In business since 1996
- Krause House Info-Research Solutions -




A Present-Day Roadmap to 18th-century Construction Research
 at the Fortress of Louisbourg 

by Eric Krause 
(Krause House Info-Research Solutions)

March 29, 2004

[Revised: February 08, 2014]

In 1961, the government of Canada accepted the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Coal, that there be a symbolic reconstruction of the fortress to provide employment, boost the tourism industry, and inspire the region culturally and intellectually. Two decades later nearly one-quarter of the walled heart of Louisbourg was reconstructed ....

Since 1961, staff at the Fortress of Louisbourg have collected or produced information in order to meet their operational needs for protection and presentation. Over the last 35 years, these two collections have grown considerably whereby today there are many thousands  of records, cards, and documents, books including rare 18th century published books, drawings and photographs, monographs and serials, and reproduced microfilmed manuscript material dealing with the 18th century ...

The two collections hold distinctly different types of materials. The library contains secondary published materials such as books and periodicals. The archives hold a vast range of primary unpublished documentation and records relating to the operation and development of Fortress of Louisbourg since 1961. Both collections hold their information in a variety of formats: paper, micro-form, photo, audio-visual and computer.

In the last several years, computerization including imaging of materials has moved forward relatively quickly. As a result, the difference between the library and archival materials from a storage, retrieval and materials viewpoint has become less distinct. More importantly, computerization is accelerating cross-referencing between the two collections resulting in a greater interdependency from a research and information perspective. Finding aids, bibliographic cross-references, indexes, etc., are the common links driving research projects. This has reinforced the view that there are two distinct but closely linked collections, hence the name given to both as the Historic Records Collection. The holdings of the library are accessible to all staff through a Departmental-wide computer system. Yet to date, it is primarily Site staff who use the library and the archives collections for research and operational needs. Parks Canada has not generally promoted the use of the collections to the public and specifically, researchers from other agencies and institutions. There is perceived to be a general unawareness of the substantial range of unpublished research materials in the collection ...

The holdings are housed in two main locations, the library building in the compound and the basement of the administration building; however, there are smaller holdings in other buildings ... 

Parks Canada will explore partnership arrangements with such institutions and groups as the University College of Cape Breton .... to exploit the informational value of the collections. Site staff will pursue placing Fortress of Louisbourg on the information highway ... [Fortress of Louisbourg, National Historic Site of Canada, Management Plan (June 2001), pp. 3, 44-46]

Although the above Management Plan was finally approved in 2001, the background paper in support of the Library and archives section was actually completed much earlier, on July 24, 1994. [Eric Krause, Fortress of Louisbourg NHS - Management Planning Issue Analysis And Background Paper: Fortress of Louisbourg Archives / Library Collection].

The "Researching The Fortress of Louisbourg" site promotes the Fortress of Louisbourg in numerous ways, including making available to the public many of the informational resources of this important national historic site.  Here, a priority to empower interested parties with the ability to undertake 18th-century construction and/or period structural design research has been initiated. This project has now progressed as far as it will go, and here begins the roadmap. Obviously, what is available on this site is also available at the Fortress, but, there, at the Park, it invariably exists in a much more enhanced state (e.g. in the form of hundreds of thousands of pages of original Louisbourg site-specific manuscripts reproduced in microform for research purposes). Thus, a visit to the Fortress is always encouraged, once the virtual record has been explored sufficiently to whet the appetite.


These files were once available on the web, later on the web Unfortunately this site has been removed from the internet. Fortunately Krause House has archived this site off-line.


Perhaps the best first place to understand 18th-century construction at Louisbourg is to go to the general "Researching The Fortress of Louisbourg" search address at ../HomeEng/IndexToResearchingTheFortressOfLouisbourg.htm where are described numerous unpublished Fortress of Louisbourg historical reports in html and wpd format.  Then next go to ../Menus/default.htm . These reports are not organized by subject, but the titles are quite revealing as to which ones are construction in nature.

In particular, construction reports are to be found at List_rr.html where a varied  flavouring is available. Here the entire series titled Preliminary Architectural Studies should be examined first. Then follow this up by checking out the property interpretation reports at List_pi.html . There is even an entire landscape sub-site dedicated to a Block 2 Lots F/G/H property at Bigotyard/default.htm .

An historical memoranda series that holds numerous, key memos of construction significance exists, but unfortunately only a few submissions have been digitized; However they, like all reports, are available in paper format at the fortress. An extensive list of links to this collection can be consulted at List_HMS.html .

Some useful published reports are available at the general address Ep.html . For construction, information, perhaps have a look at Canada, An Historical Magazine at  CanadaM.htm

Not to be over-looked is the site dedicated to Yvon Leblanc, Louisbourg's first resident architect consisting of two sites at ../yvonleblanc/default.htm and ../Yvonleblanc/LouisbourgArchitecture/default.htm .



The gateway address for the "Researching The Fortress of Louisbourg" databases is ../DBTextWorksResearchFortress/default.htm . Some are construction dedicated, such as:

It is important to note that neither all of the construction reports produced by Fortress staff, nor any of the archaeology reports produced in support but which are often very revealing of structural matters, have been digitized. Thus, additional research for construction leads should always be conducted at the Fortress itself. But as a start, for example, have a look at biblio3.html .


The advantage of being at the Fortress of Louisbourg is that construction research possibilities are magnified greatly, and that only here can one research the actual construction documents themselves - held in digitized/microform/photographic/paper formats and described in numerous paper finding aids and select digitized finding aids found described on the "Researching The Fortress of Louisbourg" site.

For conducting structural design nuts & bolts research (1713-1768) at the Fortress of Louisbourg, certain core site-specific manuscript documents have repeatedly been consulted since 1961 following the decision to reconstruct a significant portion of the town and its fortifications. Over time, as indicated above, some of these significant documents have been transcribed and, hence, transferred from microform/photocopied format into text format (typed, word-processed, database) either in total or in part to facilitate research. Today, some of these documents (those partially transcribed or abstracted) are copy-right free; others (those completely transcribed) are copy-right protected since the Fortress of Louisbourg does not own the originals. 

Manuscript documents which have not as  yet been transcribed, or are un-available in electronic format are listed below (see the Core Guide below), amongst those with hot-links to those that have been computerized.

Finally, while there are numerous other documents that contain nuts & bolts details, often these details are more or less singular in nature, or are in passing, interpretive, or vague. While vital, even critical, to an over-all understanding of the structural history of Louisbourg, they are not core where, in contrast, the picture of what was happening structurally was far more complete, concentrated, and compact in nature. Nevertheless, many of these - known to the research staff at the Fortress of Louisbourg as the Domestic Architecture File [5x8 file card format] - as well as many of the core documents, have been digitized in the Louisbourg and Isle Royale Property Database (.../DBTextWorksResearchFortress/default.htm ) where together they can be consulted.

The address for the Guide to the Core Reconstruction/Restoration Manuscript Documents is RRBasicManuscriptDocs.htm .

Finally, at the Fortress of Louisbourg there is also an extensive collection of structural and architectural plans, related materials (including the extensive collection of attached materials that go with the Structural Design Team Minutes described in the ChronoM Database (.../DBTextWorksResearchFortress/default.htm ) and photography associated with the reconstruction of the Fortress (1961-1982).


The best advice, after the above road map has been fully exploited, is to enter all the databases and simply check them out for useful construction leads through trial and error. In other words, while there is simply too much specific information at the Fortress to place in a road map, conversely, this road map can get you to all of the specific information that is available.