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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site


58 Wolfe Street

902-733-3552

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Highlights

Note: Due to COVID-19, the visitor experience at Parks Canada-administered places will be different than it has been in the past. The health and safety of visitors, employees and all Canadians is of the utmost importance.

Parks Canada is asking visitors to comply with recommendations from Nova Scotia public health authorities by wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, and by respecting recommended social distancing measures at all times. As of October 4, 2021, following provincial public health measures, proof of full vaccination is required at all Nova Scotia national historic sites, and Parks Canada organized events and experiences for visitors 12 years of age and older. 

Parks Canada’s network of protected places is large and diverse. Visitor access, services, and even opening dates may vary across Cape Breton Island and Canso depending on local circumstances. Please visit pc.gc.ca/ns and follow Parks Canada’s social media channels for information and updates on the status of all Parks Canada-administered places. 

Overview

Winter at the Fortress 

Throughout the winter, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site and its nearby trails are accessible for snowshoeing or an energizing winter walk. Take in spectacular ocean views at the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail or discover the story of the community of Louisbourg on the Old Town Trail. Both of these scenic trails are family-friendly, and offer interpretive panels to enrich your visit.  Explore the picturesque streets of the reconstruction and enjoy 18th century-style French architecture, framed with snowfall. Then, hike the coastal Ruins Walk and experience the wind and surf from the Atlantic Ocean. 

Get a glimpse into the diverse history of the site at the Duhaget House, where the ‘Louisbourg as a Fortress’ exhibit is open year-round. Learn about the military history of the site through interpretive panels, dioramas, and artifacts on the main floor. Families can discover the hidden kids’ room upstairs! Enjoy the view of the surrounding buildings while your child completes their activity booklet, taking a break from the cold outdoors. Watch fun animated videos of our friend Parka, as she discovers nature and history all across Canada!

When you’re ready to start exploring again, why not play in the snow in the King’s Garden? The view of the King’s Bastion in the background makes this one of the most-picture perfect spots on the site. Enhance your visit with fun facts about the 18th century and the people who used to call Louisbourg home, using the Parks Canada Guided Tours App.

Remember to bring a thermos of hot chocolate, tea or coffee to keep out the chill, as our food services are closed in the winter. Did you know these were all popular drinks in the 18th century, too? 

The site is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm except statutory holidays. While here, be sure to purchase your Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site seasonal pass so that you can come back when the sun does! Check our social media or give us a call at 902-733-3552 to stay up to date on special activities and events.  

Located just 35 minutes from Sydney, the Fortress offers history, outdoor activities, and a place to connect.

2022 Low season fees:

Adult day pass: $8.00

Senior day pass: $6.50

Youth 17 and under: Free

Seasonal pass: $37.50

A mighty adventure is waiting for you!

Surrounded by Cape Breton’s rocky shoreline, the Fortress of Louisbourg brings you back to French colonial life between 1713 and 1758. First the home of L’nu, also known as the Mi’kmaq, the 18th century brought French, Basque, German, English, Irish, Scottish, and African people to its shores. Immerse yourself in this diverse history as you explore a beautiful coastal landscape. Take in the looming fortifications, kitchen gardens, and elegant houses of the reconstruction, then wander original 18th century ruins for a full experience of the past come to life.

Costumed animators, fascinating exhibits, breathtaking scenery, and coastal trails offer unforgettable experiences for all travellers. Discover the many cultures that helped shape Canada and continue to thrive on Cape Breton-Unama’ki, through music, dance, language, craft and culinary traditions. Connect with a land that is filled with memory and share in fun experiences that will last a lifetime.

The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest historical reconstruction in North America. For the best experience, we recommend you plan a minimum of four hours for your visit. With so much to explore, you may just wish to come back the next day!  


Open all year long: an adventure for every season! 

Peak season (July to mid-September) offers total immersion in the 18th century world. Soldiers march to fife and drum, ‘townspeople’ share their stories, and children play games on the waterfront. Fresh vegetables are pulled from the gardens, and the scent of baking bread hangs in the air. Every hour offers something unique and real.

Shoulder seasons (May to June and September to October) offer time to connect with the unique history of the site. Visit authentically recreated homes and fascinating exhibits displaying artifacts from Louisbourg’s past. Imagine yourself a resident of the 18th century town as you walk and reflect through the quiet streets.

Low season (November to May) is the perfect time to wander these history-laden grounds, as salt spray and the sound of crashing waves remind you that you are on the doorstep of the Atlantic Ocean.

To enrich your visit or discover the Fortress from the comfort of your own home, follow the virtual tour on our website.

Prepare for 18th century conditions in all seasons. We recommend you dress in layers due to the coastal climate and wear comfortable walking shoes. This expansive site includes different types of terrain, from loose gravel and cobblestone to grassy green spaces, and some short inclines. Some of the reconstructed buildings, exhibits, and restaurants are accessible through gravel ramps. 18th century-style construction has made for narrow entryways and turning radiuses within the buildings. Expect many sensory experiences at the site, from the sounds of farm animals and historic weapons, to the smell of open-hearth fires and salty ocean air. For more information to help you plan your visit, please contact us: [email protected] 

Family Fun

What was it like to be a kid 300 years ago? Get ready for fun and adventure as you travel through time and experience the Fortress of Louisbourg as a family. Sign up for the Xplorers program or Club Parka and enjoy a variety of activities for youth of all ages. 

Listen to L’nu songs and stories at the Mi’kmaw Interpretive Centre, watch a lace-making demonstration, or enjoy a family picnic in the King’s Garden. With a whole 18th century world to explore and many spots to stop and play, your day will be packed with memories.

Don’t forget to visit with the heritage animals! Say hello to the sheep, chickens, and goats that also call the Fortress home and chat with the expert animals and gardens staff about the important role of farm animals in the 18th century.

Follow your nose to the bakery, and pick up a loaf of “soldier’s bread”. This hearty and healthy bread is baked fresh daily in traditional stone ovens, following an 18th century recipe. Savour the signature flavour, but don’t leave it sitting too long… or you’ll have a cannon ball instead! 

Travelling with a stroller? On the wide streets of the Fortress you’ll encounter loose gravel and cobblestone, and keep in mind that some 18th century-style buildings have narrow openings and stone steps to navigate. 

Outdoor Experiences

Nature enthusiasts will feel right at home in Louisbourg. 

Promenade through the upper class gardens which mimic the gardens of Versailles in France. As you walk, keep an eye out for barn swallows, an endangered species of bird that nests in the eaves of reconstructed buildings.

Explore one of our five walking trails to catch a glimpse of ruins, a lighthouse, and rugged coastlines. These trails are family friendly and offer peaceful moments to connect with nature and each other. Local favourite Simon’s Point Trail, a short 800m stroll, guides you through Acadian forest out to the Atlantic coast, where you will find a landscape weathered by time. 

Kennelly’s Day Use Area is a hidden gem, near the Louisbourg Lighthouse trailhead, and the perfect lookout spot for birders. Bring your binoculars for a chance to spot harlequin ducks, bald eagles, black scoter, and common eider. 

Splash in the waves at Kennington Cove and Anson’s Cove beaches (unsupervised), just six kilometers past the reconstructed Fortress. Relax on the sandy shoreline or dip your toes in the wild Atlantic Ocean. 

Did you know?

  • Marie Marguerite Rose was enslaved in Guinea, Africa, and sold to a merchant in 18th century Louisbourg. After 19 years, she was released from slavery and opened an inn and tavern. She is the first free Black businesswoman on record in Canada’s history. Visit the plaque commemorating her story and a recreated inventory of her possessions.

  • Louisbourg is the site of the first observatory in Canada. The dark skies over the Fortress make it the perfect place to stargaze 300 years later, through our 18th century overnight experiences.

  • Two defining battles in Canada’s history took place here in 1745 and 1758, involving the French, English, Acadian, Scottish, and Mi’kmaw. Visit the ruins of original fortifications or put yourself in a soldier’s shoes through immersive experiences. 

You and your dog


Travelling with a beloved pet? Dogs and other pets are not permitted within the reconstructed Fortress of Louisbourg, so be sure to make arrangements for your pet prior to your visit. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles, particularly during the hot summer months. 

 

Dogs on leash are permitted on the Old Town Trail, the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail, and at Kennington Cove Beach. Thank you for cleaning up after your pet. Pick up droppings and place them in appropriate refuse containers. 

If you are travelling with a service animal, please contact us for more information:  [email protected]

Louisbourg Attractions and Accommodations 

Today, the modern town of Louisbourg welcomes travellers from around the world with an amazing fortress, spectacular walking trails, fishing wharves along the winding Havenside Road, exceptional music and theatre at the intimate Louisbourg Playhouse, and fresh seafood to savour. Absorb the beauty of the surroundings, have a picnic at Lighthouse Point (site of the first lighthouse in Canada, 1734), stroll along the beaches at Kennington Cove, and don’t miss the Sydney & Louisburg Railway Museum. 

 

Stay in one of a number of friendly local accommodations, ranging from inns, suites, and bed and breakfasts to campgrounds and cabins.

Parks Canada Discovery Pass 

Get ready for exciting new experiences with the Parks Canada Discovery Pass – 450 000 km2 of memories await! Get the pass that provides access to all Parks Canada-administered sites for 12 full months from date of purchase.

Get curious about natural and cultural treasures in Canada, hear stories from Indigenous cultures, or explore hidden gems. Do it all with the Parks Canada Discovery Pass. 

Call 902-733-3552 to order your pass today! Business hours are 9:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays. To purchase online visit: https://www.commandesparcs-parksorders.ca/en/decouverte-discovery  

2022 Fees

Family/Group (up to 7 people in a vehicle) $145.25

Adult (18-64) $72.25

Senior (65+) $61.75

Youth (17 and under) 

Major credit cards are accepted, and passes will be mailed out to the recipient. Passes are non-transferrable and cover admission fees at Parks Canada administered places only. Additional fees for programs and experiences may apply. When planning their 2022 vacation, visitors should be mindful of COVID-19 measures that may be in place throughout the year. 

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