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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)



C. Third Phase 1754-

The Ordonnateur's house entered a third phase in 1754 when an addition was built on the west end of the building. [79]

1. Chronology

Proposals were made for a west addition throughout the history of the Ordonnateur's house. While deMesy's house was still under construction, in1721, deMesy suggested that Rodrigue's L-shaped building, which was two-thirds out of alignment, be destroyed and the lot H property expropriated. [6c] An extension of deMesy's house across Rodrigue's lot H property would provide "a facade of 85 pieds for a palace...which is very necessary in this place for lodging the Commissaire Ordonnateur, offices, and Justice." M. deMesy proposed  to subsidize the construction of the "palais" by a tax of one quintel of cod per chaloupe. The Council rejected the idea, considering lot H to be of more profitable use for Rodrigue's commercial purposes. [6c,8]

After Rodrigue lost his buildings in the 1737 fire, Verrier suggested that the King take the opportunity to expropriate Rodrigue's property and protect the Ordonnateur's house from further threats of fire. [39] In 1739, he drafted plans for an impressive two-storey addition to be located in lot H. (See plans739-5 and 739-5a.) The Rodrigue property was purchased in 1741 -"pour faire Le palais et Les prisons civilles." [54]

The 1745 siege began before the addition could be built. After the French re-occupation, Prevost, Boucher, and Franquet renewed the request for a west addition. [69-II, 71, 72] The west wall of the Ordonnateur's house had been riddled by almost twenty cannon shots during the siege and needed immediate extensive repairs. Franquet suggested that 8000 livres be expended to construct a west addition and to repair the west wall, making it the width of a partition wall, rather than the width of an exterior wall. [72] Only two exterior walls, extensions of the north and south walls, would be necessary. Such an improvement to the King's building would enable the Ordonnateur who occupied it" to receive the public in a becoming way and to offer the facilities required by his position. " Franquet promised to have a plan of his proposals drawn up and sent to the King.

In 1751, Prevost renewed his representations for an addition. Unless he received permission to build, he would be obliged to rent offices and a basement in the town. [74] Prevost and Franquet mentioned the project to expand the Ordonnateur's house into the former Rodrigue property in their report on the state of Louisbourg buildings belonging to the Crown in 1753. [76]

In the expenses for 1754, Prevost submitted a request for 10,000 livres to construct an addition to the house occupied by the Ordonnateur. [78] Work commenced on the Ordonnateur's house west addition in 1754* and extended into1755. [79] 

[* Archaeology has uncovered a cornerstone laid on May 16, 1754.]

The addition was to house the offices of the Admiralty Court, the Superior Council, and the Baillif Court (Baillage). [76] After construction started, Prevost and Drucour began organizing the offices of the enlarged building. They sent dispatches to France in 1755 and again in 1757, suggesting that the authority of the Admiralty Court and the Baillif Court be separated. [85,86] Since the two courts met on separate days, the same room could be used for both Jurisdictions. The separation never came about, as the King was not in favor of the idea, and the matter seems to have been undecided when the English began the Second Siege. [88]

Drucour and Prevost also advocated that the Court Clerk (Greffe) and the depository of the minutes and dispatches of the Baillif Court be located in a safer place [85,86] As the Court Clerk had been in the Ordonnateur's house since at least 1750, the suggestion was, therefore, to move him to better quarters within the same building. [69-II,72] It is noteworthy that Verrier's 1739 proposed plans for the addition provided accommodation for the Court Clerk and his papers, as well as another Chamber for the Superior Council. The Superior Council was meeting in the Ordonnateur's house in 1757. [85,86]

Supplies for 1756 included 50 pounds of white candles for the Ordonnateur's offices. [80] In 1757, three people were paid 100 livres for cutting 18 cords of firewood for the Ordonnateur's offices [84]

Mention of a liveried guard at the Ordonnateur's house was made in 1756 and 1758 [80,90] Expenses for these years included two coats of King's livery, two pairs of fine scarlet Breeches, two pairs of fine scarlet woolen stockings,and two hats bordered in gold for the guards of the Magasin Général and the Ordonnateur's house.

In 1757, the Ordonnateur was harassed by troops of the marine. Prevost reported to Moras, the Minister of the Marine, that several times the winnows of Prevost's house had been broken with stones.[83]

Prevost apparently indulged in illegal recreation in his spare time In1758, the Minister of the Marine wrote to him, repeating reports from returning officers that gambling "jeux d'hazard" was being permitted in his house. Between15,000 and 20,000 livres had been lost by officers and civil officials in Louisbourg during the campaign, although not necessarily in Prevost's house. [87]

According to Laborde, the papers of the Bureau de L'Intendance were placed in the basement of the Ordonnateur's house at Louisbourg during the Second Siege.[92] In July of 1758, the capitulation having been made to the English, Prevost made arrangements to return to France. [89] In 1759, Prevost, his family, and household embarked for La Rochelle. *[91] Almost nothing is known about the house after this point.

[* In 1759, Prevost's family and household totalled fifteen people: M. Prevostand his wife, three sons - an enseigne and two cadets, three daughters -Josephine, Adelaide and Victoire, a chambre maid - Margueritte Areas, a cook -Jean L'étoille, and two Negro servants - Simon, and Jean Narcisse, a steward -Pierre Moreau, and two servants - Pierre Leclerc and Jean LeRoy.] 

Gibson Clough drew the former Ordonnateur's property in c.1759. His sketch labels it "the generals House." The house was "much out of repair" by 1767 and 1768, [93] (See plan 767-1.) No mention of an occupant was made in Franklin's report of the town in 1768.

2. Structural Details (a) West Addition - Two walls running parallel to the Quay were erected to form the west addition. The west extremity of the Ordonnateur's house and the east extremity of the Destouches house, located further along the Quay side of Block 2, served as end walls, as suggested by Franquet [72] (See plans 739-5-(2) and 767-1.) The toothing stones placed at the ends and middle of the west common wall in 1736 would have been used in the construction of the addition. [28,71]

An account of expenses made at Isle Royale in 1754 enumerated some of the construction materials used for the west addition, [82] Cedar was purchased for the ceilings, Boston pine planks were acquired, as well as large quantities of window glass and bricks.

July 3 marché ... for the price of [?] of Boston pine
planks furnished for the building of the
King's house occupied by the Ordonnateur...                                     620

July 11 Certificat ... to Thomas Daniel English merchant
for the price of 38 barrels of quicklime...                                            646

July 27 Artif. . to Jean Repily for the price of
2600 bricks ...                                                                                         52

July 27 marché ... to Antoine Pascaud for the price
of 2240 panes of glass ...                                                                     1120

August 10 Certificat ... to S. Sivister, English
merchant, for the price of 15,700
bricks ...                                                                                                  314

August 14 Certificat ... to Jean Fremond for the
price of [?] nails                                                                                     142 8  8

August 30 Certif ... to Daniel Dole for the price
of 7000 bricks                                                                                          140

Sept. 14 Certificat to Richard Graham, English
merchant, for the price of 12 copper
locks and their keys ...                                                                            123 12

Oct. 4 Marché ... to S. Brunet for the price of
[?] barrels of quicklime ...                                                                      880

Nov. 19 Marché ... to Bernard Paris for the price
of [?] panes of glass that he has
supplied for the windows of the King's
buildings in this port ...                                                                         600
. . .

Dec. 2 Certificat ... for the price of 35,000
wooden lathes of cedar that he has
supplied for the ceilings ...                                                                     385

In 1756, 350 pieds of Boston planks were purchased for the Ordonnateur's house, presumably for the addition, [81]

There is no way to determine historically the details of the 1754 addition. Verrier's 1739 plans give his proposals for its facade, floor plan, and profile. (See plans 739-5 and 739-5a.) It is not known how carefully they were considered in the actual construction, In 1750, Franquet promised to send a plan of the addition he proposed to France, [72] His proposal has not been found. No documentary description of the addition is extant.

The structure proposed by Verrier was to measure 43 pieds along the Quay and 46 pieds into the Block, abutting for a width of 26 pieds against the Destouches house as shown on the plans. [See plans 739-5 and 739-5a.] The exterior and interior walls were to be 2 pieds thick.

Plan 739-5a shows the proposed ground floor to consist of a hallway, two prisons, and a jailor's quarters. The hall, 10 pieds by 42 pieds, has exterior entrances in the north and south walls, and interior entrances leading to the first storey. Jailor's quarters, and west half of the main Ordonnateur's house. Two prisons, each 14 pieds 6 pouces by 20 pieds, are located in the rear of the house. Each prison has a window and a door facing the courtyard. The jailor's quarters consist of three rooms - a large room, 16 pieds by 20 pieds, and two smaller rooms, one 15 pieds wide and the other 5 pieds wide. The height of the walls on the ground floor was to be 8 pieds 6 pouces.  (See plan 739-5-(3).)

Plan 739-5-(1) gives a proposed floor plan for the west-addition first storey. A hall, 10 pieds by 26 pieds, leads to the Salle publique and the west half of the main house. The Salle publique or public waiting room is 31 pieds by 20 pieds. The Salle du Conseil or Council Chamber and the offices of the Court Clerk (Greffe) are found at the rear of the addition. The Salle du Conseil, 20 pieds square, is situated in the southwest corner of the building. A room, reserved for the papers of the Court Clerk, is 10 pieds by 14 pieds while the main office is 11 pieds by 20 pieds. The distance from floor to ceiling on the first storey was to be 13 pieds. (See plan 739-5-(3). Note Second-Phase Structural Details for further discussion.)

The Quay front of the addition is shown on plans 758-6a, 766-1, and Clough's c.1759 sketch. Plan 758-9 provides a south view of the Ordonnateur's house and what seems to be the adjoining Destouches house.

The southwest corner of the addition extends into the courtyard forming a right-angle with the south wall of the Ordonnateur's house on plan 767-1. This feature has been substantiated by archaeology. The structure believed to be the Ordonnateur's house on plan 758-12c does not have an addition.


The addition had a hipped roof. (See proposal plans 739-5, 739-5a, 740-3,741-2, 742-6, and 745-11. Note plan 766-1 for contradiction.) The roofs of the addition and the main house were on the same level and seem to have abutted as proposed on plan 739-5-(2). The Destouches roof was slightly lower than the addition roof.

The roof structure of the proposed west addition appears in profile on plan739-5-(3). The roof is supported by a king post with four braces, as well another supporting braces. Three purlins in both the north and south slopes of the roof, as well as one on the ridge, are shown. The roof structure rests on a double wall-plate. Eccouyeaux are seen at the base of the roof pitch.

There were three chimneys on the roof of the addition. Proposal plan739-5-(2) situates one on the north slope, one on the south slope, and one on the west hip, corresponding to the fireplace locations of plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a. One chimney on the north slope, and two on the south are seen on plan 766-1.


The windows in the addition appear to have been the same size as those on the main part of the Ordonnateur's house.  (See plans 739-5-(2) and 766-1.) Scaled from proposal plan 739-5-(2), the windows in the north wall of the addition on the ground floor measure 3 pieds by 4 piers while those on the first storey measure 3 pieds by 6 pieds.

One ground-floor window and two first-storey windows are seen in profile on proposal plan 739-5-(3). It should be noted that the lintels of the proposed addition's ground floor windows are directly under its ceiling, and the lintels of the first-storey windows are directly under the eaves.

Proposal plan 739-5-(2) shows three cutstone windows on the ground floor and four cutstone windows on the first stored in the north wall of the addition. Plan758-6a shows five windows on both stories in the north wall while plan 766-1 shows only three windows for each storey.

No windows were located in the end walls, which abutted against the Ordonnateur's house on the east and the Destouches house on the west. (See plans 739-5a, 739-5-(1), and 766-1.) Clough's c.1759 sketch, which abounds in windows, situates three on the ground floor and four on the upper floor of the west end wall.

Proposal plan 739-5a situates two windows on the ground floor in the south wall. Four perpendicular bars are seen on both windows, as the south section of the addition was to be used for prisons. Four windows appear on the first stored in the south wall on proposal plan 739-5-(1).

Dormer windows were located on the addition roof. Proposal plan 739-5-(2) shows two dormers on the north slope of the roof while plan 766-1 shows four. Two dormers are seen on the south slope on plan 758-9, although the more westerly one may have been situated on the adjoining Destouches house.


Four exterior doors were proposed for the Ordonnateur's house addition. (See plan 739-5a,) An elaborate doorway with two steps is shown in the east section of the north wall on proposal plan 739-5-(2). It is encased by moulded surrounds and crowned by a coat-of-arms. It must be noted that no doorway is seen in the north wall in either plan 758-6a or 766-1.

Proposal plan 739-5a situates three exterior doors in the addition's south wall. Two doors lead from the courtyard into the prison cells while the third serves as a rear entrance to the center hallway.

A small square projects into the Destouches property on the south section of the west wall on plan 767-1, possibly indicating the location of a door. Clough's c. 1759 sketch locates a door in this position.

Proposal plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a place ten interior doors in the west addition. On the ground floor, two doors are seen in the masonry walls and three in the partitions Five interior doors are located in the masonry walls of the first storey. Two interior doors in the jailor's quarters and the exterior door of the east prison are shown in profile on proposal plan 739-5a.


We have no historical information pertaining to the structural details of the cellars which were located under the addition. No cellar windows are shown on views of the building A cellar entrance is not included in the 739-5a proposal, although it is possible that basement stairs were located under the staircase seen in the main hallway.

(b) Main House - We have no documentary reference to structural changes in the main house after its transition to the third phase in 1754. Views of the dwelling are seen on Clough's c 1759 sketch, plans 758-6a, 758-9, and 766-1.

Persisting in his exaggeration of windows, Clough places fourteen windows on the older section of the house overlooking the Quay, and seven windows and a door in the east wall, facing the Rue St. Louis. Plans 758-6a and 766-1 are more accurate in their representation of four windows on both the upper and lower stories in the north wall. Four windows are pictured on the east wall of the building on plan 758-6a. Two dormers, as well as what seem to be four windows on each stored, appear in the east side of the main house on plan 758-9.

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