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Eric Krause

Fortress of Louisbourg

September 1989

[Editor's Note: This report was recovered from a corrupt e-file at the Fortress of Louisbourg. Among other problems, the endnotes were not recoverable. However, the reader may still find this account of interest]


In the annals of Canadian reconstruction, the Louisbourg Restoration Project (1961-1982) broke from standard practice in several important areas. Of the changes, perhaps the most innovative departure occurred in its decision making process. For the first time, a reconstruction project actively encouraged a multi-disciplinary team approach. As a sanctioned methodology, the considered viewpoint of diverse experts upon each and every construction issue was nothing short of radical.

In an attempt to cement together this unusual alliance, the project placed a common goal before the different groups: each, in a team format, in its own individual way, was to contribute to an accurate as possible, partial rebuilding of 18th century Louisbourg.

Of these groups, the research component would demand the closest adherence to historical accuracy. Its official role, to define research standards, was to ensure an authentic reconstruction. Not surprisingly, its viewpoint often placed it in opposition to other groups, and, in particular, to those wishing to introduce modern intrusions.

In order to define these historical standards, research had to both develop and participate in processes. Process is therefore the main topic of this discussion.

Well-grounded and justifiable historical premises lie in the presentation of reconstructed Louisbourg. In process is found an instrument for demonstrating this fact.

Historical compromise is also a fact of reconstructed Louisbourg. In example, however, their numbers are low relative to those numbers authentic. Notwithstanding, they serve a useful function, revealing a certain mind-set and room for improvement.


On June 17, 1961, Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker rose in the House of Commons to announce a recovery programme for Cape Breton Island. Among his government's initiatives, a make-work project for the partial reconstruction of colonial Louisbourg perhaps presented the greatest challenge. However, not merely in the economic and technological magnitude of the project which this initiative represented, but as well because of its desire to achieve a number of lofty educational and philosophical goals.

Two of these educational goals, according to one source, were that:

To restore or reconstruct historic structures implies the application of authenticity guidelines. Naturally, the more measurable and restrictive the standard, the better the chance to achieve historical accuracy. Conversely, the less measurable and limiting, the more personal becomes the decision as to what is historically acceptable.

Paradoxically, Louisbourg's authenticity statement contained both a measurable and an overriding un-measurable component. Accordingly, measurably:

But, un-measurably, since no limits were set:

By "line" the Louisbourg statement meant measurable assembly, or how an object was put together in a recognizable form or shape: or, in other words, that process which distinguishes, say, a humble home from a stately mansion from a tree, or, say a double hung window from a casement window from a rock.

By "level" the statement meant a 3 dimensional measurement or the physical size, in all conceivable directions, of the parts that comprise the recognizable assembly. And by "fabric", of course meant were materials and intrinsic atomic composition.

By "departures from this guideline", the Louisbourg statement condones virtually any hidden modern intrusion, so long as it's requirement met the unlimited standard of overriding necessity. Replicating 100 percent accurately the "line, level and fabric" of every structure and landscape still standing in 1745 within the areas chosen for reconstruction was, of course, a working principle, which few, including research, regarded as a realistic concept. Instead, among the disciplines there occurred general agreement to adhere to the less dogmatic bench-mark of rebuilding as "accurately" as possible.

At Louisbourg some - led by the research component - would focus their attention upon measurable lines, levels and fabrics of originals of a particular moment in time. Their first instinct was to minimize the effect of modern intrusions by maximizing the number of "authentic" replications. on the other side of the table, were those who felt comfortable with compromise as a necessary evil. Led by engineering - this group would insist upon what was to be built by invoking the unlimited departure standard whenever it deemed compromise to be necessary.

Consequently, while both sides generally agreed upon what constituted historical accuracy - by arguing over measurable lines, levels and fabrics and setting precedents - often they disagreed upon the acceptability of historical compromise. In the broad manoeuvring room which the unlimited departure standard allowed, the chance for precedent setting and routine consensus simply proved impossible. In desperation, each side sought the ear of its superior, but, in the end, it was political pragmatism which proved the king maker. From above came the decision: Louisbourg was to be rebuilt within budget; Productivity was to be the measure; Compromise one of the tools.

Through design, accident, omission, or, incompetency then - by a builder, designer, architect, or researcher, for example - the knowingly or unknowingly compromise of "line, level and/or fabric" has occurred at Louisbourg. Of these players, design has proven the larger. In particular, and despite Louisbourg's apparent generous budget - originally set at $12 million, but later increased to $20 million - it has been the level of available funding, rather than technological or historical shortfalls, which has generated most of the historical compromises.

Because the budget fluctuated from year to year, and from one reconstructed feature or town block to another, approved funding levels have often determined the degree of historical compromise at the design level. Consequently, design compromises over the years have tended to reveal an erratic budgetary basis rather a constant or consistent philosophical pattern.

To be sure, the Louisbourg project, which has always regarded compromise as a necessary exception, never the norm, meets an authentic standard unparalleled in the world of reconstruction. Notwithstanding this degree of excellence, the reasons quoted for the need to compromise are nevertheless enlightening. For example:







The size of the Louisbourg budget, from which had to rise a practical and manageable outdoor museum, also fixed the decision not to rebuild the "entire' town or "all" of its associated fortified works. A historical compromise to many, this resolution led to a further compromise: either confine the reconstruction programme to a particular section of the town, or reconstitute a cross-section of the town by picking and choosing sites here and there for rebuilding. In the end, concentrated geography won the day.

Because of this decision, gone wanting would, for example, be Louisbourg's hospital of the Brother's of Charity, the convent of the Sister's of the Congregation of Notre Dame, the twin towered Royal Battery on the opposite shore, and, beyond, a lighthouse of notable importance. In their place would rise the King's Bastion, its barracks and governor's quarters; the Dauphin half-bastion; 6 town blocks, their buildings and their landscapes; a fortified harbour front wall and its wharfs; and a number of streets.

A date for the reconstruction presented yet another dilemma, and, for some, yet another compromise. Numerous time periods were available, but rather than settle on one, many or not even one date in particular, the project chose two. One, for animation purposes, to match the visitor season, would meander the living history programme generally throughout the summer of 1744. The other would set the foundations of the town's built assets firmly in the spring earth of 1745.

Considered opinion ruled that this date, just before the destructive English siege, best showed the natural structural and architectural development of the town. By then, colonial Louisbourg, originally founded in 1713, had, in a hectic 32 years, grown from a few wooden shacks into a mature French fortified maritime town bustling with all forms of activities. Now, in 1745, it stood at the precipice of a war which, through damage and ensuing repair, was about to alter the face of the town, in many ways, beyond recognition.


From the project's inception untill today, that is, from its developmental-construction stage to its operational-maintenance stage, the research component has, is, and hopes to continue to be the guardian of the historical record. Its assumption of this role was no accident:

Consequently, from the inception of the Louisbourg reconstruction programme, the charge to research was to collect both unpublished primary as well as published secondary archaeological and documentary evidence. Authenticity being the engine for driving the rebuilding programme, this evidence was to be its contributing fuel.

Today, the jury on Louisbourg is in. The driving engine of authenticity did, in fact, rule the day. Compromise, like bumps on a road, were to rise here and there, but the authentic landscape diverts most of the attention.


At Louisbourg, therefore, well-grounded and justifiable historical premises lie behind its many programmes. However, without the use of proper processes, the project would neither have discovered nor implemented these assumptions. Not only did each discipline develop a process that best suited its own needs, but, through yet another process, that of teams and committees, communicated its distinct, and often conflicting, viewpoints and premises to the others.

In the Louisbourg research component, process involved the activities of two disciplines: Archaeology and history. In general, this discussion will reveal the process of historians.
The documentary evidence which led to an understanding of Louisbourg's past assumed two forms: Primary and secondary. Of the two, the evidence most important for determining authenticity was primary, it generally being the original or most first hand, and hence, usually the most reliable type of evidence.

At Louisbourg, primary evidence surfaced out of the story of the town as told by the town itself. Examples of primary evidence would be a handwritten letter from a Louisbourg inhabitant to an official in France, or the undisturbed foundational remains of a building in its original location.

An example of secondary evidence at Louisbourg would be the aforementioned letter to the French official, but published, or the foundational remains, but taken down and reassembled. Hence more removed from the original, its reliability coming into question due to an increased possibility of alteration or unfaithful reproduction, secondary evidence bore close scrutiny before being accepted as gospel. Depending too upon its nature, if handwriting, paper, or material analysis were to prove impossible, its reliability could forever remain in question.

In other words, the historian would normally regard published material as secondary evidence, but handwritten or hand-drawn as primary. whether primary or secondary, the historical bench-mark for its reliability would depend upon whether it was the earliest or most original account.

In 1960, a report lamented the absence of building details in the considerable body of original 18th century Louisbourg sources which Canadian public institutions had collected to date. For while this record contained general information on the main character of most of the town's public buildings and their interior divisions, it certainly lacked the particulars for practical reconstruction. To overcome this problem, and to increase overall knowledge, the Louisbourg project decided to send its research staff into the private and public archives, libraries and museums of Europe and North America, to search out, record and place orders.

Sometimes, the project was able to buy the discovered material outright. Book dealers, for instance, provided excellent fodder, particularly of published evidence, but occasionally even of original manuscripts. More often, however, the documentation was not for sale. Depending upon the wishes of the owner, or on the informational value of the material, the process then varied. If it were an important document, then the project might microfilm or photo-duplicate it. If of a lesser informational value, then the historians might only examine it and record a summary description of it in a finding aid.

Over the years, this acquisition process would produce a multi-media archives and library second to none in their particular fields of specialization. For example, today, the archives holds, among many other depositions, approximately 750,000 copied pages of primary 18th century manuscript evidence on Louisbourg and the surrounding area, 150,000 genealogical name cards of Isle Royale 18th century inhabitants, 500 historical area maps and plans, and an extensive photographic collection which includes 54,000 historical and archaeological negatives and transparencies. In addition, in the Louisbourg library, there appears 16,000 book titles, of which 372 are of a scarce 17th to 19th century nature, 10,000 individual periodical issues, and a substantive picture file compilation.


From the start, the historical process followed a holistic approach both in its gathering and use of primary and secondary evidence, in order to rebuild with as many known or interpreted facts as possible of the material discovered. This same process deemed certain categories as more essential to reconstruction history than others. Some, like technical construction contracts, fell naturally into this essential group. others, of a less structural nature, often required closer examination to reveal their usefulness. Hence, all evidence necessitated scrutiny before actual reconstruction could begin.

Louisbourg census reports were an example of primary evidence that appeared architecturally innocuous. Yet, like the census report of 1734, they proved vital to the understanding of individual structures slated for reconstruction. After enumerating the name of each head of household, the 1734 Louisbourg census takers provided birthplace and profession, whether married, the number of sons under 15 as well as over, and the number of daughters, servants, other domestics, and employed sailors and fishermen. Additionally, the takers listed the number of employed fishing "chaloupes", fishing vessels, "goelettes", and coasting vessels, as well as inserting the occasional explanatory note.

By adding this new body of information to other known facts, from the census, record of birthplace and suggested wealth (because of the number of servants and fishing vessels), the architectural historian was able to infer an owner's preferred house construction type (stone if the birthplace were Brittany, wood if it were Normandy for example); From profession (carpenter or merchant for instance), whether the home were self built or contracted out ; Or, from family numbers, the size of the home down to even the number of rooms.

Through that same process, of bringing old facts to bear upon new, the 1734 census would also take on a meaning far beyond the intent of its takers. Although Louisbourg was a planned 18th town divided into blocks and lots without a street numbering system, its bureaucracy, for reasons which it never explained, chose to identify residency by street and closest neighbour rather than by a more precise block and lot location. As a result, the number of unknown addresses far outstripped the known.

With this problem in mind, the historians took the names of Louisbourg's owners and tenants with known addresses and compared them with the same names in the 1734 census, to flesh out any possible patterns in the taking of the said census. Like beacons, the locations of plotted addresses signalled a simple conclusion: the enumerators had moved deliberately and logically, from one residence to the neighbouring next, and from one street to the nearest next. As a result, the known addresses tended to fix each of the intervening others, thus revealing their locations as well.

Knowing where heads of households, be they owner or tenant, lived provided the historians with an invaluable authenticity tool in their quest to tie specific structural information, as contained in building contracts, rental agreements and court disputes, to particular constructions. For it was out of such documents that details like a tenant painting a house one year and the owner the next, that much structural and finishing detail was to flow.

Early land grants represented another body of basically non-structural primary evidence which proved useful to the reconstruction process. However, while a land grant might appear straightforward enough at first blush, upon closer examination and in light of other known facts, it could become if not more revealing, then less understandable. For instance, on 30 April 1721, the Governor and "Commissaire-Ordonanteur" of Louisbourg granted Antoine Sabatier a corner property in Block Two in the following manner:

Interestingly, 14 years later, in 1734, the official surveyor for the colony, François Vallée, found the measurements of the Sabatier property, now owned by Carrerot, to be, mysteriously, in error. Ordered by the local authorities to re-examine all deeds and to re-measure all properties, in order to submit an accurate town plan for the King's approval, Vallée, in fact, discovered the same situation with many other town-side properties. Regarding, for instance, the aforesaid Block Two property of Sabatier, Vallée stated:

Originally 60 by 90 "pieds" (one "pied" = 1.066 feet), the Sabatier property now measured 55 by 95 pieds. Clearly, the Louisbourg reconstruction effort demanded such knowledge: For example, archaeologists needed it to set the parameters of their digs at fence lines, the structural team for producing future designs.

As previously stated, some Louisbourg primary evidence like construction contracts, sale and rental agreements, damage and repair reports, inheritance records and civil and criminal court cases generated a wealth of relatively, understandable building details. Significantly, however, they varied in their degree and order of importance.

Details specifically peculiar to a particular reconstruction naturally drew first attention for they set a feature's overall character while defining gaps in knowledge. Then, and only then, examined were details emanating from similar structures at Louisbourg. Together, this evidence, both the specific and the generic, ensured the working out of a proper historical process - a process whose goal was to reconstruct as accurately as possible.

The aforementioned Sabatier-Carrerot property demonstrates well the need to use generic primary evidence to fill in gaps in structural knowledge. According to a 1733 Sabatier sale agreement with Carrerot, Block 2, Lot D, was a:

By the spring of 1745, numerous half-timber buildings dotted the Louisbourg skyline. Known commonly in France as "colombage" or "pans de bois", but, without explanation at Louisbourg as  "charpente", in total they provided a wealth of generic building details. For example, a 1756 construction contract for a Block 5 charpente residence stated:

After describing the foundation, the contract further stated that:

Then followed details on interior finishes, doors and windows, fireplaces, partitions, and roofing materials. For instance:

Court cases also provided interesting snippets of primary generic technical detail. For example:

There, one of the men, left overnight in charge of the ship's cargo, stated that he had risen at 6:00 a.m. and, while in the yard to relieve himself, saw a neighbour picking up the gate of the fence which separated the two properties. He then returned to the storehouse where he found evidence of a robbery.

Accordingly, investigators were sent who reported that:

To the experts, their intimate and experienced knowledge of shutter design clearly suggested an inside job. Someone with plenty of time had simply driven the pintle into the shutter in order to cover their actions. Accusing the early riser, they soon elicited his guilt.

At Louisbourg, the research process has produced a regime with a similar expertise. This because some of its primary discoveries have been particularly detailed. For example:

A close examination of Louisbourg's large primary map and plan collection also assured an honest reconstruction effort. The immensity of the collection was, however, a mixed blessing, for it often revealed multiple plans of the same structure. Which was the more accurate often became the subject of much debate. Even their beauty, when in colour and finely worked, sometimes proved more art than fact. Hesitant to make a judgement, before all the facts were in - which is what good, objective research is all about - architectural historians cautioned against rash decisions.

Occasionally even maps and plans of dubious accuracy could prove architecturally valuable. For example, in 1763, the widow Lartigue submitted a plan purporting to be an accurate 1753 representation of her houses and properties on Isle Royale. She issued the plan in support of her efforts to attain a royal dole based on her losses during the 1758 siege of Louisbourg.

While the circumstances and submission date of the plan raised suspicions concerning the plan's accuracy, an internal examination confirmed it. For instance, the fireplaces of the Block 2 building did not agree with where the chimneys were placed on the elevation. Also, as archaeology would show, this building had butted and shared its east wall with the neighbouring house. Hence, the east windows shown on the plan were unlikely reflective of reality. On the other hand, other sources confirm the widow Lartigue as a Block 2 owner of a rubblestone building of approximately the same size. Were then the errors the result of memory lapse or the work of an amateur? Notwithstanding whatever the reasons, this primary plan may yet have typified 18th century French construction. As a result, the research process justified its use for filling in known informational gaps.

Here research had to ask itself: Was the reconstructed Fortress town to be the reality of what once happened or was it to be an expression of what might have happened? In order that construction could proceed it was soon realized that both thoughts had to be blended. However, first and foremost, Louisbourg is a restoration or re-establishment of all that which research has discovered as once having been, and that secondly it is a reconstruction of what might have been. Accordingly, while the structure depicted on the widow Lartigue's plan could not have been built for her exactly as shown, logically it still should have been representative or typical of private, masonry buildings in the town of Louisbourg: Hence, the similarity between the widow's plan and today's reconstruction.

Given that primary historical evidence has revealed both what is known and what is apparently typical of a particular structure in Louisbourg slated for reconstruction, secondary evidence has revealed what is known and what is typical of structures of the 18th century outside of the colony of Isle Royalle. Naturally, France was a logical place where Louisbourg's architectural roots might be found. So too Quebec, Acadia, New Orleans and Newfoundland, for having the same heritage as Louisbourg, they might also express the same overseas roots. Even England and New England were studied; like today, it was not uncommon that certain building practices were universally applied.

Most of this secondary evidence is contained in the project's collection of modern and rare books and in its holdings of maps, plans and pictures of the 18th century. Here, rare is understood to mean scarce: a book written or published in the 18th century and valued today at from 50 to 1,000 dollars. In any case, these aids together allowed the reconstruction to proceed "in the spirit" of the 18th century if not "in the actual manner" when specifically shown that the secondary evidence conformed to local facts at Louisbourg.

For instance, in his 1728 Paris edition of Modern Architecture, or the Art of Good Building, Briseux had this to say on roofing practices in France:

Similarly, Louisbourg's Chief Engineer of Fortifications, Franquet, wrote on the 20th of November 1751 that:

The two descriptions were, hence, identical. If given that neither Franquet nor anyone else in Louisbourg had any more to say on slate roofs in the town then, logically, whatever further Briseux had to say on the subject would apply to Louisbourg as well. This dangerous path the researcher must refuse to take without first considering all possible alternatives for Louisbourg. In this case, a none-too-close study would have shown that the two climates were not similar. Would this then have affected a different response in Louisbourg?

Again Briseux, this time on what the slates would be attached:

But according to Franquet who, fortunately, did have more to say:

Indeed, this bevelled sheathing was completely foreign to normal practice in France where laths or roofing strips as specified by Briseux were commonly used. But in Louisbourg laths were abandoned quite early because it was found that the particular type of powdered snow associated with Isle Royalle was penetrating the slate roofs and easily passing through the spaced laths, causing extensive damage to the roof members beneath.

Modern books were investigated with the same considered thought, for they too could mislead the research programme. Indeed, because their very basis was an in-depth study of a number of rare books at a time, and even of primary documents, they have come to be revered as the final word in many cases. For example, several excellent works have been written on the colonial architecture of New France but, yet, when applied to Louisbourg, some of their more interesting conclusions were found invalid. One reason was that at the date of Louisbourg's founding, Quebec had already been in existence for over 100 years and had time to develop its own unique building styles. By now too, much of urban Quebec was being built in stone. On the other hand, wood would dominate throughout Louisbourg's short history.

Similarly, investigators of existing 18th century buildings either in North America or overseas, or of buildings restored or reconstructed, were always careful to be certain that what they intended to use as an example for design could be reasonably justified as a Louisbourg technique too. Again, it was a sound research programme in the beginning which determined the correct approach.


Once all the primary historical evidence was investigated the historical report was written. Essentially a compilation of known facts and an expression of opinion and interpretation, an historical report aptly fits the definition of secondary or derived evidence. Always, however, the primary evidence is at hand for the reader to examine, either then or later, as a direct quote, as a reproduction of an historical map or plan, or as a reference footnote/endnote telling the reader where to look if he/she wishes to examine the primary evidence personally.

For the reconstruction of the town itself, a number of specialized reports were written, each examining one town block within the area designated for development. The Block number and Lot letters, as assigned by François Vallée in his 1734 property survey of the town, were then chosen for the title and for the major chapter headings of each report. For instance, the Sabatier-Carrerot residence, which was discussed earlier, was built in Block Two on Lot D, and was but one of 12 lots in this the most sub-divided of all blocks within the town. Consequently, the Block Two report was actually not one, but rather 12 individual reports.

After a number of historical Block reports had been written and consulted for purposes of reconstruction, it was decided that those with a topical approach were the more ideal, that in studying each property the historian should group his information by introduction, by ownership, by occupant, by construction activity, by conclusion, and by reproduced evidence. Where possible, each topic was chronologically ordered, from the earliest historical information to the latest. Working experience has clearly demonstrated that reports structured in this manner were the far superior in the clear transmission of the historical story to the other professions involved in the reconstruction.

For example, Manuscript Report # 176, a publication of National Historic Parks, is written in the approved way. Contained in this issue are two separate Block reports, one A History of Block 4, Louisbourg: 1713-1768 and the other, A History of Block 16, Louisbourg: 1713-1768. For instance, the Block 16 report begins with a general introduction to the Block in question, outlining its formation. Extracting the topical sentences to each paragraph we learn:

Naturally these statements were noted individually as having been derived by the historian from the primary record of Louisbourg. The Kennedy concession, for instance, was contained on a plan of the old town of Louisbourg drawn up in 1861 by the Department of Crown Lands.

According to the 1734 property survey of the town, Block 16 comprised five properties, and hence five reports were written, the most complicated perhaps being Lot B which "Unlike the other lots in the block ... was sub-divided and owned by different parties during its history". Extracting from the ownership section in the Block 16 report, we next learn that:

By 1736, then, the original Villejouin property had been sub-divided into three properties and the new owners of one lot each were Loppinot, Richard and Ballé.

Identifying the owners of the former Villejouin property was rationalized somewhat by the 1734 Vallée survey once research fully understood when the different sales within the property had taken place. Because Loppinot had bought his section before the official survey, whereas Richard and Ballé would buy after, the widow Villejouin was still in control of part of her property when Vallée came to measure her holdings in Block 16. Her section Vallée designated as Lot B, while the part which she had sold to Loppinot became Lot C. Hence, the historian now made Lot C the subject of a report of its own (incidentally Lot C would be sold twice before 1758).

At any rate, after the completion of the official survey, the widow Villejouin sold the remainder of her property, now called Lot B, to Richard who then sold a part to Ballée. When Richard died in 1741, his widow remarried Joseph La Chaume and they lived there with various borders until 1758. When Ballée bought his property he found that the house was already being rented and was forced in the bill of sale to respect the rental agreement for a further three years. However, the next year, 1737, Ballée sold the property to Julien Fizel whose family then retained possession until 1758. Hence, for reconstruction purposes, the owners of Lot B in 1745 were Fizel and the widow Richard, now married to Joseph La Chaume.

Although essentially a complicated story, not to be found in any one convenient place in the historical evidence, Lot B ownership is no longer a mystery and can now easily be investigated by any interested party, but only because an historical report has been written.

Once ownership had been established it was only logical to study next the occupants themselves, a biographical sketch, if you will, of both landlords and tenants, for it was not unusual for an owner to rent his home out for long periods or for tenants to sub-let or for a number of families to be living in the same house at the same time. Often their very profession would suggest certain necessary building features, for in their homes their craft would have been practiced. Essentially a study of the interactions of people, biographies more than once became the most time consuming aspect in the writing of a Block report.

Now that it was established who had occupied the property throughout its history, the next step was to examine actual development for what was built on each lot, when, where, how and why. Unfortunately this meant too that an exceptionally good building description could prove irrelevant for the reconstruction, if it had been written after 1745. For instance, the house which Ballée bought in Block 16 and sold to Fizel in 1737 was a modest wooden structure built around 1719. However, the house which Fizel owned in 1757 was stone, highly valued and interestingly described in the inventory of his belongings taken after his death. Since Fizel would not have built the stone house until the 1750s, according to the maps and plans of this property, the wooden structure would be the one considered for reconstruction.

Next, a good conclusion would summarize the activities and appearance of the entire Block on the eve of the siege of 1745. Following in a series of appendices would be additional information deemed vital in explaining the report further. Here, for instance, might be found an entire building contract for a particular structure described in the report, reproduced in its French text. Most certainly, maps and plans relevant to the Block could be consulted here.

Lastly, the Footnotes/Endnotes and Bibliography, that is the historical evidence on which the report was based. Simply put, the Endnotes list the primary Louisbourg documents in the order that the historian has researched them in the writing of the report. In the Bibliography is a compilation of these primary documents by archives, sometimes with an explanation of which sources were found the most valuable and the reasons. Included, too, in the Bibliography is a list of secondary sources found useful in the writing of the Block report - for instance, other Block reports since owners sometimes held or rented properties in more than one Block at a time.

Now that the historical report was written, ideally only then did the archaeologist begin his investigations in the field with some degree of certainty of what might be encountered. Occasionally, however, as in Block 2, the issuance of the final Historical Block Report and the beginning of archaeology did not coincide, for reasons of construction of urgency. Instead:

With the completion of the archaeological investigation in the field and a record made of the primary evidence which was found, an archaeological Block Report, with a second set of conclusions, had then to be written.

Credibility of findings was now important in the instance of both reports, particularly when the discovered evidence seemingly conflicted. For example, while the Historical Report noted that the Lartigue building in Block 2, now animated as the "Hôtel de la Marine", showed two fireplace bases on the ground floor plan, the archaeologist found that they were not, and had never been, built where so indicated. Equally, while an archaeological report might conclude that only one structure was ever built on a property because only one set of foundations were found, historical evidence to the contrary might suggest that the "as found foundations" had completely obliterated the record of those previously placed. Hence, it was decided that both parties should issue checklists, outlining the degree of credibility which should be assigned to each piece of evidence necessary to a particular reconstruction. Naturally, professional pride, experience, capability and, to a more or less degree depending on the individual professional compromise were important in this exercise. Hence, the historian had to recognize that the plan of the Lartigue building was not the best in any case, and equally the archaeologist that he had spent a lot of time and effort on a building never to bear fruition as a reconstruction and about to be obliterated in favour of a lesser known structure which he had never found.

No doubt this destruction of a historical resource has shocked many a purist, but nevertheless it is the price which must be paid by any reconstruction which has chosen to teach its lesson in history by means of a particular "historical moment in time". On the other hand, every effort to ensure that the historic site has been protected has been made, to the degree that, for instance, if a temporary fence was required for crowd control it was placed with the minimum of fence holes if dug in a non-investigated area. Another device to ensure that a part of Canada's heritage was not forever lost was to record what was found on archaeological drawings and photos. Thus when restored, built upon or destroyed for purposes of reconstruction, a found feature was still available for future study, if not where the archaeologist had located it, at least as recorded evidence. Important too, archaeological "as found" drawings of a particular property were then cued so as to show only the features assumed in existence in 1745 and, hence, those significant to the reconstruction. Without this editing a drawing which contained the full story of property development from its beginnings to the 20th century was so cluttered with recorded construction activity as to be incomprehensible to all but the author, if then.

When all the individually edited properties were combined a composite archaeological drawing of the 1745 occupational layer for the entire Block resulted. Invaluable in showing the relationship between properties, such as the beginning of a sub-surface drain in one lot which ran through a neighbouring property, even beneath the neighbouring house, this composite Block drawing was later combined further with other Block and street composites to show, for instance, that the drain continued into the street and exited into an adjoining Block.


The historical and archaeological research now completed and digested, a Structural Design Team was called to implement reconstruction according to all available information. Part and parcel of a larger committee system - which, in revised form, still plays an important function today - this design team served to bring to bear diverse, multi-disciplinary viewpoints upon each and every construction issue in an honest attempt to produce as accurate partial rebuilding of Louisbourg as possible. Chaired in its most formative days by the Chief Restoration Architect, meetings of this team had a definite goal in mind: to present final working drawings so that actual reconstruction could begin. First the historical and archaeological primary evidence was introduced, considered, accepted or rejected. Areas of further research were identified, secondary evidence considered, and outside consultants called in when necessary. All reasonable arguments were debated though not necessarily accepted.

At any rate, these debates, heated as they were at times when professional opinion ran strong, were fully recorded as minutes of the Structural Design Team. A reason was then given for each point accepted, rejected or referred to future study. For instance, at a Design Team Meeting of 27 February 1974, lasting 2 1/2 hours, a number of items were considered regarding the Carrerot house of Block 2:

(1) Item: Fireplaces and Potager

Discussion and Recommendation: 

(a) Kitchen:

cut sandstone jamb, flatstone superstructure and flue- surface plastered. - raised hearth with tile. Rest of platform: brick or tile (archaeologist to make a firm recommendation after further study)

Basis [for the decision] "As founds", Archaeologist recommendation, Secondary evidence.

Discussion and Recommendation: Potager

Several proposals for potager and/or oven were examined. D.T. agreed to the proposal shown as the most possible and probable one for "as found" base.

Basis [for the decision] D.T. recommendation

(2) Item: Dormers

Discussion and Recommendation

[Historical view [of] 1731 was discussed to some length since the dormers shown are set impossibly high for a house with a knee wall as this one is known to be from written documents. The D.T. with the assent of the historian, considers this to be an understandable error in the drawing and recommends that the dormers be set in the more normal and probable position: on the knee wall ...

Basis [for the decision] D.T. interpretation

(3) Item: Attached Outbuilding

Discussion and Recommendation

D.T. agrees that this outbuilding could be used (preferably in part only) for modern services, if necessary.

Basis for the decision

Modern requirement

A close reading of minutes such as above has thus revealed that recommendations fell into two general categories: either the evidence for or against which was presented was so indisputable or reasonable that once its merits had been discussed all team members concurred with the recommendation; or, the evidence was so controversial and the ensuing debate so prolonged that members had to reach a compromise either by majority vote, by combining all opinion into a logical proposal, or by appealing to outside help. Naturally, compromise was not the preferred procedure but it was a necessary one if reconstruction was to proceed. On the other hand, opinion contrary to the decision taken was nevertheless recorded and changes to the recommendation were always possible. For instance, if at a later date additional supporting evidence was introduced to convince the other team members that an error was in the making, a change would be effected, sometimes at considerable expense if construction had already begun.

Once it was armed with a number of decisions, the team was ready to proceed with the issuance of a set of preliminary drawings to visualize the recommendations. As the number of meetings increased and hence the number of decisions added to the plans also increased, a point was soon reached where the drafting department could issue final working drawings so that actual construction could begin.

Throughout this team exercise, other departments whose concern was also the reconstruction were routinely kept aware of progress in that as each meeting was held and recorded, the minutes were distributed for their comments on the decisions being taken. At the beginning of the next meeting of the team these comments were then considered, and either accepted or rejected with the reason noted. From time to time, too, a formal meeting between the Heads of these departments and the Structural Design Team was also called to consider all proposals to date. Referred to as a Full Committee, its procedures were reported in minute form. Its minutes equally reveal that its directives to the Structural Team originated in exactly the same way as had the decisions of the Team itself: either the Team's proposals, item by item, were accepted, rejected or deferred for more study with the general concurrence of all those present, or else a compromise was reached.

Finally the day when the working drawings were to be issued and the final stamp of approval was to be given - the signing ceremony as it were. Recommended by the Restoration Architect as the Team's proposal, approved and recommended by the Construction Manager as structurally feasible, approved and recommended by the Park Superintendent as acceptable to the ultimate veto authority at Louisbourg, and checked by the Head of Research for historical accuracy, these plans are but one expression that Louisbourg is based on well-grounded or justifiable historical premises in its presentation of a reconstructed site. The entire research programme which led to the working drawings and the constructions which flowed from the drawings, are but two other examples of this dedication to authenticity.

Research, which has been the topic of this paper, has now been explained and in the very near future will be the subject of a major exhibit in the De la Perelle House of Block 17. Reconstruction you will presently find illustrated in the Carrerot House of Block 2 and the "Tools and Building Techniques" exhibit contained herein. Naturally, the rebuilt structures are individually and entirely that story too.