The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada

The Strategic Defence Of Canada

The Fort ‘de la Montagne’ (of the mountain) built in 1685

Caption: The Fort ‘de la Montagne’ (of the mountain) built in 1685

The Iroquois were not the only enemies whom the French officers arriving during the 1680s would have to face. It was a decade during which the signs of imminent conflict between England and France were increasing. How could a British invasion be repulsed when the colony was spread out over such a wide area and defended by so few men? This was the critical question to which an answer had to be found.

From a defensive point of view, good fortifications remained the most important measure. However, when they existed at all in the colony, they were in a deplorable condition. It was decided therefore to restore Fort Frontenac and surround Montreal with a palisade, since these two places were most vulnerable to attack by the Iroquois, the allies of the English. Quebec had the advantage of being a natural fortress, but it still had no surrounding wall, only a few batteries, and a paltry fort, Château Saint-Louis, which doubled as the residence of the governor general. Although the court at Versailles believed at first that Quebec was safe from attack by sea, this view was revised in 1690, and the town was provided with surrounding fortifications consisting of 16 redoubts connected by a palisade. These were the first of numerous defensive works to enclose the town within walls.