The Forts at Point Lévy


71 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography
$price not reported
ISBN 0-660-13802-6
DDC 725'.18'09714471




Reviewed by James A. Love

James A. Love is an associate professor of environmental design at the
University of Calgary.


The British government erected three forts at Point Lévy between 1865
and 1872 due to fears of an American invasion. These fears, which
reached a climax around 1864 with the imminent triumph of the northern
armies, had sufficient strength to lead the government in London to
approve construction of the forts at a cost of $1,000,000 (an enormous
sum in the currency of that time), despite financial hardship. Quebec
was seen as the key to British North America. In the eventuality of a
retreat, it would have to be held long enough to allow the navy to
evacuate troops stationed in Upper and Lower Canada. Wolfe’s siege had
shown that the citadel and other fortifications on the north shore of
the St. Lawrence were vulnerable to bombardment from the south shore.
The complex of three forts, using the most advanced artillery of the
period, could command a perimeter exceeding four kilometres in length.
They were designed to accommodate a garrison of about 200 soldiers each.
None of the forts was ever garrisoned because, by the time they were
completed, diplomacy had resolved the tensions with the United States.
This history provides a fascinating account of the attitudes of those
involved, of the living conditions on the site, and of the construction
itself. The tale of the development of the forts has contemporary
resonances: a fabulous expenditure of funds, a large military project
plagued by the failure of contractors to meet terms, a defence system
that, when completed, was essentially abandoned.


Desloges, Yvon., “The Forts at Point Lévy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,