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Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada

Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures

The War of 1812 and the Naval Shipyard

Soldier wearing red coat, blue pants, big black hat and holding a gun with a bayonet in his left hand.
Soldier in the 1st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots), British army, 1813.
© Parks Canada / illustration by G.A.Embleton

Twenty years later, the Anglo-American war (1812-1814) triggered a new series of military operations. At that time, the English were busy fighting Napoleon in Europe. As they had few troops stationed in North America, they were forced to remain on the defensive during the first year of the war.

On the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River front, naval strength was destined to play a major role. In response to the American fleet which patrolled the lake, the British built a naval base and shipyard at île aux Noix. They wasted no time starting up shipbuilding operations. Several warships, including the brig Confiance, were turned out at the île aux Noix shipyards. They confronted American vessels, most notably during the battle of Plattsburg in the fall of 1814. The Americans, with a superior, better-organized fleet, emerged victorious from this battle, the last to take place on Lake Champlain.

Black and white drawing showing six sailing boats on a river. There is a hand written text at the bottom of the drawing.
Drawing of a British fleet on Lake Champlain, 1776.
© National Archives of Canada / C.Randle / C-13203

The naval shipyard at île aux Noix continued its activities during the year following the end of the hostilities. However, the ensuing period of calm spelled a downturn in production. During the 1820s, the naval garrison was substantially reduced, and in 1834, the shipyard was closed down completely.