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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)


1739 - 1745

In 1739 there was a major change of personnel in Louisbourg. Saint Ovide, who had been summoned to France in 1738, had an unpleasant interview with Maurepas who accused him of having a share in Ganet's contract.(1) Despite his denial, Saint Ovide was retired with a pension, and Isaac-Louis De Forant, a ship's captain, was sent to govern Louisbourg He arrived with a new ordonnateur François Bigot, Le Normant having been promoted to the intendency of St. Dominique.(2)

The new governor was not impressed with his lodgings and one of his first acts was an offer to turn over the wing as soldiers' quarters and move into Verrier's house. Verrier himself was returning to France for the winter; in that way de Forant said, he would also be nearer what concerned the town and port(3) - hardly a credible reason. He found many inconveniences in the building and, while waiting to see if his suggestion would be adopted, ordered doors changed, panelling put in, partitions added, and the kitchen supplemented.(4) He thought he had found a solution to the constant wetness in the governor's wing by demolishing the two chimney stacks from the attic fireplace. The fireplaces which Saint Ovide had put in at considerable expense, were thus rendered impracticable. De Forant felt that these stacks created a trough where water gathered only to be blown back under the slates:

I thought it was better to do without these fireplaces than to be inundated in the slightest rain.(5)

De Forant did not live to enjoy the changes he effected in the wing. In May 1740 he died and was replaced in November by another ship's captain, Jean Baptiste Duquesnel. This new official, as well, was not satisfied with his quarters and ordered more changes, including panelling in a cabinet and another room, an oven, an enlargement of a fireplace with a stone base beneath, and a stable and a pigeon roost in the courtyard.(6) Only a total cost of these items was given so the quality of each work cannot be assessed, but Maurepas was not pleased with this expense or the fact that work was done without permission; he wrote to troth Duquesnel and Bigot, who had also made considerable changes in his lodgings, that, ''His Majesty forbids both of you to make alterations without express permission except for simple maintenance repairs" (7)

Internal changes were made in other parts of the barracks. Work orders were submitted for changing the soldiers' guard house to a prison, and six leg and hand irons were ordered for this new prison.(8) A new guard house was built across the ditch on the townward side a few feet from the drawbridge. It was a masonry structure 34 pieds long and 20 wide, covered in shingles, with a 6 pieds gallery in the front. Like the old guard house it was divided into a ratio of 2:1 with the smaller section for the officers.

General painting, which had been recommended in 1738 to preserve all exposed wood, was not accomplished until 1744. One of the reasons for the delay was that the shipment, in 1743, of linseed oil, a necessary ingredient in paint in the eighteenth century, was improperly loaded and the oil leaked out during the journey. Paint was added to the new contracts beginning in 1742, so that it became the responsibility of the contractor to preserve all the wood by this means. The colour used was dark red made from red ochre.(9)

More than the usual number of repairs were recorded in 1744. The floor of the governor's kitchen required a new beam and the fireplace and oven were redone in cut stone. One of the walls of the wing was in danger of collapsing so one of the angles was rebuilt and three windows above in the council chamber were replaced in cut stone. In the barracks only a general list of repairs using masonry, plaster, cutstone and wood was given, but they appeared to be extensive.(10) In October, 1744, Duquesnel died suddenly. The south wing was vacant, allowing time for repairs to the collapsing wall so that the quarters would be in a state to receive the new governor. Bigot expressed the hope, which must have been shared by officials in France, that the new governor would be happy with his quarters, otherwise there would be new expenditures.(11) However, the new governor never saw his quarters. In the spring of 1745 Louisbourg was placed under siege and capitulated to a volunteer force from New England on June 26.


1. Saint Ovide to Minister, 4 April 1739, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 21, ff. 290-91.

2. Guy Frégault, François Bigot, Administrateur français, (Montreal, 1948), p. 106.

3. De Forant to Minister, 14 November 1739, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 21, f. 63.

4. Verrier to Minister, 19 December 1739, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 21, f. 268.

5. De Forant to Minister, 23 December 1739, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 21, f. 90.

6. Verrier to Minister, 26 October 1741, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 23, ff. 195-95v.

7. Minister to Du Quesnel et Bigot, AN. Col., B. vol. 74, f. 558v.

8. Bourville and Bigot to Minister, 25 October 1740, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 22, f. 61; and Etat des vivres, 11 October 1741, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 24, f.175.

9. Bigot to Minister, 15 October 1741, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 23, f. 89. De Quesnel and Bigot to Minister, 20 September 1742, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 24, f. 144. Bigot to Minister, 21 November 1743, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 25, ff. 149-56. Bigot to Minister, 13 November 1744, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 26, f. 118.

10. Etat de la dépense..., 30 October 1744, AN. Section Outre-mer, DFC, ord. 203.

11. Bigot to Minister, 13 November 1744, AN Col., C11B, vol. 26, f. 118v.

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