Home / Accueil

Martello Tower 1

Québec, Quebec, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/09/20

View of Martello Tower 1, showing the massive circular walls built of rubble masonry, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1808/01/01 to 1812/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/09/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Standing on a hill overlooking the Plains of Abraham in the City of Québec, Martello Tower 1 is a massively built, two-storey plain squat cylindrical tower of solid stone construction. The Tower’s walls are built of rubble masonry and its exterior wall inclines slightly inwards as it rises. Shuttered windows or embrasures, and an arched doorway pierce the wall on the second level. These open to the interior and are accessed by an exterior stairway. Near the top of the wall the structure is encircled by a stone parapet and encircling terrace. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Martello Tower 1 is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
Martello Tower 1 is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the defence of Quebec against possible water-borne attack. Martello Tower 1 is one of four constructed to form a first line of defence within the ensemble of the fortifications of Quebec. It is also associated with an important phase in the military improvements brought to the city at the beginning of the 19th century. The development of the standardized Martello tower design was adopted by the British military in 1804 during a period of strong military development to strengthen Quebec’s key strategic role in defending British North America. Its construction, with the associated economic benefits and the subsequent influx of personnel had a significant impact on Halifax.

Architectural Value:
Martello Tower 1 is a good example of a functional 19th century military defence design. It testifies to the early development and perfection of the Martello tower. The Martello Tower1 displays the very good functional and massively strong characteristics of the Martello towers. The building exhibits excellent workmanship and care in the execution of its massive construction and its details.

Environmental Value:
Martello Tower 1 is located on a hillside overlooking the St. Lawrence within the Plains of Abraham. Although the site has changed it has retained its character. The structure reinforces the coastal defence setting of Quebec and is a landmark to both local people and to visitors.

Sources: Yvonne Desloges, Les Tours Martello de Québec, Québec, Québec. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 89-053; Martello Tower No.1, Quebec City, Quebec, Heritage Character Statement 89-053.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Martello Tower 1 should be respected.

Its functional military defence design and good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
- the massive circular walls built of rubble masonry and its exterior wall, which inclines slightly inwards as it rises and which is topped in turn, by smaller parapet walls;
- the simple geometric massing of the squat cylindrical tower;
- the encircling stone cordon at the top the wall and, below this, the openings to the interior;
- the entrance to the Tower situated on the second level with exterior stair access.

The manner in which Martello Tower 1 reinforces the military character of the City of Quebec.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

Ralph Henry Bruyere



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




Related Places

General view

Québec Martello Towers National Historic Site of Canada

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…


Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places