashionable treat. For the rest, it was off-limits.
But now you can head to the Engineer’s Kitchen for a history lesson on chocolate led by a costumed interpreter. In the afternoon be sure to visit the Grandchamps Tavern for a delectable chocolate tasting menu that includes French hot chocolate and sweet desserts. After sipping this rich, frothy drink you’ll never drink instant again.
Dining: Grandchamps Tavern
If you’ve seen those old Hollywood flicks, the ones with diners holding a chicken leg in one hand, while quaffing back an ale in the other with some live entertainment thrown in for good measure that’s the kind of scene you will have walked into at one of the fortress’s restaurants.
At the Grandchamps Tavern, don’t be surprised by the fun-filled waterfront cabaret unfolding as a costumed musician strums his guitar singing a love song to this room full of diners. There’s lots of pea soup, meat pie and fish of the day mixed in with plenty of laughter, song and local gossip.
More About Fortress Louisbourg’s Tricentennial
Location: 58 Wolfe Street, Louisbourg, NS (see map below)
Admission: Adults pay $17.60 for the regular entry fee, but prices vary for some of the special events this year. Visit the Fees section of the Fortress Louisbourg website for other prices and more details.
Louisbourg300: Here is a list of some of the events surrounding the tricentennial celebrations:
June 3-7: Canada’s Coolest School Trip hosted by the Fortress of Louisbourg
June 13-August 15: Exhibit: L’endroit le plus convenable / The Most Suitable Place
June 22-23: Learn to Camp300
June 29-30: Following Historic Footsteps – Guided Walk
June 30: LouisRocks! Concert Series with a Musical Tribute to Louisbourg’s Legacy
July 1: Canada Day
July 1-14: Land to Sea/Field to Lab Archaeology Event
July 5-7: Forge300 International Blacksmith Gathering
July 20: Parks Day – Louisbourg Celebrates Families!
July 20: LouisRocks! Concert Series with Joel Plaskett Emergency
July 25-28: CultureFête!
August 4: Storm the Fortress
August 9-13: Louisbourg Celebrates Seafaring Traditions
August 10: Louisbourg Celebrates Diversity
August 17: Race Through Time
August 18: Louisbourg Celebrates Acadian Heritage!
August 24-25: SuperFête de Saint-Louis
August 24: LouisRocks! for the Fête de Saint-Louis
August 25: Fiddles for the Fête
September 21: LouisRocks! at Founders’ Feast and Concert
More Info: For further information on the celebrations for 2013, visit the Activities section of the Louisbourg website.
Tip: Aim to take the back road into the park. The view from the rear of the venue is the most breathtaking in the vicinity of the fortress.
More Louisbourg Coverage on Vacay.ca