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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)



B. Second Phase House. 1736-1754
1. Chronology
(a) 1736-1745

Verrier dispatched workmen in the spring of 1736 to make "several small expenditures" in the newly-acquired King's building, the house of the Commissaire Ordonnateur. [30] In fact, major repairs totalling 6521 livres 19 sols 8 deniers occurred. [33] The house was expanded to accommodate the offices and fittings required by the Ordonnateur and the service. [26,30,32]

Knowing that the King planned to enlarge the Ordonnateur's house, the widow Rodrigue offered to contribute the 4 pieds passageway, located between her house and the Ordonnateur's dwelling, which led to her backyard. [28] On May 9, 1736, LeNormant and the widow signed an agreement. A masonry wall common to the lot G and lot H houses was to be built by the King, replacing the east end wall of the widow's frame house. The total area surrendered by the widow Rodrigue measured 5 pieds along the Quay, including the thickness of the common masonry wall, and 46 pieds into the Block. LeNormant agreed to maintain and guarantee the passageway on ground floor level, between the west end wall of the first phase house and the new common wall. The Ordonnateur's apartment on the first storey was to extend across the passageway. The Ordonnateur agreed to pay for the construction and maintenance of the common wall. The widow Rodrigue was to receive 300 1ivres and payment for anything broken accidentally during the construction period. In addition, LeNormant was compelled to build latrines, backing the Ordonnateur's latrines in the yard, just within the south boundary of the awarded 46 pieds. A covered drain was to conduct the water from the yard through the latrines, along the passageway, to the sea. The two chimneys on the Rodrigue house were to be raised to escape the smoke from the chimneys of the Ordonnateur's house.

In 1736 the Ordonnateur's property was extended to include lot F. (See plan 734-5.) The property, as described in the 1734 Etat, ran 69 pieds along the Rue Royalle and 48 pieds along the Rue St. Louis. [25a] St. Ovide had reserved the property in 1724 and attempted to erect a storehouse.* [31]  [* A marginal note in the 1734 Etat stated that the Governor (St. Ovide) had reserved lot F in 1727. [25a] It is more likely that the 1724 date is correct, since the Etat has been found to be inaccurate in some details for Block 2and 1724 was the date given by the Governor, himself.] In1734, he brought lumber from Isle St. Jean and piled it on the property. When St. Ovide was ready to begin construction, Verrier and LeNormant approached him and requested that the property become part of the Ordonnateur's establishment. The property was needed for improvements to the Ordonnateur's establishment. LeNormant, apparently already using lot F,  felt that unless St. Ovide relinquished his claim, the Ordonnateur's house would be uninhabitable. St. Ovide acquiesced and agreed to build his storehouse in Block 16. [29,31] Royal approval finalized the arrangement. [36]

Francis Bigot took up residence in the Ordonnateur's house after his appointment in 1739. [46] Despite his report that he found the house "en bon Estat", he made several alterations without the King's approval. [44,49] These Bigot justified with the excuse that he had more servants to accommodate than his predecessor.

In 1740, reference was made to a sentry on duty at Bigot's door. [48] A liveried guard was mentioned in the third phase of the house. [80,90] It is possible that a guard was kept permanently posted at the Ordonnateur's door. Further research into the military may yield more definite information on this point.

St. Ovide had transported sand and stone to the site for the construction of his magasin but the masons, being occupied on King's works, were unavailable.

The Rodrigue property was finally captured by the Ordonnateur in 1741. A fire destroyed Rodrigue's lot H buildings in 1737. [39] In 1738, Verrier suggested that the Rodrigue lot be incorporated into the Ordonnateur's property. A freeze was put on the property which forbade the Rodrigue family to build on it or to sell it, forcing them to rent a house and storehouses elsewhere. [53] Finally, on September 5, 1741, the Rodrigue property was purchased for 5500 livres.[50,51,54] The newly-acquired lot ran 44 pieds along the Quay and 150 pieds into the interior of the Block. The 1736 latrines and passageway, and a frame house were included in the sale.

In 1742, the land around the Ordonnateur's house was lowered to the level of the Quay terreplein. [56] (See plan 743-1.) A bank of earth 8 pieds wide was left around the house for protection. Verrier intended to lower the ground floor of the house to the level of the Quay terreplein when construction commenced on the proposed west addition and prisons. Since the addition was not built until 1754, his plan was not carried out. [79]

(b) 1745-1749

The Ordonnateur's house was "very much shattered by Cannon" during the first siege. [66] More than 17 or 18 shots pierced the west gable wall. [69-11,72] Benjamin Green's entry in his journal on May 3, 1745, stated that

3 of our shot entred ye Intendants house
& put the women & child. to the cry which
our people heard [59]

On May 30, Girard La Croix recorded that a corner of the "Intendance" had fallen and Bigot was living in the Casemates. [61]

Within eleven days after the Capitulation, the New Englanders had spent 98 pounds on repairs to the "Intendant's House".* [60] By October, Commodore Warren was inhabiting the structure, [62] The house served as the official residence of the Governor throughout the Occupation period. [63,66] (See plans 745-23, 746-1, 746-4, 746-5, 746-6, 746-8, and 748-2. ) 

[* The English misnamed the house of the Commissaire Ordonnateur the "Intendant's House''.]

( c ) 1749-1754

Upon the return of the fortress to the French, Jacques Prevost came to Louisbourg as the Commissaire Ordonnateur. His retinue included his wife, a son, a daughter, and nine servants. * [69-I] Prevost found his residence changed by the English and in need of immediate repairs and alterations. [69-II] There was not sufficient space for his family and offices. In 1751, Prevost threatened to rent offices elsewhere in the town. [74] Agitation mounted for a west addition. In 1754 construction began, taking the building into its third phase. [79]   

[* Assembled at Rochefort to embark for Isle Royale in 1749 were: Prevost and his wife, a son, a daughter, a cook, Lartigue Lainé, a steward - François Durivaud, a cook - François Mahau, a chamber maid - Radegonde Durivaud, a servant - Helenne de Rhé, and three domestics - Jean de St. fort aft. St. Jean, Mathurin Dreat, and Pierre Moreau.]

2. Structural Details

The second phase of the Ordonnateur's house was characterized by extensions on its west and south ends. The house was much larger than that of the first phase and bore little relation to it in floor plan. (See plans N.D.7, N.D.7a,739-5, and 739-5a.) In its second phase, the house expanded into the north magasin. Discussion of structural details here includes only the main part of the second-phase house (i.e. the area of the first-phase house and the two extensions). The magasin section is included in Section II (Magasins of the Commissaire Ordonnateur).

The south extension involved a lengthening of the east and west walls and construction of a new south wall. The north end wall of the magasin formed the east half of the south wall of the house. (See plans 737-1, 737-6a, 739-1,739-5, and 739-5a.)

When first constructed, the west extension was an enlargement of only the first storey. (See Second Phase Chronology.) While the passageway existed, the Ordonnateur's house had two west end walls--the original first-phase end wall which formed the east wall of the passageway, and the common second-phase wall shared with the Rodrigue house, which formed the west wall of the passageway and the end wall of the apartment above. Toothing stones (Pierre d'attente) were left at the extremities and the middle of the common wall to easily accommodate as an end wall if the widow Rodrigue ever wished to replace her wooden house in lot H with a masonry structure. [28,71]

The transition to the second-phase house took place in 1736 and 1737. [30,32,33] The expenses for these years included payments to various craftsmen, and purchases of plaster from Port Dauphin, cut stone, other building supplies, and locks.[35,37,38] It is not possible to establish where the various materials were used. The structural details of the extensions were undoubtedly very similar to those of the existing house,

After the Rodrigue house was consumed by fire in 1737, the passageway seems to have continued to exist under the first-storey extension. Direct mention to the passageway was made in 1741 when the Rodrigue property was sold to the King. [50,51]  Plans 739-5-(2) and 739-5a, however, do not show the passageway or its east boundary, the west end wall of the first phase house. It is not known when the passageway was enclosed and incorporated into the Ordonnateur's house.

The 1739 proposals for the west addition yield valuable details for the main part of the second-phase house. Many of the details given for the addition can be applied to the second-phase structure since Verrier's proposed addition closely complemented the structure. (See plan 739-5-(2).) The distance between floor and ceiling on the ground floor was 8 pieds 6 pouces, and on the first storey was 13 pieds (See plan 739-5-(3).) The first-storey ceiling of the addition was deck-shaped, with planks mounted on the ceiling rafter and its braces from the center masonry wall, as well as on part of the principal rafter. Cross-sections of the windows, doors and roof are seen on the 1739 profile. (See pertinent sections in the Third Phase Structural Details.)

The attic of the main house received light through its dormer windows. No reference was made to the attic in the second phase of the main house, and it is not known what function it served. The 1739 floor plan does not show stairs leading to the attic. (See plan 739-5-(1).)

Plan 739-5a shows five rooms on the ground floor of the main house. Three rooms are found in the east half of the building while two larger rooms are shown in the west half. A right-angle staircase is situated against the center masonry wall and west partition, giving access to the first storey from the southwest room. The floor plan of the first stored, with three small rooms and two large rooms, is similar to that of the ground floor. (See plan 739-5-(l).)

Room Locations

Although various references are made to the apartment and offices in the Ordonnateur's house, the location of the rooms are not specified. Discussion of room locations is, therefore, based mainly on speculation.

Offices - After Verrier's alterations in 1736, the ground floor of the house was taken for offices. [33] Accommodation was provided for the Bureau des classes, Bureaus des trouppes, and the Bureau des décharges, possibly in the three rooms in the east half of the ground floor, (See plan 739-5a,) Mention of the Bureau des classes was made in 1739. [45] It and the Bureau des trouppes had been relocated by 1741. André Carrerot, in 1741, and his widow, in 1757, received rent for housing the two offices. [52,84] The Bureau des décharges remained in the Ordonnateuris house in the second and third phases [68c.77]

The 1736 Bureau des décharges contained the caisse of the Treasury. [33]   A separate office existed for the Treasury in 1739. [45] In 1749, the two offices seem to have been located in the north magasin. (See Structural Details of Section II.)

The Ordonnateur's clerk continued to have an office in the house in its second phase. The office was mentioned in 1739. [45] The Court Clerk (Greffe) also had an office in the house in 1750. [69-II, 72] The location of the two offices is not known.

In the early years of the second French occupation period, prior to the building of the west addition, the offices of the Ordonnateur's house were crowded together. [72] Franquet's report of the building in 1750 stated that"les bureaux, le tresor, et Le greffe, Sont dans ce Logement Entassés Les uns, Sur les autres, faute d'Endroits a Les placer commodement". Offices unrelated to the Ordonnateur's functions were situated in the house, as well as his offices, the Bureau des décharges, and the office and strongbox of the Treasury. [76] It is not possible to determine the location of the various offices in the main house in this last stage of the second phase.

Dining-room and "chambre" - In 1739, Bigot located a dining-room and a chambre on the ground floor on his "new building". [46] It is possible that they were situated in the two rooms in the west half of the house. (See plan 739-5a.)

Latrines - Prior to its annexation in 1736, lot F was being used by the Ordonnateur. It seems that latrines were situated there. [29,31]

In 1736, latrines were located behind the house. The agreement between the widow Rodrigue and the Ordonnateur stipulated that a latrine was to be built for the widow, backing the Ordonnateur's latrine, just within the south boundary of the passageway. The two latrines were to share a common pit and a covered drain, [28] (See Second Phase Chronology.) The Rodrigue's passageway latrine was included in the sale of lot H in 1741. [51] It is not known how long the passageway latrines were functional.

Ordonnateur's Apartment - The Ordonnateur's apartment comprised the first storey.[33] Almost nothing is known about the use of its rooms. A brick stove was installed or repaired in the antechamber in 1749. [68c] It is possible that the antechamber was located in the southeast corner of the main house the only first storey room without a fireplace -- situated at the top of the main staircase. (See plan739-5-(1).) An armoire with four shelves and a framed and panelled door was built in a corner of the cabinet in 1750. [73b] It is likely that the Ordonnateur's office was situated on the first storey.

Superior Council - The Superior Council, which was meeting in deMesy's house in1725, does not appear to have had a permanent meeting place in its early years. [l5,16] Prior to LeNormant's departure in 1739, it again was meeting in the Ordonnateur's house. [43] There is no indication which room served as the Council Chamber. The 1739-5 proposal for the west addition, whose facade was labelled FACADE des chambres du Conseil, included a Salle du Conseil. In 1739, however, the Council was ordered to assemble in the Governor's Wing of the Chateau. [43] From 1749 to 1753, Prevost's insistence on a west addition was based partially on the need to accommodate the Council. [69-II,71,76]


As a King's building constituting the residence and offices of the second highest ranking official in the colony, the house of the Commissaire Ordonnateur was well-maintained. Expenses for most years prior to 1745 list work done on the house.* 

[* See documents 41, 42, 47, 52, 55, 57, 58. ]

The New Englanders, in their estimation, had "totally repaired" and "Improved" the building during the Occupation. [60,66] The French, upon their return, considered major repairs necessary. [69-II] Most necessary was the re-establishment of the west gable wall which was cracked as the result of canon fire. [69-II,71,72] Over fifteen hundred 1ivres were spent on various repairs in 1749. [67,68] Additional works totalling slightly over 992 livres was carried out in 1750.[73] Most of the repairs are discussed elsewhere in this report under the appropriate subject headings. The only item not mentioned in the 1749 repair toisé is "two buckets for drawing off the washing water from the washtubs". [68-25] The remaining 1750 works to be enumerated are:

350 scupper nails and three [quintrous] of iron                              


wire for an armoire of the house of the King
occupied by the Ordonnateur

Repairs made to several tongues of the floor of                            [73 - 12 to 14]
a room, where there has been employed 4 days'
labour of the joiner

An armoire 7 1/2 pieds high and 5 pieds wide,
made of panels, fitted with planed shelves....

A fitted door for the battens of an armoire,
with four planed shelves...

In 1752, four barrels of quicklime were purchased for repairs. [75]


The exterior of the house was platre en pierre apparent (roughcasting around the stones which regained visible). (See plan 7~3-1.) In 1750, the exterior wall beside the courtyard was enduit (roughcasting covering the stones).[73-2] The rest of the building seems to have remained platre en pierre apparent.

The Ordonnateur's apartment was finished in roughcasting and fitted panelling. The roughcasting was definitely rough, for its 1750 repairs were the same price and, therefore, relatively the same quality as those done on the exterior ways.[73-1 and 2] The panelling was quite simple, costing only 30 livres per square toise. [68-10]

At least two rooms in the Ordonnateur's house were painted. The expenses for 1738 included payment for 21 days spent painting two rooms in the house. [40] Other mentions of painting occurred in 1741 and 1750, when an unspecified number of days (possibly six) and seven days, respectively, were spent painting at the Ordonnateur's house. [52,70] It is probable that paint was used, although it is possible that it was whitewash.


The window cross-section on the profile of the proposed west addition on plan739-5-(3) will be helpful in reconstruction of windows for the second-phase house. Excellent views of the windows on the north and east sides of the main house are seen on plans 739-5-(2) and 743-1.

Cutstone surrounds replaced the rotten, wooden window frames at the Ordonnateur's house in 1736. [33,34] Bars were probably placed on the lower-storey window sat this time. Plan 739-5-(2) shows four perpendicular bars on the lower-storey windows in the north wall while plan 743-1 shows four perpendicular bars and one traverse bar in the lower-storey west-wall windows.

The locations of the four windows on the upper storey and three windows on the lower storey in the north wall of the first-phase house (as seen on plansN.D.7 and N.D.7a) correspond closely to those of the second-phase house (as seen on plans 739-5 and 739-5a). By 1739, a fourth window had been cut in the north wall on the ground floor. This probably was done in 1736 when the kitchen was moved from the front of the house to the north magasin. [33] Plan 745-1 substantiates the location of eight windows in the north wall. The five pieds west extension affected the symmetry of the windows in the north facade. (See plan739-5-(2).)

Plan 739-5a situates two windows on either side of a door on the lower storey of the east wall of the main part of the second phase house. Plan 743-1 shows three windows on the north section of the lower storey, indicating that a window replaced the 739-5a door when the land around the house was lowered to the level of the Quay terreplein. Four windows on the lower-storey east wall are seen on plan 745-1. Five windows appear on the upper-storey east wall on plan 739-5-(1), and four on plan 745-1. With the extended length of the second-phase east wall, a situation of  five windows on the upper and lower stories seems most probable.

The new south wall had two windows on the west half of its upper storey. (See plan 739-5-(1).) Two lightly-shaded windows on the lower storey appear on plan739-5a, indicating that they were proposed rather than existing in 1739.

No windows were located in the second-phase west wall seen on plans 739-5 and 739-5a.

Plan 715-1a, which is very questionable in window details, generally contradicts the other views, placing five windows on the upper and lower stories of the north wall, and three windows on the upper and lower stories of the east wall.

Two gable dormers were situated on the north and east sides of the roof on the main part of the second-phase Ordonnateur's house. (See plans 739-5,739-5a, and 745-1. Also note plans 743-1 and 745-la.) No dormers appear on the south side of the roof. If the ceiling of the first storey of the main house was similar to that of the proposed addition, the base of the dormers were situated adjacent to the ceiling rafter. (See plan 739-5.)

One hundred livres sixteen sols were spent in 1742 for cotton window curtains for the Ordonnateur's residence. [57]

Panes of glass, 7 pouces by 8 pouces, were cleaned or replaced, and limestone and cement used at all the joints of the double windows in 17149. [68-11 to 16] In 1750, 1174 windows were cleaned and set with putty. Limestone and cement were used in the exterior joints of the "fixed windows" (chassis dormant). [73-18 to 21] The details of these repairs indicate that the windows were sash windows, with a top stationary window  and a lower window which could be raised and lowered. This type of window seems particularly probable for the large first-storey windows.


The only exterior door for the main part of the second-phase house is seen in the east wall, flanked by two windows on each side, on plan 739-5a. A window seems to have replaced the door after the land on the east side was lowered to the level of the Quay terreplein. (See plan 7L~3-1.)

Plan 739-5a shows four interior doors on the ground floor--two between the three rooms in the east half, one between the two rooms in the west half, and one between the main house and the north-magasin section. The plan includes proposals for a door to the proposed west addition and a diagonal passageway to the magasin section. At the time of the 1739 plan, there was no interior connection between the east and west halves of the ground-floor main house. Access to the west half was apparently gained only from the upper storey, unless a door was located in the south wall where the plan shows proposed windows.

Plan 739-5-(1) situates seven doors on the first stored. Four are in the same positions as those on the ground floor. In addition, two are located in the center masonry wall, and a second door leads to the north magasin A proposed door to the Proposed west addition is also seen on the plan.


When reconstructing the second-phase house, the roof structure of the addition, seen in profile on plan 739-5-(3), should be consulted. (See Roof section of Structural Details for the Third Phase.)

The roof of the main part of the second-phase house was changed drastically as a result of the extensions on the south and west sides. (See plans 739-5 and739-5a.) The five pieds extension on the west side placed the ridge slightly off-center. The south extension involved an expansion of the roof framing to meet and adjoin the roof of the north magasin.

The house continued to have a hip roof in its second phase. (See plans 737-1,739-5, 739-5a, 740-3, 743-1, and 745-1.) Unlike other King's buildings, wood shingles rather than slate covered the roof. [71]

In 1736, Verrier reported that the roof was in bad shape. [34] Repairs were made in 1736 and again in 1737 when the roof was damaged by the fire in the Rodrigue property. [35,37]

The shingles of all the buildings on the Ordonnateur's property were repaired in 1749. [68-9] In 1750, repairs, involving 54 pounds of lead and an area of 5 square toisespied 6 pouces, were made in the vicinity of the valley-channel, on the old lath-work. [73-4 and 5] At this time, Boucher reported that the roof was rotten, and suggested that the shingles be replaced by slate. [71] This suggestion was repeated in 1753 but does not seem to have been carried out.[76]

A ladder, 36 pieds long, with three crosspieces and oak rungs, was built for the Ordonnateur's house in 1749. [68-26] Its length, which greatly over-extends the distance from the ground to the eaves, suggests that it served as a fire ladder on the roof, although no fastenings were mentioned. Four roofing ladders, each 21 pieds long, were furnished in 1750. [73-16 and 17] Eight clamps secured them to the roof.

The location of fireplaces on plans 739-5 and 739-5a indicates that there were three chimneys on the roof of the second phase-house. Two first-phase chimneys one near the center of the north slope of the roof and one on the west end of the  building--appear on plan 739-5-(2). The third is seen on the ridge on plan 743-1, in the approximate position of the upper-storey fireplaces shown on plan 739-5-(1) in the south section of the center masonry wall. Plan 745-1 also seems to situate a third chimney in this position.

In 1749, all the chimneys of the house were swept 25 times, at different times.[68-17]

The house of the Commissaire Ordonnateur did not have a fleur-de-lis on its roof, as did many other King's buildings in Louisbourg. None of the views for the second, and also the third, phases of the house include such a feature, with the single exception of plan 745-la. The latter plan shows two fleurs-de-lis on the ridge of the roof. Plan 745-la, which also picture fleurs-de-lis on the Governor's Wing of the Chateau, is suspect in many details and should be viewed as the exception rather than the rule where discrepancies appear.


Plans 739-5 and 739-5a include seven fireplaces in the main section of the Ordonnateur's house in its second phase. Two double fireplaces are shown--one on the ground floor where the first phase oven was located, and one on the first storey above. Two single fireplaces are found in the south section of the center masonry wall of the first storey. A proposed fireplace is seen on the west wall of the ground floor.

Jean Laumonier, a master stone-cutter, was employed in August of 1737 to install two fireplaces of Canada blackstone (Pierre noire de Canada). [37,38] Expenses submitted in 1738 included cut stone fireplace faces by Laumonier. [41,42]

In 1739, firewood was required for fires in the Ordonnateur's office, Clerk's office, Treasurer's office, Bureau des classes, and Bureau des descharges. [45] The "fires" could have been either fireplaces or stoves.

In 1752, S. Brisson constructed two cut stone mantels for the Ordonnateur's apartment. [75]


The Ordonnateur's fireplaces on plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a are situated such that all the rooms in the main part of the house have access to a chimney, permitting installation of stoves. These stoves were probably used during the winter in the rooms without fireplaces. It is possible that there were two or three stoves on the ground floor, backing the chimneys which led to the first-storey fireplaces in the south section of the center masonry partition. Another possibly was located in the room in the southeast corner of the first storey.

The expenses for 1739 included installation of stoves (poelles) in the house. [47] The English set two "Furnaces" at the "Governor's House" in July of 1747. [64] Brick stoves in the antechambre and the office were mentioned in Boucher's 1749 repair toisé. [68-23 and 24] Stoves in the apartments and offices were repaired in 1750. [73-6]

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