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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




JULY, 1971

(Fortress of Louisbourg
Report H A 13)



The first letters from Maurepas in the spring attempted to sort out the contracting situation. Ganet was told that good reports had been received concerning his work, and it was hoped that an agreement could be reached with the widow Planton.(1) Maurepas, fearing that the work would collapse if the widow Planton continued alone, instructed the governor and ordonnateur to seek a suitable accord or at least obtain a guarantee from her, adding that he himself could do little, since this was a matter to be settled on the spot. Both officials were urged not to show any favoritism in the matter, undoubtedly a reference to the fact that De Mesy had acted as the widow's agent previously.(2) To Verrier, Maurepas indicated that he understood Ganet's point about the losses incurred in finishing the work. He felt that the engineer was in the best position to work out a solution fair to both parties(3) but Verrier had to report that no agreement was possible between Ganet and Madame Planton. The contractor returned all the effects he had been given from Isabeau's stocks, and he was paid for the work he had done on the barracks. If this amount was more than the estimates the balance was to come from the Royal Treasury, which in turn would be reimbursed from Isabeau's estate. On the question of guarantees, Verrier reported that the sister did not have any security but then neither did Ganet or Isabeau. The best security was the fact that if the work was not completed, the money owing the estate would not be paid.(4) Both Verrier and Saint Ovide agreed that if Ganet had continued to work by his previous agreement he certainly would have suffered.(5) Regarding the work done the previous year, Maurepas told Verrier that he was pleased the officers were now housed and that he was sending funds for completion of the governor's wing and other works so that "by this means this building will be brought to perfection'.(6) However, he did note that Saint Ovide's unflattering description of Isabeau's work differed from the description he had been given by De Verville.(7)

During the summer of 1726 most of the time was spent completing the chapel and the governor's wing, and by October Verrier wrote an enthusiastic report. The good weather all summer had permitted continuous work. All the officers' rooms were habitable and in use and the governor was in his quarters which, however, did require more work. In the chapel only the reredos and the balcony remained unfinished, but services were being held there in spite of this.(8)

Saint Ovide and De Mesy in their joint report provided further details. Eighteen officers' rooms were done, the chapel and sanctuary floors were in place, the plastering and windows completed and the governor's wing finished. The engineer, they said, had done all he could for this half of the barracks, but the roof was too flat to be repaired adequately:

It rains in the barracks as it does outside. (9)

There were several other complaints: the soldiers' rooms were damp, smokey, and badly laid out. The bake ovens in the basement were flooded by a foot and a half of water for half the year. The armory, over the central passage, was plastered but still lacked its door and window as well as ceiling panelling and racks for guns. Three rooms in the north wing were without fireplaces and all, except two, were without plaster. The stairs which had been added cut down the floor space in the rooms.(10) Saint Ovide elaborated on his own accommodation:

Although this engineer has done all he could to try and make [the governor's wing] somewhat suitable there is not a single convenience because of the poor distribution which was built into the foundation. I can't even find, in all this building, a place to put my bed so it is out of the rain. The officers and soldiers who are housed in this barracks are even worse off than I am since they can't preserve their arms or uniforms.(11)

In all of this there was criticism of De Verville's plans and competence. At one point Saint Ovide said he had resigned himself to the fact that he would have to speak again of the former engineer's poor work.(12) Verrier, meanwhile, modified his earlier assessment of the governor's wing, saying that "It was necessary to make a few more alterations to this wing in order to render it a bit more livable." The central passage tower remained unfinished, and Verrier proposed that it should incorporate a light to serve as a beacon for the harbour, thus saving the expense of constructing a separate lighthouse.(13)


1. Minister to Ganet, 28 May 1726, AN., Col., B. vol. 49(2) f. 697v.

2. Minister to Saint Ovide and De Mesy, 28 May 1726, AN. Col., B. vol. 49(2), ff. 707-08v.

3. Minister to Verrier, 28 May 1726, AN. Col., B. vol 49(2) ff. 708v-10.

4. Verrier to Minister, 1 December 1726, AN, Col., C11B, vol. 8, If. 115-21v.

5. Saint Ovide to Minister, 28 November 1726, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, ff. 71-75.

6. Minister to Verrier, 28 May 1726, AN. Col., B. vol. 49(2), f. 701v.

7. Minister to Saint Ovide, 28 May 1726, AN. Col., B. vol. 49(2), ff. 703-05.

8. Verrier to Minister, 10 November 1726, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, ff. 111-13.

9. Saint Ovide and De Mesy to Minister, 1 December 1726, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, f. 23.

10. Saint Ovide and De Mesy to Minister, 28 November 1726; AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, ff. 13v-14v.

11. Saint Ovide and De Mesy to Minister, 1 December 1726, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, ff. 71-75.

12. Ibid.

13. Verrier to Minister, 1 December 1726, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 8, ff. 115-121v.

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