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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada




June 1975

(Fortress of Louisbourg
Report Number H D 25)


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The first town plan showing the area that was later Block 16 was drawn in 1717. It gave the projected dimensions as 30 toises north and south by 35 toises [NOTE 1]. The block was officially demarcated in 1722 by the engineer De Verville. It was bounded to the north by the Rue Royalle, to the south by the Rue d'Orléans, to the east by the Rue St. Louis and to the west by the Rue Toulouse. In the official state of properties occupied in Louisbourg in 1734, the block received its final dimensions: 36 toises (230.2 feet) along the Rue Royalle and Place Royalle (Rue d'Orléans) by 29 toises (185.48 feet) on the Rues St. Louis and Toulouse [NOTE 2].

Before the block was settled privately, at least one structure was built there. A 1717 plan shows a small guard house with a gable roof approximately 4 toises square in the middle of the block [NOTE 3]. Though cartographic evidence on the location of the guard house is contradictory, it is shown near the boundary of later Lots D and E [NOTE 4]. In 1720 the same building was represented as a powder magazine, and in 1721 it was at the southern boundary of the De Villejouin property which then encompassed what was later Lots B and C [NOTE 5]. This would place it in the north-east corner of Lot D at the juncture of Lots A, D, E and C (See Fig. 2) [NOTE 6].
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(01) Powder Magasine;
(02) Villejouin House;
(03) DePensens Storehouse;
(04) De Pensens House.

Plans show the building in the centre of Block 16 until 1731-3, which is the last map showing the complete interior of Block 16 until 1745 [NOTE 7]. In the 1736 contract of sale for Lot D, a bakery is mentioned, which might possibly be the same building [NOTE 8]. In the sale, the bakery is described as piquet with a board roof, 25 pieds long by 16 pieds wide, on an east-west [PAGE 4:] alignment. A 1730 plan shows a gable roof [NOTE 9]. The building extended into Lot E which was then the governor's garden, and it was only with his consent that the building was allowed to remain standing [NOTE 10]. Since these measurements and location correspond closely with those scaled from the maps and plans, it appears that this building was the one erected around 1717 as a guard house, and that it was subsequently converted into a powder magazine and a bakery.

By the time these changes had occurred, Block 16 had assumed its permanent character. Its location, back from the harbour, made it less busy and crowded than Block 2. This generally quieter atmosphere provided an ideal location for inns appealing to a selective clientele in the eastern side of the block. To the south lay the Place d'Armes, the largest open public space in Louisbourg. This must have been a popular strolling and meeting place, and with soldiers on parade and children playing in it, noisy. Neither house bordering on the place faced it, and Antoine Paris in Lot A erected a high palisade around his property. Since the main purpose of the place was for the assembly of soldiers, the block was an ideal location for officers like De Pensens., De la Vallière and Loppinot, who lived in Lots D and E.

The presence of high ranking officers on the west side and bourgeoisie on the east side of the block, cut down on social intercourse within the block. Though there was considerable social contact among themselves, the members of one group, with the exception of Loppinot who rose in position, rarely mingled with the other.

The east side of Block 16 was in the direct line of fire from the Royal Battery area during both sieges; hence all the houses along the Rue [page 5:] St. Louis were destroyed during the second siege [NOTE 11]. By 1768 the east side of Lot E was taken over by Silvanus Howell, mariner; he lived in a structure built after 1745 which, though listed as good, needed repair. The De la Plagne house at the other end of the lot was inhabited by the town major, who is at present unknown. This house was occupied in 1772 by William Russell,, former barrack master [NOTE 12]. At the same time the Lot C and D structures were in need of repair, while the Lot D storehouse next to the Lot C house had lost its floors, partitions and windows for fuel and was in bad condition [NOTE 13]. We know nothing of the buildings after this.

In September 1861, Block 16 was included in a concession belonging to Dennis, George, Patrick and Theobald Kennedy [NOTE 14]. By 1911 the land was owned by a Mrs. Robert, but in 1922 it was part of a 69 acre grant belonging to the Cape Breton Railway [NOTE 15]. The old French block and its inhabitants remained forgotten until 1961 when research on the Fortress of Louisbourg began.

I. [PAGE 223:]
[NOTE 1:] A.F.L., plan 717-2;
[NOTE 2:] A.N. Colonies, C11B, Vol. 15, fol. 33, Etat des Terrains Concedes dans la Ville de Louisbourg Sous Le Bon Plaisir du Roy par Mssr. Les Gouverneur et Commissaire-Ordonnateur de l'lsle Royalle Jusqu'au 15 octobre 1734 et autres dont Sa Majeste a dispose par son Memoire du 31 mai 1723, 24 octobre 1734;
[NOTE 3:] A.F.L., plan 717- 2;
[NOTE 4:] A.F.L., plan 720-4;
[NOTE 5:] A.F.L., plan 720- 2;
[NOTE 6:] A.N., Outre- Mer, Gl, Vol. 466, pièce 83, fol. 30, 30 avril 1733.-4;
[NOTE 7:] A.F.L., plans 722-l, 723-3, 730-2, 731-3 and 734;
[NOTE 8:] A.N., Outre- Mer, G3, Carton 2039-l, No. 140., Vente d'emplacements 12 septembre 1736; [NOTE 9:] A.F.L., plan 730-2;
[NOTE 10:] A.N.. Outre-Mer, G3, Carton 2039-1, No. 140, Vente d'emplacement, 12 septembre 1736; [NOTE 11:] A.F.L., plans 767-la, 768-1;
[NOTE 12:] Wayne Foster, Post Occupational History of the Old French Town of Louisbourg, 1760-1930, Louisbourg Restoration Project, 1965., p. 3;
[NOTE 13:] P.A.C., MG 11, C.O. 217, vol. 83, fols. 140-141, Report on The State of the Town of Louisbourg on the 10th of August 1768;
[NOTE 14:] A.F.L., plan 1861-1;
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[NOTE 15:] A.F.L., plans 1911-1, 1922-1 part 2.

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