During our early morning approach to Louisbourg, the sky above Cape Breton was colored a fulgent orange-peach as a fabulously beautiful sun rose above the horizon. Coaches boarded, we made our way to the erstwhile Fortress of Louisbourg, a National Historic Site of Canada. For the most part built by the French, at its height the settlement had a population of around 3,000. Its importance waxed and waned as the eighteenth century progressed, and the settlement was eventually taken by the British, who subsequently and systematically destroyed its formidable fortifications. Partly reconstructed in more recent times, we enjoyed the various onsite interpreters who, in contemporary costume, detailed day-to-day life in the French settlement. We were treated to a hot chocolate in the erstwhile home of the principle engineer, listened to the woes of a common soldier who also demonstrated firing his rifle, and were shown a small garden allotment that contained a range of plants cultivated by the inhabitants of Louisbourg over 200 years ago. Cobbled streets, warehouses stacked with freight, an armory stockpiled with cannon balls at the ready, and the bakery and private homes of the merchants and French army officers were a veritable window to the past.
A coach ride ended midday in Baddeck where a scrumptious buffet lunch was waiting for us at the Inverary Inn. Background music was provided by two young musicians who possessed consummate skills on their respective instruments. This gave us insight to the rich local cultural heritage, which has been strongly influenced by the close connections forged through centuries of diaspora from the distant Celtic lands of Scotland and Ireland. Appetites satiated, we had an opportunity to visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in the town. Dedicated to the Scottish-born inventor, the center details the life and extraordinary genius of this man. The glorious weather facilitated hour-long excursions on the sailing boat Amoeba. Much to the delight of everyone, we enjoyed close views of bald eagles skimming above the azure water of the bay.