Interior view of the interpretation centre© Parks Canada / Jean Audet / 125/PE/PR7/SPO-00004
In 1755, France and Great Britain readied for a bloody war that was to last seven years. New France was destined to be one of the theatres of this conflict.
France was a continental power at that time. Its strength lay primarily in its army based in Europe. Great Britain, on the other hand, was a maritime power. The mobility of its fleet enabled the country to pick its battles practically at will. As a result, Great Britain attempted to turn the weakness of the French navy to its advantage, and therefore planned to attack the French colonies in North America.
In North America, the rivalry between France and Great Britain would crystallize around three fronts: the Atlantic seaboard, the Lake Champlain region, and the Ohio River valley. A long series of battles was about to begin.
The Deportation of the Acadians
Illustration representing the Embarkation of the Acadians in 1755© National Archives / C.W. Jeffreys / C-70232
After the fall of Fort Beauséjour on June 17, 1755, French-held Acadia fell to the pressure of the British. In that year alone, between 6 000 and 7 000 Acadians were deported to various destinations. The others were pursued throughout the country.
The Battle of the Monongahela
In 1755, British troops set out to attack Fort Duquesne as part of their attempt at dislodging the French from the Ohio valley. On July 9, they were at only some three leagues distant from their objective, but the French and their Indian allies successfully brought this campaign to a halt.
The Battle of Lake Saint-Sacrement
On September 8, 1755, French and British troops clashed in a series of battles whose outcome failed to prove decisive.
The Capture of Oswego
Illustration representing the Capitulation of Oswego (located on the shores of Lake Ontario)© National Archives / C-799
On August 14, 1756, following a siege lasting several days, the French captured Oswego. This victory confirmed their domination of the Great Lakes region.
The Attack on Fort William Henry
In 1757, a wintertime expedition and a lightning raid enabled the French to take over Fort William Henry, located on Lake Champlain.
The Battle of Carillon
The British began mobilizing all their resources in order to crush New France. They decided to use Lake Champlain to overrun the defenses of Canada. On July 12, 1758, 15 000 British soldiers attacked Carillon. At 3 000 soldiers, the French troops were vastly outnumbered, and yet they succeeded in putting their adversaries to rout.
The Capture of Louisbourg
Interior view of the interpretation centre© Parks Canada / Jean Audet / 125/PE/PR7/SPO-00031
The British thereupon concentrated their efforts on the Atlantic Coast, where they assembled more than 150 ships and 28 000 soldiers and sailors. The French were able to muster a mere 6 000 men and a handful of vessels.
Engraving representing the Landing of British Troops at Louisbourg, 1745© National Archives / Brooks / C-10994
On July 26, 1758, Louisbourg capitulated following a siege of seven weeks. However, the season was too far advanced to permit the British to accomplish a similar victory at Québec.
The Resistance Collapses
In 1759, under the relentless pressure of the British troops, New France began to come apart. The strongholds at Niagara, Carillon and Saint-Frédéric fell one after another. In the meantime, France started to concentrate its resources for the defence of Québec City, the ultimate objective of this campaign.
The Fall of Québec
On June 23, 1759, a British fleet of close to 150 vessels carrying 39 000 soldiers and sailors cast anchor close to Québec.
A three-month siege then ensued, which featured numerous skirmishes and continual bombardments. In what they hoped would be a decisive battle, the British engaged the French in combat on the Plains of Abraham in the early hours of September 13, 1759.
Despite the surrender of Québec on September 18, 1759, the British were not yet masters of the entire country. Far from having been annihilated, the French army regrouped to the west of Québec, and blocked movements by the British throughout the entire winter.
The Battle of Sainte-Foy
A View of the Taking of Québec, September 13th, 1759© National Archives / C-1078, 1759
On April 28, 1760, the French troops were victorious at Sainte-Foy, forcing the British to take refuge behind the walls of Québec.
The two armies were at a stand-off. As well, both forces were exhausted and could only hope for reinforcements in order to turn the tide. All eyes were turned eastward, toward the sea. The fate of New France would depend on which ensign was first sighted coming over the horizon.