The Citadel has been an active military base since 1920. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated the uneven star-shaped Citadel as a national HISTORIC SITE in 1946 but its importance was recognized much earlier, and it was one of Canada's first HERITAGE CONSERVATION projects. The Citadel comprises 4 bastions, or wall projections, and 3 straight curtain walls, all constructed with locally-quarried sandstone. Within its walls are 24 buildings, including one of the 2 official residences of the GOVERNOR GENERAL (originally occupied by British garrison officers), the Royal 22e Régiment Headquarters (a former hospital), Dalhousie Gate, an officers' mess and a museum. The buildings are constructed mostly of grey cut stone. The fortifications of Québec were one of the reasons why Québec's Historic District was placed on the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE list in 1985. Visitors are allowed in the Citadel but must be accompanied by a guide before entering in through Dalhousie Gate.
The Citadel's History
The Citadel replaced or incorporated defence works built during the French regime, eg, the western rampart (still in existence opposite the National Assembly). After the CONQUEST, 1759-60, the British considered this rampart inadequate but were more concerned with what was happening in Europe than in Lower Canada. With rising tensions between Britain and the United States, the British began to protect their interests in the interior of BRITISH NORTH AMERICA by implementing a plan developed by Gother Mann in the 1790s. The present ramparts, encircling the Upper Town cliff, and 4 MARTELLO TOWERS on the Plains of Abraham, were completed before the outbreak of the WAR OF 1812. The Citadel, the principle element of Mann's plan, was not built for it was too large and costly. Its construction began after the war because the British military felt peace was tenuous and Québec City would be the primary goal of any invasion.
Designed by British engineers on a classical model, the Citadel was somewhat anachronistic, given the recent evolution of European military architecture. It was begun in 1820 and completed in 1831, except for a few service buildings which were completed in 1850. The garrison provided most of the labour. Although the Citadel was designed as an arms, munitions and supplies depot as well as a barracks, only part of the 1000-man garrison was lodged there. Soldiers were also billeted in Artillery Park and in the Jesuit Barracks (the site of the present city hall).
After the mid-19th century, improvements in weaponry, particularly the introduction in 1856 of more precise and longer-range rifled artillery, led the British military authorities to modify their defence system substantially. Military fortifications were then located farther from the city centre. During the AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, the threat of an American invasion encouraged the military to construct 3 forts between 1865 and 1871 on the heights of Pointe-Lévis across the river from Québec. None of these structures was ever subject to assault (other than by tourists).
The British military departed Québec in 1871. The Citadel served as headquarters for one of the artillery schools of the Canadian Army and became the headquarters of the Royal 22e Régiment after World War I. Lord DUFFERIN was the first governor general to make the Citadel a vice-regal residence (1872). It was Dufferin who persuaded local politicians to save the old French walls from destruction although his plan also included some modifications such as extending the Durham Terrace to the Citadel (1879) and constructing a road around the fortress.
Author YVON DESLOGES Revised: GAIL KUDELIK
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Plains of Abraham
A concise illustrated history of the Plains of Abraham, the Fortifications, and other famous Québec city landmarks. Click on "Battles of 1759 and 1760" (on the right side) for information about related events. From the National Battlefields Commission.
Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
This Parks Canada site is dedicated to the Fortifications of Québec City. Includes nicely illustrated historical notes about the French and British contributions to the fortifications.
La Citadelle de Québec
Take a video tour of the historic Citadelle de Québec.
Québec Citadel National Historic Site of Canada
View a description and photographs of the Québec Citadel National Historic Site of Canada. From the website for the Canadian Register of Historic Places.
A description of the heritage features of the Québec Citadel, located on the heights of Cap-Aux-Diamants overlooking the St. Lawrence River. From the "Canada's Historic Places" website.
Québec Fortified City: Geological and Historical Heritage
A well-illustrated Geological and Historical Heritage Fieldtrip Guidebook for the fortified City of Québec. See the glossary at the end of this document for a definition of key geological terms. From Natural Resources Canada.
Citadel of Quebec
See an illustrated history of the Citadel of Québec. From the Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America.
The Citadelle of Québec
The website for the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle of Québec.
See an old photograph of the Québec Citadel as viewed from the Québec City harbour (about 1890). From the McCord Museum of Canadian History.
The Quebec Citadel, circa 1950
An aerial photograph of the Québec Citadel, circa 1950. From the Canadian Military History Gateway.
School of Gunnery, Quebec. Battery "B" Mounting a 7-inch Armstrong Gun on the Prince of Wales Bastion, Citadel
An archival photograph of members of the School of Gunnery, Quebec. Battery "B" mounting a 7-inch Armstrong gun on the Prince of Wales Bastion, Québec Citadel. From Library and Archives Canada.