The Fortress of Louisbourg is reputed to be haunted by many spirits from its long history, and who knows, visitors just might meet some of them when they go on one of the national historic site’s “Lantern Tours” presented every Wednesday in September from the 7th to the 28th.
“This is the second year for this format of what I call, ‘the ghost tour’,” says Sandy Anthony, Visitor Experience Coordinator for the Fortress. “Lindsay Thompson and Eric Letcher took the content of the original tour (written by Anthony and meant to be done by one individual), and revised it to be a theatrical piece for several people.”
The tour, titled Tragic Tales: The Haunted of Louisbourg, is comprised of actual stories of crimes committed at Louisbourg in the 18th Century taken predominantly from A.J.B. Johnston’s book, Control and Order. The modern ghost stories were collected by Anthony from Bill O’Shea, former Cultural Resources Manager, and Sandy Balcom, Historian and Cultural Resources Curator.
The tour comes with a “mature content” advisory which, Anthony explains, means that it includes some descriptions of wife abuse, taken from the court records, that are a bit explicit, and there is a bit of language, “whore” being the worst.
Anthony says, “Children 12 years and up, with the parent’s discretion, should be worldly enough to handle the stories.”
The tour is divided into two sections. First, “ghosts” from Louisbourg’s past recount tales from the town’s history. After a break in the tavern, where complimentary finger food, tea and coffee, and a cash bar are available, the “ghosts” will tell modern stories of unexplained things that staff have seen or experienced here at the Fortress over the years.
Tickets are $26.90 per person and can be bought by phone at 733-2280, ext. 3436, or by going onlin to fortressoflouisbourg.ca to buy tickets on-line.
Participants should wear arm, comfortable clothing and can rendezvous for the tour at Gate 2 at 6:30 pm.
“This particular tour presents the grim reality of life in Louisbourg in a manner, and at a time of day, that cannot be created during daytime operating hours,” Anthony observes. “Firstly, since the tour takes place after daytime hours, it is dusk and then dark. The isolation of the place with no modern streetlights and lit only by candlelight, creates a creepy ambiance conducive to telling ghost stories.”
“Secondly, I think we have sensitively retold stories of real people who suffered here in the past, and have given them a voice that they haven’t had for hundreds of years,” she adds. “These two elements give the visiting audience a visceral appreciation for the hardships and turmoil that some of the citizens of Louisbourg endured. And the stories, despite the passage of hundreds of years, have a familiar ring to them. They are stories that one still hears on the news today.”
“In case you think this must be a very grim tour, it is also very enjoyable,” Anthony says. “People last year responded tremendously positively, breaking out into sponataneous applause at the end. It is truly a memorable experience. Last year, when I was a participant, I got the distinct feeling that the spirits of those who had gone before, were pleased that we were telling their stories. A little ‘doo-wee-ooh’, I know, but that’s the feeling I got.”