Nova Scotia

Old Louisbourg road to Gabarus should be resurrected, petition says

A Cape Breton highway once travelled by soldiers at the Fortress of Louisbourg, but was closed nearly 50 years ago, is at the centre of a petition urging that it be resurrected.

Call to reopen 300-year-old link between Louisbourg and Gabarus

These soldiers at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site have to take the long way around to Gabarus. (CBC)

A Cape Breton highway once travelled by soldiers at the Fortress of Louisbourg, but was closed nearly 50 years ago, is at the centre of a petition urging that it be resurrected.

The road was one of the oldest in the province when it was shut down in 1966. Parks Canada had argued the move was necessary so it could preserve the archeological integrity of the Louisbourg historic site, which was being restored at that time.

The road closure means travellers coming up the eastern coast of Cape Breton do not have a direct route to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

Instead, they face a 50-kilometre detour from Gabarus up to Marion Bridge and past Sydney. 

Bill Fiander, who was brought up in Louisbourg, wants to see the old road reopened and has started a Facebook site and online petition that now has nearly 800 signatures.

"When the French first landed here in 1713 they used the road to travel back and forth," he says. "Then when the French were defeated in 1758 it was used as a road — up until the early 60's when the fortress was being rebuilt."

He says he understands the road could be reopened for about $20 million, according 2008 report. It would be a good strategy to build tourism, given visitor numbers at the fortress have not been what they should be, he says, and he's confident a highway link would boost those numbers.

"Reasons for it are mostly economic, not cultural or emotional," he says.

He points to a 2008 survey of 1,700 tourists done for the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority. It found 60 percent would drive up eastern Cape Breton on the Fleur-de-lis Trail if the link was re-established between Gabarus and Louisbourg.

Fiander says since it's a coastal road, drivers would be treated to beautiful ocean vistas along the way.

He plans to forward his petition to Cape Breton Canso Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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