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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


Preliminary Report: Sinks and Drains

by Victor J.H. Suthren

In Historians,
Preliminary Architectural Studies,
Volume 03, Unpublished Report HG 02
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1972,
Report Number H G 02 03 09)


This report presents material on drains found in the Domestic Architecture File. It is therefore quite sketchy and merely indicates what information is available at present. No material is filled under sinks at this time.



The following terms were encountered in reference to sinks and drains, and may be referred to until a proper terminology can be established.

(01) SINKS

(a) évier: sink

(b) égout running or falling of water; sink, drain, sewer; lower edge of roof

(c) puisard: cesspool; sump; water- sump cloaque underground aqueduct for conducting away the water and sewage of a city (Diderot, tome 111, p. 538)

(d) tremperie: "wetting-room", sink.


(a) Tranchée: trench, cut, cutting-ditch

(b) égout: running or falling of water; sink, drain, sewer; lower edge of roof

[PAGE 2:]

(c) drain: drain-pipe, drainage tube

(d) fossé d'écoulement: drainage pit

(e) ricolle [rigole]: trench, small ditch or channel; gutter.


Material on file provides only limited information either as to location or construction of sanitary drains. A rental lease of 1750 includes the following provisions:

... de loest dudit terrain de faire faire des Commodittes dans la Cour aussy quun petit Cabane pour les volailles et une petite decharge pour La veselle ...

... to have latrines made in the courtyard west of the said lot as well as a little hut for the poultry and a little shed for the dishes ... [NOTE 1].

There is also a less nebulous reference to a common drain which was specified for more than one latrine:

... Comm'aussy de faire faire alextremité et en dedans des quarante Six pieds dudit terrain des latrines qui appartiendront alademoiselle Rodrigue, adossées a Celles [PAGE 3:] de la maison du Roy: dont la fossé Sera Commune, et de faire un Canal Couvert pour le Nettoyement dycelle, par les eaux qui secouleront dela Cour; Lequel Canal conduira les Immondises alamer; en traversant par le passage reservé ala demoiselle Rodrigue ...

... as well to have built at the extremity of and within the forty six feet of the said lot, latrines, which will belong to the lady Rodrigue and adjoin those of the house of the King [Commissionaire-Ordinateur's property] of which the pit is to be common; and to construct a covered channel so as to clean it by the water that will run from the courtyard: this canal to conduct the impurities to the sea, crossing by the passage reserved to the lady Rodrigue ... [NOTE 2].

Of the plans which indicate sanitary drains, a barracks plan of 1724 [NOTE 3] shows what appears to be a solidly-walled drain leading from a casemate latrine. This is matched by a plan of the Queen's Bastion of 1750 showing both plan and elevation of a military latrine, its housing, and the drain leading out through the escarp [NOTE 4].


A reference to a roofing drain for rain runoff is mentioned in the following agreement of sale of a house, which states, in part:

... qu'au cas que les Dits acquereurs vouleussent par La Suitte faire quelque batisse Dans La profondeur Du dit terrain, ils pourront avoir L'aigoust des eaux qui pourra provenir De La Couverture De La Ditte batisse, sur le terrein De La Ditte Dame, qui Les borne Dans La partie del'Ouest, Aux conditions neantmoins, que Lors qu'ils fairont La Ditte batisse, ils Joindront La Couverture d'icelle par un enoue a celle qui est actuellement faitte sur Le terrein ...

... in the case that the said buyers wish to put up any building at the back of the said lot, they are permitted to have the rainwater drain off from the roof of the said building on to the lot of the said lady, on condition nevertheless that when they put up the said building, they join its roof to the one actually on the property by a curved flashing ... [NOTE 5].

and, further, [PAGE 5:]

... au Cas qu'elle se rencontre De meme hauteur, et si elle Excedoit, ils seroient tenus d'y entretenir une Dale a leurs fraix, pour que l'Aigoust ne puisse pas tomber sur la Batisse qui les joindra...

... in the case that the roof meets [the other end] at the same height, or exceeds it, they will be responsible for maintaining there at their own cost a tile, so that the water does not fall on the adjoining building ... ] [NOTE 6].

A similar provision is made in another sale agreement:

... convenu cependant que si le Sr. daccarette fait batir maison ou magasin joignant celuy du Sieur Baron; le dit Sieur daccarette sera tenu de mettre des dalles sous les egouts de la Couverture pour empecher que les eaux ne se coulent entre les deux batiments ...

... agreed meanwhile that if the Sr. Daccarette has a house or storehouse built adjoining that of Sr. Baron, the said Sr. Daccarette will be responsible for [PAGE 6:] placing tiles under the drains from the roof so as to prevent the water from running between the two buildings ... [NOTE 7].


As well as the previously mentioned data on a drain involving the Rodrigue widow's property and that of the Commissionaire-Ordinnateur, another item documents a covered drain passing beneath a house:

... de Rendre La maison logable; conformement a Son Bail, et faire, Recouvrir sous huit jour le canal qui passe au millieu dela dte Maison ...

... to render the house logeable; conforming to his a greement, and to have recovered within eight days the canal [drain] which passes through the middle of the said house ... [NOTE 8].

Although there is no evidence as to the relative sizes of seepage and runoff drains of private and public buildings some specific data exists for the latter in the following toisé for "aqueducts" in the Provisions Storehouse, dated 1727] [NOTE 9].

(1) Earth at the Price of 9 livres 10 sols per Cubic Toise

(i) Excavation of the acqueducts for the drainage of water

(a) Length together 66-0-0

(b) Width 0-4-0

(c) Height reduced 0-4-3.

[PAGE 7:]

(2) Dry-stone Masonry at the price of 50" livres per Cubic Toise

(i) Aqueduct returning from the square in the courtyard for receiving the waters from springs, and to conduct them to the sea

(a) Length together ... 36-0-0

(b) width ... 0-3-0

(c) Height reduced ... 0-2-0.

(3) Paving at the price of 10 livres 5 sols per square toise

(i) in the courtyard of the storehouse to receive low [lying] water

(a) Length together ... 22-1-3 (b) Width ... 1-2-0 livres.

Comparison of these figures can also be made with the plan of the drain shown in plan 726-2, which gives an elevation of the covered waterway. As well, a plan of the proposed "Grand Bastion" [King's) dated 1720 indicates a seepage drain running from the right flank of the bastion toward the harbour, and includes an elevation of the drain [NOTE 10].


One item in a rental agreement refers to a "little poultry yard" to "serve for discharge ... between the said house and that here specified [translation]" [NOTE 11]; there is, however, no specific description of the drainage arrangements such as drain location or shape.

A second item of somewhat tenuous relevance concerns the [PAGE 8:] specification drawn up in 1733 for a fortified position at Port Toulouse, which states in part:

Tous les bastiments et batterie Seront entours de palissades, plantés et dressées Suivant le plan général, et au pourtour exterieur de cette cloture, il sera fait un fossé pour recevoir les eaux de la montagne.

All the buildings and battery are to be surrounded by palisades, planted and set up following the general plan, and in the outside perimeter of this fence there will be built a trench to receive the runoff from the mountain [NOTE 12].

In this case the "mountain" refers to higher ground in the vicinity of the camp, and the digging of a drainage trench around a campsite is a logical precaution to prevent the flooding of the site.


Of all the information presently available, only the data on the provisions storehouse drain allows specific suggestions as to size, construction, and other details. There is somewhat more material on military latrine drains than for private drains, which allows little speculation on the latter's nature. No other conclusions are possible at this stage.

[PAGE 8:]


[NOTE 1:] Bail à loyer, Marie Brunet, veuve Destouches à Jean Claparède. Louisbourg, 13 July, 1750. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G3, carton 2047, pt. 1, No. 70. [NOTE 2:] Conventions entre la veuve Rodrigue et Sebastien Franqois Ange le Normant. Louisbourg, 9 mai 1736. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G3, carton 2039 suite, NO. 32. [NOTE 3:] A.F.L., M.C., 724-1. [NOTE 4:] A.F.L., M.C., 750-2. [NOTE 5:] Vente de maison Marie Josephe Cheron veuve Carrerot à Guillaume Albot. Louisbourg, 5 novembre 1754. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G3, carton 2041 suite, No. 86. [NOTE 6:] Ibid. [NOTE 7:] Vente de maison Nicolas Pigeot à Michel Dacarette. A.N., Section Outre- Mer, G3, carton 2039, pt. 1, No. 87 (12 mai 1735). [NOTE 8:] Au sujet du loyer d'une maison sur la rue d'orleans que Pierre Santier a loué à la veuve Renaut. Louisbourg, 15 octobre 1749. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G2, vol. 212, dossier 562. [NOTE 9:] "Toisé definitif des ouvrages ... faits pour la Construction du magasin des vivres..." Louisbourg, 1 novembre 1727. A.N., Col., C11B, Vol. 9, ff 180-92. [NOTE 10:] A.F.L., M.C., 720-1. [NOTE 11:] Bail à loyer Joseph Busson à Gerome Larieux Boulanger. Louisbourg, 23 fevrier, 1753. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G3, Carton 2041 suite, No. 32. [PAGE 10:] [NOTE 12:] "Devis pour 1'Etablissement de trois corps de bastiments a faire au Port-Toulouse". Verrier, n.p., 18 septembre 1733. A.N., Col., C11B, Vol. 14, ff. 343-351.