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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
by Gilles Proulx
Preliminary Architectural Studies,
Volume 04, Unpublished Report HG 02
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1972,
Report Number H G 02 04 04 E)
Copyright © Parks Canada/Parcs Canada
According to Diderot, a dovecote is:
a place where pigeons are kept; it is a round or square building, embellished with pigeon- holes. It should be placed in the center or in a corner of the farm yard; the floor and the ceiling must be tightly sealed, to keep the rats and other animals out; the front must be white, because the pigeons love this colour; the window must be a sliding window, to open and close it from below in the evening and morning, by means of a rope and a pulley, and it must be facing the south; the pigeonholes will be pots or separations made of tuf (tuff- stone) or of torchis (a mud and straw mixture); they must be large; the last row at the bottom must be at a distance of four pieds from the ground or thereabouts; the highest row must be at three pieds from the roof ridge; a projection must be placed below each pigeonhole on which the pigeon can rest.
An illustration of a dovecote, as seen by Diderot, will be found on page 17 of this report.
We have been able to trace the existence of only three dovecotes at Louisbourg. A deed of sales signed on November 20, 1730 between Jacques Ange LeNormant de Mésy and François Tocquesne on behalf of the "compagnie de l'île de la Boularderie," mentions the first one in the city of Louisbourg:
To wit, a site located in this city, belonging to M. Damesi, containing one hundred and seventy pieds in depth, bound on the North by the Rue Royale, on the South by the Rue d'Orleans, on the West by the Rue de la Grave, and on the East by an unceded lot, on which site has been built a storehouse of pickets, a bedroom with a chimney, two cabinets, one room with a chimney, another room appropriate to play billiards, one kitchen with its chimney, a small cabinet, all adjacent to each other and covered with boards, a dovecote in the courtyard, two large stables a kitchen garden enclosed by pickets, in which a well is found ... [NOTE 2].
There is no further information concerning this dovecote.
The other two dovecotes were constructed early in the 1740-50 period on the King's properties: one on the property of the commissaire-ordonnateur [NOTE 3], François Bigot, and the second one in the inner courtyard of the King's Bastion. Verrier advised of the construction of a dovecote in the Governor's courtyard in a letter to the Minister dated October 26, 1741 [NOTE 4].
We know from Franquet's memorandum that this dovecote still existed in 1753 [NOTE 5]. whereas Governor Duquesnel's inventory in 1744 revealed that the dovecote contained 24 pigeons at that time. The only other information we have concerning this dovecote is deduced from the cartography; it appeared on the 1744, 1745, 1746 plans and once more on the 1752 plan [NOTE 7]. According to these plans, the dovecote was located in the Southern part of the courtyard, at approximately 3 1/2 toises from the Governor's residence and at 3 5/6 toises from the left flank of the rampart. The roofing forms a square of one toise on each side and has four hips.
The cartographic presentation of the roofing of the dovecote of the commissaire- ordonnateur is identical to that of the dovecote of the King's Bastion. With respect to the cormnissaire-ordonnateur's dovecote, we refer the reader to Brenda Dunn's study, entitled: BLOCK 2, LOT G, PROPERTY OF THE COMMISSAIRE-ORDONNATEUR. We will limit ourselves to reproducing the paragraph which she dedicates to the dovecote on this property:
In 1741, a colombier or dove-cote was built in the Ordonnateur's yard. The building was constructed of pinewood and English planks. Seven square toises, 2 pieds, 4 pouces of wood covered the roof. The dove-cote was located in the southwest part of the yard, just in front of the stables. Plans 1744-5, 1745-11, 1746-8 and 1767-1 show a small square building in this approximate position. Gibson Clough depicts the dove-cote as a round structure [PAGE 6:] on a rectangular base. Round openings are situated just below the conical roof. A bauble sits on the peak of the roof [NOTE 8].
[PAGE 6:] [NOTE 1:] Diderot. Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, Paris, 1753, tome 111, p. 644. Recueil de Planches, tome 1, Paris, 1762, Article Basse-Cour. [NOTE 2:] "Contract de vente d'un emplacement à Louisbourg..." Desmarest. Louisbourg, 20 novembre 1730. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G3, vol. 2037. no. 121. [NOTE 3:] "Borderau de la Recette & depenses faittes a L'Isle Royalle pendant l'année 1741." A.N. Col., CllC, vol. 12, fol. 83. [NOTE 4:] Verrier au ministre de la Marine. Louisbourg, 26 octobre 1741, A.N., Col., C11B vol. 23, fol. 195v. [NOTE 5:] Franquet au ministre de la Marine. Louisbourg, 9 octobre 1753. A.N., Col., C11B, vol. 33, fol. 234-234v. [NOTE 6:] Inventaire de Duquesnel. Louisbourg, 22 octobre 1744. A.N., Section Outre-Mer, G2 vol. 199, doss. 189. [NOTE 7:] A.F.L., 744-5, 745-11, 746-(1-6), 752-5a. [NOTE 8:] Brenda Dunn, Block 2. Lot G. Property of the Commissaire Ordonnateur, Louisbourg, 1969, p. 45.