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Fort Beauséjour offering 18th-Century camping experience

Mathieu D'Astous, visitor experience manager at Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland, displays one of the three 18th-Century-style tents available to campers as part of a new project offered this summer at the national historic site.
Mathieu D'Astous, visitor experience manager at Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland, displays one of the three 18th-Century-style tents available to campers as part of a new project offered this summer at the national historic site. - Scott Doherty

New program offers chance 'to be immersed into the past'

AULAC, N.B. – Anyone who has ever pondered what camping in the 18th Century might have been like will have the chance to gain firsthand knowledge of the experience this summer at Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland.

A new pilot project at the national historic site will see three 18th-Century-style tents erected, allowing visitors the chance to sleep under the stars within the fort’s walls.

Mathieu D'Astous, visitor experience manager at the fort, said similar projects have already proven popular at national historic sites in Western Canada and, nearer to home, at Cape Breton’s Fortress of Louisbourg, which is where he was personally introduced to it last year.

“Actually, I was able to live the experience with my family and I thought it would be a great experience to be able to bring to the fort here. We thought that it’s a great way to be able to be immersed into the past, into the history of the site and also to have an outdoors experience.”

D'Astous said they are already hearing positive things about the project from potential visitors.

“I mean, waking up in the past, waking up surrounded by ruins is kind of a unique experience that most people we’ve talked to are excited to try.”

– Mathieu D'Astous

In addition to the historical aspect of the adventure, he feels campers will also be impressed by the region’s natural beauty, adding children will enjoy “that sense of adventure, that sense of discovery, that sense of living a part of the past.”

D'Astous said they will be looking to expand the camping project in future years depending on its popularity.

The tents were custom ordered from a company that specializes in providing them for people involved in staging historical reenactments, as well as other history buffs, D'Astous said.

“These are replicas of 18th Century French wedge tents,” he explained, adding they would have been used in military applications.

In fact, although there were buildings to house soldiers inside Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland when it was in active use, troops also camped behind the fort itself in very similar tents. After English forces took the fort from the French in June 1755 during the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, for example, there were over 2,000 English troops and their allies stationed there, with most staying in tents since many of the site’s buildings were damaged in the battle.

Although the tents currently erected at Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland are 18th-Century-style, guests will enjoy a few modern conveniences. Included in the rentals are sleeping pads, a propane stove, LED lantern, table, bench, stools, fire pit and cooking stakes. The tents are also anchored to a raised wooden platform for added comfort.

Each of the tents can accommodate up to four adults, or a similar combination of children and adults. Renting one of the sites costs $70 per night. Reservations are open until the Sept. 3 long weekend.

To book a site, or for more information, phone 506-364-5080 (9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily) or e-mail fort.beausejour@pc.gc.ca.

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