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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


Partitions, Lambris, and Panelling

by Linda Hoad

In Historians,
Preliminary Architectural Studies,
Volume 03, Unpublished Report HG 02
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1972,
Report Number H G 02 03 04)



These subjects have been considered together because the evidence is inter-related and to a certain extent interdependent. Partitions will be considered first since the evidence concerning them is fairly straight forward and poses few problems.

Both lambris and panelling are methods of finishing the interior of a dwelling. The other types of interior finish (enduits, plaster, and paint) will be considered in a separate report.

The term lambris has, on occasion, been misinterpreted. It is not panelling; it is a wooden wall cladding, presumably vertical, for which there does not seem to be a suitable translation. Wainscoting is the closest term although it is usually limited to dado height. The Oxford English Dictionary, however, does not limit the term in this way. Lambris was the most commonly used interior finish, and was found in all types of dwelling, from the most expensive residences, such as the Engineer's House and the Ordonnateur's "palace", to a two or three room cabanne. For example, in a badly roofed piquet house where one room had no upper floor, another room was lambrissée:

une grande chambre sans plancher en haut mal couverte en planc de bois ... une autre chambre lambrisée [NOTE 1].

Panelling was used in Louisbourg, but it was distinguished from lambris by such terms as "à assemblage", "à panneaux", "à moulure" or by a significant difference in price.

The last section of the report is a detailed discussion of the difficult term tringle; the word is used in the earlier sections, since it is an integral part of the features mentioned.





The evidence from the specifications and contracts is unambiguous - partitions were made of one or two pouces wood (i.e,, boards or planks), planed both sides, tongue and grooved, fastened top and bottom with nails and tringles. The following excerpts illustrate the uniformity of the terminology used:

(A) MARCHÉ 1719

... CLoisons de planches de Sapin dun pouce Blanchies des deux costés et emboufetés

... madriers de Sapin de deux pouces depaisseur emboufetés, cloués et Blanchis des deux Costés ... [NOTE 2].

(B) MARCHÉ 1727

... Madriers de Sapin de Deux pouces d'Epaisseur bien Embouffetez, Clouez, arrettez avec tringles haut et bas et blanchis des deux Côtez ... [NOTE 3].

(C) MARCHÉ 1733

... madriers de deux pouces blanchis de deux Cottes et embouffettes avec Renure & Languette et bien arrettés avec CLou et tringle ... Sil est necessaire de faire de Cloisons Lambris ou plafond de planches dun pouce elles seront travailler Comme les madriers ... [NOTE 4].

(D) MARCHÉ 1737

... Cloison de Madriers de pin de deux pouces d'Epaisseur ... blanchis de deux Cotés Et posses avec languette et Rainures ... arreté haut et bas par des Clouds et avec tringles aussy haut et bas [NOTE 5].

(E) DEVIS 1753

... cloisons de Madriers de bois de Pin de deux pouces d'Epaisseur... blanchis des deux Cotes Embouvetés, et payés ... tringles Comprise... [NOTE 6].

The prices vary somewhat as illustrated in the following table:

(A) 1719 - Louisbourg: 1 Pouce: 14 livres; 2 Pouce: 19 Livres

(B) 1726 - Louisbourg (Ganet wanted these prices): 1 Pouce: [14] Livres; 2 pouce: 28 Livres [NOTE 7]

(C) 1727 - Louisbourg (Ganet got these prices): 1 Pouce: n/a Livres; 2 Pouce: Livres; 22

(D) 1733 - Isle St Jean: 1 Pouce: [8] Livres; 2 Pouce: [11] Livres

(E) 1733 - Port Toulouse: 1 Pouce: 12 Livres; 2 Pouce: 16 Livres

(F) 1734 - Engineer's House: 1 Pouce: 14 Livres; 2 Pouce: 22 Livres [NOTE 8]

(G) 1737 - Louisbourg: 1 Pouce: n/a Livres; 2 Pouce: 17 Livres 12 Sols and 16 Livres

(H) 1749 - Louisbourg; 1 Pouce: 12 Livres; 2 Pouce: 18 Livres

(I) 1753 - Louisbourg 1 Pouce: 12 Livres; 2 Pouce: 19 Livres.

Partitions in domestic dwellings were also made of boards or planks, although boards seem to have been more common than planks [NOTE 9]

Another type of wood partition was found on the ground floor of the Magasin de vivres. They were unplaned, 2 pouces thick, and were held in place by sleepers (solles) 8 by 9 pouces and by braces (entretoises) 4 by 8 pouces. [NOTE 10]. Archaeological evidence confirmed the toisé evidence and indicated that the sleepers were rabbeted to receive the planks [NOTE 11]. The floor in the Magasin de vivres was pavé; thus, this type of partition should be considered for any building which does not have a wooden floor.


Piquet partitions were also quite common, especially in piquet houses. The terms used are small piquets (petit piquets) [NOTE 12], split piquets (piquets reffendus) [NOTE 13], and squared piquets (piquets Equarries) [NOTE 14]. Board partitions are also found frequently in piquet houses.

In the Levasseur house (probably masonry), there were piquet partitions, covered with lath and plaster. They were to cost 3 livres per square toise as opposed to board partitions at 4 livres per square toise:

pour les Cloisons de piquets placer les piquets latter plattrer. [NOTE 15].


Only one reference has been found to a panelled partition, It was built in the Ordonnateur's house in 1749, to divide the Bureau des decharges in half, The partition was panelled about waist high and the rest was a sort of trellis-work:

faite d'assemblage et a panneaux jusquala hauteur d'apuy et le reste en barotage de chesne.

The cost of this partition was 34 livres per square toise [NOTE 16].



Ganet's supplementary contract mentions that it was necessary to make partitions 2 pouces thick for greater stability:

La Solidité pour les Cloisons demande une plus grande Epaisseur ...

It also specifies that the wood was to be sawn at least a year before it was used. The 1753 specifications indicated that the boards were to be 11 to 12 pouces wide [!].

The material removed from Le Normant's house on the north side of the port included partitions 1 pouce thick and 2 pouces thick. The partitions were 8 pieds high, of fir, and both thicknesses were used for the same purpose; that is, to separate one room from another, or to separate a room from the corridor. There is no apparent reason why one thickness was used rather than the other.

There are no references to bearing partitions, although the concept was certainly known at the time. Many rental agreements include permission to add, remove or alter the partitions. For example,

(A) it is permissible to move the partition to the same position as the one in the room below

... pourra faire Reculler la Cloison denhaut au meme Niveau de Celle dela Chambre denbas [NOTE 17]

(B) it is permissible to build two partitions in the attic

faire faire deux Cloisons de separation dans le grainer [NOTE 18]

(C) it is permissible to take down the partitions to make only one room

faire deffaire Les cloisons pour ne former qune seulle chambre [NOTE 19].


The kinds of wood mentioned for partitions are fir (sapin), pine (pin), Boston boards (planches de Baston), and local wood (bois du pays). The latter is only mentioned in connection with private dwellings.


This topic will be discussed more thoroughly in section E. Tringles are seldom mentioned in connection with partitions in private dwellings although it seems reasonable to assume that they were used. One reference found may indicate that they were not always used. A carpenter put some tringles on a partition in a house because the partition was falling down:

des tringles a une autre cloison ... Parcequelle ne tenoit point [NOTE 20].


Partitions were made of 1 or 2 pouces wood, or of piquets. The latter type could be covered with plaster. The wood was planed on both sides and assembled with tongue and groove joints, except in the Magasin de vivres. Pine, fir and Boston boards were used for partitions. They were held in place, top and bottom, with nails and tringles.




The specifications for lambris are in almost every case included with those for partitions. In fact, the only differences between them are that lambris is only 1 pouce thick, planed on one side, and that it is presumably placed on a wall. The prices paid for lambris are exactly the same as for 1 pouce partitions, and lambris is also held in position with nails and tringles. The following excerpts from the specifications illustrate clearly the similarity between partitions and lambris:

(A) 1733 MARCHÉ

If there are ceilings or lambris to make they will be made of simple boards, planed and well fastened and nailed.

Sil y a des plafonds ou Lembris a faire ils seront faits en Simple planches blanchies Et bien arresté Et Clouées [NOTE 21].

(B) 1733 MARCHÉ

If it is necessary to make partitions, lambris or ceilings of 1 pouce boards, they will be worked like the planks [used for the same purpose]

Sil est necessaire de faire Cloisons Lambris ou plafond de planches dun pouce elles seront travailler Comme les madriers[NOTE 22].

(C) 1737 MARCHÉ

Ceilings and lambris will be made with 1 pouce boards, planed on one side, of tongue and groove construction, fastened with nails and tringles.

Les Plafonds et Lambris, seront fait avec des planches d'un pouce, blanchis d'un coté, posés avec languette et Rainures, arretées avec tringles et Clouds [NOTE 23].

(D) 1753 DEVIS

Each square toise of local wood one pouce thick, planed, and tongue and grooved for partitions, plain lambris, and shelves ...

La toize quarré de planches du pays d'un pouce [depaisseur] blanchis et embouveté pour Cloisons LEmbris simple, et tablettes ... [NOTE 24].

Lambris was used extensively in private dwellings of all types. The term most frequently used is "lambrissée de planches".[NOTE 25], although the phrases "lined inside with Boston boards", ("doublé En dedans En planches Bastons") [NOTE 26], surrounded by boards" ("entouré de planches") [NOTE 27] and "revetted with boards" ("revettue en planche") [NOTE 28] are also used.

Some details are given in the private house contracts which illustrate the similarity between lambris in King's buildings and in other buildings.

(A) All the inside of the rooms and cabinet will be wainscotted with Boston boards, planed, and of tongue and groove construction.

Tout le contour en dedans des chambres et Cabinet sera lambrissé en planche de Baston blanchie et enbossetée [NOTE 29

(B) ... and he will wainscot [the interior of the house] with boards tongue and grooved on both sides and planed on one

... et La Lambrissera de planches EnBouettées de deux Cottés et Blanchis de L'un) [NOTE 30].

(C) The ravalement and the slope of the roof will be wainscotted to the tie beam

Le Revalement Et La pente du Couvert Lambrissés Jusqu'a L'Entrée [NOTE 31]

(D) ... will wainscot the north west room with tongue and grooved boards

... faire Lembriser en planches Bouffetées La Salle du Cote du Nord Est) [NOTE 32].

All kinds of wood seem to have been used (pine fir, and Boston boards), although Boston boards occur most frequently.

The prices paid for lambris in private houses appear to be less than those paid in King's buildings. Levasseur paid 3 livres per square toise for lambris, planed one side, tongue and grooved (L'ambris de planche blanchis d'un Costé et Embouvetée) [NOTE 33]. The lambris removed from Le Normant's house was estimated at 13 livres for approximately 2 square toises [NOTE 34]. A toise of "revetment" in the corridor of the widow Demarets' house cost 4 livres 15 sols [NOTE 35].

Lambris could also be used in window reveals and as a soubassement underneath windows. (Memo on Interior woodwork in the Engineer's House). These uses will be considered more fully in the report on windows.


Lambris was a common interior wall finish, found in all types of dwellings. It was made of one pouce boards, pine, fir, or Boston boards, planed on one side, and of tongue and groove construction. It was held in place by tringles, in the same manner as partitions were.




The 1753 Devis includes specifications for panelling as well as for lambris. The differences in price is significant: 27 livres per square toise for panelling, 12 livres per square toise for lambris.

(A) The stiles and panels of this work will be made of local wood, one pouce thick, seasoned and of good quality, planed on one side, of tongue and groove construction, fastened with nails and tringles, and worked according to the designs and dimensions given by the engineer

Le batis de ces Ouvrages, et les panneaux, Seront faits de planches du pays d'un pouces d'Epaisseur, bien Seche et de bonne qualité; Lun et Lautre blanchis d'un Cote pose avec LAnguettes et rainures arrettées avec tringles et cloux et travailler conformement aux desseins et dimensions qui seront données par LIngenieur

The only place where panelling is known to have been used is in the ordonnateur's house, where some was replaced in 1749 at a price of 30 livres per square toise:

Plusieurs parties de lambris d'Assemblage refait a Neuf dans les appartements [NOTE 36].

One reference to an alcove indicates that a type of panelling was used for this feature. It was to be built in the widow Desmarets' house:

of local planks, assembled with ear-like curves on either side, with a moulding running all around

en madrier de pais assembles avec façon d'aureille de chaque côté, et sera poussé Une moullure Sur tout le contour dicelle

The price for this alcove (including a half toise of flooring) was 22 livres 10 sols (NOTE 37].

There are several other references to alcoves in private houses, but none of them indicate the method of construction. It is this sort of detail that must be given careful consideration, after research in all available sources, before making decisions on the extent of decoration and elaboration used in the 18th century homes in Louisbourg.


Panelling was not common, and was considerably more expensive than lambris. It was also made of one pouce boards, planed on one side, tongue and grooved, and held in place with tringles.




The meaning of the term tringle still poses problems. Dictionary definitions are: a square moulding; a long, flat, narrow, squared piece of wood with different uses; a piece of wood, squared with a moulding on one face. (See the memo on Interior Woodwork in the Engineer's house.) PLEASE, NOTE: The problem of "iron tringles" mentioned on page 3 has been cleared up. The document is difficult to read, and was interpreted wrongly. There are no iron tringles.

Tringles serve the functions of cornices and baseboards, but the term is not necessarily synonymous with these words. There is considerable documentation concerning cornices, but only one reference to baseboards, as distinct from the lower tringle. This reference is to boards 1 pied high:

applied around the upper rooms of the Governor's wing

Planches appliques au pourtour des salles hautes du pavillon

These boards were to cost 14 livres per square toise, and were fir [NOTE 38]. It is obvious that these boards were not tringles, although they must have replaced the tringles wherever there were partitions.

A reference has been found to a carpenter's bill for putting tringles "around the joists" of two rooms:

des tringue au tour des traverses de La Chambre Et Salle [NOTE 39].

In the trial for theft of building material from le Normant's house on the north side, one of the thieves, a carpenter (menuisier), stated that he had found several tringles "fashioned like cornices" among the other material:

trois ou quatre Tringues en façon de Corniche.

Later he said that what a witness had called cornices, he would call tringles:

il ne Croit que Cequil vit etoit des Corniches quil appelle Cela des Tringles) [NOTE 40].

From the context, it is clear that he is referring to the same pieces of wood in both statements.

In the Vallée house, cornices were placed in the cabinet. (corniches ou moulures dans le cabinet). A total of 7 cubic pieds of material was used, 4 pouces wide [NOTE 41].

The information from the official specifications suggests that cornices were used sparingly and were quite expensive. Ganet asked in 1726 for 3 livres per square pied of "architecturally moulded carpentry" like the cornices on the pillars in the chapel:

menuiserie en mouloure darchitecture.

He stated at the same time that the price was high because of the difficulty of getting desirable workmen (la difficult des ouvriers, qul'on a pas comme lon veu), the time involved, and the amount of wood wasted [NOTE 42]. His supplementary contract paid him 2 livres 10 sols for this type of work:

if cornices or other repeated mouldings are required in certain works

si Certains ouvrages Exigent quelques Corniches ou autres moulures repetées [NOTE 43].

The 1737 contract paid 2 livres per square pied and cautioned that the angles should be carefully cut:

possées avec propretté les [angles] bien observés [NOTE 44].

The 1753 specifications offered 2 livres 10 sols for oak cornices and 2 livres for pine cornices [NOTE 45]. Pine was also specified in Ganet's contract.

Thus, the terms tringle and cornice are to a certain extent synonymous. However, the fact that Vallée and Desmarets had cornices only in certain rooms, although there must have been partitions in other rooms as well, indicates that a cornice was a decorative feature, not a structural one. The thief's statements lead one to assume that a cornice is a moulded tringle. If this is so, then one can conclude that tringles were not normally moulded, or that they had a very simple moulding as compared to a cornice. Another way of stating the problem is that tringles were a structural necessity, included in the price of the partitions and.lambris, but cornices were a decorative feature paid for separately. Again, it should be emphasized that the use of such decorative features will, to a large extent, depend on the degree of sophistication of many other areas of a building. (e,g,.fireplaces, doors,, etc.)

Baseboards are more problematical, since they are only mentioned once, It is possible that a baseboard was used whenever a cornice was, although the documentary evidence does not support this conclusion. It seems unlikely that baseboards were used frequently in 18th century Louisbourg.


Tringles were plain or simply moulded, and held in place with nails, at the top and bottom of partitions, lambris, and panelling. In some cases, cornices and baseboards were used instead of tringles. In this case,, they were used throughout a room, not just on the partitions or panelling. Cornices appear to have been more elaborate than tringles, and would almost certainly have been used with panelling. The baseboards used in the Governor's wing do not seem to have been particularly elaborate, and there is no other information on which to base a conclusion concerning them. The almost total lack of evidence concerning baseboards seems to indicate that they were an unusual feature.


[NOTE 1:] 15 novembre 1720, AFO G3, carton 2057, no. 31. "Inventaire...; [NOTE 2:] 7 mars 1719, AC CIIB, vol. 4, ff. 278-82. "Marché avec le S. Isabeau ... "; [NOTE 3:] 7 octobre 1727, AC CIIB, vol. 9, ff. 127-32. "Devis d'un suplement de Marché ... "; [NOTE 4:] 8 septembre 1733, AC CIIB, vol. 14, ff. 312-12(v). "Marché pour les ouvrages a faire au port Toulouse"; [NOTE 5:] 10 mai 1737, AC CIIB, vol. 19, f. 182. "Marché pour les fortifications ..."; [NOTE 6:] 25 septembre 1753, Archives du Séminaire de Québec, Surlaville Papers. "Devis et Conditions ..."; [NOTE 7:] 12 novembre 1726 AC CIIB, vol. 8, f. 167. "Suplement de Marché que le Sr Ganet demande"; [NOTE 8:] 30 septembre 1734, AC CIIB, vol. 16, ff. 196-213. "Toisé definitif des ouvrages ... pour le ... logement de l'ingénieur en chef ..."; [NOTE 9:] 31 décembre 1749, AC CIIB,, vol. 28, ff. 330-51(v). "Etat des Ouvrages de reparations ..."; 31 octobre 1726, AFO G3, carton 2058, no. 40. Bail à loyer; 10 avril 1731, AFO G3, carton 2038 pt. 1, no. 6. Bail A loyer; 26 juillet 1754, AFO G3., carton 2042, no. 69. Devis d'une maison; 22 janvier 1735, AFO G2, vol. 195, ff. 1-300.. Vol chez Le Normant; 30 mars 1751, AFO G3, carton 2041 pt. 1, no. 126. Devis d'une maison; 1 octobre 1753, AFO G3, carton 2041 pt. 1, no. 131, Devis d'une maison; 6 mars 1732, AFO G2, vol. 181., ff. 522- 27. "Toisé dela maison mensarde de mr Vallée"; AFO G2, vol, 208, dossier 479. pièce 2, Marché entre Charles Ives Duval et M. Levasseur. [NOTE 10:] 1 novembre 1727, AC CIIB, vol. 9, ff. 180-92. "Toisé definitif des ouvrages ... pour la Construction du Magasin des Vivres". [NOTE 11:] D. Sturdy, The Magazin du Roi, P. 29, pt, 16 & 17; [NOTE 12:] 23 août 1720, AC C11C, vol. 15 suite, pièce 230. Maison de Lagrange; [NOTE 13:] 29 août 1722, AC E 103, f. 4-4(v). Vente d'une maison; [NOTE 14:] 11 juillet 1750, AFO G3., carton 2049 Pt. 1. no. 132; [NOTE 15:] AFO G2. vol. 208, dossier 479, pièce 2, Marché Duval- Levasseur; [NOTE 16:] 31 decembre 1749, AC CIIB, vol. 28, ff. 330-51(v). "Estat des Ouvrages de reparations et fournitures ... "; [NOTE 17:] 4 mai 1752, AFO G3, carton 2047 suite, no. 30, Bail à loyer; [NOTE 18:] 13 juillet 1750, AFO G3, carton 2047 Pt. 1, no. 70. Bail à loyer; [NOTE 19:] 6 juillet 1752, AFO G3. carton 2041 Pt. 1, no. 184. Bail à loyer; [NOTE 20:] 1 decembre 1756., AFO G2. vol. 209., dossier 503. Requête contre Gabriel Revol; [NOTE 21:] 23 septembre 1733, AC CIIB, vol. 14, f. 319(v). "Marché pour les ouvrages a faire a lisle St Jean"; [NOTE 22:] 28 septembre 1733, AC CIIB, vol. 14, ff. 312-12(v). "Marché pour les ouvrages a faire au port Toulouse"; [NOTE 23:] 10 mai 1737, AC CIIB, vol. 19, f. 182(v). "Marché pour les fortiffications"; [NOTE 24:] 25 septembre 1753, Archives du Séminaire de Québec, Surlaville Papers. "Devis et Conditions a observer"; [NOTE 25:] 20 avril 1728, AC CIIB, vol. 10, ff. 154-4(v). Etat de la maison de M. Laforest; 27 septembre 1726, AFO G2, vol. 180, f. 365. Affaire LeBrun-Boularderie; 22 mars 1741, AFO G2, vol. 197, dossier 143, f. 2. Inventaire chez Tesson la Fleury; [NOTE 26:] 11 septembre 1752, AFO G3, carton 2041 Pt. 1., no. 144. Devis d'une maison; [NOTE 27:] 13 février 1758, AC E 290, dossier Lorent, f. 2-11. Inventaire; [NOTE 28:] 27 mars 1750, AFO G2, vol. 211, dossier 519, pièces 2 and 5. Inventaire; [NOTE 29:] 1 octobre 1753, AFO G3, carton 2041 Pt. 1. no. 131. Devis d'une maison. [NOTE 30:] 19 février 1754, AFO G3, carton 2042, no. 40. Devis d'une maison; [NOTE 31:] 26 juillet 1754, AF0 G3, Devis d'une maison; [NOTE 32:] 4 avril 1758, AFO G3, carton 2045, no. 93. Bail à loyer. [NOTE 33:] AFO G2, vol. 208, dossier 479, pièce 2, Marché Duval-Levasseur; [NOTE 34:] 22 janvier 1735, AFO G2, vol. 195,, ff, 1-300, Vol chez Le Normant; [NOTE 35:] 7 août 1752, AFO G2, vol. 208, dossier 475, pièce 72. Reparations dans une maison; [NOTE 36:] 31 decembre 1749, AC CIIB, vol. 28, ff. 330-51(v). "Estat des Ouvrages de reparation ..."; [NOTE 37:] 7 août, 1752, AFO G2, vol. 208, dossier 475, pièce 72, Reparations dans une maison; [NOTE 38:] 4 mai 1727, AC CIIB, vol. 9, ff. 210- 29, "Toisé des ouvrages ...; [NOTE 39:] AFO G2, vol. 208, dossier 479, pièce 5. "Compte de Louvrage que jay fait". [NOTE 40:] 1735, AFO G2, vol, 195, ff. 1-300, pièces 33 and 51. Interrogation de Chateauneuf; [NOTE 41:] 6 mars 1732, AFO G2, vol. 181, ff, 522-27. "Toisé, de la Maison Mensarde de Mr Vallée"; [NOTE 42:] 12 novembre 1726, AC CIIB, vol. 8. ff. 167-7(v). Suplement de marché; [NOTE 43:] 7 octobre 1726, AC CIIB, vol. 9, ff. 127-32. "Devis d'un suplément de marché"; [NOTE 44:] 10 mai 1737, AC CIIB, vol. 19, f. 183(v). "Marché pour les fortiffications"; [NOTE 45:] 25 septembre 1753, Archives du Séminaire de Québec, Surlaville papers. "Devis et Conditions".