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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






(Fortress of Louisbourg
Report H D 09)




The chronology of the Ancien Magasin and the First Engineer's house is not entirely clear from the documentary evidence because of a problem of terminology. Although we know from plans and archaeological findings that there were two separate buildings - the Engineer's house, built of wood and the Ancien Magasin, built of stone - no distinction is made between them. They are indiscriminately called Hangard du Roy Hangard des fortifications, magasin des fortifications magasin des vivres, ancien magasin and logement de ingénieurs. Sometime in 1721 or 1722, a distinction in function was made between the north-south wing, henceforth called the magasin, and the east-west wing, thereafter generally known as the Engineer's house. It may also have been at this time that the decision was made to build the magasin of stone.

The first reference to this area of Block 1 is in the concession records of 1717. [1] Verville reserved an area for the King's use between Lartigue's property (on the north-west corner of Block 2) and Beauséjour's property (Lot C on Plan 723-2). On this property was built a house belonging to Lasson - this is possibly the small house shown in various positions in the interior angle of the Engineer's house and Ancien Magasin, on plans 720-2a, 720-2, 723-2, 725-3, 725-9, and 726-2. No other references to this house have been found, and it never appears on plans after 1730.

There were no structures on the south-east corner of Block 1 until 1720. Plan 720-2a shows a building, "built in 1720," about 78 pieds long along the Rue Royale, marked "Emplacement du Roy occupé par l'Entrepreneur".

The same building is marked "Hangard du Roy" on plan 720-2, and is shown, turning the corner for a distance of about 45 pieds along the Rue Toulouse. In 1721 this building, still incomplete, was designated as a storehouse, and the Entrepreneur was ordered to move into Beaucours' house (on the north-east corner of Block 1). [4] De Mesy felt that the building in question was useless for storing supplies - it had been partitioned off into living quarters, contained a double fireplace and a forge, its upper floor was not solid enough to hold supplies, and it did not have a cellar. In addition, the building consisted of stone pillars placed 20 pieds apart, with the intervening spaces filled with wood planks, and was therefore unsafe. He indicated that the building was about 70 pieds long on one side, roofed for a distance of 60 pieds. (60 pieds is almost exactly the as-found measurement of the walls of the First Engineer's house.) Forming a right angle with the finished portion was another section built that year, 70 to 80 pieds long and not yet roofed. [5,6]

The building described above by De Mesy corresponds closely with the plans of the First Engineer's house, except for the cellar marked on the plans. (see plans 725-3, 725-9, 726-2, and 730-8) It is probable that the building was completed by this date.

Isabeau, the entrepreneur, moved from his quarters in the Engineer's house to the intendant's section of the Ancien Gouvernement, [7] but Verville's plans for turning the lodging into a storehouse do not seem to have been carried out. In 1723 "Messieurs les Ingenieurs" were living in it. [9] Verrier apparently occupied it until 1730 when he reported that it was not fit to live in, and that he had moved elsewhere. [16] He was given permission to tear down the First Engineer's house and replace it with a masonry structure, more suitable for a man of his position. (plans 730-8 and 730-8a)

The date at which the stone structure which is now known as the Ancien Magasin was built cannot be determined. It is possible that the 70 pied portion built in 1721, (see above) was of stone unlike the wooden Engineer's house. [7] In 1722, Block 1 was reserved for the King's buildings, and the old hangard des fortifications (presumably the building on the Rue Toulouse forming a right angle with the Engineer's house) was to be completed and used for a magasin de vivres. [8] (see plan 722-1)

By 1723, this building had a length of almost 80 pieds and was being used as a shpt for the stone-cutters. Verville had excavated the foundations for the continuation of this building, but had been unable to work on it. (plan 723-2) The magasin remained a low priority project for the next few years. [9] Two years later, the building was only 100 pieds long and the roof was completed for this distance. The building had been cleaned out and the supplies for that year were stored in it. It seems likely that this reference describes the completed building. The part to be continued with vigour the next year was the Magasin Général, considered at that time as merely an extension of the older magasin .[10,11] Plan 725-9 shows the completed Ancien Magasin with 4 windows and a door on the Rue Toulouse.

Sometime before 1727, several structural changes took place in the Ancien Magasin. [13] (see page 10 ) A partition was built and door(s) and window(s) were blocked somewhere in the building. These changes do not show on the plans, except for the blocked doorway leading to the Magasin Général shown on plan 726-2. This plan also indicates 5 windows in the structure, unlike 725-9 and 730-8 which only show 4 windows.

In 1727, the supplies were moved into the new magasin except for the molasses, which was considered too messy to move until proper racks had been built. [14]

In 1729, Sabatier suggested that the Ancien Magasin be used to store military supplies and artillery equipment. He also wanted to raise the Ancien Magasin to the same height as the new one (a matter of approximately two pieds), and add a second storey. He suggested adding or adding to a small wing at the corner of the Rue Toulouse and the Rue Royale in order to accommodate the Artillery officers and the Port Captain. He may be referring to that area of the Ancien Magasin already partitioned off. [15]

During the construction of the Second Engineer's house, 1730-33, a section of the Ancien Magasin 39 pieds long was incorporated into the new structure by the addition of a gable wall. The remaining part of the building was row 62 pieds long.

In 1734, Le Normant requested Sabatier to move the artillery supplies (stored up to this point in the Ancien Magasin) into the Magasin Général since the completion of the new salle d'arme in the Bakery had created extra space. [22]

In 1735, St-Ovide referred to the Ancien Magasin as an artillery storehouse and stated that it contained only a few new gun carriages and some extra axles. [26]

This is the last documentary reference to the Ancien Magasin. It is quite possible that it was incorporated into Verrier's ''estate".


(i) The Ancien Magasin

The following section is an analysis of the Toisé provisional of 1727 [12] and the Toisé définitif of 1731 [17]. These two Toisés differ only very slightly and any significant differences are included. The items from the Toisé définitif for the Magasin Général [13] which refer to the structural changes made in the Ancien Magasin have also been included into this section.


(1) Excavation for the foundation [l2-2]

Total length - 236P 0p

Width - 3P 0p

Average height - 4P 9p

(2) Excavation and fill [12-3]

Total length - 102P 0p

Average height 16P 0p

Thickness - 4P 6p

B. WALLS - masonry

(1) Foundation [12-7]

Total length - 238P 0p

Average height - 3P 3p

Thickness - 2P 6p

(2) Elevation [12-8]

Total length - 238P 0p

Average height - 9P 9p

Thickness - 2P 0p

(3) Addition to the gable of the old magasin [13-13]

Total length - 23P 6p

Height - 2P 0p

Thickness - 2P 0p

(4) Partition wall in the old magasin [13-20]

Length - 17P 0p

Average height - 7P 0p

Thickness - 2P

Triangular part above [13-21]

Length - 17P 0p

Average height - 3P 6p

Thickness - 2P 0p

(5) Door(s) and window(s) blocked in the old magasin  [13-22]

Total length - 15P 0p

Average height - 6P 0p

Thickness - 1P 6p


(1) Wall plates [12-16]

Total length - 73-0-0

Thickness - 4-8

(2) 17 Trusses (for both the Engineer's house and the Ancien Magasin)

Total length of the tie beam - 50P 0p

[12-17] king post and two principle rafters

Thickness - 7-8

Total length of two braces - 4P 0p

Thickness - 4-4

(3) Length of the ridge [12-18] - 159P 0p

Thickness - 8-4

Length of the ridge and the

purlins [17-17a] - 477P 0p

(4) 78 Courses of the rafters in-

cluding the accoyaux [12-19]

Total length (4 Pieds Each) - 182P 0p

Thickness - 4-4

(5) Framing and bridging [Magasin or Engineer's house?]


Total length - 41p 0p

Thickness - 4-4

(6) Wood shingles [12-27]

Total for the magasin and

Engineer's house

Length - 160P 0p

Width - 25P 0p


(1) Door - 1 pouce planks [12-22]

Height - 7P 0p

Width - 5P 4p

(2) Shutters (5) - 1 pouce planks [12-24]

Height - 4P 6p

Width - 4p 0p

(3) Hardware [12-28]

The discussion of hardware in Miss Sutermeister's archaeological report (page 36) seems to be accurate and is reproduced here.

The ironware of the house and the magasin are not differentiated but may be divided as follows:

(4) Repairs to 2 shutters [13-91]

Total length - 8P 0p

Average height - 3P 0p


(1) Pavé in the old magasin [13-42]

Length - 26P 6p

Width - 16P 0p

(2) Pavé along the Rue Toulouse around the old magasin [13-43]

Total length - 127P 0p

Width - 6P 0p

(3) Wood flooring [13-62] 

Total length of 10 small joists including the 
ladder - 180P 0p 

Thickness - 6-7

From the Toisées, it would seem that the original Ancien Magasin was a simple masonry structure 101 pieds long by 20 pieds wide (outside measurements). The longitudinal walls had an average height of 9 pieds 9 pouces above foundation level, and the gable walls rose an additional 7 pieds above the eaves.

The roof framing was very simple - a central ridge, one course of purlins on either side of the ridge, supported by 10 or 11 main trusses, approximately 9 pieds apart. The main trusses consisted of a tie beam, a king post, the principle rafters, and two braces. The roof structure rested on wall plates, and it would appear that there were two wall plates on each wall. There were approximately 25 courses of common rafters presumably overly spaced between the principle rafters. The roof was covered with wood shingles. The roofs of the Ancien Magasin and the First Engineer's house may have been constructed is on unit. They are shown as such in plan 728-1, and re considered in the Toisés as a unit.

There was only one door in the Ancien Magasin, built of 1 pouce planks, probably pine. It was 7 pieds high and 5 pieds 4 pouces wide. There were five windows, covered by shutters, 4 pieds 6 pouces high and 4 pieds wide. There is to indication of the structure of the door and window surrounds. The location of these features can he ascertained from plans 725-9 and 726-2.

As of 1726 or 1727, a partition wall was added to the Ancien Magasin, door(s) and window(s) were blocked, and the north gable was incorporated into the Magasin général.

Archaeology has revealed that a doorway into the Magasin Général was blocked, and that a new doorway was arched in the south gable wall, to give access to the partitioned area. No evidence has been found with regards to the windows, except the discrepancy between plan 726-2 and plans 725-9 and 730-8.

The floor of the Ancien Magasin was paved for a distance of 26 pieds, and pavé was laid in the Rue Toulouse around the building. 10 joists were supplied at the same time, including a ladder. The location of these items is not known, but it is unlikely that they indicate the existence of a second storey since Sabatier recommended in 1729 that the building be raised and a floor added. This could mean a wooden floor at ground level or more possibly, a second storey in the heightened building.

It is likely that the three tables mentioned in Miss Sutermeister's report [13-92] were built for the Ancien Magasin.

(ii) The First Engineer's House

The structure of the first Engineer's house will not be discussed here as it is of little importance to reconstruction. Miss Sutermcister gives a very good analysis of the Toisés for this structure in her report. (pages 34 - 37)

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