Citadel
Quebec, Canada
July 2001


Je me souviens.   "I remember."
The official motto of the province of Quebec and of the 22nd Regiment.

As part of Quebec's defence plan, Elias Walker Durnford engineered the building of Québec's Citadel on Cape Diamond between 1819 and 1832. The structure consisted of an irregular pentagon with two sides located on the edge of the cliff, one near the country on the west and two facing Upper Town. Ravelins located in front of the curtain walls reinforced the two fronts on the city's side. Casemates were also built under the rampart on this side. The western front was safeguarded by a ravelin and two counterguards.



Changing of the guards (postcard).

Durnford integrated a section of the 1745 enceinte with the Citadel. The only real new fronts were those that faced the city. This meant that the Citadel was to be the final refuge for the British garrison in case of a siege or citizen uprising. It is important to mention that the Citadel was built during a time when military authorities distrusted the conquered population and when political unrest was rampant.



But why build a conventional structure in Québec? In Europe, engineers were building innovative strongholds known as detached forts. One reason appears to be the most likely; the rebellion of 1837 in Lower Canada justified the engineers' choice for erecting a classic citadel. Once the prison was built in the King's Bastion in 1842, no pretext was needed to integrate the necessary parts with the layout of the second "ultimate réduit," which was located inside the Citadel.



One of the two official residences of the Liutenant General, the British monarch's representative in Canada.
After the Citadel was built, Québec's role as a fortress was at its peak. The defence works, buildings, and army grounds occupied one quarter of the city's entire surface area. Military property was unmistakably more concentrated in Upper Town (42 per cent) and dominated by the Citadel. The garrison, which included between 1000 and 1500 soldiers, made up more than a quarter of the population in the area. The troops were stationed around the enceinte, in the Citadel's barracks at Artillery Park and at the Saint-Louis Bastion. They were also placed in the old Jesuits' College which was transformed into barracks and located in the heart of the city.



Our tour group. That lady in the middle in red shirt and black hat was our tour guide.

The machinery of the military became more and more important in Québec during the 19th century; the period was a time of great economic development and population growth. However, military requirements often clashed with the interests of the city's inhabitants. The fortifications were incessantly viewed as obstacles to the city's expansion, economic growth, and traffic. During the 19th century, the city and fortifications did not go hand in hand. The stronghold as pitted more and more against the city.



While visiting Québec in 1850, the American naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote:
"A fortified town is like a man cased in the heavy armor of antiquity with a horse-load of broadswords and small arms slung to him, endeavouring to go about his business."



The view of Quebec's old city from the Citadel.

Because the era of the fortified city drew to a close at the middle of the century, the grip the military had on the city was to last only a few more years. Substantial improvements in artillery and communications caused the military to withdraw from the heart of the city. The detached forts, built on the south shore in Lévis in 1865, and the departure of the British garrison in 1871 indicated that the enceinte was to be abandoned and the old military gates to be demolished.



Québec's transition from fortified city to historic monument and the struggle between the forces of progress and conservation had begun.



Inside a snipers' dungeon. Both walls are lined with holes for defending gunmen that can snipe at attacking enemies. Never used in battle.





The Citadel of Quebec W.H. Bartlett c. 1840


Text materials above were lifted from the Parks Canada official website.