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For the week of Monday April 15, 2003

On April 16, 1814, a wedding was celebrated at the Château Saint-Louis in Quebec City. The joyous celebration was unusual. At the time when Major Christopher Myers and Lydia Amelia Head exchanged their vows, the country was in the throes of the War of 1812.

Château Saint-Louis and Château Haldimand circa 1806-1808
© Parks Canada / Duberger model
A lieutenant-colonel at the start of the War of 1812, Myers was wounded and taken prisoner by the Americans when they attacked Fort George in May 1813. Freed on parole through the interventions of Sir George Prevost, Governor General and Commander in Chief in British North America, Myers joined the 100th Regiment of Foot and was promoted to the rank of major. He arrived in Québec at the beginning of the following winter. Andrew W. Cochran, assistant civil secretary to the Governor, recounted that when Myers met Miss Head, he was immediately “taken prisoner” a second time.

The marriage was performed by the Anglican priest Jehoshaphat Mountain. The bride, Lydia Amelia Head, was originally from Nova Scotia and daughter of the late Michael Head, formerly a Halifax physician. She was supported by two bridesmaids: Anne Elinor Prevost, the oldest daughter of Sir George Prevost, and a Miss Robinson, the daughter of William Henry Robinson, Commissary General of North America.

Remains of the Château Saint-Louis uncovered in 2006
© Parks Canada / P. Cloutier

The invited guests appreciated the Château Saint-Louis' neoclassical façade with its symmetrical architectural elements, in particular the Palladian windows and triangular pediments. The original château, built in 1648, was rebuilt starting in 1694 by Governor Frontenac. The second Château Saint-Louis was bombarded by the Royal Artillery in 1759. It was restored in the late 1760s by the new British authorities. In the 1780s, Governor Frederick Haldimand constructed another building, Château Haldimand, next to the Château Saint-Louis to serve as the governors’ residence.

Governor James Craig commissioned a number of renovations to the Château Saint-Louis between 1808 and 1811, and made it once again the official residence. During the same period, the Château Haldimand housed a number of public services. Since the Château Saint-Louis, unlike the Haldimand, was not suitable for large receptions, the Head-Myers wedding was a rather intimate ceremony. Unfortunately, the Château Saint-Louis was ravaged by fire in 1834. As for the Château Haldimand, it was demolished in 1892 to make room for the Château Frontenac Hotel.

The Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux site was designated a place of national historic importance as it was part of the defence system of the City of Quebec and the seat of colonial authority for more than 200 years.

For more information on the Château Saint-Louis, visit the Parks Canada web pages on the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux and Parks Canada archeological discoveries. To learn more about Old Québec, read the articles A Wedding at the “New Château St. Louis,” Castle Life, Americans Attack!, Québec Fortification Unique in North America, The Creation of the Battlefields Park and The First Intendant of New France in the archives of This Week in History.

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