Discovering The South Shore – Fort Number 1

Discovering The South Shore – Fort Number 1


by Peter Stuart

By now, living in Québec, you’ve surely heard about the Citadelle, the famous 19th century-era British-built fortress and home to the legendary ‘Van Doos’ French-Canadian Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces, with their annual Changing of the Guard ceremony, complete with the regimental mascot, the goat ‘Batisse’. 

But have you heard of a lesser-known, but equally important part of our country’s military heritage? Nestled quietly on the South Shore of Québec city, near the town of Lévis, lies another 19th century vestige of Canada’s military build-up in the wake of the war of 1812. 

It is called Fort number 1, and is a National Historic Site run by the Canadian Parks service. It was built between 1865 to 1872 by soldiers, to defend the port of Québec from a potential American attack. Fears ran high in those days in the wake of the war of 1812, when the British had felt just how vulnerable their border with the Americans was, and just how easily the Americans had marched and sailed into our territory and nearly taken over what was to become our country. 

They had substantial commercial interests to protect in Canada, and did not want their commerce and industry to be taken over by Yankee interests, as it had been the case with the thirteen colonies during the American Revolution. So the British invested massive amounts of British taxpayer’s money to defend Canada against American annexation, building such things as the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Montreal, to protect shipping from exposure to hostile American attacks on the St. Lawrence, which had occurred during the war. 

They also built the Citadel in Québec city, and eventually built Fort no. 1 to protect the Port of Québec. There are a variety of activities that you can engage in at the Fort either individually or as a family or group when visiting during the summer months.

There are guided tours daily with bilingual Parks Canada guides, as well as people dressed up in 19th century period costumes playing the roles of a variety of characters from that time period. Other activities include re-enacting the life of an artillery soldier, tales of the daily life of a soldier at the fort, a day in the life of the people at the powder magazine, as well as a treasure hunt. 

To get there off the Pierre Laporte Bridge, just get on Highway 20 east, and take exit 327, (Monsignor Ignace Bourget), and follow Champagnat Street until you get to Chemin du Gouvernement. Cost of admission is $9.80 for a family, $1.90 for kids age 6-16, seniors age 65+ are $3.90 and adults, age 17-64, are $3.90. 

The south shore is a whole other part of the Greater Metro Québec city area. It has its own charm and its own flavour: More rural, more laid back. It’s a great way to discover something a little out of the ordinary and to have a change of scenery from what we’re used to on the north shore of the river. So keep it in mind to visit Fort No. 1 in Lévis this summer. You’ll see, it’ll be no. 1 in your books!

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Tags: Peter Stuart

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