Under british rule

Under british rule

In 1759, the Seven Years' War was still raging. Fear of another attack by French troops or an uprising by Québec City's inhabitants was omnipresent. Engineer Samuel Holland drafted plans for a citadel at Governor Murray's request but London ignored them. Murray's successor, Guy Carleton, also believed a citadel to be essential to the city's defence but the project was rejected again.

The onset of the American War of Independence in 1775, which opposed the American colonies and the British capital, raised new concerns for Québec City's defence. And rightly so! In December 1775, American troops launched a surprise attack on the city hoping that Quebeckers would rally to their cause. The onslaught was successfully fought off but the construction of a citadel now proved essential to safeguard the city.

Using plans drawn up by engineer William Twiss, the construction of a temporary citadel began in 1779. It stopped in 1783, when the peace treaty was signed by the United States and Great Britain. The truce was relatively short-lived since hostilities began again in 1812. The temporary citadel was insufficient.

Work on a new fortress built of stone, using the plans of engineer Elias Walker Durnford, began in May 1820. Construction ran 11 years - until 1831. Once completed, the structure housed some forty officer's quarters and boasted casemates able to shelter 745 soldiers. A second building phase, which added 19 new buildings to the citadel, was completed in 1857.

Socially speaking, the difference in lifestyle between an officer and a mere soldier was enormous. Officers' lifestyles resembled those of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy. They had reasonable wages, attended social functions and often lived in the most opulent houses of Upper Town with their families rather than in military barracks. The social status of the rank and file corresponded more to that of a worker or peasant. Earning a pittance, soldiers lived in the citadel's dark, dirty casemates with their families. Often, the children had to sleep on the floor since beds were supplied only as of 1856. The soldier's lot was very difficult until the end of the 19th century.