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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

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Historical Research at the Fortress of Louisbourg


The American historian James Axtell once wrote that "more is known about the population and life of Louisbourg than perhaps of any other colonial community in North America." Axtell's assessment may or may not be correct, but his essential point is that a great many aspects of the 45-year history of the fortified French seaport have been examined in detail by historians and archaeologists. The vast majority of studies were carried out by Parks Canada staff since the project to reconstruct one-fifth of the French fortified town began back in 1961. University-based and other researchers have produced their share of books, articles, and theses as well.

The historian of Louisbourg is fortunate. The administrators, curés, merchants, and military officers of the colony of Ile Royale left behind an enormous record for researchers: more than 700 000 pages of documentation, about 500 maps and plans, and untold millions of artifacts, about 5 million of which have been excavated. Most of the documentary series are available on microfilm. Large as the database is, research is aided by numerous finding aids and document summaries which were developed as part of the Parks Canada reconstruction and reanimation project. There are too many sources to name them all, but here are some key ones:

  • (i) several thousand folio pages of official correspondence (Série B, Lettres envoyées, vols. 35-110; Série C11B, Lettres reçues, vols. 1-38; Série C11C, Amérique du Nord, vols. 7-16)
  • (ii) judicial records (Série G2, Greffes des tribunaux ... Conseil Supérieur et Bailliage de Louisbourg, vols. 178-212)
  • (iii) parish records (Série G1, vols. 406-411, 1722-45 and 1749-58). Background information on many individuals involved is readily available thanks to the extensive family reconstitution files at the archives of the Fortress of Louisbourg.
  • (iv) military records like D2C (Troupes des colonies), C7 and E (Dossiers personnels)
  • (v) the civil series G3 (Notariat de Louisbourg)
  • (vi) the records of the Amirauté (Archives départementales, Charente Maritime, B, Cours et jurisdictions), the Archives de la Marine, and the Port de Rochefort holdings
  • (vii) selected documents from the Archives du séminaire de Québec and the Archives de l'archdiocèse de Québec and other public repositories.


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The Fortress of Louisbourg Timeline

Research Information: Fortress of Louisbourg