The Citadelle of Québec
In the 1820s, British-held Québec City feared an attack from the Americans to the south. And it had every reason to. The Americans had attacked the city back in 1775, and the War of 1812 was still fresh in their minds.
In response to this threat, British military engineer Elias Walker Durnford oversaw construction of the Citadelle of Québec. He built on the heights of Cape Diamond, overlooking the river, taking advantage of the existing city walls to enclose his fort. For the design, he took inspiration from the seventeenth-century military engineer Sébastien Le Prêtre de Vauban, building a star-shaped fortress that exposed only oblique angles to an invading enemy. It was also largely buried underground, offering virtually nothing to shoot at in the first place. The Citadelle’s design also suggests that British authorities were equally concerned about a potential uprising from the majority French-Canadian population. Strong walls faced north, ready to defend against the city itself.
Neither attack ever came, and the military function of the Citadelle today is largely symbolic. It houses offices of the Royal 22nd Regiment, which stages an impressive changing of the guard for the tourists.