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Canada: Cape Breton Island - West Side 
Fortress of Louisbourg Research

Research Trip to the Western Shore of Cape Breton 
~ October 12 - October 18, 2002



The intent of this trip was to examine at close hand where Louisbourg (1713-1758) impacted upon the area between the villages of Chéticamp (Acadian Shore) and Judique (Ceilidh Trail)

Prior to the 17th Century, French fishermen were already fishing along the coast and drying their fish at Canso [Canceau, Campseau]. Upon the seasonal closure of the fishery, they returning home. When the season closed they returned home across the ocean.

In 1604, DeMonts visited the Canso area, but even by then foreign fishermen had already been there for some time.

In 1672, in Paris, Nicholas Denys published his Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America.

In 1713, by the Treaty of Utrecht, Britain acquired mainland Nova Scotia (New Scotland) while the French retain control over Cape Breton Island (Isle Royale), with the Canso Islands under the effective control of thousands of seasonal New England fishermen.

In 1752, Sieur de la Roque, carried out his detailed census of all the settlements on Ile Royale (Cape Breton).

In the 1760's, Captain Samuel Johannnes Holland, published his A Description of the Island of Cape Breton and Its Dependencies (Halifax: PANS, Publication, No. 2; 1935). Holland was the first Surveyor General of the Northern District of America [British North America] for the period 1764-1801. In c. 1767, he published his A Chart of Cape Breton.

In 1768 Lieutenant-Governor Francklin prepared a list of Cape Breton inhabitants who had improved their lands, thus making them eligible for land titles.

In 1771 there issued an important census.


Chéticamp [Chetican, Le Chady - perhaps from the French "Cheti" and "camp", meaning a poor encampment] on the Acadian Shore (North-west coast of the Island) is today the largest centre of Acadian life on Cape Breton. Its people are the direct descendant of hundreds of the 6,000 - 14,000 thousand French refugees expelled from mainland Nova Scotia to France, England, and the United Stares that began at Grand Pré on September 10, 1755, and of thousands others who fled to Prince Edward Island, Quebec, or to the Baie des Chaleurs and the Gaspé Peninsula.

Its first permanent settlers, who arrived in the Chéticamp area in 1782, were Pierre Bois and Joseph Richard, followed in 1785 (when the Acadian Parish of Chéticamp was founded) and 1786 by many others settling the area from Chéticamp to Margaree, and in 1790 by "Les quatorze vieux," 14 settlers who had obtained a concession of 7,000 acres.

Notwithstanding the onset of permanent habitation, the history of Chéticamp runs far deeper than that. For example, as early as 1752, Chéticamp was a fishing station, a temporary place consisting of fishermen living in crude cabins. when Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island (Isle St. Jean), were then in French hands, controlled from Louisbourg. In 1755, following the expulsion, arrivals first landed on Chéticamp Island, but quickly moved inland. When Louisbourg fell to the English for the second and final time in 1758, its citizens were generally expelled from the Island. However, some remained, and over the years gravitated to two main areas: Isle Madame (near the present-day Canso causeway, and Chéticamp.)

Afterwards, after the fall of the Island in 1758, just prior to permanent habitation, Jersey Island traders also came over several summers investing in a fishing enterprise.


Margaree Harbour today forms the mouth of the Margaree River, a "Canadian Heritage River."

In 1803, Donald and Angus MacIsaac (unrelated and travelling separately from the Isle of Skye, Scotland) settled the present town of Inverness and MacIsaac Pond respectively.


Mabou (in Mi'kmaw, Madawak "where two or more rivers meet and flow into one larger river; or perhaps otherwise in Mi'Kmaw, Malabo, a shortened version of Malabokek of unknown meaning) is a village referred to as early as ….. by Nicholas Denys as Le Chadye

The MacFarlane Woods, a nature reserve of hardwoods (maple, beech, and yellow birch, presumably never cut in c. 500 years) that were already standing when Louisbourg was founded in 1713, represents some of the types of local wood that went into the building of the Fortress.


Port Hood (Keg-weom-kek, "a sandy shoal" in Mi'kmaw was named by 1786 in honour of Samuel Viscount Hood (1724-1816), the British commander in Chief in North America in 1767. However, earlier than that it was once known as Juste au Corps during the Louisbourg era. Afterwards, settlers mispronounced and mis-spelled it as Chestico, with the Scots rendering it in Gaelic as Seastico.

Captain David Smith of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, permanently settled nearby Port Hood Island (then called Smith's Island) in 1786, with his wife and 5 sons. However, earlier, during the Louisbourg era, the French were quarrying stones on the southwest side of the Island and also from its now washed-away land bridge for use in the construction of the Fortress of Louisbourg.

In his A Description of the Island of Cape Breton and Its Dependencies , Captain Samuel Holland reported "the remains of a French settlement and where ships were built. There are several veins of coal and alabaster along the coastline; and a kind of free-stone quarry." As was his want, he also renamed Juste-au-Corps as Port Barrington, or Barrington Peninsula.


Judique's first white settler was Michael Mór MacDonald, trader, poet (bard) and sea captain from South Uist, Scotland and Prince Edward Island (then St. John's Island) who arrived in 1775. He authored the song "Fair is the Place" at Judique. 

Nicholas Denys who had fishing stations along the coast of what now is Inverness County also mentioned the place.