Québec Citadel National Historic Site of Canada

Québec, Quebec
General view of the Québec Citadel's walls in 2007. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
General view
© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
Aerial view of the Québec Citadel in 2007. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs CanadaGeneral view of the Québec Citadel's walls in 2007. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs CanadaGeneral view of the Québec Citadel's walls in 2007 with the Château Frontenac in background. © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
Address : 1 Côte de la Citadelle, Québec, Quebec

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1981-01-15
  • 1720 to 1720 (Construction)
  • 1872 to 1872 (Significant)
  • 1745 to 1745 (Significant)
  • 1820 to 1832 (Significant)
  • 1920 to 1920 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Elias Walker Durnford (1820-1831)  (Architect)
  • John Oldfield (1839-1857)  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Québec Citadel  (Designation Name)
  • The Citadel  (Other Name)
  • Royal 22e Régiment Museum  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: May 1959 Narrative Agenda


Existing plaque:  Inside the walls of the Citadel, Québec, Quebec

The Citadel towers over the St. Lawrence River and the old city from the heights of Cap Diamant. The British built this fortress between 1820 and 1831 to reinforce defences begun by the French to protect Québec City, Canada’s principal military stronghold during the colonial period. Staffed by British and Canadian military units, the Citadel has also served as the secondary residence of the Governor General since 1872. It became the home of the Royal 22e Régiment in 1920. Renowned for its substantial military achievements, this prestigious regiment has been a leader in advancing the use of the French language in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Description of Historic Place

The Québec Citadel National Historic Site of Canada is the 19th-century fortress located on Cap Diamant in the centre of Québec City. This great stone fortress sits with its back along the cliff above the St. Lawrence River, facing the city. The official recognition includes all of the south side of the fortifications from Dufferin Terrace on the southeast extreme to the far edge of the Citadel itself. Today, the Citadel’s functions are ceremonial, symbolic and reflect the heritage of the site. The Citadel has served as the home of the Royal 22nd Regiment since 1920 and as the secondary residence of the Governor General of Canada since 1872.

Heritage Value

The Québec Citadel was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980 because:
— it reinforced the defensive system established between 1608 and 1871 in Québec City;
— since 1872 the Citadel has been one of two official residences of the Governor General of Canada, who spends part of each year here and as such has a prominent role in the protocol and official function of the office;
— the Citadel was host to the active garrison for the British Army until it departed from Quebec in 1871. From that year until 1922, it hosted a unit of the Canadian Artillery;
— since 1920, the Citadel is home to the 22nd Regiment, which became the Royal 22nd Regiment on June 1st, 1921. In addition to its considerable military achievements, the regiment contributed to the usage of the French language in the Canadian army.

Most of the Québec Citadel was built in the years 1820-1832, although the bastions and cape polygon which were integrated into the design, date from 1720 and 1745 respectively. It is an imposing and complex military work following the Duke of Richmond's strategy for colonial defence as it was defined following the War of 1812.

The heritage value of the Québec Citadel lies in the completeness of its cultural landscape as a comprehensive defence work within the city's larger fortification system. Value resides in the clarity with which the principals of its strategic military design are both represented and legible : those of a 19th-century British defensive bastion (flanking, overcoming and commanding) as well as those of a mid 18th-century French powder magazine.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1980, 1986, December 2014.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of the site include:
— its commanding location on Cap Diamant;
— the distinctive irregular pentagonal trace of its exterior walls;
— its profile as camouflaged by the natural features of its surroundings;
— its properties as a defensive bastion with principal ramparts (including surviving ditch, counterscarp, glacis);
— the buildings inside the citadel constructed to one or two storeys with pitched roofs, and rectangular massing in the British classical tradition, many of which, such as the former hospital, the Dalhousie gate and the officers’ mess display neoclassical decorative motifs, fine stonework, pilasters, cornices and simple door and window mouldings;
— integrity of the footprint, forms and materials of remnants of the Cap redoubt associated with the 1693 rampart on this site;
— integrity of the footprint, dimensions, forms, aesthetic design and features, materials, skilled craftsmanship and function of the Dalhousie gates;
— the integrity of the found footprints and forms of vestiges of many military works of the French regime : the demi-bastions of Saint-Jacques and Joubert, the bastion of the glacis, temporary works such as retrenchments and palisades from the end of the 17th century, and those from the beginning of the 18th century of which the 1745 rampart are the most evident;
— the integrity of the found footprints and forms of vestiges of military works of the English regime such as Murray's 1759 blockhouse, the 1760 cavalier and the 1760 palisade, and other works associated with the temporary construction of the Citadel built between 1779 and 1783 that were never completed;
— viewscapes from the Citadel over the river, the cliff and the south bank to the south, to the Plains of Abraham to the west, and to the enclosed space to the north and the city to the east.