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Special Collections

A guide to the Library's various Special Collections.

Collection Highlight - Reports of Louisbourg 1745-1760 from England's Gentleman's Magazine

The Gentleman's Magazine was published in London from 1731 into the early 20th century providing its readership with a monthly digest of news, opinion, literature, and scientific discovery of the day. It is generally considered the first "magazine", and, in its first years, it had a larger circulation and impact that any other periodical of the time. Dr. Thomas J. Khattar collected a full run of the magazine from the first volume [1731] to when it restarted its numbering system in 1868. The Khattar Collection of CBU Library includes this complete run.

The PDFs listed below include scanned content from The Gentleman's Magazine on the first and second sieges of Louisbourg and the aftermath of each. Each page also includes synopses of the reports for each year.



The 1745 volume of the Gentleman's Magazine includes several sections on the 1st Siege of Louisbourg as well as Cape Breton Island generally.

One section details the procurement of guns, ships and other supplies for the English navy in preparation for combat operations. Later that year, Commodore Edwards was to join the English fleet with Commodore Warren's expedition against Cape Breton. Commodore Warren had raised more than six thousand troops from the North American colonies. In April of 1745, Warren reached Cape Breton and routed a small French man of war. The Gentleman's Magazine reports how valuable Cape Breton would be to England, due to its vast fishery and strategic geographical location. The surrender of the French garrison at Tournay is discussed, and speculation on the siege of Louisbourg is included. The French surrender of Fortress Louisbourg is reported in a June 26th letter from an engineer at Cape Breton. In that letter, Louisbourg is touted as "key to North America as the Gibraltar is to the Mediterranean". An old English Hymn to Victory is also featured in this volume. There are also a number of letters debating the treatment of captives from Louisbourg, as well as questions regarding further military activity. In his description of the Siege, Mr. Gibson heralds the English troops as having 'uncommon bravery', 'gallant courage', and "favourable circumstance". He also lauds the French troops for their gallant defence of the city and fortress.



The 1747 volume of Gentleman's Magazine features a brief section entitled the "Historical Chronicle"; it includes a 'Description of the Town and Harbour of Louisbourg on the Island of Cape Breton'. This section also includes discussion on the fortifications of Louisbourg, which are under the possession of the English.



In 1748, a number of letters to the editor take issue with a previous claim in the Gentleman's Magazine that the victory at Louisbourg was a result, perhaps, of divine forces. These letters discuss the Island of Cape Breton, the actions of English soldiers at Louisbourg during the first siege, as well as the value of the fishery, and a description of 'the finest pit coal in the Americas'.

In this year of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which returned Louisbourg to the French, there is also an outline of events that led to the capture of Louisbourg. These events include the French declaration of war, the French seizure of Canso, the capture of English citizens and soldiers by French troops, crop shortages of the French, and the extraordinary management and leadership of both His Majesty and the English commodores who planned and executed the attack. A list of ships lost in battle is also detailed in this volume, as well as a calculation of the total cost of the operation.



In 1749 a letter to the editor, Edward Cave [aka Sylvanus Urban, Gent.] from a settler in Chebucto, Nova Scotia lauds the English troops for providing the civilian population with sufficient food and supplies to live comfortably. This letter includes a description of the Chebucto harbour and discussion of its possible uses for England.



The 1751 volume includes records of births and deaths from the colonies, including Nova Scotia. In 1751, the record shows that several men were hanged in Halifax, Nova Scotia for robbery.



A brief note from 1753 details the exodus of 1,500 Germans from Halifax to Lunenburg. Further writings tell of the open country and exceedingly good soil in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia. This settlement consisted of several houses, fruit trees, and two blockhouses.




Several sections of the Gentleman's Magazine deal with the area of Nova Scotia known as Acadia.

The 1755 volume, the year of Great Expulsion of the Acadians [Le Grand Dérangement], includes an article on the cession of Acadia to the English by Treaty of Utrecht [1713]. This account describes the climate and geology of the region as well as the history and political control of Acadia and the Annapolis Valley from the time of its founding in 1604 by Champlain. The article includes references to the local Native American populations and their dealings with French and English settlers. It was in this same year that a proclamation was issued barring any English citizen from having contact with anybody in the French colony at Louisbourg. According to Gentleman's Magazine, anyone disobeying this order was subject to having his ears cut off, 37 lashes, and his vessel and cargo would be forfeited.



A February 1756 article describes the scene in London in which the French Envoy voices concerns about the British desire to expedite adjudication of disputes regarding the territories in North America. The British agreed to a cessation of hostilities, but only if France would agree to repair the injury done by open force. There is also a report on what the British considered to be French hostilities in the Nova Scotia. There is also a brief history of the French-English disputes in the territory and colonies of America.

In April of the same year, there is an account about the French government not fulfilling their obligation to provide the British with the land which had been promised in Nova Scotia. The article, which includes history of the British claim, states that it is obvious that the land in Nova Scotia should be returned to British control as soon as possible. The article includes a discussion of the Treaty of Utrecht [1713]. Later in 1756, there is another description on the extreme cruelty endured by English prisoners in French custody.



The December 1757 issue of Gentleman's Magazine features an article on the wreckage of the English ship 'Moore of the Unicorn' by the French off the coast of Louisbourg. It describes, in some detail, the 'greatest humanity' the townspeople of Louisbourg displayed towards the survivors of the ship's wreckage. There is also a description of the people living in this area as being quite impoverished and living simple lives.



The Gentleman's Magazine of 1758 contains a number of sections on the Siege of 1758. The first mention of Louisbourg is in March; there are several paragraphs recapping the 1745 battle at Louisbourg. It includes a brief overview of the political decisions of the last decade regarding colonies in Nova Scotia and North America.

The July issue includes a large section dealing entirely with the 1758 Siege of Louisbourg by British forces. The account includes a daily journal written by an officer of the British army, as well as descriptions of the number of garrisons and battalions and times of battles. On Friday July 14th, there is a report that approximately 10,000 English troops landed down the coast from Fortress Louisbourg preparing for a full-scale attack. According to The Gentleman's Magazine, the French were fearful that Louisbourg would be conquered.



On Thursday, March 27th 1760, The Gentleman's Magazine includes an entry on the detailing the mission of a shipload of British miners who were charged with blowing up the fortifications of Louisbourg. After this mission was completed, they were to continue sailing up the St. Lawrence to join British troops in Quebec. A letter from a later issues claims that the mission was completed without any problems.