Last Updated on May 21, 2021 by Pamela
Feature photo credit: © Parks Canada / Éric Le Bel
The Fortifications of Quebec aré a fascination for many when visiting Québec City, and why not?! Québec City is the only fortified city north of Mexico. Its stone walls and heavy cannons still stand guard, even if they are now more decorative than functional.
Extending over 4.6 km, the ramparts, and fortifications of Québec were an integral part of the city’s defensive system for hundreds of years. Cap Diamant, a massive cliff atop of which we can now see Château Frontenac, offered natural protection, but the colony of New France needed more than that.
A fort and residence were built at the top of Cap Diamant (roughly where the château now stands) at the behest of Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th-Century, ideal for spotting enemies sailing down the Saint-Lawrence River. It wasn’t until 1690 that a defensive wall was built at the request of Gouverneur Louis de Buade de Frontenac, Gouverneur General of Québec. Phips attacked, lost, and in 1693 construction began on the fortifications of Québec.
The ramparts and fortifications of Québec City today are the third ones erected since 1693. When the fortifications of Québec were used for defending the city, they were roughly 75 meters wide (245 ft). Today, the fortified walls are considerably smaller.
EXPLORING THE FORTIFICATIONS OF QUÉBEC
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is a collection of sites located throughout Old Québec’s Upper Town (Haute-Ville). Spend time exploring the ramparts and fortifications, stop outside the Maillou House, take a tour of Artillery Park. A fun way to discover some of Québec’s history, while also soaking up the beauty and ambiance of Old Québec.
The Maillou House National Historic Site
Built by Jean-Baptiste Maillou in the early 18th-century. A well-known masonry contractor in the French regime, and an eminent landowner. Originally a single-level dwelling, a second floor was added in 1767, and an extension of the house was completed in 1799. From 1815 – 1871 the house was occupied by the British Army, housing the commissariat and treasury, as well as senior officers.
After the soldiers left, the federal government took back the property and for the next 60 years, it was the headquarters of the militia and army. In 1958 the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Parks Canada) took possession of the house, and since 1959 it has housed the admin offices of the Chambre de commerce de Québec. While you cannot go inside, this beautiful residence is worth admiring as you walk towards Château Frontenac on rue Saint-Louis.
The Ramparts & Fortifications
Beginning at La Citadelle, walk along the top of the fortification wall to Porte Saint-Louis (first built in 1693) for views of Parliament Hill on one side, and Château Frontenac in the distance on the other. Continue to walk along the walls to the Porte Kent (circa 1878) on rue Dauphine, then further down to Porte Saint-Jean (first built in 1693) with views of Place D’Youville on one side and the bustling street of rue Saint-Jean on the other.
The fortifications of Québec stretch down rue des Remparts, with large black cannons strategically placed along the way. Follow the road to Montmorency Park where the walls and further up to Dufferin Terrace and Château Frontenac.
Make time to stop at Artillery Park and wander on your own or take a guided tour given by Parks Canada, learning about the history of the cartridge factory, as well as the military barracks of the Dauphine Redoubt.
Note: Guided tours are 90 minutes in length, offered in English and French, and start at the Parks Canada kiosk on Dufferin Terrace (beside Château Frontenac). Learn more here.
VISIT THE FORTIFICATIONS OF QUÉBEC
2, rue d’Auteuil (Artillery Park)
$7.90 Adults, $6.90 Seniors, Free for children 17 and under (Artillery Park)
CARTIER-BRÉBEUF NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Lose yourself at Cartier-Brébeuf, a National Historic Site located within a sprawling 6.8-hectare park, Parc Anse-à-Cartier. A perfect place to escape, relax, and explore.
SAINT-LOUIS FORTS & CHÂTEAUX NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
An integral role in defense of the colony of New France and a fascinating archaeological crypt.
A National Historic Site the entire family can enjoy!