When my daughter and I sailed Canada/New England on Holland America Veendam this past summer, we were given the option of taking an excursion when we docked in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The port of Sydney is known for having the World's Largest Fiddle— and while that's an interesting site to see (located right at the cruise terminal), there's quite a bit more to discover on Cape Breton Island.
My 9-year-old actually suggested the excursion "Relive History at the Fortress of Louisbourg" because she thought it would be fun to visit a reenactment village. When I found out the Fortress of Louisbourg was celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2013, I knew it was the right choice for us.
Quick history: The original settlement in Louisbourg was founded in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a booming fishing and trade community. Fortified against the threat of British invasion, Louisbourg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760s. Now, the Fortress of Louisbourg is a National Historic Site operated by Parks Canada, and the largest reconstruction project in North America.
I can't remember the exact amount of time it took us to get from Sydney to the Fortress of Louisbourg by bus, but I would guesstimate 45 minutes. I do know it was just enough time for my girl to get in a little cat nap.
The first part of the excursion featured a guided group tour. We were led to a few of the more popular areas within the fortress— a costumed soldier gave us an inside account of life in 1744 before visiting the chapel; Madame DeGannes, the wife of a Captain, took us inside her home and gave us a look her day-to-day routine; and we got a lesson in colonial chocolate making and sampled American Heritage hot chocolate at the Grandchamp property. We also made a quick stop at the King's Bakery, where we purchased a small loaf of Soldiers' Bread for $2.50 CAD.
The second part of the excursion included an hour and a half to explore on our own. When I really had a chance to look around, I was completely taken by the beauty that surrounded us. There was a drizzle of rain and a light mist of fog in the air which seemed to amplify every detail. I've never been to Ireland, but I imagine it looks similar to this.
Having never visited a historic site like this, I was impressed with the amount of detail that went into recreating this settlement. It's truly like stepping back in time! If you notice the lack of people in my photos, both tourists and actors, it's because we visited in middle of shoulder season. The Fortresss of Louisbourg has a year-round schedule, however costumed interpreters work primarily in peak season from July 1 - August 25.
Since I arranged our excursion through Holland America, instead of renting a car and visiting the fortress on our own, we had access to buildings during the tour that may have otherwise been closed. The only downside to this excursion was there wasn't enough time to see everything— though I know both of us enjoyed our visit immensely and would choose this excursion again in a heartbeat!
Special thanks to Holland America for inviting MommyMusings.com to attend the Canada/New England Discovery press trip aboard the ms Veendam. Most expenses were covered by the cruise line. All opinions are my own.
What a fun experience! I'd love to visit a reenactment village like this some day and travel back in time.
I had never heard of the fortress. Your photos are AMAZING! It is reminiscent of Ireland. I would love to visit both places.
I love, love, love the photos. I actually grew up in Nova Scotia!
Rachel @ Following In My Shoes
It's so BEAUTIFUL! I would love going there!
That would be a beautiful place to visit!
That place is so beautiful! &I would love to see how they used to live!
Ty @ Mama of 3 Munchkins
That place looks amazingly beautiful and your photos are stunning!
This looks such a fun way to get a history lesson.
I find that I never have enough time on excursions, but at least they hit all the highlights!
Tiff @ Babes and Kids
I love how big and beautiful your pictures are! It looks like such an incredible place to visit.
Jennifer @ The Quirky Momma
I love any kind of historical reenactment or historical site. That is something I would love to visit. I would take so many photographs!
Liza @ Views From the 'Ville
There are lots of beautiful places like that in Nova Scotia. If you liked the historical recreation, you should try King's Landing Historical Settlement in New Brunswick. I haven't been in years but our class often took field trips to Canada to visit it when I was younger and it's pretty awesome!
Anne - Mommy Has to Work
What an amazing experience! The reenactment village sounds fun and interesting.
Wow that looks so beautiful!!!! Thanks for sharing all the pictures and about your trip, that is a place to go for sure. I LOVE the whole look of it, to me it looks like something you would see out of a movie!!
This place is beautiful. I would love to visit one day.
Just the pictures make me feel like a time-traveler!
Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
It truly does have a very European quality to it. What a fun place to explore!
Re-enactment places are some of our favorite to visit. This Fortress looks so quaint and fun to poke around in!
Penelope (NYC Blogger)
Wow, what a fun trip, everything looks so beautiful! I love to visit other places, and this place just looks so quaint and lovely 🙂
Paula @ Frosted Fingers
Wow, that looks beautiful! I'd love to visit there!
Crystal @ Simply Being Mommy.com
It looks like a beautiful trip! Your pictures are awesome.
Wow, it looks just beautiful! I'd love to be able to see it someday.
Hubby is a big history buff and would be in heaven here! Your pictures are incredible!