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Québec Martello Towers National Historic Site of Canada

Lavigueur Street, Québec, Quebec, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/06/22

General view of Québec Martello Towers, showing their siting, overlooking the St Lawrence and Charles River, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view
General view of Québec Martellow Towers, showing their squat, cylindrical, two-storey massing with slightly inclining exterior walls, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view
General view of one of the three towers of the Québec Martello Towers National Historic Site of Canada, 1992.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1992.
General view

Other Name(s)

Québec Martello Towers National Historic Site of Canada
Québec Martello Towers
Tours Martello de Québec

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1808/01/01 to 1812/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Québec Martello Towers National Historic Site of Canada, form part of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada, in Québec City, Québec. It comprises three Martello towers at some distance from one another -Tower No. 1 stands on the Plains of Abraham, Tower No. 2 at the corner of Laurier and Taché Streets, and Tower No. 4 on Lavigueur Street. Built between 1808 and 1812, the three, freestanding Martello Towers are two storeys high with flat roofs designed to serve as a gun platform for one to four guns. They are sited to overlook the St Lawrence and Charles River respectively. Official recognition refers to the buildings on their footprints.

Heritage Value

The Québec Martello Towers were designated a national historic site of Canada in 1990 because they form part of the fortifications of Québec.

The Québec Martello Towers illustrate the importance of Québec and its fortifications in the various strategic plans for the defence of British North America. The Citadel of Québec was key to the control of the interior of the northern part of the continent under both France and Britain. The Martello towers were constructed by the British to form a first line of defence within the ensemble of Québec’s fortifications by preventing an attacker from drawing close enough to the walls to lay siege. Functional, and massively strong for their time, these towers were essentially elevated gun platforms. Towers No. 1 and No. 2 house interpretive displays.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1990.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:

- their siting, overlooking the St Lawrence and Charles River, strategic points in the city’s historic defences;
- their squat, cylindrical, two-storey massing with slightly inclined exterior walls;
- their rubble masonry construction with sandstone ashlar exterior facing;
- those elements typical to Martello tower design, including their tubular massing, circular interior compartments, their thicker walls facing away from the city, the interiors’ solid masonry pillars that support bombproof arches capped by thick masonry, the gun platforms at the top of the towers, the encircling stone parapets at the top of the walls, the high entrance and embrasures at second storey level, the small bombproof magazine in the basement;
- the depressed, circular walkway within the parapet of Tower No. 2 which permitted simultaneous fire from both the soldiers and the artillery situated on the gun platform behind;
- the surviving original materials and finishes, both exterior and interior;
- the integrity of the spatial and strategic characteristics of the towers with respect to each other and to the other elements of the city’s defence system;
- their relation to the surviving strategic viewscapes.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1990/06/22

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Historic or Interpretive Site

Historic

Defence
Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

Royal Engineers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

693

Status

Published

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