History & Handicrafts: Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

Posted on October 21, 2015 in Detours

We’ve come to that point in October where you realize that Autumn is fleeting and winter will be here before you know it. It definitely has something to do with the skies getting dark before 7:00 pm and knowing that daylight savings is going to kick in very, very soon… never mind that I keep eyeing the calendar while checking the thermostat and making multiple cups of tea!

So, with that, I’m realizing that it’s a long time until summer vacation rolls around again and I’m reminiscing on our trip to Cape Breton and our visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg.

As I’ve mentioned, my husband is very interested in historical sites and “living history” type sites. On the other hand, I find these sites interesting but I’m mostly looking for three things: photo opportunities, traditional craft demonstrations and, of course, animals!

Handmade Bobbin Lace

The first sign that things were going to go well was we wandered by a demonstration of bobbin lace making. Ever make a simple dress or take an old pair of jeans and add just the right touch of lace that you found on Etsy? You were feeling pretty good about that, weren’t you? Yeah, well — once you see someone sit down and meticulously make a piece of lace, you won’t be feeling so smug anymore. I think my eyes would bleed after just a few minutes. It takes hours for this lace-maker to produce even a few inches of trim. Hours. I’m not exaggerating.

Lacemaker at Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

Fortress of Louisbourg Nova Scotia

I could’ve watched this for a long time, but while this woman calmly created beauty out of mere thread, my husband heard about some cannon that was going to be fired, so off we went. I admit it sounded pretty cool. I just wasn’t sure it was going to be make-thread-into-lace cool.

Drummers at Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

Drummers at Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

Canon fire at Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

Canon fire at Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

After losing a bit of hearing (even though we were on the other side of the cannon shot… I honestly think I let out a strangled HOLYCRAAAAP! and jumped out of my skin) We began to wander around. I spotted a whole herd of sheep in a fenced in area, so with camera in hand I left my husband behind. But right before I got to the pen, I noticed this woman who was waiting for a signal, so I stopped. And then? She let the sheep go. Just opened the gate and:

The Running of the Sheep, Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

The Running of the Sheep, Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton

The running of the sheep

The running of the sheep in Fort Louisbourg, Cape Breton

The running of the sheep in Fort Louisbourg, Cape Breton

The Running of the Sheep, Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape BretonThe Running of the Sheep, Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape BretonI got a few snaps after remembering to close my mouth. She looked at me and said “Easiest job in the world.” Um… okay. I’m pretty sure if I let sheep go, they’d scatter and that would be the end of any wool-dreams I had. But no, she was right. The sheep ran right into another pen, happy as… well, sheep. I guess.

Cape Breton Crafts

One of the best things about visiting Cape Breton was the sheer number of traditional crafts that you can find. Not only did I find great yarn shops throughout the trip (more on that later) but I learned so much about how wool is made into yarn, how lace is made, and saw multiple examples of weaving and rug hooking. Add that to the gorgeous scenery and you can understand why I can’t wait to return.

Traditional crafts can be found all over Cape Breton

Traditional crafts can be found all over Cape Breton

Speaking of scenery, I’ll end with an obligatory lighthouse image. This one is very close to the Fortress and is on the site of the first Canadian lighthouse. The views were amazing, even with the wind whipping around. Definitely worth a stop after visiting the Fortress!

Louisbourg Lighthouse, Cape Breton

Louisbourg Lighthouse, Cape Breton

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