Gouvernement du Canada - Commission des champs de batails nationaux Gouvernement du Canada - Canada

The National Battlefields Commission

Plains of Abraham




Québec, Cornerstone of New France

In this North American conflict between imperial powers, Québec was the cornerstone of New France. Besieged by the Kirke brothers in 1629 and by Phips in 1690, threatened again in 1711 by the Walker fleet, once again the town was the chief target of the British in 1759. Its geographical location, geomorphological features and the hydrographic basin surrounding it, made Québec a place of choice for achieving control of the colony.

First, Québec was located at the most advanced break-in point on the St. Lawrence River. It was the stopping place for ships sailing from Europe; it was also a kind of travellers' terminal for soldiers, tradesmen or settlers hoping to settle in Québec or continue on towards Montreal or to the western part of the country. Québec was also a point of convergence for the fur trade, a basic element in the economy of the colony. You could also find in Québec temporary warehouses for the products shipped in and out of New France22.

Strategically, the narrowness of the river in front of Québec (less than one kilometre), helped monitor the navigation. The Bay of Beauport at the mouth of the St. Charles River also provided a haven for ships. Finally, the promontory, with its steep cliff facing the river, protected the city from invaders and made a natural stronghold of this city.