The French came to Louisbourg in 1713, after having ceded Acadia (now Nova Scotia) and Newfoundland to the British under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. France’s only remaining possessions in the New World were Isle Royale (Cape Breton) and Isle Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) which were used as a base for fishing cod on the Grand Banks. The cod fishery provided for Isle Royale’s prosperity, where the fish were salted and sun-dried for export. Louisbourg became a commercial hub, trading for manufactured goods and various materials imported from France, Quebec, the West Indies and New England.

In 1719 the French began to construct a fortified town at Louisbourg, which was completed in 1745.
Trout Brook on Cape Breton
While the fortress left the harbour well defended, the landward fortifications were close to (but not placed on top of) high ground, which turned out to provide excellent locations for enemy siege batteries. In 1745 New Englanders mounted an assault on Louisbourg, and within 46 days captured the fortress. The town was returned to the French by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, but in 1758 Fort Louisbourg was besieged a second time. The French lacked a strong navy and the British landed 13,100 troops supported by a 14,000 crew on board 150 ships, and captured the fortress in seven weeks. Determined that Louisbourg would never again become a fortified French base, the British demolished the fortress walls.

Development of coal mining in the 1800s, connected to Sydney by a network of railways, gave Louisbourg new life as a shipping centre. The lighthouse on the eastern side of the harbour is one of the oldest in North America, built 130-1733 by order of King Louis XV of France, but was damaged during the British siege of 1758.


Fortress at Louisbourg

Sydney and Louisbourg Railway Museum

7336 Main St
(902) 733-2720
Located in a 1895 railway station, this museum includes the stationmaster’s office and includes exhibits and models portraying railway and maritime history. A number of period rolling stock are behind the museum, including coach cars, a tanker, and a caboose. Open 8 am to 8 pm July-August, and 9 am to 5 pm in shoulder season mid-May to mid-October. Admission by donation.

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

259 Park Service Road
Louisbourg, NS B1C 2L2
(902) 733-2280, Fax: (902) 733-2362

Louisbourg, Nova Scotia Area Map