A Bit More History

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What would you say was the busiest city on the North American eastern seaboard? New York? Boston? Well, back in the 1700s, it was Louisbourg. Yes, Louisbourg.

For most people, the name Louisbourg probably means little, but this protected little bay near the northern end of Nova Scotia was the location for one of the busiest and most valuable cities of the new colonies. It also has a fascinating history. Louisbourg was founded and settled by the French, but the British decided they wanted it too, so they battled for it and defeated the French in 1745, then deported all the French inhabitants back to France. A few years later a peace treaty was reached and the British handed Louisbourg back to the French. The French came and resettled the place, then just 13 years later in 1758 the British decided to invade again, they won again (Do the French even have a word for victory?? They never seem to win anything!) and deported everyone back to France again. Again, a new peace treaty was reached a few years later, Louisbourg was handed back, again, only this time the Poms decided to torch the place and blow the crap out of it before handing it back. Talk about sore losers. Anyway, most of the French folk were pretty ticked off with the whole thing by this stage and went elsewere... some headed south to settle in St Louis, USA. A few went elsewhere, Quebec, etc.

Anyway, the thing about Louisbourg is that it was an amazingly large and busy port city, complete with a large military fortress, with lots of cannons but a strikingly poor strategy for self protection. The city was safe from attack so long as the attack came through the main harbour entrance and not the land approach from the south, which, of course, both times it did.

Today, the fort and old city has been well restored , although not in full, and hosts a historical re-enactment of life in 1744, back in the good old days of Louisbourg's heyday. It's an interesting place to visit. It also really made me realise what a pigheaded bunch of people the Poms were... I find it so presumptuous the way the British, and also the French for that matter, felt they could just land in another country and "claim" it for the king. The fact that there were already people living there - in this case the local Mi'kmaq people - seemed to matter not a jot. The Poms did the same thing to the indigenous people in Australia, and I still find it amazing that one race of people can sail to a new land, find a existing race of people already living there, but claim it as their own anyway and use whatever force was required to make the claim stick. When you start to see some of real bastardry perpetrated by the British over the years, especially in North America, it makes me quite embarrased that Australia also has a British heritage.

We left Sydney to drive out to Louisbourg in the morning, spent a few hours there trying to take it all in. If you were open to really absorbing all the history and seeing everything, you could easily spend a whole day here, but we only had a few hours since we wanted to be in Halifax by that evening. Still, it was well worth the visit.

More info on Louisbourg here if you're interested.

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