Citadelle of Quebec

Quebec City, Canada

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 fortifications, the other being Campeche, Mexico.

The first fortifications in Quebec were built by the Governor General of New France Louis de Buade, and completed just in time for the Battle of Quebec in 1690.

After the British conquest in the second half of the 18th century, the problem of Quebec City's defences grew more acute. Fears of a potential French attempt to recapture the colony, concerns about a possible uprising by the local French population and war with the Americans forced the British to develop a new defensive strategy for the city. Between 1778 and 1783, during the American War of Independence, wooden redoubts and earthworks were constructed on Cap Diamant. The Citadel was not necessarily meant to be the central element in Quebec City's defences, but was designed to play more of a supporting role while at the same time serving as the corner stone of the system.

Having narrowly repelled the American invasion of Canada during the War of 1812, the British decided to re-examine their defensive strategy. The current fortress was constructed from 1820 to 1832. 

Soldiers of the British garrison did the lion's share of the construction work. The Citadel, which was also designed to serve as a barracks and arms depot, could house between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers and their equipment. It was rare, however, for the full complement of troops to be stationed there. In mid-19th century Quebec City, the British garrison was split between the Citadel, the Jesuit Barracks (where City Hall stands today), and Artillery Park.

The Citadel's role has evolved over time and although it was never tested in battle, it has been continuously occupied by the military throughout its history. In the years following its completion, changes were made to the defensive system in Quebec City and the surrounding area. For example, the guns on the bastions were replaced by more modern artillery. Tensions during the American Civil War (1861-1865) spurred British authorities to strengthen the city's defences further. Between 1865 and 1871, three forts (including Fort No.1 in Lauzon) were built on the Lévis heights on the south shore to provide support for the Citadel.

Today the Citadelle remains an active garrison and since 1920 is home to the Royal 22e Régiment, the Canadian Forces' sole French-language regular force infantry regiment. The Citadelle is a National Historic Site of Canada. The site receives some 200,000 visitors annually.

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