National Historic Sites of Canada

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is a small Roman Catholic stone church in the Lower Town of Quebec City. Built on the site of Samuel de Champlain’s 1608 Habitation, it is the first permanent French establishment in North America; a symbol of the French presence in North America. The construction was started in 1687 and completed in 1723. The church was largely destroyed by the British bombardment that preceded the Bat ...
Founded: 1687-1723 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City Hall

The City Hall of Quebec City (Hôtel de ville de Québec) was inaugurated on September 15, 1896. The building slopes downward as it was built on a hill and was once home to the Jesuit College (Jesuit Barracks) from the 1730s to 1878. Designed by architect Georges-Émile Tanguay (1858-1923), it is the second permanent city hall for the old city. From 1842 to 1896 City Hall sat at home of British Army Major General ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Citadelle of Quebec

The Citadelle of Quebec is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada. It is located atop Cap Diamant, adjoining the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. The citadel is the oldest military building in Canada, and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City, which is one of only two cities in North America still surrounded by forti ...
Founded: 1693 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is the oldest church in the Americas north of the Spanish colonies in Florida and New Mexico. It is a National Historic Site of Canada, and located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic District of Old Québec. Located on this site since 1647, the cathedral has twice been destroyed by fire throughout the centuries. A previous iteration of the church was de ...
Founded: 1647 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Château Frontenac

The Château Frontenac is a grand hotel in Quebec, Canada. The hotel is generally recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world, largely for its prominence in the skyline of Quebec City. The current hotel capacity is more than 600 rooms on 18 floors. The Château Frontenac was designed by American architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of 'château' style hotels built for the Canadian Pacifi ...
Founded: 1893 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Sainte-Trinité) is the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. The Diocese of Quebec was founded in 1793 and its first bishop, Dr. Jacob Mountain, gave his early attention to the erection of a cathedral. The completed building, designed by military officers William Robe and William Hall and built between 1800 and 1804, was consecrated on August 28, 1804. It was the first Angli ...
Founded: 1800-1804 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Prince of Wales Fort

The Prince of Wales Fort is a historic Bastion fort on Hudson Bay across the Churchill River from Churchill, Manitoba. The European history of this area starts with the discovery of Hudson Bay in 1610. The area was recognized as important in the fur trade and of potential importance for other discoveries. The fort is built in a European 'star' shape. The first wooden fort was built in 1717 by James ...
Founded: 1731 | Location: Churchill, Canada

Fortifications of Québec

The ramparts of Quebec City are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico. The British began refortifying the existing walls, after they took Quebec City from the French in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The wall, which runs on the eastern extremity on the Promontory of Quebec, surrounds most of Old Quebec, which was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in ...
Founded: 1620-1759 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

L'Anse aux Meadows

At the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, the remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement are evidence of the first European presence in North America. The excavated remains of wood-framed peat-turf buildings are similar to those found in Norse Greenland and Iceland. Dating to around the year 1000 (carbon dating estimate 990-1050 CE), L'Anse aux Meadows is the only site widely accepted as ...
Founded: 950-1050 AD | Location: Newfoundland, Canada

Ursuline Monastery

The Ursuline Monastery of Quebec City was founded by a missionary group of Ursuline nuns in 1639. It is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Today, the monastery serves as the General Motherhouse of the Ursuline Sisters of the Canadian Union. The community there also operates an historical museum and continues to serve as a teaching centre.
Founded: 1639 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site

Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site commemorates the second voyage of Jacques Cartier; more precisely in 1535-1536 when he and his shipmates wintered near the Iroquoian village of Stadacona (Quebec City). It also recalls the establishment of the first residence of the Jesuit missionaries in Quebec, in 1625-1626. Moreover, by the end of the 17th century up to the opening of the national historic site in 1972, it host ...
Founded: 1535 | Location: Quebec City, Canada

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.