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Book Review

From Amherst Daily News, June 14th, 2013.

New book commemorates tri-centennial anniversary. Louisbourg: Past, Present Future (Stories of Our Past) By A.J.B. Johnston (Nimbus Publishing). $15.95. 122 pages.

Accomplished Atlantic Canadian historian and acclaimed international author A.J.B. Johnston (Endgame 1758 and Thomas: A Secret Life) skillfully imparts his vast historical knowledge to the latest book in Nimbus’s Stories of Our Past series.

It is remarkable that Fortress Louisbourg, established by the French on Ile Royale (Cape Breton) in 1713, is still in existence three centuries later. Once considered to be the crown colonial jewel of the French and British monarchies in their geopolitical quest to establish their hegemony over the other in the New World, Louisbourg, which was also revered by the Americans and contested by the Mi’kmaq, was completely obliterated in 1760 by British forces. In the1920s, it became a National Historic Site, taking another four decades until was rebuilt.

Like any experienced historian who realizes that history doesn’t take place in a vacuum, Johnston discusses the strategic importance of English Harbour, the narrow entrance to Louisbourg, prior to its construction by the French circa 1713.

Within seven years of its construction, Louisbourg was confirmed as the capital of Ile Royale in 1720, enjoying a period of peace and prosperity on social, political economic, religious and military levels before war broke out during the year 1744.

After a being returned to the French via the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748, Louisbourg flourished once more, albeit for a short-lived period of time.

Realizing that the audience for this book would be geared more towards school-aged children studying social studies, or adults not looking for the detail present in one of his other scholarly books/articles, Johnston explains his topic in a succinct way, a method consistent with previous books in the Stories of Our Past series.

Complete with over 50 full-colour images and interesting anecdotal sidebars that explore such topics as crustal subsidence and sea level rise; the Mi’kmaq and early contact with the French; coffee, tea and chocolate, Louisbourg: Its Past, Present and Future is the perfect book to commemorate the tri-centennial anniversary of the construction of one of Canada’s most important and well-known historic sites.

Johnston launches the newest book in Nimbus’s Stories of Our Past series on Friday, June 14 at 6:00 pm inside the Engineer’s House at Fortress Louisbourg.