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Transfortressing the Gate

Getting to the Fortress can be difficult. The modern-day town of Louisbourg is a pleasant 40-minute drive from Sydney, although if you’re coming from the airport or the Newfoundland ferry, you’d need to add another 20 minutes of driving time. But the National Historic site – that is, the site of the original French fortress,…

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Transfortressing Francais

My favourite question so far from a Louisbourg visitor – a retiree from West Virginia – had nothing whatsoever to do with the 18th century, or with French colonialism. It went (somewhat awkwardly) like this: “If a young Canadian who speaks English wanted to date a Canadian who speaks French… how would that work?” The…

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Transfortressing Justice

At Louisbourg, there’s a LOT to talk about – cod, geopolitical maneuvering, colonial exploitation of foreign resources, aboriginal-French relationships, cod, sieges, Catholicism, how to load and fire a musket, cod, class and feudalism, 18th century gender dynamics, the first and second sieges, and also cod. It’s all about the cod. In cod we trust. One…

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Transforming Exploration

A few years ago, CBU’s Department of Languages and Letters consolidated their offices in a single wing of the Campus Centre building. They voted to decorate the hallways with large framed photos juxtaposed with inspiring literary quotations, although in true academic fashion, no one agrees on what constitutes “inspiring.” Thus bell hooks’s “No woman writer…

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Transfortressing History

There are so many good things about my new job at the Fortress of Louisbourg, it’s hard to know where to start talking about it. That’s also a recurring problem within the job: we’re on site to “interpret” the historical significance of Louisbourg to visitors who, in many cases, know nothing about its role in…

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Transfortressing Employment

I’m working full-time hours for the first time since 2004. That requires many adjustments, including a regrettable but inevitable decline in blog posts. The Sydney-to-Louisbourg commute is about 40 minutes, so between that and my 8-hour shifts, I barely have enough time on either side of the day to catch up with my family and/or…

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Transfortressing Summer

This summer, admission to all Parks Canada sites is free. It’s one of many federal initiatives to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, an anniversary shortened (for flag and hashtag purposes) to “Canada 150.” Never mind that Confederation is only one of numerous treaties and agreements that gradually brought our country together; never mind that…

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Political Shakespeare in the Time of Tyrants

For the second time since the election, Donald Trump has butted antlers with the professional theatre industry. I guess it’s not that surprising; after all, he seems hard-wired to antagonize everyone within his reach, and thanks to Twitter and the U.S. Presidency (in that order), his reach is vast. Still, it’s disorienting to have worked…

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