Destination: Great Lakes

At the time of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) the supply system was developed under the Haldimand government and gained several days in the spring, whereas food supplies generally ran out at the beginning of June in the more distant outposts. During fall and winter, food supplies were transported overland from Montreal to Coteau-du-Lac. In the spring, food supplies were loaded onto boats and shuttled back and forth to Carleton Island, at the entrance of Lake Ontario. From there, they were transferred onto larger ships and transported to their final destination.

“The last bateaux before the freeze-up of the st-lawrence brought 326 barrels of flour, 248 barrels of pork, and 49 barrels of peas up the river for storage at Coteau-du-Lac until spring [1780]. In February, Nathaniel Day, the Commissary General, prepared to begin winter transport. (…) Day was ready: the land transport was set in motion that week. He would visit the store at Côté du Lac* himself and have the people and everything prepared for reveiving the provisions.” (Ingram, 1981, 31)

The two storehouses built in Coteau-du-Lac were each three-storeys high and together measured 160 square metres. In 1780, the storehouse used for general merchandise housed pork on the first floor, flour on the second floor, and biscuits (recooked bread) under the rafters.

Sir Frederick Haldimand, of Swiss origins, began his military career in the Prussian Army in 1740. In 1775, he was recruited by the British Army to go to the colonies. He was actively involved in military operations conducted in North America during the Seven Years’ War. He was appointed Governor of Quebec in 1777. Haldimand dedicated a great deal of time and effort to reinforcing the colony’s defensive system against a potential American invasion; up until the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783. In 1786, Haldimand was replaced by Guy Carleton.

Did you know that in 1760, more than 80 boats from the British invasion fleet, including the Amherst, sunk in the Coteau-du-Lac rapids? Fifteen years later, British soldiers, including Haldimand, remembering this disaster, sought to improve navigation on the Upper St. Lawrence.

References:
Ingram, George C. A Narrative History of the Fort at Coteau-du-Lac, Ottawa: Parks Canada, 1977, pp. 1-99. (Manuscript Report Series: No. 186). Also published in French.