Fort Howe National Historic Site of Canada
Saint John, New Brunswick
(© Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parks Canada, 2003.)
Magazine Street, Saint John, New Brunswick
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1777 to 1777
1777 to 1812
Event, Person, Organization:
Major Gilfred Studholme
Royal Fencible Americans
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Magazine Street, Saint John, New Brunswick
Late in 1777 Major Gilfred Studholme hurriedly fortified this ridge overlooking the mouth of the Saint John River. Throughout the remainder of the American Revolutionary War the presence of Fort Howe, its guns and garrison, guarded the settlement at the river's mouth from attack by American privateers, a minority of disaffected settlers, and the local Indians with whom a treaty was made here in 1778. Allowed to decay after 1783, the fort was once more manned and armed during the War of 1812. The garrison was withdrawn in 1821, but the property remained a military reserve until 1914.
*Note: This designation has been identified for review. A review can be triggered for one of the following reasons - outdated language or terminology, absence of a significant layer of history, factual errors, controversial beliefs and behaviour, or significant new knowledge.
Description of Historic Place
Fort Howe National Historic Site of Canada is located within parklands in present day Saint John, New Brunswick. Marked by an Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque in the park’s west end, the fort, of which there are no extant remains, had been strategically located in this area, at the top of an exposed limestone knoll overlooking the Saint John River. The site has remained isolated from much of the urban development that encircles the park. Official recognition refers to the footprint of the fort.
Fort Howe was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1966. It is designated because: from late 1777, throughout the American Revolutionary War and again during the War of 1812, the presence of Fort Howe guarded the settlement at the mouth of the Saint John River from attack.
The British constructed Fort Howe in 1777 as a response to several requests from the residents around the mouth of the Saint John River that their small settlement be protected from further attacks by American privateers. With its location on a towering rock offering unmatched views of the harbour and up the river, Fort Howe and its garrison provided protection to the surrounding settlements through the end of the War of 1812. The original fort consisted of a blockhouse and barracks within a palisade on the western end of the hill, and a blockhouse at the eastern end, and was manned by a detachment of the Royal Fencible Americans under Major Gilfred Studholme. After the founding of Parrtown, later renamed Saint John, in 1783, the fort served as the military headquarters, as well as the first civil jail for the new town. Following a fire in 1819 that destroyed the original barracks, the fort fell into disrepair and by 1870 the remaining original fortifications had been removed.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1954, 1966, 2009.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location, high on an exposed limestone knoll overlooking the Saint John River, offering a commanding view of the surrounding waterways; its setting within an urban park, isolated from much of the surrounding development, where the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque is located; the location, extent and materials of any undiscovered above and below ground archaeological artifacts and remains relating to the original fort; viewscapes to the Saint John Harbour and to the mouth of the Saint John River.