The Harbour and Dauphin Gate
Date of Issue
May 5, 1995
Fortress of Louisbourg
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
12.5 x 13
Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.
Designed by Rolf P. Harder.
This year is of special significance for both the Fortress and Town of Louisbourg. It marks the 275th anniversary of the official founding of the fortress; the 250th anniversary of the siege by the New Englanders; the 100th anniversary of the commemoration by the Society of Colonial Wars; and the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Sydney and Louisbourg (S & L) Railway. The French did not regard Louisbourg only as a fortress. It existed as a centre of military and commercial activity. Louisbourg had great offensive strength when a powerful fleet was stationed within its harbour. The Bretons had established a fishing station on the island (named after them) by the early 1500s but had no thoughts of colonization. When a group of Scots did in 1629, the French razed their fort. Under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, France lost claims to Newfoundland and mainland Nova Scotia, but retained Isle Royal (Cape Breton). With England in possession of most of the eastern coast, France felt the need to construct a fortified naval station to protect her commerce and fisheries and maintain links into the St. Lawrence. About 160 persons arrived at Louisbourg in September 1713; many were relocated fishermen from Placentia Nfld. Some construction took place between 1713 and 1719, but major fortifications are usually dated as beginning in 1720. The site was not a commanding one, but it had both landward and seaward defences as well as harbour defence positions. Covering some 57 acres, Louisbourg was one of the strongest fortress on the Atlantic coast. It was also one of the busiest seaports on the continent after Boston, New York and Philadelphia. By 1744, the population was nearly 3,000 and in the 1750s the garrison increased to 3,500. For the New Englanders, Louisbourg was both a place of beneficial commerce and a serious threat to their interests. In May of 1744 Louisbourg learned that France and Britain were at war. New Englanders, alarmed by French attacks on mainland Nova Scotia, sailed for Louisbourg in 90 transports. Rather than launching a frontal assault, small parties were landed to the southwest. By nightfall 2,000 invading troops were ashore and within seven weeks, the New Englanders were within the walls of the fortress. Casualties were higher among the victors, and this was compounded when England delayed sending replacement troops and the weary and ill-equipped New Englanders were forced to spend the winter in Louisbourg. Despite the price of victory, the British gave Louisbourg back to France three years later. In 1749, French troops returned and the British garrison sailed for Halifax. During the Seven Years War, a very similar siege and capture took place. Under the command of British officers, the town was reduced to ruins, with few French guns remaining in action before the final surrender. The people were evacuated, and the British demolished the fortifications in 1760. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded Cape Breton to the British. Within 11 years, there were more British than French settlers in Louisbourg; by 1818, only 13 families dwelled there. For 100 years, Louisbourg has been linked with Sydney, Nova Scotia as a vital partner in the shipping of coal. When Sydney's harbour froze over in winter, Louisbourg's ice-free harbour provided the alternative. The existing narrow gauge railway line was replaced by a standard gauge line between Sydney and Louisbourg in 1895. Around 1767, Captain Samuel Holland, Surveyor General, erected a monument of cut stones at Louisbourg, in what may have been the first such commemoration in Canada. An 1895 ceremony focused attention on the site, and in 1928 the old town and much of the battlefield were declared a National Historic Site. In 1940, the status was raised when it became the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Park.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol 4, No. 3, 1995, p. 19-21.
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