Québec Citadel

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Quebec, Quebec
General view of the Québec Citadel, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parks Canada, H., 1993.
General View.
© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parks Canada, H., 1993.
General view of the Québec Citadel, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parks Canada, H., 1993.Québec Citadel Classified Federal Heritage Building © Energy, Mines, & Resources (1929).Arial view of the Québec Citadel, 1976. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada.
Address : 3, Côte Citadelle, Quebec, Quebec

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1993-06-29
  • 1819 to 1831 (Construction)

Other Name(s):
  • Québec Citadel Complex  (Designation Name)
Custodian: National Defence
FHBRO Report Reference: 88-161
DFRP Number: 05749 00

Description of Historic Place

Located on the heights of Cap-Aux-Diamants overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the Citadel of Quebec is a fortified enclosure of 37 acres built in a polygonal, star-shaped plan. It includes four bastions, or wall projections and three straight curtain walls situated along the three fronts facing Quebec and the Plains of Abraham. The ground gently slopes down from the walls towards the Plains of Abraham and the town. The Citadel contains 24 permanent masonry structures, mostly of grey cut stone, none more than two-storeys high, mostly rectilinear in design and the majority have hipped roofs. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Citadel of Quebec is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Citadel is associated with the defence of New France, then British North America, and finally of Canada. Under both the French and English regimes, the Citadel of Quebec was pivotal for the defence of the colony. Since its construction the citadel’s role has expanded to become the second residence of the Governor General of Canada, it has been the site for major conferences and is the official home of the Royal 22nd Regiment. Its original construction, the subsequent economic benefits, and the resulting influx of personnel had a significant impact on the city of Quebec and its environs.

Architectural Value:
The Citadel of Quebec is an excellent example of a specialized defensive military structure. Neoclassical influences are evident in the architecture of the Citadel where the idea of permanence, tradition and authority it helped to convey would have been deemed appropriate. Built to intimidate as well to be functional, its shape reflects the influence of the Vauban plan, the site topography and the strategic requirements of the building. Its specialized features, the system of controlled access, the solid construction techniques and its use of materials express its excellent functional design. It is also one of the best examples of a structure inspired by the French military architect Vauban.

Environmental Value:
Located within the historic district of Quebec, the Citadel has been subject to ongoing construction and change yet it retains its original physical relationship to the fortifications of the city as a whole. The Citadel reinforces the present character of the coastal defence and military setting of the area and is well known symbol of the city and region.

Rhona Goodspeed, Quebec Citadel, Quebec, Quebec. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 88-161
L’Ensemble, La Citadelle, Québec, Québec. Heritage Character Statement 88-161

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Quebec Citadelle should be respected, for example:

Its functional military defence design inspired by the Vauban plan, and good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in
The low, plain, polygonal massing with its uneven star shape pattern. The solid masonry construction. The four bastions, and the three integral curtain walls facing the town and the Plains of Abraham, and also the ditch surrounding these works. The huge triangular earth ravelins pointing away from the fortress. The two counterguards, built into the ditch. The glacis, or open space in front of the ditch on all sides where the ground slopes down gently towards the Plains of Abraham and the town. The simplified walls running along the cliffs 300 feet above the river. The 24 permanent masonry structures within the Citadel, mostly of grey cut stone, none more than two-storeys high, mostly rectilinear in design, the majority with hipped roofs. The designs ranging from plain to a restrained elegance and displaying a marked similarity of appearance.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Citadel is a fortified enclosure covering 37 acres. It is based on a polygonal star- shaped plan with a bastion at each of the four corners. The fortress also includes ravelins, contregardes, ditches, glacis and other advanced works. The Citadel was constructed between 1819 and 1831 from plans prepared by British military engineer Elias Walker Durnford. Durnford designed the fortress to be self-sufficient and to be able to withstand a lengthy siege if necessary. The Citadel thus includes all the types of buildings required by a self-sufficient community. Construction of the various buildings took place over a period of almost 40 years. Restoration and conversion work, as well as new construction, most of it dating from the 20th century, subsequently altered the built environment. The landscaping of the site, the roads, the large parade ground and the visitor services centre (in the West Ravelin) date from this century (for more information about each building, refer to its heritage character statement). The Citadel is an important component of the fortifications of Québec, which include, apart from the walls, the gates of the old city and the Martello towers. It is part of the Fortifications of Québec, a National Historic Site and therefore part of the historic area of Québec that in 1985 was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Citadel has also been designated a National Historic Site.

The Department of National Defence (DND) still owns the majority of buildings at the Citadel, as well as the escarp, the ditch and the works built inside the ditch. Parks Canada is responsible for the counterscarp and the buildings located there, which include the former Guards’ Quarters (Building No. 24) and the former Caponieres (Buildings No. 25 and No. 26). Public Works and Government Services Canada manages five buildings in the King’s Bastion sector. They are the Governor General’s Residence (part of Building No. 28; the other part is owned by DND), the Cap-auxDiamants Redoubt (FHBRO No. 89-1 63), the Former Military Prison (Building No. 10), the former Pump House (Building No. 29), and the Former Latrines (Building No. 30). The Battlefields Commission owns the glacis. See FHBRO Building Reports 88-161, 90-312, 90-313, 90-314 and 90-315.

Reasons for Designation

The entire Citadel has been designated “Classified” because of its great historical and architectural significance and its environmental signficance.

The Citadel is associated with the theme of defence. This includes the defence of New France initially, the defence of British North America, and finally the defence of Canada. Under both the French Regime and the British Regime, Québec was the hub of the colony’s defence system. The Citadel is currently the largest fortification used by regular troops in Canada. The historical significance also resides in the people and events that have been part of the Citadel’s history. There are three specific associations in that regard. As the Governor General’s second official residence, the Citadel has been associated with that prestigious office since 1872. During World War II, the Citadel played host to two important conferences, the Quadrant Conference and the Octagon Conference, held to discuss the Allies’ strategy. Finally, the Citadel is the official home of the Royal 22e Régiment. From the standpoint of local history, the Citadel, as a strong military presence in Québec in the last century, had a major impact on the administration of this fortified city and also on local development.

The Citadel is an excellent example of a fortress based on the principles of military architecture, perfected in the 17th century by French engineer Vauban. Its works and buildings, constructed in the 19th century, display a remarkable homogeneity that is attributable in part to the conservative tradition of British military builders and to the realization even in the last century that the Citadel had great aesthetic value. Most of the work done in the 20th century has respected the formal characteristics established bythe original designers, with the exception of the Drill Hall (1909-1910), the dark red granite of which contrasts with the other buildings. Two people deserve credit: Elias Walker Durnford, who commanded the Royal Engineers in Upper and Lower Canada from 1816 to 1831 and designed the Citadel and the works constructed during that period; and Lieutenant-Colonel John Oldfield, Chief Engineer in Canada from 1839 to 1843, who was responsible for the second major phase of construction.

The environmental significance of the Citadel is indisputable. The fortress, which has retained its original relationship with the other fortifications of Québec, is strategically positioned within the urban fabric of the city. The fortifications of Québec, of which the Citadel is a major component, are one of the biggest tourist draws in the region. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the Citadel, many of them to watch the daily Changing of the Guard.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the Citadel resides in its overall plan, the irregular shape of which follows the topography of the site; the relationship between the various works and buildings; their orientation and the views relating to the objectives of defence. The heritage character also resides in the system of controlled access points, the impenetrable and military character of the site, the simplicity of the furnishings and the uniformity of the materials, textures and styles in evidence. Finally, it resides in the physical and visual link between the Citadel and the fortifications of Québec.

The overall plan of the Citadel includes numerous defensive works, such as bastions, curtain walls, an escarp, a counterscarp, ravelins, contregardes, ditches and glacis. These components are an integral part of the fortress and are as important as the many buildings. It is therefore essential that their integrity be fully preserved. Maintaining their interrelationship and the orientation of and views from each element is strongly recommended. The facilities required for the current uses (including military, tourism and official functions) should be designed so as not to affect the form and perception of the defensive role of these elements.

The topography of the site and its natural features, in particular the rock outcrop inside the Richmond Bastion (which had a determining effect on the location of the former Powder Magazine) should be preserved. It is recommended that landscaping remain simple and respectful of the austere quality of the site. Plantings that might detract from the fundamentally military character of the fortress and that might block the views that were important in the original design should be avoided.

To ensure the longevity of the defensive works, an ongoing maintenance program must be put in place. Joints have to be repaired, surfaces sealed, and drainage assured. It is recommended that all work be carried out under the supervision of conservation specialists. Replacement materials should be identical to the original materials in composition, texture, colour and bond. It is also recommended that all elements exposed to the weather be treated to combat corrosion and rot, and that the old cannons on the site receive special care.

The system for controlling access is an integral part of the heritage character of the fortress. It is therefore strongly recommended that no changes be made to the original design of the access points and, more importantly, that no new access points be created. All the old elements that are part of the access system, such as the ditches, the mail gate, the drawbridge and the posterns should be preserved. Nor should the physical and qualitative integrity of the site be undermined. It is recommended that methods of reducing the paved areas and parking lots that have proliferated at the expense of the historical character of the site be explored.

The harmony characterizes the Citadel as a whole stems from the simplicity and uniformity of the forms, styles, scales and materials. To preserve that homogeneity, it is recommended that no new buildings be constructed inside or near the Citadel, the size and scale of which would be inconsistent with the existing structures. The addition and installation of small service buildings on the site (telephone booths, washrooms, garbage sheds, etc.) should also be avoided. It is also recommended that surface treatments, outdoor furnishings, lighting fixtures and interpretive signs be compatible with one another and with the character of the site. Signage should be kept to the absolute minimum. Those installed should be discrete and installed so as not to damage the historic materials.

In order to preserve the physical and visual link between the Citadel and the fortifications of Québec, modifications should not be made to the immediate environment of the site (the glacis and the sides of the fortress). Landscaping that is incompatible with the character of the site, and structures whose design, form and scale would alter the original design of the fortress with the fortified city and the escarpment should all be avoided.