Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux
National Historic Site of Canada
Pierre Cloutier and Jacques Guimont – Archaeologists
Remains of the four Saint-Louis forts
The oldest remains excavated so far date back to the first two Saint-Louis forts erected by Champlain, the founder of Quebec, in 1620 and 1626. The items found include:
- A dry rock wall and a wooden cannon platform linked to a spur from the first fort of 1620.
- A stone stairway associated with the fortification of the second fort in 1626.
Remains of the third Saint-Louis fort
Three of the remains discovered are associated with the third Saint-Louis fort:
- A wooden cannon platform from the days of Governor Charles Huault de Montmagny (1646).
- A stone wall, raised by one of the governors between 1648 and 1660, which forms part of the fort's northern enclosure.
- Elements of what may have been a redoubt built around 1680.
Defensive works built by Governor Frontenac during construction of the fourth fort in the early 1690s remain the most substantial of the finds. Several segments of the fortification wall along the cliff top, to the north and south of the château, were discovered during the first two digs.
South of the Château, the remains of four rectangular-shaped cannon platforms built around 1691 were also excavated. The very tenuous remains consisted of the platform's structural joists and ledger strips . Large forged nails attached the platform's floor boards to the joists, which were still in place in some sections.
Associated with the two platforms, 14 cannon balls and two bar-shots were resting in their original location, forgotten when new platforms were built in the first quarter of the 18th century.
Behind the platforms were the remains of a retaining wall made of large sections of rock from Cap Diamant.
New trapezoid-shaped cannon platforms would replace them around 1717-1718. Only a few well-preserved traces have been found.
A new fortification wall
The last fortification element uncovered during the first two digs was a stone wall built by the British in 1789 in the same place and to replace the old fort wall raised by Frontenac south of the château. At that time, the Saint-Louis fort had already lost its defensive vocation to the temprorary citadel built between 1779 and 1783.