Blast from the past: Parks Canada finds hundreds of old cannonballs at Louisbourg -- some containing gunpowder

A battle between the British and the French is a story that is told at the Fortress Louisbourg, but remnants recently found at the old fort are physical evidence of just how intense those clashes were.

"We knew that we had some questionable pieces in the collection because we could see the balls with the holes in them or the wood plug or the lead plug in the pieces," says Ruby Fougere, a spokesperson for Parks Canada.

Uncovered are hundreds of cannonballs dating back to the 1700s.

While they are a unique find, some contain gunpowder and have caused concerns for Parks Canada, so they have called in the military to help.

"We currently found 125 that we know contain black powder and are called mortars," says Barry Noseworthy, a member of the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic.

The projectiles are being sorted and will then be placed on a truck and transported to CFB Gagetown where they will be disposed of through a controlled detonation.

"We don't know if the black powder is going to be active or energetic, however we will blow it up with some explosives and it should be a good bang," says Noseworthy

Parks Canada says some of the cannonballs will be decommissioned and cleaned out and then brought back here to the Fortress Louisbourg to be viewed by the public.

"They were used in the two sieges and they are artifacts. They were unearthed during the archaeological digs," says Fougere.

Leading the charge are members of the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic, based at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

"Historically, this is definitely up there for me to actually hold cannonballs from the 17th and 18th century," says Noseworthy. "It's pretty cool to see that they're still intact and still contain plugs and black powder."

The operation is expected to wrap up Nov. 10.