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  Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada

Volume 5: Number 07


Vol. 5, No. 07
July 2003 - juillet 2003

New Historian

Anne Marie Lane Jonah, the new Louisbourg historian, reported to work here on Monday, 14 July.

She completed her M. A. in History at the University of Ottawa. Her thesis dealt with late 18th-century Liverpool, Nova Scotia. She also has a B. A. in History and a B. Ed., both from St. Mary's University in Halifax.

Most recently, she has been employed as an Oral Interaction Assessor with the Public Service Commission.

For her first summer at Louisbourg Anne Marie will work with Sandy Balcom. She will be learning about the delivery end of the programme including curatorial, costume, exhibits, animation and tour guiding.

Passion for History draws Southern Gentleman to Fortress

By Blaine Aitkens

Make no mistake, Bill Brown is no accidental tourist at the Fortress of Louisbourg, N.H.S. When he climbed into his car on June 17 at his home in Courtland, Virginia, he knew exactly where he was headed.

What would make a man drive half way across a continent to spend a month at an 18th century reconstruction? Apparently, Mr. Brown came to the Fortress to "tie a bow" around a long and illustrious career as an avid historical re-enactor. After being integrally involved in some of North America's best known historic Mecca's (Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement, to name a couple), Bill still had one place left to cross off his list. Since his arrival at the Fortress, Mr. Brown has spent most of his month's sojourn on our fair isle (aside from a week of Level One training) volunteering in an 18th century French militia-man's costume, interpreting history, and engaging our visitors, staff and fellow volunteers.

When talking to Bill you can't help but notice his humble demeanour, nimble mind, and a charming hint of drawl that betrays his southern roots. When asked what brings him on an excursion like this, Bill answers enthusiastically, "My love of history". He admits that he still eats, sleeps, and dreams history. For Bill, history is something very concrete and real, not something out of a book. Re-enacting allows him to touch and to feel what the people might have felt long ago. The burn marks on his wrist typically left by a 17th century matchlock musket are proof of that.

Bill is no run of the mill musket-toting costume-sporting re-enactor. He has spent most of his adult life pursuing his love of history. His accomplishments are many, including the establishment of the Portsmouth Virginia Lantern Tours, co-founding the Portsmouth Civil War Days, producing a weekly television series (Affairs of the Arts), as well as participating in a U.S. National Parks training film for civil war re-enactors. His passion has also led to his completion of Master's degrees in both History and in Library Studies. Bill also has more than twenty years experience as a U.S. Civil War Re-enactor. He is cleared to use a wide range of period weapons for demonstration purposes.

Mr. Brown is somewhat of an amateur genealogist, archaeologist, and collector in his own right (ironically his back yard leads to a swamp known to be a gold mine of American Civil War artefacts). In a recent tour of our "Collections" building here at the Fortress, his respect and reverence for period pieces became obvious through his reaction to being shown (as Bill put it) "the cartridge box" - the one intact box found on site by our archaeologists, after which our reproductions are fashioned. Bill resembled slightly a kid in a candy store, grinning and eyes sparkling.

Sadly this week will mark the end of Bill's stay with us. If you get the chance, be sure to chat with Bill while he's still around. You'll understand why our Fortress is richer for the brief presence a certain southern gentleman. 

Fortress of Louisbourg Volunteer Assoc.

The Volunteers organization has been an important part of Louisbourg for a generation.

The organization was founded to provide insurance for young volunteers. But very quickly it assumed another role as a co-operating association, publishing the first Louisbourg guidebook and operating the restaurants, bakery and gift shops.

The children's programme, apprentice programme, drummers and militia provide over 8,000 hours of volunteer service to the site every year. Without these programmes there would be significant gaps in the way we present the 18th century to visitors. There are 1,660 volunteers including 379 children between the ages of 1 and 16 years.

The Association's businesses employ 80 people each season. They are also key elements of the presentation of historic Louisbourg: the bakery and the restaurants provide insights into the day to day life of the 18th century town and the gift shops ensure that visitors leave the Fortress with tangible reminders of their visit here.

The costume programme in the housing area supports the various volunteer programmes and the Destouches house ensures visitors a relaxing break before continuing their visit of the site. 

News from AGB

Here at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada, along with our regular summer programming, we have several special events under our belts and more in the works.

We offer visitors the opportunity to see a slide show every morning, and our programs focus on the kids every afternoon, with a kite program at 2:00, experiments at 3:30, and puppet plays twice a week. Parks Day, Saturday, July 19th, will see guided tours being offered, always a very popular program. This year we will have a documentary crew from Manifestation TV filming one of these tours. They are making a documentary about the telephone and hope to use some of this tour footage in their film. The documentary will be shown on CHUM-TV in 2004, and may be submitted to film festivals, so we may see "Monica Kerr - Interpretive Guide" become "Monica Kerr - Film Star" before we know it!

An Open House to discuss our management plan was held July 3rd, hosted by Carol Whitfield, Aynsley MacFarlane, Judith Tulloch, (Historian/Planner), Lindsay Croken (Historic Research ASC) and Candice Sweet (Conservation). The public had been notified and invited to attend to discuss any suggestions or concerns regarding the museum's place in the community. The fact there was no negative response was taken as a good sign!

On July 25th at 3:30 pm we are pleased to present the Ayr-Paris Band. They are a 35-member band which has toured extensively worldwide, and will stop at Baddeck as part of their East Coast tour. The band is comprised of members aged 11 B 75, and will be joined by guest soloist Jeannie Holmes, Celtic band "Cavaan", and dancers Jessica Brunton and Hillary Cain.

In the local Canada Day festivities we received awards for Best Commercial Float and Best Window Display, and indeed, in light of the enthusiastic visitor response, we've kept our windows as they were on July 1st, (painted with scenes of kites and the Canadian flag). We did, however, take the big kites off the Parks Truck!

Finally, a quote from Mary Blatchford, a cousin of Mabel Bell's who spent time at Beinn Bhreagh and wrote wonderful letters to her family in the States. In one such letter she writes "The weather of Cape Breton is like the temper of the little girl with the curl on her forehead B when it is good it is very, very good, and, when it is bad it is horrid." The more things change ...

News from MARCONI

Marconi National Historic Site of Canada has entertained distinguished visitors and started a new program in the past month. On June 21st, Carlo Columbo , the Italian Ambassador to Canada, his wife Mrs. Columbo, Consul General Gian Lorenzo Cornado, and local Consul representative Leandro D'Addario visited the Marconi site, accompanied by Aynsley MacFarlane, Marconi historian Henry Bradford, and Howard MacKinnon from the Glace Bay Historical Society. The visitors toured the Site and discussed programming and activities that would attract more visitors and increase awareness of Marconi. It was agreed working with the local education community to create programming for a younger audience is a priority.

In keeping with the interest in creating children's programming at Marconi, three kite workshops have been announced for July, with more to be scheduled in August.

On June 22nd, the Ambassador and his party visited the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site as part of their tour of the Cabot Trail and the Cape Breton Highlands.

Special Visitors

On June 21st, the U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci and his wife, Jan visited the Fortress of Louisbourg. Ambassador Cellucci was accompanied by the U.S. Consul General Steve Kashkett and his wife Wendy, Solicitor General Wayne Easter, Mark Eyking, MP and Rodger Cuzner, MP. Along with touring the island, the ambassador was looking forward to a round of golf at the Highlands Links.

Congratulations to CBH

Cape Breton Highlands National Park has just been ranked as #3 on the list of "Top Ten Camping Locations in Canada" by LifeNetwork (the feature also appeared on the MSN homepage). Of particular note, CBH is referred to as "one of Canada's two crown jewel national parks in Atlantic Canada" (the other being Gros Morne ).

The article can be read on  homepage, under the link "Top 10 Camping Locations in Canada."


The Fortress of Louisbourg was asked by John Mercer from the Department of Natural Resources if we would be interested in working with them to help celebrate "Parks Day" at their provincial campground at Mira River Provincial Park. They were only looking for a couple of (period 18th century ) soldiers to visit their site for a few hours during that Saturday, July 19th celebrations.

Fortunately after talking with our own volunteer militia we were able to get 10 volunteers and several of our paid staff out there not just for a visit but to set up an 18th century style camp site consisting of two period field tents and both family and military costumed staff.

We ran a number of activities for the day from period drill and musket firings to camp fire cooking and children's games. Campers dropped by our campsite during the day curious as to how camping has evolved over the last 250 years and how much has remained basically the same.

The highlight of the encampment came that evening when campers were welcomed to our fire to listen to ghosts stories revolving

around an 18th century Louisbourg theme . Many of the children of the more than 80 campers to visit the fire that night probably went to sleep with visions of ghoulish characters resembling our story tellers dancing in their heads.

The whole experience was a great success for all involved. The provincial park recorded the highest number of campers ever for such an event with even their cabinet minister sending kudos for a job well done. Hopefully this will mark the beginning of future successes between our two sites.

Please click on the image to enlarge it


Anyone wishing to submit an article to the Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Please forward to Donna MacNeil at  or telephone 733-3551.

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