France's chief interest in North America had always been the fishery.
access to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland was essential to its survival. After
ceding Newfoundland and Acadia to England, France decided to consolidate its
sole possession on the Atlantic coast, Île Royale. In 1720, an imposing
military fortress was built there. King Louis XV declared that he was determined
to start building up the fortifications on "this island by the port of
Louisbourg, as the most important part, both for its advantages over other ports
in the fishery, and for its location."
|The huge fortress at Louisbourg, built in 1720, became the centre of the French military and a commercial power in the North Atlantic.
Four years later, Étienne Verrier, the engineer
managing construction, proudly told the king: "The fortification of this city
seems so vast in all its parts that the King may count it as the greatest
stronghold in all of America."
For 30 years, Louisbourg was the centre of French commerce in North America.
Ships from Quebec brought wheat and flour which were then shipped to the French
colonies in the Caribbean.
They returned to Quebec loaded with manufactured
goods from France.
There was also a flourishing, yet illegal, trade with the New England
colonies. At its height, Louisbourg was as important as Quebec. But Louisbourg
was first and foremost a military post. Troops of the marine made up the greater
part of its population and workforce, but the soldiers did not like it there.
They were isolated; the climate was dreadful; the fog rarely lifted. There were
Initially, the strategic location of Louisbourg annoyed the English colonies.
Later, it threatened them, and the Bostonians were determined to destroy it.
Louisbourg had become such a threat to the commercial leadership of Boston,
and to its security, that in 1745, the governor of Massachusetts, William
Shirley, led an expedition against the fortress and captured it.
Three years later, England returned Louisbourg to France, which provoked
consternation and rage in the English colonies. Shirley's fury against the
French knew no bounds, and the Acadians became its target.
"The province of Nova Scotia will never be out of
danger as long as the Acadians are tolerated there. If I had an army, I would
march to Mines and Grand-Pré I would destroy their dikes; I would
devastate the countryside; I would exterminate this nest of vipers."
In 1749, the English built its own fortress, Halifax.
The French incited the
Mi'kmaqs to harass the English.
Further conflict was inevitable.