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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



Microfiche Report Series 83


Margaret Fortier


Fortress of Louisbourg

Part One - Louisbourg - The Land and its Utilization

Louisbourg Natural Foliation

Fortress Site and Harbour Areas

An early view of Louisbourg shows some trees on the peninsula soon to be occupied by the town. [1] If these were there when the French arrived it was not long before they disappeared. The presence of the bog and the requirements of the fortifications (no trees were to be planted within 350 toises of the defenses) along with the tremendous consumption of wood by Louisbourg's inhabitants, combined to make this study area virtually treeless. [2] Though Pichon described the land in front of the fortress as covered with brush, there are no historical references to specific types of shrubs or bushes anywhere in the immediate area of the fortress. [3]

There are numerous references to wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and bakeapples around Louisbourg, but no specific location is mentioned. [4] Franquet and Pichon stated that raspberries grew in the sapinage, which certainly could have meant the immediate environs of the town. [5] The blueberries, according to Pichon, were as big as currants and could be gotten until mid-October. [6] A member of the occupying British forces in 1759-60, Jonathan Proctor noted in his diary on 5 August: "It is Now the Pleasant time In the year heare The Grase and flowers are In their prime The Straberys are Ripe Which are plenty In this Place." [7]

Pichon mentioned a pomme de pré, which he described as a small red fruit about the size of a cher!ty. In the 1860s, Uniacke spoke of the "pomme de pré" or prairie apple which grew in wild and barren places. Its fruit, he said, was shaped like a raspberry but was yellow-amber in color. It was found at Louisbourg and made good preserves. C.W. Vernon refers to this as the "bake-apple". Found "chiefly on marshy lands, especially in the neighbourhood of Louisbourg". It is somewhat like a yellow raspberry in appearance, but grows in a small plant. When cooked, says Vernon, its taste suggests that of honey. [8]

In 1751 Governor Raymond sent some pots of jam to the minister. The jam, he said, was made from a frout found on an "arbrusseau" (shrubby tree) na tive to Ile Royale. He did not say that it was found at Louisbourg. The fruit was called "pomme de terre de Berry", according to the governor. Its taste was sour, and the jam similar to that of red currants or "raisiné" (fruit preserved in grape juice). [9] It is not known exactly which fruit Raymond was describing. Several years earlier, De Laperelle included "pomme de terre" among the names of wild fruits found in the colony. [10] It is likely he was referring to the same berry. Other berries mentioned in the documents include cranberries, juniper berries and currants. [11] In 1723 Boucher wrote the minister that Verville had taken with him to France a "fruit du pays à l'odeur admirable" (a wonderful smelling fruit). [12]

In 1729 De Laperelle remarked that hunting in the immediate environs of Louisbourg was not good. [13] There are no references to wild animals specifically in this area. Pichon noted that a great many birds regularly stopped at White Point during their annual migration. At their arrival in the spring, he declared, there was a carnage so prodigious that up to 1,000 shots would be fired in a single day. This hunt, he said, was of great benefit to the inhabitants who were generally low on meat by this time of year. The birds were welcome despite the fact that they were aquatic and tasted of oil from the fish and seaweel they consumed. [14] Five men hunting together in this area during the spring of 1726 killed "macreuse", a type of duck. [15]