Historical Note 3
Did you know
that… one can find 2 large scale models of the fortress of
Québec in Old Québec?
most recent model was made in the 1960s by Anthony Price – founder of Musée du Fort – and shows
the fortress of Québec around 1750, a decade before the fall of New
France. Since 1965, the Price model is the masterpiece of the Musée’s
sound and light show, highlighting the 6 military sieges that shaped
Québec during the colonial period. On the other hand, the By and
Duberger model has been displayed at Québec’s Artillery park
since 1981. It was built between 1806 and 1808 before being shipped to the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich
England until its return to Ottawa Canada in 1908. What was the purpose of this 900
models for military purposes were widely used in Louis XIV’s France by military strategists during
conflicts and by students in military academies. To a lesser extent, British
also built scale models, like the fortresses of Gibraltar and Quebec. In the
context of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, that led to the War of 1812 in
America, Quebec City needed to improve its defense system by reinforcing the
existing French walls and by adding new fortifications.
2 out of 4 steps of military engineer Gother
Mann’s plan were approved by London:
new walls at the top of the eastern and northern sides of Quebec promontory (still along rue des Remparts but lowered later from
20 ft to 4 ft only),
a permanent citadel on the highest hill within the walls of Quebec (still there, completed in 1831),
local British Governor Craig interrupted those works and imposed his
priorities, even if he was not authorized to. His plan included the addition
defenses along the French wall on the western side of the city (removed after the 1871 peace treaty
with the Americans to free space in order to build the 1870s Parlement de Québec),
Martello towers further west on the Plains of Abraham Battlefield (3 still exist, 1 was demolished due
to urbanization of Montcalm district).
having obtained prior approval by the committee of engineers in London, Craig
had the Duberger and By scale model built and shipped to London to justify
his actions to the authorities. The 4-step plan was finally accepted and fully
completed over a few decades.
through 2 major restoration phases in 1909 and 1971, only 1/3 of the original
model is now exhibited at Artillery Park near St-John Gate (Porte St-Jean) in Old Québec.
The missing parts, representing most of the Plains of Abraham, were destroyed
in London before the remaining model was shipped to Ottawa.
a few dollars, visit Artillery Park and explore Quebec City at the beginning
of the 19th Century! Or visit the Musée du Fort
where a sound and light show tells the story of the six sieges of
Québec City including the famous battle of the Plains of Abraham.
The Price scale model integrated to the Musée du Fort’s Sound and Light Show !
4 Views of the Duberger and By scale model
at Artillery Park (a Parks Canada’s site)
Main source :
CHARBONNEAU, André. The Model of
Quebec, The Fortification of Quebec Series, Booklet No. 1, Parks Canada,
1981, 48 pages.
Other source (in
Photo credits: Anick
Hébert, Michel Sirois