Louisbourg Things to Do

  • Louisbourg Fortress
    Louisbourg Fortress
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Louisbourg Fortress
    Louisbourg Fortress
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Louisbourg Fortress
    Louisbourg Fortress
    by Jim_Eliason

Most Recent Things to Do in Louisbourg

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    ~ Visit the First Lighthouse ~

    by RavensWing Updated May 26, 2015

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    Louisbourg is the place of the first lighthouse in Canada. The building began in 1730 and was finished in 1734. In 1758 the lighthouse was damaged during the final siege and was never erected again. You can still see the remains of the stoneworks of the original lighthouse.

    They built a second lighthouse in 1842, and in 1902 they built the fog horn.

    There are huge signs letting visitors know not to go near the foghorn area as there may be a possibility of it going off when you are there and being too close you need wear ear protection.

    There is a large parking lot - which also shows a sign for 2 different hiking trails.

    The terrain to get up to the second lighthouse is pretty rough - please wear sturdy shoes, and it's not wheelchair accessible.

    The Second Lighthouse Little History - the Trails BEWARE - the Foghorn Stonework of First Lighthouse Historic Sites
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    ~ Fortress Louisbourg ~

    by RavensWing Updated May 26, 2015

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    After checking out the location of the First Lighthouse and the Railway Museum we headed off to the Fortress. It was about 3:00pm when we arrived and the Fort would be closing in 2 hours, because of that we got our tickets at a discount. Once you have your ticket you head downstairs to a waiting bus which leave every 15 minutes. There are no personal vehicles allowed at the site (with the exception of the workers). It takes about 15 minutes to get to the Fort from the Visitor's Center.

    We were greeted by an actor in period dress. He inspected our ticket, and walked us to the gates of the Fort - maybe a 5 minute walk. He let us know when the last bus would be leaving and that we had better be on it or we'd be locked in the Fort for the night.

    The Fortess is huge! If you wish to see all of the Fort, you will need more than 2 hours. I must say though - after walking through a few of the buildings I found myself not too interested in what they had to offer. I didn't realize that it was 'reconstructed' and not authentic. Most of the buildings I went into had placards explaining 'how it used to be' but it just didn't feel real to me. I was more interested in what the 'actors' had to say about their life during the 1700's. I guess if I had to sum it up I would say that it felt more like a museum than a Fort.

    At the end of the day, just before the gates are locked they fire off the canon. I did enjoy that part.

    Fortress Louisbourg Chapel Soldier's Punishment Frederic Gate Marching to the Canon
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    ~ Jake's Lounge ~

    by RavensWing Updated May 26, 2015

    Quite the cozy little lounge. There wasn't too many people there when we went, but those we met were so much fun to be around that we ended up staying until last call - or second last call, maybe even third last call. We played some pool with the locals. My partner was a local foreman for one of the fishing vessels, and Planxty's was one of the local fishermen. Don't ask me who won, I have no idea - we just had fun playing the game.

    We chatted with the bartender (Alistair), who I found out was a well traveled man. I asked him about one of the flags on the walls, wondering which country it was from as I'd never seen it. Turns out it wasn't from a country, although there were other flags that he had purchased while he was visiting certain countries and put up for display.

    I can only say that if I make it back to Louisbourg again I will definitely stop in for a drink and chat with the locals again, they were that friendly.

    Jake's Lounge Pool Tables Bar Area
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    ~ I Missed the Last Train? ~

    by RavensWing Updated May 6, 2015

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    After we had finished our visit to the First Lighthouse we headed to the Louisbourg Railway Museum. We headed into the Museum to be greeted by a friendly smiling female. We had asked about the admission fee and were told there is no admission fee, but if you felt the desire to donate, they would gladly accept it.

    The station was built in 1895, and the last whistle call for the final train leaving the station was in 1968. There is even a small model in the Round House of the Train station.

    There are some interesting artifacts to view. I think the most impressive was the Telephone Switchboard. At one time this switchboard was the only means of telephone communication. The directory attached to the switchboard dating back to 1919 but it was used up until 1973. That's right! Louisbourg didn't get a dial phone service until 1973.

    Railway Museum, Louisbourg Model of the Railway Museum Ticket Wicket Second Class Car Train Engineer's Quarters
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    ~ The Oddest Question ~

    by RavensWing Updated May 4, 2015

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    After a day of touring around Louisbourg, we headed to the Grubstake restaurant. Conveniently located only a 5 minute walk from the Louisbourg RV and Campsite where we were staying.

    We stepped in and were greeted by a smiling hostess, she sat us at a table and asked if we'd be eating. That's an important question as one is never sure if you can order an alcoholic drink without ordering something to eat. Off to the back she went to ask a manager - Yes we could order a drink without ordering a dinner. So we sat and chatted, watched the people in the restaurant and had a few drinks. Then when I was ordering my fourth ceasar I was asked the oddest question - We need to ask before we serve you anymore, are you walking or driving? Perhaps it's a valid question - one which I have not been asked in any other restaurant or drinking establishment in Canada! I assured her I was walking, the RV is parked in the campsite - and I was allowed my drink.

    On the window at the entrance I noticed some signs -

    One was for CAA members a discount if you show your membership card, I believe it was 10%.

    The other was for the CF Appreciation program - a program for both Regular and Reserves, serving and retired members - which also was a discount of 10%.

    I would return again. The staff was friendly and the place comfortable to be in.

    Grubstake Restaurant Discounts Offered Grubstake Restaurant
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    Sadly rather neglected.

    by planxty Written Dec 23, 2014

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    Readers of other pages of mine will know that I have a love for all things to do with railways which is possibly due in part to my paternal grandfather having worked on the railways in Northern Ireland all his adult life. Similarly I will never pass up a chance to visit a railway Museum and so it was that we pulled in here whilst driving out of Louisbourg one day.

    The railway story in this area begins in 1873 with a fairly inefficient operation initially introduced to bring coal from the Cape Breton mines and other resources to the year round ice-free port here in Louisbourg. In 1895 the Sydney and Louisburg Railway (note the Anglicised spelling of the name) was founded and quickly acquired the name of the S&L, soon becoming busy not to mention very profitable. The line was utilised both for freight which was it's primary purpose and also passengers who were mostly mine workers. By 1913 there were 176,000 passengers per annum but the freight traffic contiuned to expand right up to the 1950's. By then they handled over four million tons a year (the largest mile for mile tonnage in Canada), predominantly the coal for which the line had been built although there was yet another purpose as this was the terminus in winter for the Cape Breton - Newfoundland ferry.

    The line proved it's worth during two World Wars as Louisbourg was used as a staging post for men and materiel being sent to Europe. Everything was going well until the 1960's when a series of problems in the local coal-mining industry led to the removal of the raison d'etre of the line and it eventually closed in 1968. As with so many other railways wordwide it was effectively left to rot which is not good for wooden buildings until a group of local railway enthusiasts took over and opened it as the facility you can see now in 1972.

    So what can the visitor expect if they come here? Firstly, let me state categorically here that I am not denigrating anyone's efforts and the very fact that this place is still even open is a credit to those involved. I know that railway preservation / restoration is a costly and time-consuming business. The Museum is housed in the original station building and adjacent freight shed (which seems to double as some sort of community centre / farmers market) and both are in good repair. The artefacts on display are well looked after but it is the rolling stock and locomotive sitting outside that seem to be in need of some TLC as they appear to be just rotting away which is a shame.

    Highlights for me were the 1881 passenger car which is in a good state of repair and housed in the freight shed, a quirky model of a loco and tender which is actually a cribbage board, along with some of the smaller artefacts like old typewriters, telephones and suchlike.

    Should the visitor wish to visit, the following details are taken from a travel website which I have used as the link to the "official" website appears to be broken.

    Months of Operation

    June 1 - September 30

    Hours Of Operation

    Mon–Fri 10am–5pm (9am–6pm daily in Jul & Aug).

    Facilities / Services

    Bus tours
    Gift shop
    Parking
    Picnic tables
    Wheelchair accessible
    Internet access

    Admission is free although donations are obviously most welcome and I do suggest that if you visit that you give as generously as you can afford to keep this last remnant of the S&L Railway going.

    I have created a travelogue on this page to post some of the many images I took there, please do have a look.

    If you are into railways then this is well worth a visit.

    Railway Museum, Louisbourg, Canada. Railway Museum, Louisbourg, Canada. Railway Museum, Louisbourg, Canada. Railway Museum, Louisbourg, Canada.
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    My kind of pub.

    by planxty Written Dec 22, 2014

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    On a wander round Loiusbourg one evening (and there is not really that much to wander round) we happened upon this place which is advertised on the same sign variously as the Fortress Inn and Jake's Lounge and continental breakfast. Well, it was the evening and so breakfast wasn't really a consideration whether it was continental or not as all I wanted was a beer and so in we went.

    It was obvious that this place is the reception for what I subsequently discovered were a number of motel type chalets out the back but the bar is the main draw here and certainly the locals seem to frequent it. The couple of nights we went there, we were the only travellers in the place and it seems that everyone knows everyone else there but that is not to say they are cliquish and we were made to feel most welcome, indeed even getting an excellent tip for a local mechanic to fix a slight problem we had with our campervan (RV). Actually, I was surprised there were not more travellers as the excellent campsite we were staying at ( see separate tip) was only about ten minutes walk away.

    The place is obviously fairly sports themed with various photos and pieces of memoabilia adorning the walls but that is not to say it is macho or anything like that and my female companion was made to feel most welcome.

    Absolutely worth a visit as this is a proper pub and I loved it although regrettably the internet suggests it is only open seasonally. I have no idea what the locals do off-season!

    Jake's Lounge, Louisbourg, Canada.
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    Pleasant place for a drink.

    by planxty Written Dec 22, 2014

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    I love Nova Scotia, simple as that. There is, however, one thing that causes me no end of confusion about the place and that is the simply unfathomable licensing laws. I really have no idea what century or even millenium they came out of and I had a few interesting experiences with them. This is yet another case in point.

    My travelling companion and I had decided to go out for a walk round town one evening as the campsite (see separate tip on this page) where our RV was parked was excellently sited right in the middle of town which is not usually the case here. At least it meant we didn't have to unhook the campervan (RV) and drive into town which obviously means she cannot have a drink as she very responsibly does not drink and drive.

    A mere five miinutes walk brought us to the Grubstake restaurant / bar which I had read and heard locally very good things about. We did not wish to dine as I had laid in supplies and had my menu planned for later in the evening and so we walked into the large and spotlessly clean, very plaeasant looking venue. Having learnt the score by then I asked would it be OK for us merely to have a drink if we were not dining. The very pleasant waitress very apologetically told us she would have to go and check, which she did whilst we were left standing like two lemons at the end of the bar. Now, I do not blame her in the slightest, she was merely trying to do the right thing. A few minutes later she returned and indicated that it would be OK just to have a drink.

    I don't suppose anyone from the Nova Scotian Tourist Board or whatever it is called will ever read this but it is a matter you really need to sort out. You either licence a place to serve alcohol or you don't, end of story. It really does confuse and irritate overseas visitors.

    OK, enough of this, the reader will want to hear about the premises and not the shortcomings of local licencing legislation. We were asked where we would like to sit and chose a table in the rear portion of the establishment. The drinks were promptly served with the beer being in good order and the service was friendly and chatty in that typically Nova Scotian way, specifically when she heard my accent.

    We had a couple of drinks which were about averagely priced for the area and then went on our way.

    As I say, we did not dine although the food I saw served rather made me wish that I wasn't cooking that night as it all looked delightful. All in all this is a lovely friendly venue and a good place for a drink whenever they decide they can serve you one!

    From the attached website, here are the opening dates, "We open each year on Father's Day in June and close the Sunday before Canadian Thanksgiving in October. We are still open for scheduled bus tours and groups for another week."

    Worth a visit.

    Grubstake restaurant, Loiusbourg, Canada. Grubstake restaurant, Loiusbourg, Canada.
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    Disappointingly Disney.

    by planxty Written Dec 22, 2014

    The main reason for people to visit Louisbourg is undoubtedly to see the Fortress albeit the town itself is pleasant enough as I hope my other tips have shown. My travelling companion RavensWing and I duly headed the couple of miles out of town to the site, well at least we thought it was the site but actually it isn't. We parked up in one of the several large carparks (designated for different types of vehiicles like coaches, RV's cars etc.) the very first thing I noticed twas that it was no more than 5% full and this was in the height of the tourist season (mid-July). We proceeded to the large, impressive "tourist centre" to buy tickets to discover that we had to get a bus to the site proper, a journey of maybe 10 to 15 minutes with some pleasant views en route.

    On arrival at the site proper, it certainly did look impressive and must have appeared so to anyone with military designs on the place. Our tickets were inspected by a period costumed re-enactor or interpreter or whatever the correct term is who engaged one and all in conversation and played his part of the gate sentry very well. We were informed of certain activities that were taking place and were then left to our own devices to go and wander. As it happens, we had signed up for a mead tasting and talk but that was a little way off and so we began looking round.

    The first few buildings we visited looked to be in absolutely pristine condition and there is a reason for this which leads to my general diappointment in the place. Having been left in a state of direpair, it was virtually reconstructed from the 1960's onward and apparently primarily to provide employment for coal miners from the recently closed local mines. I am all in favour of preserving ancient monuments but I just feel this has not been done sympathetically and they have created a sort of "Magic Kingdom" hence the title of this tip.

    Another problem is the almost total lack of artefacts in the buildings. If there are any at all, they appear to be of modern nake and therefore not of very much interest to me. There are various interpreters in period drss about the place but, of the few I spoke to, I got the impression they were totally disinterested although they were civil enough. This was in stark contrast to their counterparts (run by the same organisation) at the excellent Halifax Citadel which, frankly, puts this place to shame.

    We went to our mead tasting and listened to a pretty drab script about mead etc. The young man presenting it had regrettably little ability to hold an audience and his obviously well-used jokes fell a little flat. I am not knocking the guy, he is probably not a professional actor or comic but maybe he may be better suited to demonstrating musket drill.

    Another source of slight annoyance is the predominance of merchandising here. We all know these places cost money to maintain and everyone expects a gift shop on the way out of a Museum / art gallery or whatever but a quote from their own website gives an idea here. Quote, "There are more than a dozen buildings open to the public including three authentic working 18th century restaurants." So that is 25% (or slightly less) of the buildings the traveller can visit that are devoted to merchandising and that is not to mention the Bakery and the two "Boutiques", for which read gift shops.

    Certainly, this place has a phenomenal history which I am not going to recount here as visiting this place taught me little or nothing about it. It is easily enough found online and you'll probably get a better idea. I am sure it would be great if you have young children and want to let them run about looking at people in costumes and firing guns etc. which brings me to my final point here. I have no doubt it is driven by some Equal Opportunities legislation or whatever but why are such a proportion of the "soldiers" female? Obviously this is totally historically inaccurate and detracts completely from whatever illusion of authenticity they don't really try that hard to promote here.

    Having visited so many other great "Museums" in Nova Scotia and really enjoyed them, this place really did leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. Notwithstanding that, I hve created a travelogue here for some more images so the reader can judge for themselves.

    After reading this, should you still want to visit, here are the logistics which are taken from the attached website.

    The site is open

    Post-Thanksgiving Day to Pre-Victoria Day
    (October 14, 2014 - May 17, 2015;
    October 13, 2015 - May 22, 2016) Low season Open Monday to Friday
    (except statutory holidays)
    9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Victoria Day to June 30th
    (May 18 - June 30, 2015) Shoulder Season Open 7 days per week
    9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Canada Day to Labour Day
    (July 1 - September 7, 2015) Peak Season Open 7 days per week
    9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Post-Labour Day to Thanksgiving Day
    (September 8 - October 12, 2015) Shoulder Season Open 7 days per week
    9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Admission fees are Daily
    Adult $ 17.60
    Senior $ 14.95
    Youth $ 8.80
    Family/Group $ 44.10
    Commercial Group, per person $ 14.95
    School Groups, per student $ 4.90
    School Groups, Entry and a Heritage Presentation Special Program, per student $ 5.80
    Daily (Reduced Level of Service)
    Adult $ 7.30
    Senior $ 6.05
    Youth $ 3.65
    Family/Group $ 18.10
    Commercial Group, per person $ 6.30
    School Groups, per student $ 2.15
    School Groups, Entry and a Heritage Presentation Special Program, per student $ 3.15

    Reduced level of service.
    Seasonal
    Adult $ 35.20
    Senior $ 29.90
    Youth $ 17.60
    Family/Group $ 88.20

    For mobility impaired travellers,

    While its surroundings are accessible to all visitors, it is important to note that the reconstructed 18th century buildings within the fortified town are not fully accessible.

    I take no pleasure at all in writing negative tips here on Virtual Tourist but I cannot, in conscience, recommend this place to other travellers.

    Fortress, Louisbourg, Canada. Dauphin Gate, Fortress, Louisbourg, Canada. Fortress, Louisbourg, Canada. Fortress, Louisbourg, Canada. Officers bed, Fortress, Louisbourg, Canada.
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    The very first.

    by planxty Written Dec 22, 2014

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    As the very name suggests the Maritime Provinces are inextricably bound to the North Atlantic that laps their shores. Whilst often beautiful these can be extremely treacherous waters, not least for the appalling and very frequent fogs that plague shipping in the region. It is therefore hardly surprising that Nova Scotia has as many lighthouses as it does and I would even go so far as to say it is the unofficial symbol of the Province as you see them everywhere. For example, where people in the UK may have a garden gnome you will regularly see small model lighthouse of the typical local octagonal wooden design in the garden. They really are ubiquitous.

    No surprise then that Louisbourg has a lighthouse and we decided to make the short drive out and have a look at it. Arriving and parking up at the conveniently located carpark we set about exploring, reading the many excellent and informative boards situated about the site. I found out that the very place I was standing was the site of the very first lighthouse in what is modern day Canada, originally begun in 1730 which really is early in the history of this relatively young country. A fire later destroyed the lantern and there was a brief hiatus but service was resumed in 1738 although things were not all sweetness and light in the area at the time and the lighthouse became a focal point for military activity during the wars between the British and the French over control of the region. The reason for this is that it afforded an excellent artillery position against the Louisbourg Fortress (see separate tip) across the bay.

    A mere 20 years after the new light began operation and during the last seige of Louisbourg (1758) the British abandoned the position but not before they had destroyed the fortress and caused a goodly amount of damage to the lighthouse. You can still see the remains of the fortress which feature in one of my images here.

    A new wooden lighthouse was built in 1842 but burned down in 1922 after which the building currrently standing was erected. Again, you can see the remnants of the foundations of the 1842 structure. There were keepers here until as late as 1990 when this light, like so many others in the Canada, was automated.

    More recently local charities, volunteers and businesses have constructed a series of walks from the lighthouse which basically fall into two sections. The first is only 1.5km. and is suitable for anyone whilst the longer walk to Cape Lorraine is 5km. and only suitable for experienced walkers. Regrettably, we did not have time to do either although the coast out that way looked beatuiful. I suppose I shall just have to return and do it another time! Please note that the attached website is for the trail rather than the lighthouse itself.

    I would suggest that the mobility impaired traveller would only be able to view the lighthouse from the carpark or the road as the very nature of the terrain makes it a slight scramble to get up there.

    A brief word of warning in conclusion. Do not get too close to the foghorn as warning signs here demand hearing protection beyond a certain point and looking at it I do not want to be anywhere near if decides to let rip!

    Well worth a look.

    Lighthouse, Louisbourg, Canada. Remains, Lighthouse, Louisbourg, Canada. Foghorn, Lighthouse, Louisbourg, Canada. Remains, Lighthouse, Louisbourg, Canada.
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    Louisbourg Fortress

    by Jim_Eliason Written Aug 11, 2014

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    The primary reason to come to Louisbourg is its reconstruction of the 18th century French fort that was France's main bulwark against English encroachment in Nova Scotia. The site is reconstructed and has numerous re-enactors to give you a feel for life in French colonial Louisbourg.

    Louisbourg Fortress Louisbourg Fortress Louisbourg Fortress Louisbourg Fortress Louisbourg Fortress
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  • See the fortress and move on.

    by ndk1 Written Sep 5, 2010

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    I strongly recommend completely avoiding the town. The restaurants were all dirty looking and run down (we entered all of them looking for something to eat and exited immediately) and the accommodations were horrible for the excdeption of one hotel (resort) that didn't even have a cot for our 3rd child. It looked very nice though and it did have a restaurant.

    As for the fortress, it was a bit of a joke, but interesting, especially for the children.
    The people working there didn't really seem to care and even though they were very forthcoming in giving directions and helping out, there was a general feeling of "we don't care, this is just a job" mentality. The "guided" tour was a joke, given the complex history of the place (it consisted of us sitting in the church and listening to a guide's lecture about a period of history that was very complicated and difficult to grasp for the children, for 45 minutes). Nobody bothered to walk us through the buildings and we did it on our own trying to figure out what each one represented (there are no description plaques in front of the buildings so we were trying to enter buildings that were locked because even the ones that were open to the public had their doors closed, so we spent most of the afternoon wandering about trying to figure out where we were).
    I had already visited the place 12 years ago and things were diffierent then. The guide actually took us to the buildings and explained the archeology, architecture history and purpose.
    At the ticket booth, there were no smiles, just people doing their jobs. I am contrasting this to Baddeck NS, which we had visited earlier and the mentality and service is out of this world. Highly recommended. We made it our base to visit Cape Breton because frankly, it was the best place to be.

    My suggestions: Stay in Baddeck (anywhere than in Louisbourg), visit the fortress and ask if the tour is guided as in, will you walk from building to building instead of a high school lecture. Then, get the heck out and spend your nights in Baddeck or anywhere else than Louisbourg, because in spite of the terrible service and mediocre degree of organization, the fortress is a must-see.

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    The Fortress

    by kayla_gorecky Written Feb 6, 2004

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    The Fortress of Louisbourg can be a lot of fun. It is a great idea for a day trip. If you have ever been to a Pioneer village and enjoyed it, you will love the costumes and real feel of the past here. The restaurants are even fille dwith the food and place settings of the time. Also, throughout the day, canons are set off at certain times of the day

    The Fortress from a far
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