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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)



Seven masons and two stonecutters arrived the next summer to add to the skilled work force. This reference is particularly interesting because it gave the place of origin of the workmen. The two stonecutters were from Paris, six of the masons were from central France and one from northern France. Two of the men came with wives.(1) In Paris De Verville must have mentioned Isabeau's complaint about interferences from officers because instructions from France again forbade work on buildings other than those authorized, and prohibited any change in plans. Numerous thefts from the contractor were reported and a Memoire du Roy urged stricter stores control for the contractor's as well as the King's supplies. The latter were to be distributed only by a bill from the engineer and an order from the ordonnateur. Lodging was also a concern, and a house in which the King's Lieutenant was living was ordered vacated in favour of the contractor, who had been uncomfortably housed in the stores building.(2)

This last suggestion was undoubtedly one of De Verville's, a fact which would not have escaped notice in Louisbourg. Saint Ovide was quick to claim he had been misrepresented by De Verville in France and even claimed to be surprised that there were reports of any difficulties between them, believing that their relations were honest and amicable.(3) However, he did acknowledge the "severe reprimands'' and said he would conform to orders, namely that De Verville have complete control over the fortifications and troops and De Mesy over the money and justice. He further reported that he was ordering the soldiers not to work for any one other than the contractor, and that he was trying to eliminate the taverns and the resulting drunkenness on paydays.(4) He issued an ordinance prohibiting the sale or distribution of liquor to soldiers or workmen on working days, nor were soldiers allowed to remain in taverns after the retreat had sounded.(5)

The original specifications for construction at Louisbourg had called for shingle roofs,(6) but, De Verville recommended slate, pointing out that the 14 separation walls would have to be raised above roof level to prevent any fire from spreading if shingles were used. The proposal was approved and 60,000 slates were sent from St. Malo in the summer of 1721.(7) The shipment was not up to the highest standards and the engineer reported:

Proper precautions were not taken to have the slate shipped in cases and selected as were those which were shipped to Quebec, on the contrary the slates are the scraps of the quarry full of bumps and of unequal sizes, half broken and lacking cases.(8)

Slating proved to be a wise precaution. When the roof was hit during the 1745 siege it did not catch fire. The building was however later shingled up to the governor's wing and , when in the 1758 siege a bomb hit, the building did catch fire which only stopped at the slated south wing.

During that summer the governor's wing was readied to receive its roof, and about 43 feet of the barracks proper was up to first floor level.(9) This was a long way from the previous year's predictions, which foresaw both wings and a good part of the barracks completed by this time. Saint Ovide was certainly not satisfied with progress and noted that most of the barracks had the sky as a roof and, lacking floors and ceilings, was a sea of mud when it rained.(10)


1. Noms et Professions des ouvriers engages pendant 3 années pour travailler aux fortifications de L' isle Royale, 4 June 1721, AN. Col., B. vol. 44(1), f. 166.

2. Memoire du Roy a Saint Ovide et de Mesy, 20 June 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, ff. 349-56.

3. Saint Ovide to Council, 28 November 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, ff. 374-77.

4.Saint Ovide to Council, 29 November 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, ff. 378-84.

5. Council to Saint Ovide, 13 May 1722, AN. Col., B. vol 45(2), f. 1130.

6. Devis et Conditions des Ouvrages que le Roy a ordonné de faire executer au port de Louisbourg, 1718, 10 June 1718, AN. Col., F3, vol. 51, f. 208.

7. Memoire du Roi au Sr. de Saint Ovide, 20 June 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, f. 351v.

8. De Verville to Council, 5 October 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, f. 414v.

9. Ibid.

10. Saint Ovide to Council, 29 November 1721, AN. Col., C11B, vol. 5, ff. 378-84.

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