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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 14 R)




A. First Phase 1721-1735

1. Chronology

Lot G had been conceded to Genier in 1717. [1] The concession ran 30 pieds along the Quay and 108 pieds into the Block, bounded on the east side by a property reserved for the King, and on the west by a property belonging to Rodrigue. M. de Mesy purchased the property in 1720 for 800 livres. [6a]

Genier had erected on lot G a picket structure which was used to store King's provisions for the colony and the garrison. [3a] (See plans 717-2, 720-2, 720-4, and 12 sept. 1721.) In 1720, the building was out of alignment and in such bad condition that its provisions were spoiling. M. deMesy planned to replace Genier's building with his proposed masonry storehouse.

M. deMesy soon became involved in a property dispute with Rodrigue, his neighbour in lot H. This was the beginning of a constant conflict which only terminated in 1741 with the expropriation of Rodrigue's property. [51]

Rodrigue's Block 2 property was the center of his commercial activities. [7b] Integral to his establishment was an L-shaped picket house and magasin which was located, out of alignment, on the Quay front of his property. (See plans 717-2,720-2, 720-4, and 12 sept. 1721 plan.) M. deMesy considered Rodrigue's building to be "ready to collapse", and wanted his new storehouse a safe distance from it as a prevention against theft and fire . [3b, 3c]

Before deMesy purchased lot G and built his magasin, he met with Rodrigue and his wife. [3] An agreement was reached granting deMesy 10 pieds of Rodrigue's property. The Quay frontage of lot G was to increase from 30 pieds to 40 pieds, providing a 20 pieds space between the storehouses of Rodrigue and deMesy. Rodrigue was to receive compensation on the unconceded land on the other side of his property. M. deMesy agreed to pay any damages suffered by Rodrigue. St. Ovide, the Governor, and deCouagne, the Engineer, came to Block 2 in the spring of 1721 to survey and record the new alignments. [3b,5,7a]

Everything being in order, deMesy began to pour the foundations of his house in the spring of 1721. [3b] The house was to occupy the entire 40 pieds frontage of lot G. If built as proposed, the house would extend into Rodrigue's L-shaped building--2 pieds on one side and 4 pieds on the other. [7a] M. deMesy offered to pay Rodrigue damages and to rebuild, at his expense, Rodrigue's magasin.

Rodrigue reacted violently to the proposed destruction of his building. [3b,7a] He destroyed part of a masonry wall of deMesy's building and threw 400 to 500 pieces of   firewood on it to prevent work from continuing. M. deMesy had previously demolished Rodrigue's henhouse and oven, which had abutted against Genier's storehouse, and had destroyed Rodrigue' s courtyard and garden. [3a,7b] Rodrigue claimed that the final destruction of his storehouse would ruin him, and declared to the Superior Council that he "preferred to give 300 livres to the poor than to suffer what deMesy wanted to do". [7c]

M. deMesy suspended work on his dwelling during the winter of 1721 and made representations against Rodrigue to the Superior Council. [7a] The Council viewed both sides and on May 13, 1722, stated that it would not enter into the dispute. [8]

No reference to the settlement of the dispute has been found. It seems that deMesy reduced the frontage of his house to 36 pieds, removing the threat of the 4  pieds intrusion into Rodrigue's building. (See 12 sept. 1721 plan) The deMesy house had a frontage of 36 pieds in 1733. [21]

M. deMesy had suggested to the Council that, upon completion, his Block 2 establishment be sold to the King. [6b,8] The 1722 Memoire to deMesy declined this offer and ordered him to occupy his official residence in the Chateau. [8] M. deMesy refused. [9] In 1723, St. Ovide wrote to France, complaining that royal and commercial affairs were suffering because of deMesy's disobedience. The King's reply in May of 1724 ordered deMesy to move to the south side, either to his new house or any other of his choice. [10] The Ordonnateur's quarters in the Chateau were to be left vacant if deMesy chose not to occupy them. Despite the royal decree, deMesy remained on the north side, waiting for the completion of his lot G house. [12] Finally, in October of 1725, deMesy took up residence in Block 2. [14] Masons were still working in the house.

M. deMesy's house was well-situated to carry on the business of the Commissaire Ordonnateur. [6b,l8,20] It was "on the waterfront near merchants, and residents and ship captains who continually have business with the Ordonnateur". [18]

M. deMesy requested 1000 livres in the expenses for 1726 for the use of his house as a King's building. [15,16] The Block 2 dwelling housed the Ordonnateur, his offices, and an Audience Room for the Superior Council. The strongbox (caisse) was located in the building. [17] In 1730, Rondeau, new Clerk of the General Treasury, slept in a cabinet near the caisse. The Controleur the Ordonnateur, and Rondeau held keys to the Treasury.

In 1732, Maurepas ordered Verrier to finish the Ordonnateur's wing of  the Chateau. [20] Acting immediately, deMesy offered to sell his lot G house and property to the King as the official residence of the Commissaire Ordonnateur, for20,000 1ivres. [18,20] Verrier supported deMesy's suggestion, estimating that the price of the house (Verrier suggested 15,254 livres 5 sols) and the cost of alterations to it would be less than the expenditures required in the Ordonnateur's section of the Chateau. [15,20] Maurepas accepted the recommendations. [20] On September 1, 1733, the King purchased the lot G house and property from deMesy's son and successor as Ordonnateur, Sebastien François Ange LeNormant, for 13,500 livres. [21] M. deMesy's house was now the official residence of the Commissaire Ordonnateur, occupied by LeNormant through permission from the King. [22] The contract of sale was approved by the King in 1734. [24]

In 1733 and 1734, the Ordonnateur's property measured 36 pieds along the Quay and 150 pieds along the Rue St. Louis. [21,25a]

The Ordonnateur's house was 36 pieds by 26 pieds, a relatively small structure for a King's building. [19,21] In 1735, LeNormant received permission to "make offices and other changes necessary for the service". [26] LeNormant's improvements drastically altered the Ordonnateur's house, taking the building into its second phase.

2. Structural Details. 1721-1735

There is no toisé extant for the deMesy house. Several views of the Louisbourg Quay front include the north facade of the building. Plans N.D. 7 and N.D. 7a provide a plan and elevation of the early structure.

The deMesy house was a masonry building,* 36 pieds long, facing the Quay and 26 pieds wide, running into the Block. [21] It consisted of a groundfloor, first floor, and attic. 

[* DeCouagne's 12 sept. 1721 plan and explanation erroneously referred to deMesy's buildings as a "house and storehouse built in pickets by M. deMesy". [5]]

Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a give room layouts of the two main floors. Plan N.D.7 shows the ground floor to be divided into six rooms. The entrance to the house is in the south wall, facing the courtyard. Stairs to the first storey are situated to the left of the door, on entering, while a small room is found on the right, in the southeast corner of the building. A kitchen, equipped with an oven, is located in the northeast corner. Behind the oven, near the center of the north wall, is a small windowless room. A large room in the northwest corner overlooks the Quay. Two smaller rooms are situated in the southwest corner, the smaller one located partially under the stairs.

Plan N.D.7a shows the room layout of the first storey. Three small rooms extend along the west way , while two larger ones are found along the east wall. Centered on the north wall is a large room with a fireplace.


A distinctive feature of the deMesy house was a balcony on the north wall, overlooking the Quay. (See plans 731-1, 731-3-(2), 731-3a, N.D.7, N.D.7a, andN.D.76.) The center two windows of the upper storey opened onto the balcony. The structure was built of moulded balusters and supported by scroll-shaped braces. It seems to have been of wood construction.

The balcony does not appear on views of the later phases of the house. It possibly was removed in 1736 when the rotten wood framing was replaced or possibly was destroyed during the first siege. [34,61]


The windows of the first-phase house were wood framed. [33,34] (Note plans731-3a, N.D.7, and N.D07a.) Bars were placed on the windows of the treasury and adjacent room in 1730. [17,27]

There were seven windows in the north wall --- three on the ground floor and four on the first storey. (See plans N.D.7, 731-1, and 731-3-(2). Note N.D.76 exception.)

Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a center a small lower-storey window in the east wall. Three larger windows are shown on the first storey. Plan 731-3a shows a second, more northerly window on the ground floor,

Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a situate seven windows in the south wall --- three on the ground floor and four on the first storey. No windows are shown in the west wall of the building.

Gable dormers were situated on the roof of the deMesy house. Two were found on the north slope of the roof, facing the Quay. (See plans 731-1, 731-3-(2), andN.D.76. Also note plans 731-3a, N.D.7, and N.D.7a.) The clans vary in the exact location of the dormers. Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a show one dormer and suggest a possible second on the south side of the roof.


The deMesy house had a hipped roof which was wood-shingled. [5,34]  (See plans731-3a, N.D.7, and N.D.7a. Also see plans 731-1, 731-3-(2), and 734-4.) Two chimneys were situated on the roof --- one above the fireplace in the west wall and one above the oven on the east side of the house. (See plans N.D.7, N.D.7a, 731-1,and 731-3-(2).)  Plan 731-3-(2) shows decorations on the east and west ends of the ridge. (Also see plans N.D.7, N.D.7a, and N.D.76.)

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