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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. Chronology

M. deMesy began constructing a magasin on lot G in 1720. (See plans 720-2and 720-4.) It was situated, in alignment, along the Rue St. Louis boundary. By June of 1721, the building had been completed and, apparently without waiting for royal approval, the King's provisions moved into the magasins* from Genier's storehouse, which was then destroyed. [3,5] In 1722, 120 barrels of beverages and potatoes and 600 quarts of flour, 6 tiers deep, were stored in one magasin. Other dry provisions and clothing were placed in the second magasin which also served as a distribution office. Lard, beef, molasses, and other supplies were stored in the basement. [6b]

[* M. deMesy's storehouse was divided into two halves by a masonry partition. It was generally referred to in the plural, each half being considered a magasin. They are distinguished in this report as "north magasin" and "south magasin''.]

M. deMesy offered to sell or rent his magasins to the King. [6] They were solidly built and, in deMesy's estimation, superior to any storehouses in Louisbourg and Plaisance, where the King lost an enormous quantity of his stored supplies. [6b] The King refused to purchase deMesy's magasins but agreed to rent them until the projected official King's storehouses were built. [6,8] Six hundred livres annual rent, commencing October 1, 1721, was paid to the Ordonnateur. [8] A Similar amount was paid in 1724 and 1725. [11,13] The rental was discontinued in 1726. [16]

In 1721-1722, the Council questioned the purpose for which the building was intended and the source of materials used in its construction. [4,6a] The Curé accused deMesy's labourers of taking stones from the church's property, probably the adjacent lot on the northwest corner of Block 3. The Council expressed little confidence in the masons, Flan and Poitevin, who were working on the building. More faith was placed in the carpenter, La Musette, who was an engagé bought by deMesy and later ceded to Isabeau. [6]

The magasin was included in the sale of deMesy's property to the King in1733. [21] The ensuing alterations made the magasin an integral part of the Ordonnateur's house. As such, its history beyond 1736 is included in Section I, B and C - House of the Commissaire Ordonnateur, Second and Third Phases.

B. Structural Details

The deMesy magasin was a masonry structure, 90 pieds long and 22 pieds wide, situated on the Rue St. Louis, as seen on plan 734-4. [21]  A masonry wall divided the building into two magasins with interior measurements of 42 pieds by 18 pieds each. [6b]

The building was a two-storey structure. (See plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a.) M. deMesy described the building as two large cellars, with two large storehouses above. His choice of the Block 2 site had been influenced by the fact that it was "a place suitable for cellars". According to deMesy, an excavation 94 pieds long, 22 pieds wide, and 6 pieds deep had been made for the building and the stones from the site used in the masonry walls. [6a] Cellars, running the length of the magasins, were mentioned again in the 1733 sale of the property to the King. [21] It would appear that the term "cellars" referred to the ground floor of the north and south magasins.* No cellars are indicated on the floor plans of N.D.7, N.D.7a, 739-5-(1), and 739-5a. When agitating for an addition in the 1750's, frequent reference was made to the fact that the Ordonnateur's establishment lacked cellars. [69-II,71,74]

[* Archaeology has determined that there were no cellars under the deMesy magasins.]

The "cellars", presumably the ground floor, were 6 pieds from floor to ceiling, while the "two storehouses above", presumably the first storey, were 7 pieds  from floor to ceiling. The joists, crosspieces, and planks used in the magasins' construction were brought from Port Toulouse. [6a]

Many of the repairs to the Ordonnateur's house, whose locations were not specified, probably took place in the magasin section. These are discussed in Section IB-2, the structural details of the main part of the house.


The early storehouse on the Ordonnateur's property was simply divided into two halves the north magasin and the south magasin. (See plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a.) Plans 739-5a and 739-5-(1) give the more complex floor plan of the building in its role in the second phase of the house. As with the main part of the house, allocation of specific rooms must be based partially on speculation.

Plan 739-5a divides the ground floor of the north magasin into three rooms an entranceway, a petite salle, and a kitchen.

Entranceway - On the north end of the magasin was the main entranceway to the second-phase house. A wide, right-angle staircase led to the first storey. The shading of plan 739-5-(1) makes it difficult to determine whether partitions enclosed the stairs.

Petite Salle. Bureau des Décharges and Bureau du Tresorier - A windowless room appears on the north of the second-phase kitchen on plan 739-5a. LeNormant, who was using the room in 1736, referred to it as a petite salle. [33]

The 1749 repair toisé indicates that the Bureau des décharges, and theBureau du Tresorier w ere located in the petite salle a fter the Ordonnateur reoccupied the building. A partition of pine planks divided the room into two offices--the Bureau des décharges in the east and the Bureau du Tresorier in the west. [68-30] A window was cut in brick in the exterior wall to supply light to the Bureau des décharges. [68-27] Two doors were cut in the offices, probably in the north wall which would have allowed convenient access to both offices via the Rue St. Louis main entrance. [68-31, 33, and 34] The door in the Bureau du Tresorier, probably the one seen in the west wall of the room on plan 739-5a, was blocked.*

[* See below Windows and Doors sections for further details.]

The Bureau du Tresorier was divided into two parts by a half-partition, which probably ran east-west across the office. [68-35] The bottom of the partition was finished in simple, fitted panelling, while the top, above sill-level, was left open, with the oak beams exposed, An opening was left on one end to provide access between the two parts. It apparently was an archway rather than a door, as only a lintel is mentioned. [68-37] In addition, a brick wall was established on the partition between the offices and the kitchen. [68-1] This seems to have been built on the west wall of the Bureau du Tresorier, on the corridor side of the existing partition, perhaps to eliminate the intrusion of cooking odors from the kitchen. [68-1] The floor of the Bureau du Tresorier was shored up with oak, presumably to support the weight of the bricks. [68-3]

Two tables "with a small drawer", estimated together at 10 livres, were attached to the half-partition--one on each side--in the Bureau du Tresorier.[68-36] A fitted table and two drawers on a trestle, estimated at 24 livres, was supplied for the Bureau des décharges. [68-32]

Kitchen - As part of the transformation to the second phase, the kitchen, which Verrier claimed was often flooded by melting ice and snow, was moved from the main part of the house into the north magasin. [33,34] Plan 739-5a shows a fireplace with a bake oven and a warming oven in the north wall of the new room.

In 1749, various repairs were reported to have been made in the kitchen. A table of oak planks fitted on an oak trestle, with a drawer, estimated at 40 livres, was furnished for the kitchen. [68-6] Another table, to seat eight, estimated at 12 livres, was also supplied, it would seem for the kitchen or one of its dependencies. [68-B]

First-Storey North Magasin - The interesting floor plan of the first-storey north magasin is given on plan 739-5-(1). Two small rooms are situated to the west of the stairs, while two large rooms are seen above the ground floor's petite salleand kitchen. There are three corridors--one leading to the south magasin, one to the main house and one leading nowhere except to a blank wall.

There is no evidence to indicate the use of the first-storey rooms. In 1739, Prevost had plank partitions installed in the "vieux magasin" to make servants'quarters. [44,46] It is probable that they were located on the north magasin's first storey.

Ground floor South Magasin - The second-phase south magasin seems to have been used as a storage area. Its ground floor, as seen on plan 739-5a, is partitioned into two sections, with the south section remaining unaltered. Two small rooms are seen on the west wall of the north section. Partitions enclose a small area in the northeast corner of the magasin. The function of the enclosure presents a problem, since no door is shown.

The small room on the west wall, adjacent to the kitchen, was probably a pantry. An office (pantry) was mentioned in 1739.  [46] A stove was installed or repaired in the pantry in 17149, situating the room near a chimney, and possibly near the one in the south wall of the kitchen. [68-24] A door was also replaced in the drying cupboard (etuve) of the pantry in 17149. [68-7]

First-Storey South Magasin - The partition on the first stored of the south magasin was located on the north side of the loading door, leaving a wide floor space in the south section. (See plan 739-5-(1).) A second partition divided the north section into two roams. A shaded feature shown on the east wall presents a problem. Although it appears to be a staircase, it is not repeated on the ground floor plan. (See plan 739-5a.) The elevation of the roof, relative to that of the house, indicates that the magasin had no attic of significance. As the shaded area is located almost directly above the enclosure on the ground floor east wall, there possibly is a connection between these two problem features.


Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a space four small windows on the ground floor east wall of the magasins--two in each magasin. A similar arrangement appears on the ground floor west wall. The window locations in the floorplan do not correspond with the upper-storey east wall windows seen in the facade. In the south magasin, two larger wood-framed windows are situated above the two smaller windows in the east wall, while, in the north magasin, three larger wood-framed windows are spaced along the first storey east wall. It is likely that a similar arrangement existed on the first-storey west wall.

Other early views of the magasin picture the east wall of the magasins. Plans731-1 and N.D.76 place four windows and three windows, respectively, on the first storey and none on the ground floor. These discrepancies appear to be inaccuracies in seemingly-minor details of the town views.

The facade of the magasins changed radically in the second phase of the house. The location of windows on plans 739-5 and 739-5a bear little resemblance to that on plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a. First-phase windows were blocked, supplemented with additional windows, or turned into exterior doors. Plan 739-5a situates no windows in the east wall and one in the west wall of the ground floor north magasin. In the ground floor south magasin, two windows flank each side of a door in the east wall, while two windows appear in the south section of the west wall. Plan 739-5-(1) locates three windows in the east wall of the first-storey north magasin and four in the west wall. The loading door in the east wall of the upper-storey south magasin is flanked by one window on the north and two on the south. Two windows appear in the south section of the south magasin's first-storey west wall and one in the north section.

Two windows were added to the magasins in 1749. A window of 2 cubic pieds was cut in the east wall of the north magasin, in the Bureau des décharges. [68-27 to29]

The feature had brick surrounds and a pine frame and casing. The sill of oak seems to have had a simple moulding at its base (plalatrage).* [* It is hoped that the study of domestic architecture will yield a better understanding of the term plalatrage.] The location of the second new window in the north magasin is questionable. [68-2 to 5] It is described as "sur l'Escalier" and "sur la porte de la Cuisine", which seems to situate it either in the entranceway in the north end of the magasin, in the corridor at the top of the stairs, or in the kitchen in the south end. The window was very similar to that of the Bureau des décharges. It measured 2 cubic pieds and had brick surrounds and an oak sill and moulding. Mention is also made of its frame and casing, as well as window-panelling of one pouce planks.

The later town views fill in the east wall of the magasins with a number of windows, varying from three to thirteen. (See plans 745-1, 745-la, 758-6a,and 758-9.) True to character, Gibson Clough sketches seven windows in the south end wall of the magasins. (See c.1759 sketch.)

It is probable that the magasins did not have dormer windows. Dormers do not appear on the principal views, plans N.D.7, N.D.7a, 739-5, and 739-5a. (Also see plan 731-1.) One, two, and three dormers, respectively, are shown on the east slope of the roof on plans 758-9, 745-1 and 745-la.


Plans N.D.7 and N.D.7a situate eight, wide, wood-framed, loading doors in deMesy's magasins. Four are seen on the south magasin's east and west walls--one in the center of both walls on both stories. Others link the north and south magasins, presumably on both stories. A seventh door is situated on the groundfloor north end wall of the north magasin, while an eighth possibly is located above, on the first-storey north end wall.

Plan 731-1 pictures a single door in the center of the magasins' east wall.

One door is seen in the center of the north magasin's east wall on plan N.D.76. These discrepancies were possibly later alterations, although, as with the windows, it is more probable that they were inaccuracies in seemingly-unimportant details on the plans.

The transformation to the second phase of the Ordonnateur's house resulted in a major change of door locations in the magasins. Plan 739-5a situates three exterior doors on the ground floor of the north magasin--one wide door in the east wall leading into the entranceway, a second, smaller door opposite in the west wall, and a third further along the west wall, giving access to the kitchen. Interior doors lead into the main part of the house, into the corridor to the kitchen, and into the petite salle. The plan proposes a diagonal passageway in the northwest corner of the magasin to join the west half of the main house.

Three interior doors are shown on the ground floor south magasin - one leading to its south half and two into small rooms in its north half. The wide loading doors in the east wall of the south magasin on both stories remained intact, while the two in the west walls apparently were filled in. (See plans 739-5-(1) and739-5a.) The north and south magasins were connected by a door in the center of the masonry wall between them.

Two interior doors lead from the first-storey north magasin into the first storey of the main part of the house on plan 739-5-(1). Four other interior doors are shown in the upper-storey north magasin. One of these is particularly interesting, being located in a corner wall. A door is situated in the east section of the masonry wall between the two magasins. Two other interior doors appear in the upper-storey south magasin.

Gibson Clough's c.1759 sketch pictures a door in the south end wall of the south magasin. As Clough's sketches are highly imaginative, it is doubtful that such a door existed.

The English, in 1747, reported that they had made a new door-casing at the house, and had hung a new six-panel door with a lock. [65] This work was possibly done at the main Rue St. Louis entrance. (See below.)

Three doors were included in the 1749 alterations which established the Bureau des Décharges and the Bureau du Tresorier in the north magasin. It seems that the door of the former petite salle in the west wall was blocked on its west side by the new brick wall, and was filled in with planks on its east side. [68-1 and 34] Two new doors were opened, probably in the north well. The uprights, the lintel, and a pine, moulded door facing are mentioned for the door to the Bureau des Décharges. [68-31 and 33] The door to the Bureau du Tresorier was constructed of planks similar to those used to cover the blocked door. [68-34]

A new door to the kitchen and another to the drying room were also supplied in the 1749 repair toisé. [68-7]

The principal door to the second-phase house was situated on the Rue St. Louis, in the north section of the north magasin's east wall. (See plans 739-5a, 745-1,and 745-la.) The door remained in the third phase, as well. (See plans 758-6a and 758-9.) The door appears to be quite large on the plans. Plan 758-9 shows it to be a very elaborate entrance. It seems to have survived until at least 1767, for the brick terrace, which runs along the north and east perimeters of the house, protrudes into the street at this point on plan 767-1.

Plan 767-1 also shows square projections on the west wall of the house--one in the corner formed by the west wall of the north magasin and the south wall of the main part of the house, and two further along the magasins' west wall. These possibly were storm porches, indicating possible door 1ocations.


M. deMesy imported wooden shingles from Quebec to cover the roof of his magasins. [6a] The magasins undoubtedly remained wood-shingled throughout their history, as did the main part of the house.

The deMesy magasins had a hipped roof. (See plans 12 Sept. 1721, 730-2, and 734-4.) When the second-phase south extension was completed, the magasins' roof abutted against the main part of the house, as seen on plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a. (Also note plans 737-1, 737-6a, and 740-3.)

In the second phase of the house, the magasins had at least two chimneys. Two would have been required for the north magasin's  fireplaces on plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a. It is possible that a third was situated on the south magasin, as seen on plan 745-la. None of the plans give a clear view of the magasins' chimneys. Plan 758-9 seems to show two while Clough's c.1759 sketch pictures one on the south end. One appears high on the roof on the west view, plan 758-12c.


M. deMesy's early magasins were without fireplaces. (See plans N.D.7 andN.D.7a.) In the second phase of the house, three fireplaces were situated in the north magasin. (See plans 739-5-(1) and 739-5a.) A fireplace with a bake oven and a warming oven was located in the north wall of the kitchen. A single fireplace was situated directly above it on the first storey. The third appears in the masonry wall between the two magasins.

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