Louisbourg Portraits: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Garrison Town


302 pages
ISBN 0-7715-9712-6




Reviewed by Ian A. Andrews

Ian A. Andrews is a high-school social sciences teacher and editor of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association’s Focus.


In his four years as a staff historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Park, Christopher Moore became intimately associated with the lives of hundreds of residents of the eighteenth century garrison town on the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island. From copious and meticulous bureaucratic notes that have been preserved along with letters, charts, and a few diaries, Moore has reconstructed, in a scholarly and entertaining manner, the lives of several citizens who lived in Louisbourg two and a half centuries ago.

This is social history at its best. Through biographies of various types of citizens Moore has succeeded in portraying the life styles in this colonial port. The crime committed by Louis Davory allows an exploration of the criminal justice system; the dangers and rewards of the all-important fishery are developed from an examination of Charles Renaut’s letter; shipping and trading are both examined through the career of Jean Lelarge, while the stratified and structured order of society is featured in the tale of the tempestuous marriage between merchant Jacques Rolland and thirteen-year-old Marie-Louise Cruchon. The more traditional military role of Fortress Louisbourg is highlighted when Swiss mercenary Jodocus Koller’s tour of duty unfolds. A chronology of events (but no index) concludes the biographies of real, not fictional, characters.

Although J.S. McLellan’s Louisbourg from Its Foundation to Its Fall (Macmillan, 1918) is still considered the benchmark reference on eighteenth century Louisbourg, anyone wishing to get a “feel” for the time and place would be well advised to consult Louisbourg Portraits. Moore has shown himself to be an accomplished historian with an impressive writing style. It is hoped that Louisbourg Portraits is the beginning of many tales from the lives of the colonial peoples of this land.


Moore, Christopher, “Louisbourg Portraits: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Garrison Town,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38088.