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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)



This final section deals with the problems that I have encountered in analyzing the Toisé, and in correlating the archaeological and historical evidence. Some solutions have been proposed, but most of these problems will have to be resolved by committee discussion.


There are not too many problems connected with the structure of this building. The pavé  floor in the north end of the Ancien Magasin and the door in this section of the building (described on page 40 of the archaeological report) will be included in the reconstruction. Miss Sutermeister also found two doors in the south end of the Magasin, near the partition wall that divided this building from the Second Engineer's house. (pages 41 and 42) The date of construction of these doors and of the brick floor in this section is not known. Some decision will have to be made about the inclusion of these features in the reconstructed building. The location and number of windows will also have to be discussed.


There is little doubt that there was only one main door to the building. It was on the north side of the building, leading from the courtyard into the vestibule and the stairs. One could only reach this door by coming through the elaborate entrance-way on the Rue Royale.

The location of the 16 doors in the Toisé is uncertain, except for the door to the vestibule, and the door to the cabinet. It is probable that the five doors listed as "including the atique were in the masonry partition walls.


According to the Toisé there should be 16 cut stone window surrounds in the various rooms, plus two small window surrounds in the cabinet and one in the attic. This makes a total of 19 windows with cut stone surrounds. The 11 sashes and shutters in item 117 and 124 must lee the first floor windows. The 11 sashes and shutters in items 118 and 125 are probably the upper storey windows. However, this only makes a total of 15 shuttered windows. Items 121 and 122 would appear to be the sashes for the four large and six small dormers (see the section on dormers). This leaves six sashes still unaccounted for: 2 sashes 4 pieds by 3 pieds 5 pouces [21-119] 2 sashes 1 pied 6 pouces by 1 pied 3 pouces [20-123], and 2 sashes 4 pieds 6 pouces by 4 pieds 6 pouces [20-121].

There is one other problem concerning the windows. Item 115 indicates that there was panelling for the windows. This may refer only to the windows of the petit cabinet or may refer to all or any number of the other windows. The exact meaning of the term lambris with regard to windows is not clear. It may indicate interior shutters or the sort of window seet arrangement shown in Mme Mayrand's report on Block 1 (Plate 1).


The specification for wood framing for the lucarnes indicates 1 large lucarne and three small lucarnes. [20-99,89]The specifications for slate indicate 4 large lucarnes and 6 small ones in the following positions: [20-138 to 147]: 

I am inclined to believe that the second specifications are the most accurate, since there are window sashes for six small windows [20-122] and four large windows [20-121]. The spacing of these lucarnes is a matter for discussion.


The Toisé indicates that Verrier paid for the foundation of the partition wall between the salle and the première chambre. [20-22] This should not have been necessary, since this wall was a part of the Ancien Magasin.

There is no flooring mentioned for the première chambre. The floor measurements for the seconde chambre are 32 pieds by 16 pieds. The total length of this wing of the building is 35 pieds 6 pouces (interior dimensions). It is possible that the wooden flooring in the Ancien Magasin was located in the partitioned area in the south end of the building and was re-used in the Second Engineer's house. Miss Sutermeister found traces of wooden flooring in this section of the Ancien Magasin (see page 40 of her report). This must be the flooring mentioned in the Toisé of 1727 [13-62], and was probably re-used in the Second Engineer's house.


This is the most Problematic room in the Engineer's house. There seems to have been a great deal of repair work done in this area and it is impossible to tell how much of what now exists is original construction. The Toisé is ambiguous and has only added to the difficulty. Since it is unlikely that the features excavated under the petit cabinet and the seconde chambre will be reconstructed, I would recommend that they be preserved intact even though they will not be seen.

It would seem likely that one entered the petit cabinet from the house - possibly through a door from the salle or from the seconde chambre. It is possible that there was also an entrance from the terrace. Item 60 in the Toisé calls for a cut store door surround for the "cabinet". It does not seem likely that this would be the interior door between the petit cabinet and the house or the door to the cabinet haut.

There are 2 cut stone window surrounds for the "cabinet". Again it is not specified whether the Petit cabinet or the cabinet haut is meant.

A part of the floor of the petit cabinet is 11 pieds by 7 pieds. These dimensions fit nicely between the as-found walls in the south end of the room. Unforturately the next part of the floor is listed as 10 square toises of re-used planks, and is thus difficult to interpret.

Item 114 is for partitions, ceilings and panelling in the petit cabinet. The first part or ceiling is 19 pieds by 10 pieds 6 pouces, [20-11] which is the interior measurement of the north east section of the room

As Miss Sutermeister suggests, the petit cabinet seems to have been an afterthought. It does not appear on plan 731-3 or plan 733-7. However, on plan 733-7 there is an L-shaped wall projecting into the courtyard which appears to be about 15 pieds long. Plan 733-7 has no scale so it is impossible to be more accurate. This wall may be the "wall of the cellar to hold back the earth". If so, Verrier seems to have changed his mind about the cellar and built the petit cabinet between this wall and the annexed section of the Ancien Magasin.

On plans ND-105 and 734-4 the petit cabinet is shown, as well as a small piece of wall protruding from the north-west corner of the petit cabinet turning a right angle towards the house. This wall forms a sort of gateway with the terrace wall. It has been suggested that there were steps or a ramp in this passage-way leading from the terrace to the larder.

The roof of the petit cabinet may pose a problem. It is shown as a continuation of the main roof on plans ND-105, 734-4, 742-2, ND-57a, 744-5 and 745-11. Franquet shows it as a separate roof, at a lower level; for example, on plans 751-8, 751-10, 751-17 and 759-1.


Tied in with the petit cabinet is the problem of the cellar. There certainly seems to have been a cellar somewhere in the Engineer's house, but the exact location is a mystery. Item 28 in the Toisé is for the "wall of the cellar to hold back the earth." It is 15 pieds long, 4 pieds high and 2 pieds thick. This wall does not fit in with the as-found walls and is therefore no help in locating the cellar. (see the preceding section)

There is wood framing for a door to the cellar [20-94] and for another door the same. There is also 1 large shutter [20-126] which might possibly be corrected with the cellar. There are certainly no windows large enough to accommodate a shutter 7 pieds 8 pouces by 2 pieds 2 pouces.

There is one other item which cannot be accounted for - the provision for panelling of the soubassement. The length given is 64 pieds and the width is 1 pied 9 pouces. The dictionary defines soubassement as the base of a column or wall. Mme Mayrand interprets - this item as a part of the panelling for the windows. (see Plate 1)

I suggest that the cellar of the Second Engineer's house must have been under the petit cabinet. No other part of the house is easily accessible from the outside. (It is possible, of course, that one entered the cellar through a trap door.) The gable wall of the petit cabinet had an 8 pied foundation which brought the wall up to the terrace level. The door to the cellar could have been in this wall. There is no conclusive evidence for this suggestion, and the matter requires further discussion.


There was no attic in the Engireer's house. Verrier always describes it as having a ground floor and a few rooms rounder the roof". [18,19] Franquet also describes the house as having a ground floor and a second storey "en galetas" - that is, a room directly under the roof in which the ceiling is merely a means of covering the roof timbers. The lucarnes then must have been only an additional source of light for the rooms under the roof.

One problem remains to be solved. Item 61 specifies that there were cut stone surrounds for 2 small windows in the cabinet and for "the one in the attic'". This may mean that there is an attic above the petit cabinet, but I feel that this matter requires discussion.


Further excavation is still needed in this area to sort out the complex of walls that hove already been found. Therefore great care should be taken to preserve intact as much of the existing walls as possible. The shape of the terrace wall varies on the plans. It does not appear at all on plans 731-3, 733-7, and 746-8. It has a right angle bend and follows the line of the petit magasin on plans ND-57a, 734-4, ND-105, 744-5, 745-11, and 751-17. The wall is straight on plans 742-2 and 767-1. The length of the terrace walls also varies on the plans. On plans ND-105, and 734-4 it is the same length as the house, but on plans 742-2, ND-57a, 744-5, and 745-11 it extends to the hangard.

The well and the latrines are shown in the same positiens on all the plans. Sometimes one or the other is omitted, but there does not seem to be any significance in these omissions.

The bassin d'eau or pool in the Engineer's garden is also in a constant position. It is directly north of the hangard, about 70 pieds from the Rue Royale.

The structures built or repaired in the Engineer's garden in 1749-1750 (a storehouse, hen-house, duck and goose shed, and a dovecote) [44,45] have not yet been located.  They do not appear on any of the plans, except possibly on plan 767-1. Those buildings repaired by the French in 1749 were probably built during the New England occupation, although they could have been added during Verrier's occupancy.

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