Old and Versatile
Dauphine Redoubt is among Québec’s oldest military buildings. Its construction began in 1712 and was completed three decades later. Originally it was intended to defend the town on its northwest side, but it ended up as barracks for French soldiers and after 1759, British soldiers. In the years ahead it would play a vital role in military life in the city.
Fears of an attack on Québec
The French began building Dauphine Redoubt in 1712 to protect the northwest side of the city, which was considered vulnerable. Since the fall of Acadia two years earlier, the colony’s authorities feared the British would attack Québec. The summer before, 71 ships carrying 12,000 men had ventured into Gulf of St. Lawrence waters with the intention of seizing New France, but the lack of able pilots caused eight vessels to smash against the reefs at Île aux Œufs, forcing the expedition to turn back.
France and England signed the Utrecht Peace Treaty in 1713. The redoubt was still under construction and, based on the assumption that this would be a lasting peace, it was not completed.
Barracks for the French
The war between the two countries resumed in 1744. The following year the supposedly impregnable Fort Louisbourg fell to the British. Engineer Chaussegros de Léry was assigned to finish the construction of Dauphine Redoubt, which would be used as barracks for some 100 soldiers of Compagnie franche de la Marine who had arrived from France in 1749.
The engineer also had a huge building—the “new barracks”—constructed beside the redoubt to house the other French regiments. The space between became a parade ground and a stone wall went up to reinforce the structures.
A changing of the guard
After the 1759 defeat, the British army took over Dauphine Redoubt to use as barracks for regiments passing through. The regular garrison moved into the new barracks. However, the redoubt, which had been built on a steep slope, was showing signs of stress, so the English added five stone buttresses that can still be seen today.
After the American War of Independence (1775 to 1783), the living quarters and mess of the Royal Artillery officers were located there.
Soldiers in town
The redoubt and the new barracks were the centre of intense military activity. There were 1,300 soldiers and officers stationed there in times of peace and as many as 3,000 otherwise. Their presence was felt in many ways—military parades, simulated battles, and practice shooting. The troops also took part in cultural life by organizing concerts and putting on plays, especially British ones. But sometimes the officers performed in French too.
Superintendant’s residence and Artillery Park
After the departure of the British troops in 1871, the redoubt and barracks remained empty for eight years. Subsequently the Canadian government converted the largest building into an ammunition factory and used the redoubt as lodging for its superintendant. After the factory closed in the 1960s, the original 19th-century features of Dauphine Redoubt—plaster walls, square small-paned windows, and a roof half tin and half wood—were restored. The interior was also renovated and decorated in the old style. In 1983 the redoubt, now open to the public, became part of Artillery Park operated by Parks Canada.