Like an earlier reviewer, the generosity of Parks Canada made for a highly enjoyable and educational experience. The trip to the fortress was on a shore excursion in Cape Breton Island on the first cruise ship to stop in Sydney for the Summer 2014 season. I worried that the reconstructed fortress would not be open at all in early May since the height of the summer season doesn't really begin until late June. My worries were groundless. On a beautifully cold and clear day, Parks Canada opened its doors to our ship group and mounted two special recreations - a domestic scene at the engineer's house and a musket firing demonstration. We were given detailed maps to explore the historically accurate reconstructed buildings, but I had read up on the fortress and its history prior to my visit and was thus able to get the most out of it. As I wondered around on my own, I asked a few questions of Parks Canada ranger Kyle who, along with others, was very busy getting the facility in shape for the upcoming season. Seeing my interest, he took me on a behind-the-scenes individual walk through the exhibition being mounted in Commissaire-Ordonnateur Bigot's home!! I must say that a walk through the King's Bastion as well with a small group really brought the enormity and solitude of the place into perspective. I am sure that the fortress experience at the height of the summer season - with the crowds, noise, non-stop programming, etc. - will differ markedly from what I experienced. And yet, for those interested in the French at Louisbourg from 1713 to 1758 and the loneliness and privations they must have suffered at that lonely French imperial outpost, one could not have scheduled a better visit to Fortress Louisbourg. If you are like me and like to daydream about history, schedule your visit for the "shoulder" season. For a more crowded "festival" experience, go in July and August. In either case, the Parks Canada staff will not disappoint.
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