CITADELLE – FORTRESS
It has been called the Gibraltar of America, the largest fortification built by the British on the North American Continent. The Citadelle of Quebec City occupies a promontory at the edge of the capital of Canada’s French speaking province. A maze of stone walls up to 30 feet high backed by earth fill in a shape of a four pointed star above the St Lawrence River. When Quebec City surrendered to the British after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, there was no fortress in place on the Cap Diamant hill, only a few earthwork defenses and intermittent redoubts, over-run by the forces of British General James Wolfe (see Musee du Fort). Following the War of 1812, the Govenor of Quebec decided it was time the city had a fortress and a plan was approved by the Duke of Wellington, Britain's miltary brand name hero after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. The Citadelle of Quebec City has served as the headquarters of the Canadian Royal 22nd Regiment since 1920.
Construction was begun in 1820 and not completed until 1832. The fortress covers about 37 acres with defensive bastions of gray stone provided with gun embrasures and loopholes, dividing the approaches with musket and cannon cover, with the steep cliffs of the St Lawrence to its back. Inside the walls of the Citadelle remain several earlier buildings from its history. The King’s Bastion from 1693, Officers Quarters in three separate buildings, the Residence of the Governor General of Canada and the Officers Mess of the Royal 22e Regiment, spotted with souvenirs of the regiment's war service, a carriage cannon from WWI and Sherman Tank from the Second World War.
itself played a part in World War II, despite its long distance from
the battlefields of Europe. In 1943 and 1944, the fortress hosted
the secret conferences of the allied U.S. and British leaders, where
Churchill, Roosevelt and Canada’s Mackensie King sat with their
top generals to plan the Normandy Invasions and plans for the end of
the war. The dignitaries remained within the walls of the fort for security
stayed at the luxurious Chateau Frontenac Hotel visible beyond the walls
in view over the city.
The Museum of the 22e Regiment (which by law must be pronounced in French) was established at the Citadelle in 1950 in a building built in 1842 as a British military prison, with its cells now holdings parts of the collection. The museum features military uniforms, weapons from all periods, historical documents, miniatures and an honor hall of medal winners. Among the holdings of historic weapons at the Citadelle’s arms museum is one of the only remaining canons from Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston at the commencement of the War of Independence, which despite attempts to get it returned, short of another war will likely remain in Canada. It can only be seen on a VIP tour until a new exhibition space is completed.
Changing of the Guard
Every day during the summer months, the main attraction of the Citadelle is the tradition of the Changing of the Guard. Marking the change of personnel responsible for the security of the garrison and the governor’s residence, much like the similar ceremony tourist attraction in London, the Canadian version offers a colorful precision choreographed spectacle of pomp, with inspection of the fur capped troops in red uniforms accompanied by brass music from the regimental band, all observed by the regiments official mascot the royal goat, Batisse. The goat became a tradition when Queen Victoria presented all British army regiments with a goat from the royal herd in 1844. The goat mascot was revived for the 22nd Regiment in 1955.
Visiting the Citadelle
One hour guided tours of the Citadelle are offered every day year round, including the regimental museum and other historic buildings including the French powder magazine from 1750. The tours depart every 15 minutes in summer and four times a day in winter. Tours in English are alternated with tours in French. During the snowy cold days of winter (see Quebec Winter Carnavale), one English tour a day is offered. VIP and student group tours are available by reservation. The tours cost $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, $5.50 for youth 17 and under, with children under 7 free. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is at 10am daily from June 24 to the first day of September and Retreat at 7pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday from July 1 to the first Monday in September. The tours or ceremonies can occasionally be curtailed or called off due to military duty or bad weather. Entrance to the Citadelle is through the Saint Louis Gate with a pedestrian tunnel. © Bargain Travel West
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