Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada including Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park and Lévis Forts National Historic Sites of Canada Management Plan 2018
Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
- Executive Summary
- 1.0 Introduction
- 2.0 Significance of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
- 3.0 Planning Context
- 4.0 Vision
- 5.0 Key Strategies
- 6.0 Management Area Approach for the Lévis Forts National Historic Site (Fort No. 1)
- 7.0 Summary of Strategic Environmental Assessment
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, 2018.
Cette publication est aussi disponible en français.
Issued also in French under the title:
Lieu historique national du Canada des Fortifications-de-Québec, incluant les lieux historiques nationaux du Canada des Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis, du Parc-Montmorency et des Forts-de-Lévis Plan directeur 2018
Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada, including Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park and Lévis Forts National Historic Sites of Canada Management Plan 2018
- Paper: R64-105/8-2018E
- PDF: R64-105/8-2018E-PDF
Front Cover Image Credits
Top from left to right: Parks Canada
Bottom: Parks Canada
For more information about the management plan or about Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas belong to all Canadians and offer truly Canadian experiences.
These special places make up one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world.
The Government is committed to preserving our natural and cultural heritage, expanding the system of protected places and contributing to the recovery of species-at-risk. At the same time, we must continue to offer new and innovative visitor and outreach programs and activities so that more Canadians can experience Parks Canada places and learn about our environment, history and culture.
This new management plan for the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada, including Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park and Lévis Forts National Historic Sites of Canada, supports this vision.
Management plans are developed through extensive consultation and input from various people and organizations, including Indigenous Peoples, local and regional residents, visitors and the dedicated team at Parks Canada.
National parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are a priority for the Government of Canada.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this plan for their commitment and spirit of co-operation.
As the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, I applaud this collaborative effort and I am pleased to approve the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada, including Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park and Lévis Forts National Historic Sites of Canada, Management Plan.
Recommended and original signed by:
Chief Executive Officer
Québec Field Unit
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site testifies to the defensive system between 1608 and 1871 in Québec City, Canada’s principal stronghold during the colonial era.
Forming a complex network, this national historic site encompasses several different historic sites each with their own reasons for designation. Under this document, the Fortifications of Québec, Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park and Lévis Forts national historic sites have been grouped together, as they constitute the four operational sites belonging to Parks Canada associated with the fortifications of Québec. They are all located in the Historic District of Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the exception of Fort No. 1, which is located in Lévis and is the subject of an management area approach.
Since the last management plan was tabled in 2007, almost 45 million dollars have been invested in the preservation and restoration of the fortifications of Québec and its three associated national historic sites. These investments have, among other things, enabled the opening of an archaeological crypt under Dufferin Terrace where visitors can see the vestiges of the château Saint-Louis. Between now and 2020, an additional 35 million dollars will enable the conservation of the built heritage related to the fortifications.
Over the past few years, Parks Canada has been focusing its communication efforts on greater visibility of the national historic sites in the Historic District of Old Québec, thanks to an integrated and multi-platform promotional strategy. Parks Canada actively participates in meetings with community partners, mainly cultural, heritage and tourism. Furthermore, the interpretive offer proposed to visitors has been improved by proposing new personalized activities.
This management plan will guide the management, operation and development of the site for the next ten years and will be based on the following four key strategies:
- An authentic site with four centuries of historical value
- A Parks Canada signature site for the Québec City region
- World heritage that is recognized and protected
- Fort No. 1, a historic site as an integral part of its surroundings.
Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic places in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Future-oriented, strategic management of each national park, national marine conservation area, heritage canal and those national historic sites administered by Parks Canada supports the Agency’s vision:
Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.
The Parks Canada Agency Act requires Parks Canada to prepare a management plan for national historic sites administered by the Agency. The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada Management Plan, once approved by the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, ensures Parks Canada’s accountability to Canadians, outlining how historic site management will achieve measurable results in support of the Agency’s mandate.
Canadians, represented by citizens, elected officials and tourism industry stakeholders in the Québec City region, took part in the preparation of the management plan. They thus contributed to the establishment of the future direction of the national historic site. The plan outlines a clear and strategic direction for the management and operation of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site by developing a vision, key strategies and objectives. Parks Canada will report annually on progress towards achieving the management plan's objectives and will review the plan every ten years or sooner, if needed.
This plan is not an end in and of itself. Parks Canada will maintain an open dialogue on the implementation of the management plan, to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful. The plan will serve as the focus for ongoing engagement on the management of Fortification of Québec National Historic Site in years to come.
2.0 Significance of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
The cultural resources that comprise the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site are located on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, in the cities of Québec and Lévis (Map 1, p.2). They form assets whose replacement value is estimated at $590 million. In Québec City, the Parks Canada Agency is sole manager of ten percent of the total area of the Historic District of Old Québec, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
The Statement of Outstanding Universal Value defined by UNESCO states that the Historic District of Old Québec, as a coherent and well-preserved urban ensemble, is an exceptional example of a fortified colonial town and by far the most complete north of MexicoFootnote 1. With this statement, UNESCO recognizes that the fortifications of Québec form the cornerstone of a remarkable architectural composition that illustrates an important period of human history.
On a national level, the national historic significance of the resources associated with Québec City’s defensive system has been spoken of by the members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada since its creation in 1920. The subsequent formal designations confirmed for Canadians the importance of these structures to the country’s history. The Lévis Forts were designated in 1920, the Fortifications in 1948, the Montmorency Park in 1949 and the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux and the other components of the defensive system in 2001.
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site commemorates the defensive system created between 1608 and 1871 in Québec City, Canada’s principal stronghold during the colonial era. Its commemoration refers to an overall concept that encompasses not only defensive structures but also their history—whether these structures include actual fortifications or other components, such as gates, guardhouses, powder magazines, storehouses, barracks, military use areas or associated cultural landscapes.
The Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Lévis Forts and Montmorency Park form an integral part of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site. With the exception of Lévis Forts, they are all located in the Historic District of Old Québec, a World Heritage Site.
Perched atop the Québec promontory that dominates the lower town and the St. Lawrence River, the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site includes a wealth of archaeological remains underneath Dufferin Terrace and its surrounding area. This location constituted the seat of the colony’s executive power for over 200 years and served as the official residence of 32 of the 40 Governors General during the colonial period. No other place in Canada is so strongly linked with colonial executive power.
Located in the heart of Old Québec, the Montmorency Park National Historic Site is associated with the geopolitical evolution of Canada, particularly during the period of the union of Upper and Lower Canada until Confederation. Having always been highly symbolic in nature, by its religious, military and political vocations, it is one of the places where the Parliament of the Province of Canada met between 1841 and 1866.
In Lévis, the site designated for its strategic importance includes three forts and all components associated with their construction and operation: the pier vestiges, communication route, the engineers’ camp, the soldiers’ camp and the covered path that connected the three forts. Parks Canada manages Fort No. 1, the only one of the three forts that has retained most of its original characteristics. Under the management plan of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, the Lévis Forts National Historic Site is the subject of an area management approach, as in addition to being located in Lévis, this site has its own unique characteristics.
3.0 Planning Context
The Québec City region is a major tourism destination where competition in the markets is strong, from both a cultural and recreational perspective. In this regard, Old Québec welcomes more than 3.5 million tourists each year.
The fortifications of Québec constitute a significant attraction for the region. This is why the military heritage is at the heart of the local and regional tourism strategy, to the same extent as UNSECO’s recognition of the Historic District of Old Québec. Inside the historic district, the heritage attractions for which Québec City is known are spread across a territory measuring 135 hectares and form an integral part of a dynamic and vibrant neighbourhood. The responsibility of these cultural resources is shared between several private and public owners and managers. The area that is managed by Parks Canada primarily consists in the ramparts and fortification walls that surround the historic limits of the city’s Upper Town. The layout of these structures gives a special quality to this area’s configuration and extent.
Since the last management plan was tabled, in 2007, major investments have been made in the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site for the preservation and restoration of the gates, fortification walls, military components and the Governors' walkway.
A highly visible national historic site, the Saint-Louis forts and châteaux, with its archaeological vestiges, attracted approximately 600,000 visitors between 2008 and 2010, while entry was free. In 2011, Parks Canada built an archaeological crypt accessible to visitors and intended for protecting the vestiges. Since 2011, attendance has been constantly increasing and reached almost 50,000 paying visitors in 2016. Furthermore, Dufferin Terrace was entirely renovated and the monument dedicated to Wolfe and Montcalm was restored.
The Montmorency Park National Historic Site was redesigned in 2009 to include markings of the locations of the former parliaments on the ground and to restore the vegetation cover.
Over the past few years, the interpretive offer proposed to visitors has been adapted where needed both at the fortifications and the archaeology crypt. Furthermore, interpretive programs are offered for school groups and playgrounds.
The integrated, multi-platform and promotional strategy targets and promotes the key experiences offered at the Fortifications of Québec and Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Sites.
Working closely with the community, Parks Canada participates actively in the Table de concertation du Vieux-Québec, which brings together the major institutional, tourism, cultural, educational and business stakeholders. The Agency is also in contact with the key actors in the fields of culture, heritage and tourism and maintains close ties with Québec City and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, which are directly involved in the management and protection of the heritage in Québec City.
3.1 The Key Issues
The maintenance and improvement of the commemorative integrity of the buildings and engineering structures of national historic significance of the fortifications of Québec remain a major challenge. To meet its mandate, Parks Canada will have invested, between 2007 and 2020, more than $70 million for the conservation of the three national historic sites in the Historic District of Old Québec referred to in this management plan.
During the same period, $7.9 million will have been invested at the Lévis Forts National Historic Site for major work enabling the improvement of the commemorative integrity and security of the masonry works.
With respect to archaeological resources, since 2011, an archaeological crypt accessible to visitors protects the vestiges excavated during the rehabilitation of Dufferin Terrace at the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site.
The condition of the cultural landscapes of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is also a concern. Over the years, the growth of the vegetation has gradually obstructed several significant views, characteristic features of these cultural landscapes, thus hindering visitor experience and the understanding of the heritage values. Identifying the problem areas and working closely with municipal and private sector stakeholders constitute the most promising means that enable the consideration of action to improve this aspect of commemorative integrity, while helping to counter negative effects for the visitor.
The heritage value, the complexity of safeguarding the commemorative integrity and the necessary costs for the preservation of cultural resources are all factors to consider when planning their conservation and maintenance. During the next few years, significant investments will continue to be required for these purposes. The different programs of the Canadian government and the central funding of Parks Canada constitute essential levers for improving the state of these cultural resources of national historic significance. These investments help ensure the safeguarding of a world-renowned heritage site that, with some two million visitors per year, remains the most visited National Historic Site in the Parks Canada network.
Communicating the heritage values of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site and of the other associates sites is a challenge in Québec City’s urban context. The current presentation is limited and aging while the interpretive offer has been provisionally adapted in anticipation of the development of a new concept of visitor experience that would better meet the current needs of visitors. It should include the renewal of several presentation elements by drawing more on the site’s particular layout and the presence of numerous cultural resources located throughout the Historic District of Old Québec.
Improving the transmission of the commemoration objectives is essential to ensuring that the numerous visitors that frequent these sites thoroughly enjoy
“the fortifications experience.” The historic values that they convey also help to inform community stakeholders of the necessity to protect a world-renowned heritage treasure situated in the middle of a vibrant urban setting.
The incompatibility of certain uses related to the hosting of major events, of equipment and of advertising installed near the cultural resources raises some concern. These elements are likely to interfere with the communication and understanding of the site’s heritage values. Also, issues of public safety often arise.
The site’s uniqueness, with its wall encircling Old Québec, and the fact that its paths run through busy areas offer favourable opportunities for transmitting the site’s values to the public and to Park Canada’s target clientele. Furthermore, the ties that have been forged over the years between Parks Canada and the various partners provide opportunities for raising awareness about issues surrounding image, the protection of cultural resources and presentation.
Although the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is recognized as one of the icons of Québec City, a UNESCO World Heritage City, it paradoxically lacks in recognition from its users. The site is so much a part of the Old Quebec landscape that visitors and stakeholders often don’t even realize that it is a national historic site managed by Parks Canada on behalf of Canadians.
The positioning of the historic sites in the Historic District of Old Québec must more greatly reflect the importance of the heritage assets they contain, both directly on site and in relations with the various stakeholders. In this regard, the establishment of a more effective communication strategy and the development of partnership agreements help improve the positioning and visibility of these national historic sites. Likewise, Parks Canada’s inclusion on different local and regional tourism and heritage committees helps ensure that the Agency is recognized as a key resource for UNESCO world heritage protection and development. This is particularly important with regards to the impact of urban development on the district’s outstanding universal value and on the commemorative integrity of the historic site. Finally, the 4.6 kilometre path that encircles Old Québec presents excellent opportunities for publicizing the national historic site to visitors as well as Parks Canada’s role in the stewardship of the fortifications of Québec.
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, which stretches along both banks of the St. Lawrence River, is a vital site renowned for its rich history, which played a role in the shaping of North America.
Forming a prestigious heritage site that visitors have the pleasure to call their own, the various components—the fortifications of Québec, the Saint-Louis forts and châteaux, Montmorency park and the Lévis forts—each tell a fascinating story in the forging of Canada as we know it.
This unique heritage ensemble, consisting of imposing ramparts, four monumental gates, buildings that are centuries old and precious archaeological resources, traces a linear path measuring 4.6 km in Old Québec, inviting the public to discover an exceptional site where the past and present converging is a source of memorable experiences.
This site, so closely linked to the landscape of the historic district, is a venue for several popular events that, in return, contribute to the notoriety of these impressive witnesses of the past with the help of solid partnerships.
This iconic landmark is recognized as one of the cornerstones of the designation of the Historic District of Old Québec on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its authentic cultural heritage is protected, valued and respected by the public and by partners committed to the benefit of the present and future generations.
Located in Lévis, Fort No. 1, with its high degree of integrity and being the only fort to still bear witness to the presence of Québec City’s defensive system on the south shore, is inseparable form the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site.
5.0 Key Strategies
The strategic direction of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site includes three key strategies and corresponding objectives and targets. The objectives and targets set for the key strategies proposed are mutually reinforcing. They aim to enable the National Historic Site to renew itself, to make itself better known and appreciated by Canadians and to strengthen its ties with the community.
An authentic site with four centuries of historical value
True to its mandate, Parks Canada will continue to maintain and preserve the cultural resources of the national historic site in accordance with recognized heritage standards so that it retains its strong evocative power. In addition to maintaining and improving the state of the cultural assets, this strategy aims to improve the state of the cultural landscapes, which, over the years, have deteriorated due to vegetation growth. Finally, the presentation of the sites is optimized to better transmit the heritage value of the historic sites to the millions of visitors that frequent the area.
The overall state of conservation of the buildings and structures of national historic significance remains stable or is improved.
- The condition of the buildings and structures of national historic significance that have already undergone conservation work remains stable due to regular maintenance.
- Research on the archaeological resources helps to improve our knowledge of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site and of its components.
The condition of the significant views of the cultural landscapes is improved.
- Over the next five years, representations are made with owners of surrounding land about a better control of the vegetation in order to improve the condition of the cultural landscapes beyond the boundaries of the site managed by Parks Canada.
- Over the coming years, discussions and actions taken in concert with various organizations with regards to controlling the vegetation are carried out taking into account urban realities and the historic site’s presentation objectives.
The visitor experience is rethought, paving the way for a renewal of presentation assets.
- In the next five years, a concept for a new vision of the visitor experience at the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is produced.
- In the coming years, discussions are in place with the Huron-Wendat Nation to lay the groundwork for dialogue with a view to building a discourse on the role of aboriginal communities in the site’s history.
A Parks Canada signature site for the Québec City region
Québec City’s military heritage occupies an important place in the region’s tourism offering. By the implementation of this strategy, the heritage site will benefit from a strong positioning with members of the tourism industry, residents and visitors so that it may be recognized as a vital national historic site. It will also allow Parks Canada to further establish its title as steward and manager of the fortifications.
Parks Canada and the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site are recognized as major tourism stakeholders in the Québec City region.
- To better position the National Historic Site in the highly competitive market, Parks Canada takes action with key actors in the tourism, heritage and events sectors, as well as with appropriate round tables and committees.
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is better known by the public.
- An integrated urban communication plan including signage, guidance and interpretation for the historic site as a whole is developed within the framework of the new visitor experience concept.
- Over the next five years, the number of people following the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site on social media increase by an average of 10% per year (reference: 2,650 followers in summer 2016).
World heritage that is recognized and protected
The fortifications of Québec are a symbol that illustrates an important page in Canadian history. Their presence has greatly contributed to the Historic District of Old Québec’s inscription on the World Heritage List. To preserve this image that is internationally renowned today, Parks Canada will inform the community stakeholders of the necessity to protect this cultural resource as well as the immediate and extended surroundings that participate in its significance. Through this strategy, Parks Canada will seek to bring the stakeholders to take into consideration the outstanding universal value as recognized by UNESCO, both in urban development planning and when popular activities such as major events are held.
The outstanding universal value of the Historic District of Old Québec as defined by UNESCO is taken into consideration in the planning of urban development projects by third parties, particularly in the vicinity of the fortifications.
- Representations are made with stakeholders so that projects that may affect the UNESCO designation is subject to a heritage impact study.
- Parks Canada participate in municipal and provincial consultation processes aimed at ensuring a planning that is respectful of the outstanding universal value of the Historic District of Old Québec.
The site’s heritage values is taken into account when events and activities are planned and held in the vicinity of cultural resources of national historic significance.
- Meetings to raise awareness on the values associated with the heritage of the fortifications of Québec and the Historic District of Old Québec is held with Québec City’s various services.
6.0 Management Area Approach for the Lévis Forts National Historic Site (Fort No. 1)
This site, due to its positioning on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, has its own unique characteristics. Located in the city of Lévis and part of a tourist area that is different than that of Québec City, its clientele, stakeholders and organization are distinct from those of Old Québec and require a specific approach by Parks Canada.
6.1 Significance of the Lévis Forts National Historic Site
The Lévis Forts National Historic Site is located in Lévis, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. It was designated as a national historic site due to its strategic importance to the defence of Québec City. It is made up of several components, mainly the three forts: forts No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. They form a chain of military structures built between 1865 and 1872 to protect Québec City’s surroundings and its port from potential attack from the United States. This is the only example in Canada of the system of detached forts built to defend the major cities of the British Empire during the second half of the 19th century. Parks Canada is the owner of Fort No. 1, the only fort that still remains today. The other elements that constitute this historic site belong to third parties.
6.2. Specific context and issues at the Lévis Forts National Historic Site (Fort No. 1)
In 2009, major work was undertaken on the casemates, thus improving their commemorative integrity thanks to a $2.4 million investment made under the Accelerated Infrastructure Program. Fort No. 1’s service offering and interpretation program were reviewed in 2012.
In addition to the permanent exhibit, the visitor is invited today to explore the site with the help of a multimedia application presenting the exterior and interior of Fort No. 1 (powder magazine and caponier). It is also possible to discover the site using a visitor’s guide and a map of the site including the key elements to visit. Children are provided an Xplorers booklet. Guided activity programs are intended for school groups and youth that frequent the playgrounds. Special activities, such as Learn-to-Camp, the 1st of July and the Twilight Concert were also organized over the last few years.
Fort No. 1’s use potential has not been reached, and the interior and exterior amenities provide opportunities that could allow visitors, and especially residents of the south shore, to benefit more from the site.
Fort No. 1, a historic site as an integral part of its surroundings.
Fort No. 1 is an important heritage asset for Québec City’s south shore. In addition to the presentation and interpretation of Québec City’s defensive system, visitors can also enjoy on site various cultural and social events and activities that contribute to the site’s appeal. Depending on Parks Canada’s interest and constraints, while respecting the site’s heritage character, this aspect may be enhanced in the future so that other activities organized by third parties may be held at Fort No. 1.
Furthermore, the relevance of ensuring quality interpretation at Fort No. 1 is even more important because of the recent demolition of the remains of the casemates at Fort No. 3. Product of a collaboration between the Québec government and the city of Lévis, the integration of the data from Fort No. 3 at the Parks Canada exhibit constitutes an opportunity for greater outreach for the site in the community.
The public is attached to Fort No. 1 because it tells the story of an important phase in the history of Lévis and it is a welcoming place.
- In the next two years, data drawn from work carried out at Fort No. 3 is incorporated into the visitor experience at Fort No. 1.
- Discussions are undertaken with various partners to hold activities organized by third parties at Fort No. 1.
7.0 Summary of Strategic Environmental Assessment
Parks Canada is responsible for assessing and mitigating the impacts of management actions on ecosystems and on cultural resources. The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals prepared by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, requires a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of all plans and policy submitted to the federal Cabinet or to a Minister for approval deemed to have important positive or negative environmental effects.
A strategic environmental assessment was undertaken on this management plan, and the management direction found within has been adjusted to respond to findings. The part that follows presents a summary of the environmental assessment.
The strategic environmental assessment of the management plan makes it possible to conclude that no significant negative environmental effect will result from the implementation of the management plan. In addition to the cultural resources at this site, the main valued components that were assessed include the visitor experience, the relations with various stakeholders and the natural resources. The greatest positive effect will be the conservation of the assets and buildings of national historic significance, whereas the potential adverse effects would result primarily from the management of the vegetation that would enable the improvement of significant views of the cultural landscapes. In this regard, a vegetation management plan for the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is recommended.
The strategies correspond to the sustainable development objectives such as they were set out in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. The strategic directions presented in this management plan are in accordance with the mandate and management policies of Parks Canada. The participation of the public, stakeholders, partners and aboriginal communities (through the Table de concertation du Vieux-Québec) was sought for this management plan (from June 27 to July 30, 2017), and the concerns raised by the public have been incorporated into the plan.
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