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Citadel de Quebec

Québec City, Québec, Canada

2010 Q2

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The Citadelle (in Canada, the French Name is used both in English and in French), sits atop Cap Diamont, next to the plains of Avram (Abraham) in Québec City, Québec, Canada. Today, it is still functioning a military installation with troops from the Royal 22e Régiment stationed there and as an official residence for several weeks out of the year of the Governor General of Canada. The Québec Parliament Building and numerous other provincial facilities are nearby just outside the walls of this historic fort.

The present day star-shaped Citadelle was built by the English in 1820 - 1831 to replace earlier facilities in the same location. These earlier facilities were attacked by the Americans during the Revolutionary War between the U.S. and the British. Cap Diamont is the highest ground in the area and overlooks the St. Lawrence River such that whoever con- trols this high ground controls the entrance to all of the Great Lakes of North America and thus the entrance to both the U.S. and Canada.

The first con- struction on this site was a protective wall that was built in the 17th Century under Louis de Boade, sieur de Frontenac. A plan of forti- fications was then developed by the French Military engineer Jacques Levasseur de Néré (1662-1723) and was approved by Louis IV’s commissary general of fortifi- cations Sébastien de Le Prestre de Vauban in 1701. Additional extensive work took place in 1745 under the direction of French military engineer Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry. The British did all of this work as a defense against the Americans. The preservation of the Citadelle is the result of efforts by Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Governor General of Canada (1872 - 1878), who also established the Citadelle as a vice-regal residence. (Note the double hyphenation of his name!)

Vauban popularized the construction of forts in the manner in which the Citadelle is designed and built. They are characterized by bastions at the outside corners that are pointed in plan (less than 90O corners), constructed of thick stone or brick masonry walls and masonry barrel vaulted casements, all backfilled with copious quantities of earthen fill that is usually mounded on top such that the crown of the fill is considerably above the tops of the walls. There was no waterproofing consideration given in the construction, so they were typically damp and dank inside the casements. The perimeter outer walls established a central courtyard where other buildings such as hospital, barracks, and powder magazines were built. There usually was a perimeter redoubt or retaining wall that established a grassy or watery moat that was bridged by a drawbridge at the sole entrance. This issue’s print of a sketch by Ladd P. Ehlinger is of the main gate from the courtyard side.

The intent was to provide protection from the largest canon projectiles at the time. Forts Pike and McComb that guarded the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass entrances to the waters about New Orleans were built about the same time as the Citadelle, and resemble it design-wise but are of brick masonry rather than stone masonry.

These types of forts are no longer built as the technology of the armament firepower has outgrown them. Today’s “bunker buster” bombs and smart bombs have totally obsoleted all forts like this.

Ladd P. Ehlinger AIA

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