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Resource Type > Image

Subject > Weapons, Equipment and Fortifications

Date > 1800

Entrance to the Rideau Canal at Ottawa, circa 1838

Type: Image

The Sleigh Bay entrance to the Rideau Canal is a spectacular sequence of eight locks climbing 25.3 metres from the river to the plateau above. This watercolour of circa 1838 shows the entrance from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Construction work on the canal began here in 1827. Alongside the locks can be seen two stone buildings - the Commissariat on the west side (here, to the right) and the Ordnance (or Royal Engineers) Building on the east side. The former survives today as the Bytown Museum. Barracks Hill, just to the west of the locks, is now the site of the Canadian Parliament Buildings, built starting in 1859. (Library and Archives Canada, C-011864)

Site: National Defence

British iron guns mounted on iron carriages, circa 1815

Type: Image

Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810. They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. The examples seen in this photograph are found at the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

Fort Henry, Kingston, 1839

Type: Image

Fort Henry was the largest and most modern fort built by the British Army in Upper Canada and was nicknamed ‘the citadel of Upper Canada’. This watercolour was made in April, 1839, during the aftermath of the 1837-1838 Rebellions in Canada. Restored in the 1930s, the Kingston, Ontario structure is now one of the major historic sites in Canada. (Library and Archives Canada, C-000510)

Site: National Defence

York Redoubt, 1882

Type: Image

York Redoubt, built east of Halifax, was the first major fort guarding the harbour’s entrance. The first batteries on the site were constructed in 1793. Over the years, the site was improved. Advances in weapons technology made the site obsolete in the 1860s, and a substantial rebuilding process began, incorporating rifled muzzle loading guns. This engraving shows the Redoubt in 1882. The site is now a National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

British iron mortar, circa 1810

Type: Image

Mortars were designed to shoot an exploding shell at a very high angle, 45 degrees or more. They were used in the siege and defence of fortifications. An explosive shell was fired up into the air and arced downwards to drop within the enemy defences. When the shell's fuse burned down, it exploded. These projectiles are the 'bombs bursting in air' mentioned in the American national anthem, where they were being fired from a British fleet attacking Baltimore.

Site: National Defence

Map of Halifax, 1865

Type: Image

Starting in the late 1820s, the fortifications of Halifax were developed into a formidable defence complex. The new Citadel on the hill dominated the city’s landscape with batteries dotting the coast to provide crossfire against enemy ships. George’s Island was also heavily fortified to block the passage leading into Bedford basin. This 1865 map of Halifax shows these defences were woven into the layout of the city. (Library and Archives Canada, NMC 48125-6/6)

Site: National Defence

32 pounder guns mounted on traversing wooden garrison platforms

Type: Image

These early 19th century British artillery pieces are mounted on platforms that allow guns to swing in a wide arc and thus follow a moving target such as a ship. These reconstucted carriages are found at the Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site near Montreal, Quebec. The fortifications were built to defend the canal lock - the first built in North America.

Site: National Defence

Belmont Battery at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia

Type: Image

Built in 1898-1900 to protect the entrance to the Royal Navy (and later the Royal Canadian Navy) base on the Pacific, the battery has been restored to its appearance during the Second World War 1939-45. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Interior of soldiers' barracks at St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, 1854

Type: Image

Painted by a British officer of the 76th Regiment of Foot, this watercolour of the 1850s confirms that open fireplaces still heated some barracks, despite wood stoves being introduced in the 1840s. The man at centre wears a grey military greatcoat, while others wear the red regimental coat. At right can be seen several soldier's beds, each with storage above for a knapsack, clothing and accoutrements. (Library and Archives Canada, C-008404)

Site: National Defence

Fort Montgomery - the American fort built inside Canada

Type: Image

The United States Corps of Engineers began building Fort Montgomery in 1816, after the War of 1812. It was sited near Rouses Point, New York, at the northern end of Lake Champlain at the mouth of the Richelieu River. In the case of another war, it was to guard the northern American border against British and Canadian incursions and provide a base for United States armies invading Canada in that area. However, construction had to be abandoned after two years when the fort was found to be slightly inside Canada’s boundaries. Fort Montgomery got the nickname ‘Fort Blunder’ and was never completed. The site later reverted to the United States in 1842 as a good will gesture between Britain, Canada and the United States, nations that have since been allies in the great struggles of the 20th century.

Site: National Defence