This Week in History
British Land at Louisbourg
For the week of Monday June 8, 1998
On June 8, 1758, a powerful British fleet landed soldiers under heavy French fire in Gabarus Bay, near the harbour and fortress town of Louisbourg on Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). The landing party received reinforcements and gradually advanced to set up a ring of attack batteries ever closer to the town. After a seven-week siege, Louisbourg surrendered on July 26. It was a severe blow to French ambitions in the North Atlantic.
The fortified towns of Louisbourg and Québec were the main French strongholds in North America. The British prime minister decided to attack both, with Louisbourg as the first target. When the decisive struggle began in 1758, Britain sent 39 warships, 155 transports, and nearly 30,000 soldiers and sailors. Louisbourg was defended by 10 naval vessels and nearly 7000 soldiers and sailors.
The length of the 1758 siege at Louisbourg may have saved Québec for a year, but the next year, in Louisbourg harbour, a great fleet assembled to sail up the St. Lawrence River to besiege and blockade Québec. At Louisbourg, the British feared that a future peace treaty might once again give away what had been won in the war, so in 1760 they demolished its surrounding fortifications. Three-quarters of the ruins can still be seen at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Most of the British siege works of the 1758 campaign survive, though located in the forest. About one-quarter of the original fortified town was rebuilt by Parks Canada during the 1960s and 1970s, to its appearance in 1745. The result is the most ambitious historical reconstruction in Canada, and one of the most impressive in the world.
- Date Modified: