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The Creation of the Battlefields Park

For the week of Monday March 17, 2008

On March 17, 1908, the Canadian parliament passed a motion to create the National Battlefields Commission (NBC), mandating it to purchase Quebec City’s battlefields and turn them into a major Canadian national park. This is how the Battlefields Park came into existence in Quebec City.

An aerial view of the Battlefields Park in Quebec City.
© Parks Canada / P. St-Jacques / 1984
The idea to create the park first came about in 1906 during preparations for the 300th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. Starting in the late 19th century, there had been talk of preserving some green space in the city to offer its residents a healthy living space and to limit urbanization. The park was therefore created to highlight the battles of 1759 and 1760 (the Battle of SainteFoy) and to commemorate the English and French battles that took place there.

The Battlefields Park has two main sites: the Plains of Abraham and Des Braves Park. It boasts 108 hectares of plains and woodland preserved in their natural state despite the urban boom of the 20th century. Today, this park offers visitors a wide range of activities, such as festivals, sports events and historic tours.

The Battlefields Park is often called the Plains of Abraham, so renamed through popular usage. The name refers to one of the first colonists to settle in Quebec City, Abraham Martin, who used this land to graze his animals. However, Abraham neither owned nor lived on this land. 

A reenactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
© Parks Canada / P. St-Jacques / 1994

The park is one of the first sites in Canada to be officially recognized by the federal government for its natural and historic features. It is best known as a place where the English and French armies clashed for control of the colony. This is also where the legendary battle between the armies of Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and General James Wolfe took place, known as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Today, however, the park covers only about one-third of the area used by combatants during the battles of 1759 and 1760.

The Battlefields Park is associated with many events and sites of national historic significance. For instance, it is here that the Siege of Québec by the Americans in 1775 took place, designated a National Historic Event of Canada in 1984. It is also where the Québec Martello Towers stand, the British fortifications built between 1808 and 1812 to defend Quebec City against American attacks. These towers were designated a National Historic Site in 1990.

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