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January 24, 1977

(Fortress of Louisbourg Report Number E 20)

by Eric Krause (December 17, 1976)

[E 20 08]

Louisbourg, Nova Scotia 
December 17, 1976
MEMORANDA SERIES: 1976 [i.e. E 20-8 taken from H F 25 1976 02 38]

Maintenance of the Site: Physical Environment

The intent of this paper is to present an ideal model for the maintenance of the physical site. Although the view's expressed are intensely personal and often impractical given the operational resources which will be available to us in the future, surely without benchmarks of interpretative perfection to which to aim, less than an enviable maintenance program will result.



To initiate a program of maintaining the physical site is to establish a first principal first, namely, one of attitude: that since Louisbourg is a reconstructed (as well as a non-reconstructed) site based on well grounded or justifiable premises, the planned physical expression or concealment of these premises must be, kept safe from injury, harm or destruction at all reasonable cost.- Thus to maintain or to keep in a state of repair is to preserve the physical and hence the premises; and the best way to achieve this goal is to decree first:

Significantly, all programs including animation, exhibit, structural, furnishing (as well as reproduction) must be charged with this same responsibility of preserving the planned physical site and with as much enthusiasm as in the protection of their own planned presentations.

Important here then is a basic understanding of the planned physical environment for from the first decree flows an equally important responsibility:

Hence all programs and not just maintenance must be fully cognizant of what is planned in the physical site and what is not. Certainly we would like to feel that if a person from the eighteenth century, perhaps even one who had lived in Louisbourg, were to arrive today, it would be possible for us to place him in an environment in which he would feel quite at home without any preparation on our part other than to remove the tourists from the scene. The longer our visitor from the past were comfortable, the more we would congratulate ourselves for our little charade was not without its clues of fraudulence, one being our responsibility to the tourists. While we could have created an eighteenth century environment and let the tourists have a go at understanding its strangeness all by themselves, we have decided instead to enlighten them before, during and after the experience in a variety of planned ways. One educational tool is in the presentation of the physical environment where certain principles have guided us in the planned development of the site both within and without the reconstructed area. Our basic goal is for the twentieth century to experience the eighteenth and the eighteenth to explain to the twentieth. Dead last is the twentieth explaining to the twentieth and verboten, the elimination of the eighteenth unjustifiably.

The principles which have guided us in the development of the physical environment are actually very simple once it is understood that each succeeding one is a cursed compromise of or a reluctant addition to those which precede:

For the non-reconstructed area of the site:


"To plan" has then been the key word in site development to date, while "to or not to preserve" will be the goal of the maintenance program in the future. Clearly, more than compatibility is at stake here for upon the shoulders of maintenance will rest the integrity of the site. Just as the physical program had certain principles in mind to which to construct or to establish, the maintenance program must have an awareness of the same. Further, it must know what to protect and be provided with answers to the questions, where, when, why and how. Thus it is vital that there be issued:

The Summary Sheets would be similar to the ones which Yvon LeBlanc has begun with the addition of a maintenance program attached; clearly,

"An essential decision in order to provide' guidance to those in charge of maintenance in the future and to preserve historicity as planned by design teams of the past. This compilation must be done now by personnel familiar with the project and the design process. Before the completion of a final summary sheet however, past errors and omissions must be accounted for. This too must be done now and through the office of the reconstruction design team."

Because the maintenance program is charged with preserving the basic assumptions upon which Fortress Louisbourg and its surrounding area was developed, it ought not run counter to them in the visible execution of this duty when the tourist is in season and ripe for a cultural shock. Whenever possible, maintenance should add to the jar and not to the twentieth century pollution of which there is already far too much planned, albeit its necessity. This of course requires a certain attitude and the best way that I know of aquiring it is not to just understand the eighteenth century Louisbourg being taught at Site Louisbourg, but to be a part of that teaching process, or, to live the experience by using the knowledge acquired. My proposal of October 15, 1976, for the hiring of 7 full-time tradesmen for maintenance and animation hence stands. So does their specific job responsibilities:


The hiring of 7 full-time tradesmen/professional for maintenance and animation.

This personnel must be well versed in the techniques of the 18th century as well as of the 20th. They shall be familiar with the material deposited in the Project library and archives also. Their primary duties during the tourist season shall be to animate their skills, to maintain the site using 18th century techniques whenever feasible, to conceal 20th century intrusions wherever apparent, and to identify maintenance work requiring modern equipment that they can defer until after the tourist season. Original symmetry and materials shall be adhered to at all times unless specified otherwise.. Their supervisor shall be the engineer who shall also be responsible for a general check of the site both in the spring and in the fall.



Our duty, as I see it, is to educate the public in the ways of  the eighteenth century using a variety of teaching methods. An effective technique which we have adopted in all our instructional programs is "Show" and "Tell." The first provides the tourist with the facts what was done and where, while the second gives the explanation of when, why and how. This approach is admirable and I do not question it for any program. What I do wonder however if experience is the best teacher of all and a picture worth a thousand words, why all programs do not insist that the tourist should experience or at least be reminded of the eighteenth century whenever and wherever possible. Our goal should always be to constantly reinforce that feeling, or to keep that feeling close at hand in any situation where the twentieth century has intruded. And that's just it, the twentieth century should be seen as an intrusion, as a benevolent parasite willing to leave its host without a mark once its contribution to its rebirth is complete. In the physical environment then, it's important to bring the town and its fortifications to life for the tourist to experience, or where impossible to show that life is imminent amongst the trappings of the twentieth century. It is also important that we correct the imbalance which I identified on 21 May 1976 with reference to the Period Presentation of the De La Perelle Storehouse:

"It has always been my impression that the Park's reconstruction policy was to rebuild the physical features described in our mandate to what they might have been in 1745. Never were we directed to reconstitute a cross section of Louisbourg or else we would have included other structures, say for instance, the hospital. Happily, but accidentally, nearly all construction types and techniques used to 1745 will also be represented despite the limits of this mandate.

Naturally, when the project decided to omit certain important features, the very physical presence of those constructed has tended to over-represent some human activities while to down-play the role of others. For instance, because Block 23, lot A, is not to be developed, there will not be a building to represent the importance of the admiralty; yet there will be more than enough to stress the military. It's my contention then that it's only in anon that this imbalance can be corrected. At the same time, only with animation can we manufacture an eighteenth century cross-sectional atmosphere for the town: Consequently, I feel that exhibits should be resorted to only when it becomes obvious that animation will be a poor tool in explaining our point."

The site which maintenance will then be responsible for preserving will be one in which the physical reconstructions and reproductions will be what they might have been in 1745 just before the siege, in which the period or life environment will be the Summer of 44 when possible and between 1740 and 1745 (perhaps even earlier on occasion) when 1744 proved inadequate, and in which the remainder of "Show" and "Tell" will be taught not through experiencing the eighteenth century but through experiencing the twentieth set for the telling in an eighteenth century environmental show place in the instance of the reconstructions and in a post 1760 environment Outside the restoration site area.

The site to be preserved will not be stuck in time however in the sense all programs will be subject to well grounded or justifiable change in the interests of a better presentation of the eighteenth century. As stated in my proposal of October 15:


A design team can be convened at the request of either

if future modifications are deemed necessary. The approach of the Design Team shall be the same as that practiced by the present Reconstruction Team. Proper records shall be kept and summary sheets shall be revised where required.


Once the Site is operational, it is vital that research continue. Louisbourg must not be allowed to stagnate because of interpretation restrictions of the past. New avenues of research must be explored and fresh approaches in explaining the site must be taken. In this sense then, a summary sheet shall never be considered complete in so far as revision will always be a possibility.


In protecting the planned physical site, a maintenance program cannot but help fail in its duty if other programs run interference because they do not realize what the physical site should look like. Each program has been planned to advance the over-all experience of the tourist, to educate them if you will without being insufferable or insensitive to their needs. In this sense then, maintenance will not only be charged with protecting the physical site as planned but also with protecting all other programs as planned to ensure continued compatibility. After all, they also exist and hence deserve the same protection accorded the reconstructed and non-reconstructed program, being:

Clearly too, this means the maintenance of an invisible as well as of a visible site and of an evolutionary as well as of a static environment, or in other words, a program geared to the protection of a certain appearance and development of the site as outlined on the Construction Summary Sheets and Check Lists which will be issued. Recommended then is that a design team comprised of personnel intimately familiar with the project and the design process be immediately chosen to work on these compilations item by item. Before the completion of a final summary sheet however, past errors and omissions must be accounted for.

In so far as this design team will be concerned with not only the historicity of the site but with also the realities of the twentieth century, its suggested maintenance program for a particular item could conflict with the eighteenth century, keeping in mind that any conspicuous transgression of the period environment was a considered failure in doing it otherwise. What then is the ideal model, that is the appearance and developing facet in the site which the design team is to direct maintenance to protect and preserve? Rather than particularize the suggested maintenance program here and now, which I am convinced can only be formulated by a team charged with examining each item on its own individual merits, be it a fortification work, building or landscape feature, I shall instead particularize several important under laying precepts which the team ought to consider in arriving at each of its decisions and which the maintenance program will be charged with protecting and preserving.


Reconstructed Area: 1745, just before the First Siege, Non-Reconstructed Area: Post 1760

The planned visible and invisible physical site is fixed in time in that it must be regarded with veneration, to be cared for but not changed by man's hand without direct orders from above, the only question being at what point in time is it fixed. Founded in 1713, the Fortress town of Louisbourg was a relatively young town by 1745 at just over thirty-one years of age but yet at a level of maturity where there were patent similarities, contrasting differences and shades there-of in its physical make-up. While the design team on maintenance will have no trouble in identifying the actual structural feature for preservation, it will have problems in outlining a program which must take in account the varying degrees of aging which would have occurred by 1745 and which should be transmitted to the tourist visually. Clearly, the amount of aging would have depended on four factors:

This means of course that maintenance will be responsible for allowing a certain degree of deterioration to set in while at the same time assuring that structural damage does not occur. It should also be obvious that a complete face lift each spring for instance with due care to rot, cracks, peeling, or wear and tear, that is, the natural wrinkles of age, would not be historically correct, and indeed would be outright misleading.

Clearly too, aging should not be allowed to reveal a twentieth century fabric hitherto hidden or to be an excuse not to take action when it produces a modern or even an historical like intrusion never planned (such as bubblegum stuck to a wall and not removed as soon as detected, or a broken window pane in the Bigot house for instance, where one would think it would have been replaced as soon as possible, considering the owner's standing in society). In other words, Louisbourg should bear the imprint of its previous owner in the best way that we know how: floors that are no longer quite level, windows that sag, smoky fireplaces, loose hinges, a visual degradation of masonry, warped floor boards (even split), cracks in the renderings, spalling and flaking, vegetation close to a house, un-kept grass, shingle wear, broken fences, moss on shingles, missing slates-but only as planned, and planned as specified on the construction summary sheets.


As aging is honesty in presentation, the reconstructions are honest too if appearance is not deceiving. White light, i.e. fluorescent, issuing from a reconstructed building is not integrity because it will be interpreted as of the eighteenth century through association. A fence held temporarily together with 2x4's as a make-shift repair is equally not integrity for how is a tourist to know the difference between temporary and final repair if he is here but once. Since integrity is already a key responsibility in the maintenance program in its goal of protecting the physical environment, why not make all kinds of physical integrity its responsibility, from the removal of a piece of soap modern lumber placed by a member of the animation staff for holding open a double hung window to the necessary repair of a slate roof at the height of the tourist season. Clearly the first is simple, the second more difficult, but nothing is impossible if we plan for it before-hand, particularly with skilled jobbers in the scheme. Utilizing their experience as both craftsman and animator, and with a bit of imagination and innovation on our part, I fail to see why maintenance cannot be carried out in the spirit of the eighteenth century during the tourist season and yet satisfy twentieth century safety standards in most instances. After-all, a safety helmet is meant to protect the head, not necessarily to look like one, and the list goes on. Aluminum ladders are certainly safe, but no less so than properly maintained wooden ones. If we don't look at the possibilities, no wonder others tell us to do it their way. If we don't make an attempt at integrity, why should we expect others? And if we don't present the case for integrity, why should we get the manpower necessary?


In detailing a program for maintenance, the team in charge will have to remember, among many other considerations that:

Naturally these are but a few of the considerations which will have to make in formulating a maintenance program. The complexity of the problem is clear, a team approach a necessity.


No importance should be attached to the order in which these examples are presented nor should these examples be considered inclusive of all the ways by which physical integrity can be maintained. To be noticed too is that integrity is more than simple repair and that maintenance personnel are more than just repairmen but rather experienced animators and craftsmen who themselves contribute to the integrity of the site. On their construction summary sheets and check lists they will thus find that as a rule that:


In other words, they are to guarantee a period setting as per instructions.



The following list contains the basic headings which should be found on the summary sheets for Building Construction and to which maintenance will address itself. Summary sheets for a fortification work or a landscape design (including any archaeological feature which should be protected) are equally plausible although the general headings would naturally be different. In effect, a complete set of sheets would become a handbook and would be fully illustrated.


  • (a) Doors and Doorways
  • (b) Windows and Window Openings
  • (c) Dormers
  • (d) Shutters

Naturally, each heading would be exceedingly particularized and. would include where applicable:


Once the Construction Summary Sheets have been completed, quite clearly the repetitious material that they contain could be compacted and refined to form the nucleus of a general course of instruction. Together with secondary and interpretative data, the encyclopedia would be an invaluable aid to both Louisbourg and other Restoration and Reconstruction projects as well as to institutions of higher learning. It would also be a positive step on our part in the establishment of our case that Louisbourg is a reconstructed site based on well grounded or justifiable premises which must be protected for future generations to enjoy.

For maintenance, one of the major themes of the encyclopedia will be that a number of historical assumptions are to be protected, or at least seem to be protected, if any French Restoration or Reconstruction project that can be compared to Louisbourg is to be valid. Indeed, through transformation, these assumptions will become the physical elements of technology by which the tourist will be able to identify the period. Hopefully for us, the visitor will then be able to say to himself in all confidence, "So this is Louisbourg - this is what it really looked, smelt and sounded like."

Following in the Appendix to this report is a partial and random listing of these assumptions. Clearly they are not all \of them but all will be found in the encyclopedia and on the Summary Sheets. Maintaining them closely as possible in the future will be essential.


National Historic Site Policy is that "in restoration and reconstruction of historic structures that line, level and fabric shall be as true to the original as possible" and "that departure from this rule shall be justified only by over-riding necessity or for the purpose of substantially increasing the life expectancy of the structure, and only then when modern materials and techniques can be effectively concealed". For ever and ever to be maintained, I would think.

Eric Krause
Staff Historian
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Park.



HISTORICAL ENVIRONMENT <-> [ modern environment]








Remain as true to the original as originally intended