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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 11


Vol. 5, No. 11
November 2003 - novembre 2003

Dugas House Renovations

Work is proceeding in leaps and bounds on the Dugas House. The Works crew is to be congratulated on the quality and speed of the construction. The plans are to have the building closed in before the bad weather hits. The design work is completed and soon the occupants will be picking the colours for their offices. It's great to see this type of construction activity, which is re-establishing some of our site. The Volunteer Association is also to be recognized for contributing to the costs of the reconstruction.

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National Curators Workshop

Sandy Balcom, Elizabeth Tait and Brian Harpell recently attended the national curator workshop held in Quebec City. New directions for curators was an important topic of discussion. As part of the workshop, participants visited the Musée de la Civilization and the Parks Canada Exhibit Centre for the Old Port of Quebec.


The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) held its’ 26th annual conference from November 15th to November 18th, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel, Halifax. Participants form the Cape Breton Field Unit included Tim Reynolds, Anne O’Neill, Elaine Wallace, Mark Sajatovich and Irene Khattar. This year’s theme was "Creating the Experience" - how to create and deliver a personal and authentic experience for each guest or client.

Many workshops and roundtable sessions were scheduled to look at this very issue.

New Drumming Program

This past summer we began talks with members of the Cape Breton Regional School Board about the possibility of offering our Drumming Program ( similar to the one offered by the Louisbourg Volunteer

Association) to students at George .D. Lewis Elementary and Jr High School in Louisbourg. Paul Gartland, a former fortress drummer, and Susan Greaves (teachers at the school) took the lead in approaching the school board for funding and technical and historical support was supplied by the Fortress of Louisbourg Volunteers Association and Parks Canada staff at the Fortress of Louisbourg .

We are happy to report that this funding has been approved and that this new program will now be offered as part of the school curriculum . This program will not only help ensure the future of our own summer Drumming Program, but give local school children, course accreditation for learning a skill with a strong historical link to their local community.

Asset Management News

The completion of the KB roof is anticipated by Christmas. There may be minor clean-ups or removals in the new year but we can look forward to an unencumbered visitor season next year.

Danny Kaiser has been working diligently along with Wayne Sullivan doing emergency repairs (which ended up being more extensive that anticipated) on the wharf at Canso NHSC.

We expect to have a contract with an architectural firm for the design and preparation work for the podium roofs at the AGB museum.

We have just completed a diving inspection of the lock gates at St. Peter’s Canal along with a structural design engineer from Ottawa. The Canal will require dewatering next fall in order to address problems with the gates. We will be doing some remedial work in order to avoid problems during the next operating season.

Yearly Statistics

Total statistics for the Fortress of Louisbourg NHSC are as follows:

There is a difference of 9901 visitors or approximately 8% fewer visitors.

Structural Fire Program

An article prepared by Lloyd MacIntosh about our structural fire program at the Fortress has been submitted to the Atlantic Firefighting Magazine. A copy of this article with pictures is at the end of this newsletter.

News from AGB

Excerpt from a letter from Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, written at Beinn Bhreagh, November 14th, 1899. Mrs. Bell comments on efforts being made to observe an upcoming rare sighting of shooting stars Mr. Bell has told them are expected in the wee hours of the morning:

Alexander mine!

I was glad to know for certain that you were well on your journey, by the receipt of your telegram from St. John. We will do our best to see those stars, and be properly appreciative of our good fortune in viewing a sight that will henceforth be invisible to mortal eyes for three and thirty years. But it's horribly hard for me to be appreciative of anything at four A.M. I am afraid I wouldn't care very much if it were to be a sight of houses on Mars with people walking all around, to be seen once and never again. But I have some sort of idea that I would like to look at those stars because you want me to. So I will, and my family will be with me. Bessie says what a lot of work we would do if we staid up then and thinks that she would like to try it, but I can't have such dreadfully hard working people as that in my house ... I hope that we will see something, but it doesn't look like it, the clouds are heavy and hide the moon, although its light filters through.

100 Years of Flight Celebration

Preparations are underway for Canada's gala celebration day on December 17th in Ottawa to celebrate 100 years of flight that started with the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

It looks like CBC Newsworld will broadcast from AGB that morning connecting with other parts of the country throughout the show. AGB's great grandson, Grosvenor Blair, will represent the Bell family in Ottawa doing some TV and radio interviews from the National Museum of Aviation as well as attending the evening gala as a guest speaker.

Allen Abel of the National Post recently visited AGB and Beinn Bhreagh with Aynsley MacFarlane in relation to the December 17th celebration which takes place under the umbrella of the "Altitude is Everything" program.

Mabel Bell Documentary

Arcadia Entertainment is in the final stages of a documentary on Mabel Bell and we just identified 150 historic images taken here that will be used in their production. Requests for historic images (and some current images) remains at a fairly steady pace.

Fuji Television at AGB

Fuji Television did filming on Site earlier this month for a program which will be aired exclusively in Japan. Their focus was mainly on the telephone, the hydrofoil boat and the character of Dr. Bell.

Management Plan - Canso NHSC

Carol Whitfield, Aynsley MacFarlane and Don Chard met with Canso Town Council and other government agencies to review the public response to the recently held Management Plan Open House.


Our sincere sympathy to Jane Arnold and her family on the death of her grandfather, Brigadier Carl Dauphinee Arnold, on November 22, 2003.

Condolences also to Brian Harpell and his family on the death of his uncle, Alexander D. MacKay on November 23, 2003.

Condolences also to Lucienne Larade on the death of her mother, Marie Emma Larade on November 25, 2003.

Don’t forget about the Staff Christmas Dance taking place on December 13th at Stella Maris Hall. Tickets available from Alice Lahey or Donna MacNeil. Admission is $20.00 per couple.

Don’t forget the Christmas Turkey Dinner is being held this year at the United Church Hall, Upper Warren Street, Louisbourg, on December 16th. Admission is $5.00 plus a non-perishable food item to be brought to the hall that day. Food to be donated to the Louisbourg Food Bank.

[Lloyd MacIntosh, Structural fire program at the Fortress Louisbourg, Atlantic Firefighting Magazine]

When one thinks of the Fortress of Louisbourg, you can think of history, you can think of the battles that were fought and re-fought, you can think of the people that lived and worked and died there, you could think of any number of things that would keep your mind busy for week.

One thing that most of the 120,000 yearly visitors to this historic reconstruction don't consider is what protects the whole thing. Started in 1961 under Prime Minister Diefenbaker, $ 25 million dollars was allotted to begin what has turned out to be the largest historical reconstruction in Canada. Carefully disguised among the old buildings that have been crafted as they would have been in 1744, is a modern fire station, the only clue that something isn't quite 18th century, is the modern roll up door. Behind that door there is an operation that could be the rival of many a small town fire department. Operating equipment is housed on the ground floor, while upstairs there is a radio room, small kitchen and training area.

Staffed by 12 full time and 1 part-time personnel that are designated as Fire and Security, these people are responsible for the safety and security of the Fortress all year round. This is a job that doesn't end when the tourists go home. Protecting assets that are so valuable that their worth cannot even be accurately estimated is no small job.

Fortress personnel are also responsible for dispatching personnel in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Staffing is usually done 3 to a shift and they operate a 840 gpm full size pumper. Also stationed at the Fortress is an 840 gpm trailer mounted pump. A second station, located in the maintenance compound, houses a GMC mini-pumper as well as 1964 Scout used for rough terrain work.

18 hydrants are located in and around the park and compound area. They are fed by a 12 inch water main system and 100 pounds pressure can be found at the hydrant!!. The water supply can handle 1500 gpm for 3 1/2 hours.

Given the historic nature and the construction style of the property that is being protected, water is used very carefully.

Hydrants that are positioned throughout the Fortress area are usually disguised with barrels or other period style items.

As with any proactive organization, the emphasis is on fire prevention. Personnel are constantly on patrol looking for signs that anything is amiss. Most of the buildings on a street are connected, so the need to catch an incident early is of the utmost importance. How many fire departments do you know of that have to deal with all the hazards of the modern world, plus deal with all the problems of the 18th century?

A very authentic reconstruction, the Fortress uses about 100 animators for an accurate representation of how life was in the mid 1700's . Cooking and baking are carried on in that style in the restaurants that are located in the Fortress grounds. As well as all the modern infrastructure that would go with running a small town.

The challenges are unique, but the well trained and well practised Fire and Security personnel of the Fortress of Louisbourg Fire Department are certainly up to the task.

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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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