After our remarkable whale watching boat tour, we drove down the eastern side of the Cabot trail through Ingonish towards Louisburg. This is a very small town with few local restaurants, but the people are friendly and welcoming for the most part.
We checked into The Fortress Motel and the receptionist told us that she had recently moved from Ottawa to Cape Breton since her husband had grown up on the east coast. The rooms were old and this was not our choice to rest our heads, but we made do given that all other hotels were full.
We decided to eat at The Lobster Kettle as the boys wanted to continue the experience of trying varieties of local seafood. They both had crab legs and muscles which were good, but nothing compared to the lobster in Cheticamp.
After dinner we ventured towards the local trail and lighthouse along the coast. Night was falling and Mackenzie wanted to get some shots of the sun setting.The coast was rocky and the two boys became explorers venturing near the Atlantic ocean and marveling at the power of the waves.
The lighthouse has an interesting history; this is the location of the first lighthouse in Canada build in 1734. The current lighthouse dates back to 1923, but remnants of the older lighthouses still remain and we climbed over these ruins thinking about our history and whose footsteps preceded ours.
The sun began to set, the mosquitoes found us, and we took cover before the blood-letting could begin.
We woke early the next day and drove to the Fortress of Louisburg for our tour. This was our last day before the 16 hour drive home, so we wanted to make it memorable. While waiting for the Fortress shuttle bus, the boys posed for what became their “album cover” shot.
I’ve always thought that it is best to ask the locals for information, so I asked a park employee which events were the best. She told us that only two people per session get to fire cannons, but that this is the best activity in the fortress. The boys were excited but we knew that we would have to rush to the check in site in order to be able to register them. Sean felt sure that everyone would want this activity and they would miss out, but we made it in time and got them signed up.
Before they knew it, they were changing into period costumes, and getting trained in the art of “black powder”.
They learned how to march with French commands and became part of the ceremonial firing of the bayonets and canons for a crowd of 200 visitors.
The heavy fog added to the eerie nature of the ceremony and when the canons fired, everyone felt the booming thud in their chests, an echo in their ears as the dense smoke from the block powder blocked out everything from view. It is truly a lesson in the struggles of early military life as our nation took shape; although the French were defeated and Louisburg was leveled, it is a testament to our current cultural paradigms of inclusion that we have resurrected a French fortress once defeated by the British.
We were greeted by clog wearing men and everywhere you walked or looked, staff were in costume and role played the lives of real people who once lived in the Fortress.
By noon, the rain began to fall, so we stopped into a few buildings to gather as much information as possible, then took the shuttle back to our car, and headed for the open road back to Edmundston, New Brunswick and the long leg of our journey home.