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Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux

Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site of Canada. J.B. Duberger / National Archives of Canada / R10749-0-3-E

In 2001, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) recognized the site of the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux as a site of national historic significance. Part of the city’s defence system, this was the seat of the government’s executive for more than two centuries, serving as the residence for the majority of governors in the colonial period. Dufferin Terrace covers some of the archaeological remains. The site is part of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site.

Over the years, four forts and two châteaux have stood on the site — a promontory ideally suited for defence, strengthened by an urban layout that reinforced the buildings’ role as symbols of royal power. The first two forts were built by Champlain (person designated by the HSMBC in 1929) in 1620 and 1626. Replacing them in 1636 were the fort and château built by de Montmagny. In 1694, Frontenac rebuilt these. In 1784 Governor Haldimand added a building fronting on Place d’Armes, on the site of the old ramparts of Fort Saint-Louis. In 1811, Governor Craig renovated the Château Saint-Louis but fire destroyed it in 1834. Taking its place was the Durham Terrace, renamed Dufferin Terrace in 1879. Haldimand’s château had become the École normale Laval; in 1892, it was demolished to make room for the Château Frontenac Hotel.

From 1620 to 1838, the châteaux served as the colony’s administrative, political and military headquarters. Surrounded by outbuildings and gardens, they were at the centre of Québec City’s cultural and social life. Here the governors received visitors and guests. Many of them have been recognized by the HSMBC: James Murray in 1955, as well as Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, Guy Carleton, Frederick Haldimand, and John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, in 1974–75.  

Since the early 1980s, major archaeological excavations have been undertaken beneath Dufferin Terrace. The digs have brought to light many remains and artifacts left by the people who used the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux.