The wind, it blows in Louisbourg

The wind is a constant reminder that the elements rule at the Fortress of Louisbourg. This national historic site, a partial reconstruction of a French town that existed here in the 18th century, sits at the edge of the east coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, facing the Atlantic Ocean. And, the wind blows 365 days of the year (according to people who work at the site and a promotional video, which uses the wind’s mournful whistle as its soundtrack).

As I walk from the visitor centre bus to the Dauphin Gate, I feel its cutting coldness in a drizzling rain.

It turns my hair into a tangle as I walk into its force along the main street lined with stone and half-timbered houses.

It whistles through the open door in the Guardhouse as I listen to a soldier discuss the downside of military life in a colonial outpost.

It is held at bay by a warming fire in the De Gannes House, where an officer’s mother-in-law discusses childbirth in the 18th century.

It is put on hold for a few more minutes in the kitchen of the Engineer’s Residence, where the cook relays her secrets for making tasty meals and drinks.

It follows me around the fences and fields of the town as I peek at sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys.

It’s almost forgotten at the Hotel de la Marine, where my husband Gregory and I tie enormous napkins around our necks and slurp hot soup with pewter spoons.

The sun comes out in the afternoon, warming up the temperature. But the wind never stops. The shop signs swing wildly, the grasses ripple among the unrestored ruins, and the waves form whitecaps on the ocean.

I am only here for a few hours, but I wonder how the people who lived here between 1713 and 1758 coped with the ever-present wail of the wind. Did they get used to it, or did they go mad?