Louisbourg settlement’s 300 years marked by coins

The Royal Canadian Mint has issued two new coins marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of the settlement of Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island. Founded in 1713 by 150 colonists from France, the settlement quickly grew into a fortress with one of the largest military garrisons in North America. Construction of the fortification was mostly done between 1730 and 1740. Eventually the population reached nearly 5,000 people. The settlement’s strategic location made it desirable to both the British and the French. The British captured it in 1758, but it was returned to France in return for the British trading post of Madras, India, in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

However, its presence led to the creation of a rival British port, Halifax. Louisbourg was captured again in 1758, after a siege of six weeks. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Amherst had determined that its capture was essential before any effort was made to seize Quebec City. In 1760, the British dismantled the fortification, but kept a garrison there for another eight years. The area was declared a National Historic Site in 1926, when restoration of parts of the original town and fortress took place.

One of the commemorative coins is a silver $20. Designed by John Horton, it shows a group of settlers in the foreground. Behind them is a fisherman unloading cod, a large sailing vessel, and the skyline of the town. The coin has edge lettering containing the words “Louisbourg 300” and a repeating pattern of an anchor, fleur-de-lis, and Maple Leaf. The coin is struck in .9999 silver with a weight of 31.6 grams and diameter of 40 millimetres. The mintage limit is 8,500 coins. The second coin is a gold 50-cent piece.

The reverse design shows the Frederick Gate, and images of cod and a ship. It was designed by Peter Gough. The small coin weighs 1/25 of a troy ounce, with a diameter of 13.93 mm. It is struck in .9999 gold with a mintage of 10,000. This is not the first numismatic tribute for the fortress. In 1995, the Mint struck a $100 gold coin to mark the 275th anniversary of the start of construction of the fortress.

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