Dr. John Johnston will speak at the next meeting of the Old Sydney Society on 22 March 2012, 7:30 PM at the Centre for Heritage and Science (the Lyceum), 225 George St., Sydney.
The title of the talk is:
"Land and Sea and Louisbourg, 5000 Years and Counting"
In this richly illustrated presentation, John Johnston takes a sweeping look at the history of Louisbourg, beginning 5000 years ago when rising sea levels created what we know as Louisbourg harbour. The anchorage was familiar to the Mi'kmaq for an unknown period then visited occasionally by European mariners for over a century. When the French founded a permanent and ambitious colony there in 1713 it signalled the beginning of dramatic change, including to the local environment. Over the next several decades Louisbourg became a major fishing and commercial seaport as well as an impressive fortified settlement. Louisbourg’s impact radiated out from the town on forest and wildlife. The local landscape was altered significantly. The British victory in 1758 ended the French colonial venture and ushered in a quite different period, one in which many communities were abandoned or greatly reduced in size and impact. Meanwhile, sea level rise continued as it had for millennia. Two and a half centuries after the end of the French colony at Louisbourg, a different Louisbourg stands along the harbour. It's a small modern village with a declining population across the harbour from a renowned Canadian national historic site. The rising sea level that created the harbour in the first place, and led to Louisbourg’s flourishing maritime success, continues to rise. Storm surges regularly menace the vestiges of what the colonial era left behind. If things continue as they are, and intensify as scientists predict, will the sea eventually reclaim the entire site of historic Louisbourg itself? This talk aims to illustrate a broad history and to pose some challenging questions about what lies ahead.