Two hundred years of history

Our next stop was “Fort Louisbourg”: I had no expectations whatsoever, I only knew from my travel guide that it is the largest replica of a fort in North America, built in the 1960s as an employment program. The sky was bright blue and the temperature was perfect to spend the day outside. A short bus ride took us from the visitor center to the main gate of the fort. It was guarded by a man in a soldier’s outfit and a musket in his hand. Before we could enter the premises we were told how to behave so that we wouldn’t end up in prison.

The gate to “Fort Louisbourg” was guarded by armed soldiers
The port at Louisbourg was the only ice-free French harbor in the new world

The whole day at the fort is filled with activities that were typical during the 1750s, when it was used by the French to protect their only ice-free harbor in the new world. The activities included the demonstration of how a cannon or a musket were loaded and fired, along with the matching marching music and drums. However, we were too late to witness the public punishment, where soldiers were punished, if they had been caught asleep during their regular 24h shift.

The “King’s Bastion” was home to the soldiers of Louisbourg
During the “Tales of a Soldier” the actors demonstrated the loading and firing of a musket

We strolled through the little village inside the fort, where we encountered other historical inhabitants, like a woman who was working on fancy dress decoration. In another room there was a demonstration of several upper-class dance styles, where mostly the kids enjoyed joining in. And with that two hours had already gone by and the fort was closing its gates for the day. There was still so much to see and to explore!

It was really interesting to meet historical figures and to learn about their daily lives

The kids enjoyed watching the dancing for the upper class

But it wasn’t the end of our day in the 18th century: Maren and I had booked a dinner show, where all guests would join the actors and also dress up like back in the day. The location, a windowless hangar, looked rather boring, but the inside was nicely decorated and we enjoyed lobster and halibut with fresh bread and common vegetables from that time while listening to some traditional music. Meanwhile, the widowed owner of the inn was looking for a new husband. It was a great finish to this memorable day!

The “Beggar’s Banquet” was a historical feast with traditional food

Maren needed a little help with the lobster

The next day Maren and I wanted to go back to the fort for a bit more, since we felt like we hadn’t spent enough time there. Raghu had seen enough and decided to explore the shoreline around the lighthouse a bit more, which he had been doing already while we were at the dinner show. The weather was still perfect to spend the day outside and in no time we were back on the usually clean streets of “Fort Louisbourg”.

The fort now has clean streets and a proper sewage system

The kids can go on a separate tour to discover the fort

Back in the day, all dirty water and human waste had been thrown onto the street due to the lack of a proper sewage system. Similar systems had been in place in Europe for centuries. Talking to the inhabitants about problems like this led to interesting discussions, where sometimes it was not clear, if we were talking about past or present as in some European countries some of these problems are still relevant today.

There are daily demonstrations of canon firing

In the early afternoon we left this wonderful place and drove across the island to Baddeck. Alexander Graham Bell had discovered this peaceful place for himself, where he spent most of his summers always working on his latest inventions, while being financially independent after the patenting the telephone. We spent the last hour before closing time in the museum, which was built in the 1950s and displays his award-winning flying machines and record-breaking speed boats.

Alexander Graham Bell’s flying machines and speed boats can be visited in Baddeck

And after setting up our tents, Maren and I decided to make use of the remaining daylight to visit the picturesque “Uisge Ban Falls”, which had been recommended to us by a local bus driver. The valley was quite far off the main road, so that we weren’t surprised to find this little trail almost deserted. Only in the beginning we had to share the river walk with countless mosquitoes, forcing us to cover up and quicken our pace.

At the “Uisge Ban Falls” we had left most of the mosquitos behind

Recharging the batteries

From “Blomidon Provincial Park” Maren and I drove back to Halifax to pick up my friend Raghu, who had arrived from Calgary. Now was the perfect time to have a closer look at this bustling city. While walking along the waterfront, we found out about a jazz festival that would start the next day. Even better was the fact that it was free and open to the public for the afternoon shows.

Maren and I picked up Raghu back in Halifax
Ships and artwork at the waterfront

But for that day Maren and I decided to go on a city tour with the “Harbour Hopper” first. Those giant amphibious busses were originally used by the army and were bought and refitted for tourism after their time in service. From the elevated back of the bus we had a great view and a bit of a breeze cooling us down during the tour, where the first part took us through the narrow streets of downtown.

The tour with the “Harbour Hopper” took us through the urban canyons of Halifax

Out in the harbor we were side to side with the big container ships

Our transition from land to water happened with a big splash and suddenly the bus was swimming. We had a closer look at the large container ships that were going in and out of the port and had a better overview of the downtown area. Most of this is less than hundred years old, as the largest man-made explosion before the development of nuclear weapons had flattened most of the buildings in an 800m radius. Two ships, one carrying high explosives, collided in the harbor in 1917 and caused this what is now known as the “Halifax Explosion”.

Most of the present buildings in downtown Halifax were built after the “Halifax Explosion”

The best way to experience Halifax is by sitting in one of the hammocks at the waterfront

The next day we listened to the music of “Quinn Bachand’s Brishen” and the “Riot Squad” at the jazz festival and then continued to explore the waterfront. It was good to relax a bit before we got back on the road for some more adventures up north on the Cape Breton Island. Meanwhile Raghu was getting eager to leave the city and to get out onto the rugged coast of Nova Scotia, as this the reason why he had come so far.

The concerts at the “Halifax Jazz Festival” were free during the day

Tugboat “Theodore” is at home in Halifax

Soon enough we were working on it and had reached the “Battery Provincial Park” on the southern end of Cape Breton Island after a long day of driving. By then the clouds had cleared and we enjoyed an unobstructed view over the “St. Peter’s Bay” from our campsite. To make it even better we decided to have a small campfire, for which we got firewood at the park entrance just in time for an amazing sunset.

Our next adventures were waiting for us on Cape Breton Island

Perfect timing for the sunset at “Battery Provincial Park”