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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada





April 30, 1962

(Fortress of Louisbourg Report H A 1)

Presently, the illustrations and "And Comments On Same By F. J. Thorpe" are not included here.
For these, please consult the original report in the archives of the Fortress of Louisbourg

                                                                                                     April 30, 1962

Mr. J. R. B. Coleman, 
National Parks Branch, 
Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, 
Ottawa, Ontario.

Dear Sir:

Enclosed is the report - which in the absence of a Research Director - I agreed to undertake on the fortifications of the King's Bastion, relative to this year's restoration programme.

The report is a digest of all the information gathered to date on the construction of the defences of this bastion and has been produced by carefully analyzing and co-relating a mass of documentary material and plans. I have already conferred with the members of the research team who have been concentrating on this aspect of the work and am pleased to say there is no disagreement between us on the interpretation of the evidence.

While certain technical terms may be unfamiliar, their use was unavoidable and I feel that everyone associated with the project will simply have to learn the terminology if we are to discuss our problem intelligently. Please note, however, that I have (almost without exception) restricted the technical terms to words which are to be found in the small version of the Concise Oxford Dictionary. In the few instances where there was no alternative to words not adequately defined in this dictionary, an explanation has been given in the text.

It had been my intention to include in this report a section relating to the Chateau St. Louis for the information of the archaeologist,. Unfortunately, time did not permit this since some of the most important documentary material did not arrive, from Paris until a few days ago.
I have recommended to Mr. Thorpe that he should endeavour to produce immediately a report on the Chateau, to be followed by a similar dissertation on the subject of the Grand Battery.

The final section of the attached report is concerned with my recommendations as General Consultant.

                                                                                          Yours sincerely, 

                                                                            Ronald L. Way 
                                                                            General Consultant




The first effective action of the French Government to implement the King's decision to fortify Louisbourg occurred in 1716. On June 23rd of that year a brigadier of the Engineers, the Sieur de Verville was instructed by the Council of the Marine to prepare plans and cost estimates for the defences of Louisbourg. Verville visited Isle Royale in the autumn of 1716 and, upon his return to France, submitted his report. On June 3, 1717, the Council advised him of the King's approval of his plans and instructed him to proceed to Louisbourg where he was to commence the project.

With respect to the lay-out of the land fortifications between the harbour and the sea, Verville was informed that:

"Le roi s'est determiné de fortifier en forme d'ouvrage a double couronne la partie du terrain au Sud ce port la quelle a 600 toises de long sur 500 toises de large, a compter par les trois fronts de l'ouvrage dont le demi-bastion E sur une butte, defend une partie du port, le bastion C sur la principale hauteur defend une partie de la plaine de Gabaru le bastion F sur un petite hauteur defend la plaine aussi,, et le demi-bastion G qui s'appuie l'enceinte des habitations.

Verville's instructions provide us with the key to the whole scheme of defence. In the language of the 18th century military engineering the "double-crowned work" referred to in the brief invariably involved three exterior sides or fronts of fortifications and consisted of two bastions (complete) and two demi-bastions - the bastions being placed at the intersections of the three fronts of fortification and the demi-bastions on the flanks. Such a scheme of fortification was commonly employed for the defence of a tongue of land where, by anchoring the flanks on water, an obstacle was provided which made a "turning" of the work difficult. The 600-toise width of the isthmus allowed approximately 200 toises per front of fortification, the maximum length considered practical by Vauban, in view of the effective range of the contemporary musket. Verville's design for the fortification of Louisbourg is a direct application of Vauban's famous first system. Had the land front at Lauisbourg been no more than 400 toises we would probably have had a "single-crowned work" consisting of two demi-bastions and a complete bastion at the intersection of two fronts of  fortification. On the other hand., a narrower tongue of land approximately 200 toises would have called for a "horn work," involving a single front of fortification with two demi-bastions. The width of the land front of Louisbourg dictated the design of the works in the application of
Vauban's principles.

Of the bastions referred to in Verville's instructions, the demi-bastion E was to become the Dauphin; the Bastion F the Queen's; the demi-bastion G, the Princesse and the Bastion C, the King's Bastion, The location of the last-named bastion on the principal height of land pre-deterndwd its development as the Citadel, or last stronghold of the garrison - the equivalent of a keep of a medieval fortress. Verville was instructed to commence the fortification of Louisbourg with the construction of the King's Bastion. It is perhaps not inappropriate that in the restoration of Louisbourg we begin in the same place.



The Council instructed Verville:

On commencera les ouvrages par le bastion C en maçonnerie de 40 toises de longeur chaque face, 20 toises chaque flanc, 125 degres d'ouverture a l'angle flanqué et 115 degres a chaque epaule, a la gorge de l'ouvrage, il y aura un corps de casernes de 57 toises de long sur 7 toises de large, les 2 parties de la gorge seront egales, le, fosse sera de 7 toises de largeur,, le chemin couvert de 4 toises de large compris une banquette de 4 pieds de largeur et le talus de la banquette 5 pieds avec un glacis de 20 toises de large.

Here we have the principal horizontal dimensions of the work:

Right face      - 40 toises
Left face        - 40 toises
Right flank    - 20 toises
Left flank      - 20 toises

(It was fundamental, of course, that these measurements should be upon the magistral line, that of the cordon)

By co-relating and analyzing data contained in various other sections of the original specifications and cost estimates we can add the following horizontal measurements:


(Faces, flanks and all terrepleins were to be level throughout)

Principal vertical measurements were:


1. General

It was calculated that the rubble-stone for masonry would be found in the course of excavation and Verville's instructions were to stock-pile this material 6 toises in advance of the ditch. He was told to construct the body of the work i.e. the faces and flanks from the largest stock-pile and, where possible, the most massive stones were to be laid at the bottom of the revetment where it was desirable to have a great number of long ones well-bonded. He was further instructed to have the masonry carefully checked for accuracy every two feet.

2. Escarp Revetments of faces aid flanks

3. Counterforts

Diminished counterforts to be erected in rear of the escarp revetment at 14-foot intervals, centre to centre.


1. Where it was anticipated that bed-rock would be encountered higher than the level of the bottom of the ditch, Verville was instructed that it would not be necessary to construct the counterforts from the base of the revetment. In other words, they were to commence at the level of the rock.

2. Similarly, the presence of bed-rock was to modify the construction of revetment walls. In such cases a thickness of 3 pieds of masonry was thought sufficient to be built in front of the rock towards the bottom of the ditch]

4. Interior revetment of rampart

Since it is manifestly impossible in a height of 10 pieds to have a wall of the specified thicknesses with 3 off-sets of 6 pouces each, it can only be assumed that the specifications are in error. A reasonable explanation is that two off-sets instead of three were intended, in which case the specifications check out.

5. Exterior revetement of parapet of rampart (erected above cordon)

6. Interior revetment of parapet of rampart

(Note - The interior crest of the parapet, composed of tamped earth and sod, to be elevated 16 pouces above top of interior revetment wall and to have a minimum of slope from the crest to the face of the interior revetment)

7. Counterscarp revetments

8. Revetment of the parapet of the covered way

9. Casemates

In each flank of the bastion and parallel to the escarp, Verville was required to construct two long and narrow adjoining casemates, the outer walls of which were to be built between the tails of the counterforts. The dimensions of each casemate were:

10. Guerites

Verville's instructions included specifications for guerites of masonry to be constructed at the flanked angle and each shoulder angle i.e. a total of 3 guerites. These masonry sentry-boxes, which were almost a trade-mark of Vauban's systems, projected beyond the angles of the work and were supported on cut-stone brackets, secured with lead-sealed iron cramps. Each guerite was to be pentagonal in shape with angles of cut stone and faces of brick. The tapering roof of the guerite was of brick, ornamented at the peak by a stone fleur de lys. Access to the guerite from the terreplein of the rampart was to be by means of a level passage-way, cut through the parapet. The doorway faced inwards to the passage-way and the four remaining faces were provided with loopholes.

Since a guerite is a complicated unit to reproduce, detailed specifications and dimensions will best be supplied by means of a separate plan prior to construction.

11. Mortar

Mortar prepared for works outside of water was to contain 1/3 lime, well-slaked, and 2/3 good sand, thoroughly mixed. The lime for the masonry was to be made from the best limestone to be found on the island and well baked.

Somewhat surprisingly, the specifications further stipulate that mortar for works in water was to be made of  "poussier de chaux et de celui de charbon de terre qui sura servi a cuire lad. chaux" although the proportions of the mix are not indicated

12. Cement

Cement, undoubtedly for footings, was specified for the most important parts of the works. Its ingredients were crushed and sieved well-baked tiles and an equal amount of quick lime, to which water was added, the whole to be well-mixed and worked.

13. Stone

The freestone specified for use in quoins, lintels, door-jambs, etc. was initially quarried at L'Indienne, approximately eight leagues from Louisbourg.- This stone was apparently susceptible to frost damage and also proved very expensive to quarry and transport. As a result of the difficulties with local stone, commencing in 1725, a superior freestone from Rochefort was shipped regularly to the colony as ballast in the King's ships.

This term "freestone" in the connotation of the 18th century meant a fine-grained limestone or sandstone, suitable for dressed stone-work.


1. General

Verville's instructions were that as the masonry work was erected it was to be gradually furnished with earth in 6-pouce layers, sloped towards the inside of the work and well-rammed. In this way, a well consolidated rampart, parapet, covered way, banquette, glacis, etc. took shape.

2. Ramps

Ramps - ascending from the terreplein of the bastion to the terreplein of the rampart - to be constructed at the shoulder angles, parallel to the faces with the top of the ramp towards the flank:

(At the highest point, the retaining wall at the outside of the ramp was to be identical in construction with the interior revetment of the rampart, which had been previously specified. As the wall descended with the ramp, however, its thickness gradually diminished until, at the bottom, its masonry was only 1 pied wide.)



Construction of  the King's Bastion was commenced in July 1717 and with it began the fortifications of Louisbourg. While the Sieur Verville was the superintending engineer for several years, in 1724 he was replaced by M. Verrier. The original plan was to have the work done by, the day labour of soldiers and artisans sent out from France, but production was slow due to the chronic drunkenness and indolence of the troops. Before the end of the year 1717, the inefficiency of undertaking the work with labour in the direct employ of the Government was so evident that the project was turned over to the first of a series of private contractors, one Monsieur Isabeau. Under an arrangement whereby the engineer provided direction and the contractor supplied labour, Isabeau appears to have performed satisfactory work on a cost-plus basis.

Hampered by many problems, not the least of which was the unfavourable climate and the difficulty in securing supplies, the completion of the King's Bastion required a quarter of a century. While the body of  the work, including the escarps, ramparts, parapets, casemates and the barracks was complete by 1734, it was another four years before the ditch had been excavated to its full width and the counterscarp, covered way and places of arms were finished. The exterior glacis - that toward the country - was shaped in 1740 but it was 1742 before the defences could be considered finalized by the completion of the interior glacis with its place of arms on the town side. 

Changes and obvious additions to the incomplete 1717 specifications occurred during the actual course of construction. The alterations which have come to light by the analysis of research material are listed herewith and must be considered as "change work orders" and, "extras" to the original specifications. Where no manuscript evidence of deviation has been discovered, it must be assumed that the 1717 specifications were adhered to, unless test-digging establishes otherwise.



Faces and Flanks

Angles - Flanked and Shoulder

Width of Ditch (at flanked angle) 

Width of Covered Way (face of counterscarp to foot of revetment of covered way) 

Width of Banquette of Covered Way 

Slope of Banquette of Covered Way

Width of Rampart (magistral line to face of interior revetment)

Width of Parapet (foot to exterior crest)

Terreplein of Rampart (foot of banquette to face of interior revetment) 



Covered Way 



Before construction, the original plan for casemates in the King's Bastion was drastically altered. Instead of building long, casemates parallel to the flanks,, the more orthodox method of placing the casemates at right angles to the escarp was adopted, with the piers of the vaults extending the full distance from the back of the escarp to the inner extremity of the rampart. As actually built, the rear of the escarp formed the back wall of each casemate and a vertical inner wall, with the doors and windows to be seen at Louisbourg today, replaced the sloping interior revetment of the rampart on both flanks of the bastion. The approximate dimensions were as follows:

By 1742. there would appear to have been twelve casemates of the dimensions given, six in the right flank ,six in the left flank. In addition to the above there was a smaller casemate, approximately 14 pieds by 12 pieds, in each shoulder angle and there is some indication that at least two more small casemates existed in the right extremidity of the right face.


There is some inconclusive evidence that Verville may have omitted. the building of counterforts in the escarps of the faces of the King's Bastion as specified in 1717. On the flanks, however, there is no doubt that the piers of the casemates as eventually constructed substituted for counterforts.


While the height of the escarps to the cordon remained at 20 pieds, the thickness of the revetements was increased somewhat. As actually constructed. the dimensions were as follows:

Only one of the three specified appears to have been constructed - that in the flanked angle of the bastion.



The ramps from the terreplein of the bastion to the terreplein of the ramp were, in actuality, constructed so as to terminate at the flanked angle instead of at the shoulder angles. Because of the increased, height of the interior revetment of the rampart their horizontal length was extended to 12 toises. Their width including the thickness of their revetment wall appears to have been 8 pieds 6 pouces.


Verville's instructions from the council of Marine omitted some essential features of the defences which were unquestionably added as the work progressed. The measurements and descriptions which follow are almost wholly the result of a detailed analysis of a mass of documentary materials and plans. Occasionally, however, such as in the spacing of palisades on the banquette of the covered way, it has been necessary to resort to what was standard military practise.

1. Embrasures

Twelve were constructed - six in each flank. They were of rubble masonry construction with cut-stone quoins at the angles.

2. Gun Platforms - originally of cherry wood [Editor's note: actually a type of birch], replaced by oak.

3. Barbette in the Flanked Angle

Guns are said to be in barbette when they are elevated so that, instead of firing through
embrasures, they can be fired over the crest of the parapet. In this position the guns have a
wide range but the gunners are considerably exposed to enemy fire. The barbette in the King's Bastion was constructed by raising earth above the terreplein of the rampart at the rear of the parapet. When planked with wood, the result was an elevated platform for artillery. 

4. Roughcasting of Walls

Before the defences of the King's Bastion had been completed, serious deterioration was observed in the finished portions and was attributed to the severity of the climate in conjunction with defects in the rubble masonry. In 1736 it was decided to resort to the expedient of roughcasting the rubble masonry of the King's Bastion i.e. plastering it with a mixture of lime and gravel and by November, 1738 Verrier reported that even the walls of the
barracks (Chateau St. Louis) had been coated. Needless to say, this treatment radically altered the externa appearance of the structures.

5. Palisades of Covered Way

These palisades were located on the banquette of the covered way at the foot of the interior slope of the glacis to present an obstacle to the enemy. Cedar, the most satisfactory material, was not available in Isle Royale, and the palisades of Louisbourg were erected with spruce which rotted out quickly. The posts were probably the pointed stems of young trees, used whole, although sometimes trees of a minimum diameter of eight inches were split down the middle. When time, material or costs were no object, the most-approved method was to saw a timber nine, to twelve inches square lengthwise and on the diagonal. Palisades were secured near  the bottom to a beam sunk three feet under the banquette and near the top were spiked to a horizontal timber known as the ribband. The ribband was fixed with its upper surface level with the crest of the glacis and served as a rest for infantry muskets. Points of the palisades projected nine to twelve pouces above the crest of the glacis, usually being concealed from view by the grass growing in front of them.

6. Places of Arms of the Exterior Covered Way

There were two places of arms or enlargements of  the covered. way in the proximity of the King's Bastion. The salient place of arms was formed by the rounding of the counterscarp before the flanked angle of the bastion, the radius being equal to the width of the ditch i.e. nine toises. Since it was regular in every respect and in accord with Vauban's principles, it requires no further comment. 

The re-entering place of arms in front of the right shoulder angle was unorthodox in shape, a circumstance resulting from the unusual nature of the terrain. It had the shape of a redan with the salient rounded. The faces were laid out so as to form angles of 100 degrees with the counterscarp, the left face commencing at a distance of 44 toises from the apex of the salient place of arms, measured along the foot of the interior revetment of the glacis. It had a gorge of 12 toises and was equipped with banquette, palisades, etc., like the rest of the covered way. The rounding of its salient commenced at a distance of 20 toises from the line of the gorge.

Both sally-ports and traverses appear to have been omitted in the two places of arms relating to the King's Bastion.

7. Staircases

To provide communication for the garrison between the body of the work and the covered way, staircases or pas de souris were recessed into the counterscarp. A double staircase was provided at the salient place of arms and, lacking exact specifications, it may be assumed that the treads were the standard 6 pieds wide. Such stairs were slightly curved, because of the circular nature of the counterscarp at this point. It was also customary to leave a distance of 18 pieds (measured on the foot of the counterscarp) between the bottoms of the double staircase. It is anticipated that excavation will produce specific information relating to these stairs, but should this not be the case, they can easily be designed in accordance with Vauban's practice.

For access to the covered way and the re-entering place of arms a single staircase was built 10 toises from the intersection of the projection of the right face of the re-entering place of arms and the line of the counterscarp. This staircase was also recessed and ascended towards the right.

8. Glacis and Covered Way on the town side

Since the King's Bastion was also a citadel or a fortress within a fortress, there was a ditch before the barracks which closed its gorge. Beyond the counterscarp of this ditch was a glacis and covered way which contained an extensive place of arms capable of accommodating a hundred men. The place of arms, centred on the axis of the capital of the bastion, was complete with banquette, palisades, traverses and crotchets and the entrance to the entire work was by means of a sally-port in its left face.

The earthworks of the interior defences were not finished until, 1742, almost certainly 'because they were of secondary importance to the completion of the enceinte and the fact their existence would have hampered the construction of the Chateau St. Louis. Since the same factors hold true today, it would not seem desirable, to construct the interior glacis and place of arms prior to the restoration of the Chateau. Consequently, specifications for their construction are not included in this report.


Completed by 1742, the citadel of the King's Bastion must have been an impressive and formidable sight to the New England besiegers three years later. Above the bastion's roughcast walls relieved with cutstone cordon, quoins and graceful guerite, towered the Chateau St. Louis - its imposing spire a navigation mark for vessels entering the harbour. The King's banner flew near the ramparts of its left flank, where the cannon, mounted on red carriages, thrust their muzzles through the parapet's embrasures. In spite of some deterioration in its masonry, Louisbourg's citadel was never to be so brave or formidable again.


The Citadel, together with the Dauphin Bastion, bore the brunt of the 1745 attack. So demolished by the fire of the besiegers was the right flank of the King's Bastion that Pepperell was preparing to assault the breach when the garrison capitulated.

From 1745 to 1749 the uncertain future of the fortress - Governor Knowles proposed its demolition as early as January, 1747 "to see a Speedy End to the vast Expense of this bewitching Idol" - led to either inadequate or temporary repairs by the occupation forces. The ruined right flank of the King's Bastion was crudely rebuilt, with apparent omission of all embellishments, including its cut-stone cordon. This work was so unsatisfactory that when the French returned it had already begun to fall down. In rebuilding the parapet of the right flank, the English increased its thickness to sixteen feet, six inches, while replacing the original six embrasures with five. At the same time, they constructed upon the rampart a temporary wooden gun platform, the tail of which was elevated three feet above the terreplein. The result was a platform of more than normal slope to make possible a greater depression of the guns (a plunging fire was required because of the elevation of the King's Bastion above the surrounding terrain).

With the return of the fortress to France in 1749, its fortifications became a subject for those acrimonious debates which seem inevitable when soldiers fail, whether at Louisbourg or Singapore. The place of  Verville who had designed the defences and Verrier who had built most of them was taken by M. Franquet who arrived in Louisbourg in June, 1750 as Inspector General of Fortifications. Official policy now put priority on the front between the Queen's and Princess Bastions - a surprising decision considering that the Colonials had not addressed their attack upon it. The consequence was that most of Franquet's time and the bulk of the money available for Louisbourg fortifications was spent upon these defences. Although the ruinous condition of the King's Bastion was noted, it was not until 1755 that any serious effort was made to repair it. In that year, the masonry of the right face was completely rebuilt up to the level of the cordon which was then replaced. As part of this operation the exterior face of the escarp was covered with two-inch plank, nailed horizontally to the vertical uprights. The technique of planking exposed rubble masonry had been experimented with earlier in other portions of the works and was for the purpose of protecting the roughcast dressing until it was cured -  a process which took a long time with lime mortar in the climate of Louisbourg. The lifetime of the planking was considered sufficient for the the curing of the masonry and a replacement of the planks was not contemplated.

After the rebuilding of the bastion's right flank nothing of consequence seems to have been done until 1757 when St. Julien, senior commandant of the garrison, in reporting to the Minister of Marine, painted this sorry picture:

The entire revetment of the ruin body of the place is crumbled and dilapidated so that there is a pile of rubble at the foot of the escarp. Should our artillery be required to fire, the embrasures of the entire circumference of the town will be in grave danger of crumbling. Besides this, within the ditch there are great piles of stone which, in case of attack would be more favourable to the besiegers than to the defenders of the work .... As far as the King's Bastion is concerned, they (Drucourt, the Governor, and Franquet) they were quite determined not to do anything about it as long as peace remained, despite the fact that ever since my arrival in this town one can run up one of its faces with ease. I have drawn the matter to the attention of Drucourt and Franquet and even mentioned it to M. le Comte Dargenson on November 25th after warning the two gentlemen who persist in their first opinion that nothing should be done. However, M. le Comte Dubois de la Motte, being greatly surprised at the condition, ordered that repairs be undertaken immediately and this work was begun the next day on the face of the Bastion most needing repairs. We used earth, fascines and sod and later performed the same operation on the other face and on the left flank, without which they would surely have fallen down. Fraizing was placed on the last two sections but not on the first because it was cracked from top to bottom and supported by shoring, pending the building of a new revetment. As for the right flank it was repaired by us in 1755. Its masonry, covered with planks up to the cordon, is good but it has not been revetted above the cordon to reinforce the embrasures, which are not in a condition to withstand the effects of gun fire. We have opened in the side of the re-entering angle a postern in the curtain. We placed two small traverses there, one 4 toises in front of the flank and 2 toises before the curtain, the other six pieds more in advance of the flank, overlapping the first by 3 pieds and 6 pieds from the curtain. They are rude of dry stone and filled with earth. Close to it we have built an entrenchment similar to a glacis, on a straight line 1 1/2 toises from the counterscarp and flanking the left side of the Dauphin Bastion.

(translated from original French)

Franquet's side of the story and his excuse for not rebuilding the collapsed faces and left flank of the King's Bastion was that the operation would involve the removal of most of the earth in the ramparts. This, in effect, would breach the enceinte - too grave a risk in time of war.

Such was the deplorable condition of the Citadel when Amherst carried the Seven Years' War to Louisbourg in June of the following year. Faced with imminent attack, the frantic defenders did all they could to bolster the crumbling enceinte but their efforts were now, perforce, the temporary expedients of field fortification. Gabions and fascines for the reinforcement of revetments, stones and earth for the construction of epaulements and traverses, extra palisading in the ditch - the work of desperation done in the dead of night. The efforts of the defenders could not arrest the work of destruction. Indeed, the concussion from the firing of their own guns is said to have done more harm to the moribund defences than to the attacking British. By the 24th of July the guns of the King's Bastion had been silenced, the walls breached and the barracks burned and with the French capitulation of July 26th the story of the Citadel as a major work of defence is concluded.



It will be recalled that on October 12th of last year the Assistant Deputy Minister held a conference at which Mr. Herbert, Mr. Scott, Mrs. Way and myself were present to discuss the restoration policy recommended in my report of September 13th. Subsequently, Mr. Côté in a memorandum addressed to Mr. Scott defined the accepted over-all policy in these words:

The discussion was useful in clarifying a number of points, It was agreed that the restoration should not be a "simple" restoration limited in point of time to 1758. What Mr. Way had in mind was (as stated on page 6 of the report) a simple reconstruction merged with the later destruction of the fortress. The reconstruction should, be as of about June, 1758; the ruins should be as of about 1760-61 or thereabout.'

With respect to the extent of the restoration of French fortifications, Mr. Côté further stated that it was agreed to reconstruct:

The enceinte with outworks from the Dauphin Bastion to the exclusive of the Queen's Bastion but including the Citadel and the Chateau St. Louis. The defences of the harbour between the Eperon of the Dauphin Bastion to exclusive of the Piece de la Grave.

The advantages of  the simple over the complex restoration are important from the standpoint of ease of presentation to the Public and it was for this reason that I thought it desirable that the fortification should, if possible, be concentrated upon a single point in time. Today, in the light of research evidence which was not available at the outset of the project, I am
inclined to recommend a modification of policy with respect to the treatment of fortifications. The King's Bastion at the time of the first siege in 1745 was an impressive and formidable
work. By 1758 - even before the British attack - its defences had become, through faulty maintenance and poor engineering, a first-rate mess. I now believe that both from the standpoint of  achieving an impressive showing for the public and of producing structures economically feasible to maintain it is desirable to focus restoration of the Citadel upon the outset of the first siege. On the other hand. should we authentically restore the bastion to its condition in 1758, we would have the never-ending expense and problems of maintaining earth-work revetments of fascines and gabions - the short-lived expedients of field fortification - in conjunction with tottering walls sustained by timber props. My personal feeling is that the result would not reflect credit upon either Louisbourg's French
builders or its British captors. While the restoration of the King's Bastion to one date and other parts of the fortification to another, will complicate the presentation, it has the advantage of making it possible for us to do justice to both sieges, a factor of some importance to American Visitors.

I realize that fixing the restoration of the Citadel upon 1745 would constitute a major change in policy. In the event that a conference should be deemed necessary to discuss the pros and cons of the matter,, I trust that I my be present to elaborate further upon my views.


Should it be approved policy to Reconstruct the defences of the King's Bastion to their state in 1745, it would seem quite feasible to commence work straight away. The excavation of the main ditch together -with the cleaning and stock-piling of the considerable quantity of rubble stone will not only employ a great deal of hand labour but will provide the time necessary for the engineering staff to produce working drawings for the reconstruction of revetment walls. I think that we should endevour to rebuild the escarps of faces and flanks of the King's Bastion to the level of the cordon and, in addition, undertake work on the counterscarp revetment and possibly the interior revetment of the glacis.

My thoughts with respect to the restoration techniques are as follows:

1. The body of all revetment walls should be constructed of concrete to modern engineering specifications.

2. The face of the wall, with the exception of quoins, and copings, should be built with the best of the original rubble stone salvaged on the site. I would prefer the technique of erecting the rubble masonry in conjunction with the concrete, so that, in effect, the masonry acts as the outer form for the concrete and the stones become well-bonded into the mass behind them.

3. With respect to the cut-stone required for quoins and the cordon, I do not think there is any necessity to use stone from the sane sources as that used in the original construction. Any good stone of texture and colour similar to the original is all that is required and an effort should be made to secure and stock-pile a suitable quantity immediately.

While the "freestone" referred to so often in the old specifications might have meant, in 18th century terminology, either limestone or sandstone, we have one specific reference to limestone being brought from France. Unless excavations on the site prove otherwise, I think we would be reasonably safe in utilizing limestone for quoins, cordon and coping.

4- An authentic restoration of the King's Bastion to the period of the first siege will require roughcasting of the rubble masonry. To secure a durable job some thought might be given to the use of modern plaster - perhaps even "Gunite" with coarse gravel components. The finished walls must have, however, the appearance of the original roughcasting and some experimenting on the part of the Project Manager seems called for.

It goes without saying that the cut stone would not be roughcast and the quoins might project slightly beyond the rubble face of the wall, In the over-all effect it would seem desirable that the form of the rubble masonry should not be completely obscured. Indeed, the odd uneven stone bulging through the "skin" would add to the authenticity and carry conviction. While it might be argued that we could apply the roughcast directly to concrete with considerable saving, I cannot believe we would then achieve a sufficiently authentic effect. Moreover, I am sentimental enough to want to see as must of the original stone as is practical, re-incorporated in the walls.

                                                                                         Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                         Ronald L. Way
                                                                                         General Consultant

April 29, 1962 


(Definitions taken from Concise Oxford Dictionary)