Fort Chambly (and a Bonus Side Trip to Downtown Montreal)

Canadian history is a bloody mess of conquests, racial tensions, thrilling battles, crushing defeats, and centuries-long grudges. How anyone can call our history boring is beyond me. It is such a shame that many Canadians know about, say, the battle of the Alamo or Custer’s Last Stand but know nothing about the raid on Deerfield or why the political situation in Quebec is as it is.

Canadians need to go to places like Fort Chambly and read the placards or to sites like Fort Lennox where history is brought to life. Our country was born here, along the Saint-Lawrence, Ottawa, and Richelieu Rivers. You can’t understand what it is to be Canadian today without understanding how it is that we got here. I believe that if more Canadians knew and appreciated their history, we would be able to get over our linguistic and cultural grudges and form a strong, united, country. But as long as we keep this nearly four-century year old resentment alive without understanding its basis, there can be no resolution.

Fort Chambly sits at the heart of Canadian history, rooted in the French-Indian Wars of the 17th century, the English conquest of New France of the 18th century, and the 1812 war against the United States.

Located on the banks of the Richelieu River, an important north-south link with New York state, Fort Chambly is now a park where families come to picnic and I used to spend long hours up a tree writing, reading, and day dreaming. I spent my late childhood and adolescence just a few blocks away and the grounds of the fort were like my second home

I’d been meaning to return to the fort all summer. Since I was due for a date with my grand-mother, I proposed that we go to Fort Chambly today. I felt a little trepidation at coming back for the first time in 15 years, but I was glad to see that it was the same place. The trees have grown a little, but that’s it.

I’ll put all the information in the photo captions, but will say that after we toured the fort, we enjoyed a picnic under the trees. Then, we drove to Saint-Lambert to drop off something for my aunt and I got spirited away on a short jaunt to downtown Montreal to see my cousin’s loft; hence the bonus Montreal pictures.

Merci pour la belle journ├ęe, grand-maman!

Fort Chambly from the parking lot. You used to actually see the Fort; the trees have grown!

Fort Chambly from the parking lot. You used to actually see the Fort; the trees have grown!

The bridge from the parking lot to the Fort, looking towards the Bassin

The bridge from the parking lot to the Fort, looking towards the Bassin

Looking up towards Bourgogne Avenue (I took the bus to high school up there for a year).

Looking up towards Bourgogne Avenue (I took the bus to high school up there for a year).

I couldn't believe how much the trees have grown!

I couldn’t believe how much the trees have grown!

the Bassin de Chambly (a large spot in the Richelieu River), with the marina (the water is FILTHY, so while there is boating, there's no swimming)

the Bassin de Chambly (a large spot in the Richelieu River), with the marina (the water is FILTHY, so while there is boating, there’s no swimming)

The Bassin de Chambly

The Bassin de Chambly

approaching the entrance to the fort

approaching the entrance to the fort

approaching the entrance to the fort

approaching the entrance to the fort

looking up river

looking up river

entrance to the fort

entrance to the fort

names of some of the major military leaders who commanded the fort in the 17th and 18th centuries (names added at the end of the 19th century)

names of some of the major military leaders who commanded the fort in the 17th and 18th centuries (names added at the end of the 19th century)

inside the fort

inside the fort

map of New France

map of New France

most of the exhibits are about the fort in the late 17th century at the time of New France before the British conquest

most of the exhibits are about the fort in the late 17th century at the time of New France before the British conquest

Fort Chambly was built along the Richelieu between Albany and Montreal

Fort Chambly was built along the Richelieu between Albany and Montreal

map of the Iroquois Wars/French-Indian Wars, 1641 to 1701

map of the Iroquois Wars/French-Indian Wars, 1641 to 1701

looking downriver from Montreal to Albany

looking downriver from Montreal to Albany

at the time, it took four hours to go from Chambly to Longueuil (now about 20 minutes!)

at the time, it took four hours to go from Chambly to Longueuil (now about 20 minutes!)

I remember this pottery

I remember this pottery

Fort Saint-Jean was the next fort south of Chambly

Fort Saint-Jean was the next fort south of Chambly

Fort Chambly was the last defensive outpost of Montreal

Fort Chambly was the last defensive outpost of Montreal

I remember this pottery

I remember this pottery

Albany and Montreal were rivals in the fur trade but Canada never attacked the city. In the 18th century, it took eight to make the journey by canoe. I made this route in just a few hours northward this spring.

Albany and Montreal were rivals in the fur trade but Canada never attacked the city. In the 18th century, it took eight to make the journey by canoe. I made this route in just a few hours northward this spring.

from Albany looking up towards Montreal

from Albany looking up towards Montreal

Albany, 1760

Albany, 1760

Montreal, 1760

Montreal, 1760

looking out towards the middle of the fort

looking out towards the middle of the fort

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain

I still love the plank floors

I still love the plank floors

wow, this place hasn't changed!

wow, this place hasn’t changed!

fierce Iroquois warriors

fierce Iroquois warriors

his tattoos are impressive!

his tattoos are impressive!

He was a Mohawk chief known as Brant

He was a Mohawk chief known as Brant

the fur trade was the pillar of the New France economy

the fur trade was the pillar of the New France economy

reasons for Fort Chambly: in short, to prevent invasion and to provide a staging ground for invasion

reasons for Fort Chambly: in short, to prevent invasion and to provide a staging ground for invasion

a tomahawk

a tomahawk

a variety of snowshoes

a variety of snowshoes

remnants of a shovel

remnants of a shovel

The population of New France was 4,415, of which the split was 30% soldiers, 30% women, and 40% civilian men. In other words, women were a commodity in short supply!

The population of New France was 4,415, of which the split was 30% soldiers, 30% women, and 40% civilian men. In other words, women were a commodity in short supply!

a musket

a musket

the raid on Deerfield was in 1704

the raid on Deerfield was in 1704

New England prisoners from the raid were forced marched back to Fort Chambly with the woman forced into arranged marriages and the children given to French Canadian families

New England prisoners from the raid were forced marched back to Fort Chambly with the woman forced into arranged marriages and the children given to French Canadian families

18th century wedding bands

18th century wedding bands

18th century children's clothing

18th century children’s clothing

children were stolen from their families and brought back to Canada to be raised French

children were stolen from their families and brought back to Canada to be raised French

17th century toys

17th century toys

a key

a key

17th century tools

17th century tools

the existing fort was rebuilt from 1750 plans

the existing fort was rebuilt from 1750 plans

how the fort was constructed

how the fort was constructed

powder magazine

powder magazine

view from the powder magazine

view from the powder magazine

view from the powder magazine

view from the powder magazine

powder magazine

powder magazine

we're now on the second story and I am showing how the wooden turrets seen from outside are decorative (save one)

we’re now on the second story and I am showing how the wooden turrets seen from outside are decorative (save one)

looking out over the Richelieu

looking out over the Richelieu

the fort is square with loopholes and other defense mechanisms at each corner

the fort is square with loopholes and other defense mechanisms at each corner

I've always loved his sneer!

I’ve always loved his sneer!

soldiers at work

soldiers at work

that drum looks heavy!

that drum looks heavy!

sword

sword

a 17th century screwdriver!

a 17th century screwdriver!

17th century personal effects of a soldier

17th century personal effects of a soldier

a 17th century shoe

a 17th century shoe

soldiers having dinner (the corn still looks good, the stew still looks like dog food)

soldiers having dinner (the corn still looks good, the stew still looks like dog food)

in the 17th century, the daily ration was about 2,000 calories while today the military rations are about 2,500 calories

in the 17th century, the daily ration was about 2,000 calories while today the military rations are about 2,500 calories

modern rations have changed!

modern rations have changed!

soldiers grooming (there's even one sleeping in the bed)

soldiers grooming (there’s even one sleeping in the bed)

soldiers with families billeted in the village

soldiers with families billeted in the village

soldiers at rest

soldiers at rest

a soldier "enjoyed a good life and a bad reputation"

a soldier “enjoyed a good life and a bad reputation”

tobacco

tobacco

an imposing commander

an imposing commander

Fort Chambly was surrendered to the English in September of 1760, just before the capitulation of New France

Fort Chambly was surrendered to the English in September of 1760, just before the capitulation of New France

In1763, the King of France conceded defeat and handed New France to the British. Two hundred years later, the French would take back their country during Quebec's Quiet Revolution. Two centuries of English oppression cannot be forgiven and now the English in Quebec are paying for the sins of their ancestors. How many generations will it take for this rift to be healed?

In1763, the King of France conceded defeat and handed New France to the British. Two hundred years later, the French would take back their country during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution. Two centuries of English oppression cannot be forgiven and now the English in Quebec are paying for the sins of their ancestors. How many generations will it take for this rift to be healed?

"All conquests go deep -- they are among the deepest of human experiences."

“All conquests go deep — they are among the deepest of human experiences.”

a dormer window looking into the courtyard

a dormer window looking into the courtyard

comparison of the population in different years

comparison of the population in different years

lovely window

lovely window

a typical French Canadian homestead (seigneurie) was 10 times as long as it was wide and was set against the river

a typical French Canadian homestead (seigneurie) was 10 times as long as it was wide and was set against the river

sample 18th century homestead

sample 18th century homestead

bread was a staple food, with wheat comprising 50% of the diet

bread was a staple food, with wheat comprising 50% of the diet

other grains, like rye and corn, comprised 10% each of the diet

other grains, like rye and corn, comprised 10% each of the diet

toys

toys

we are about to go up to the watchtower (watch your head!)

we are about to go up to the watchtower (watch your head!)

it's very claustrophobic up there!

it’s very claustrophobic up there!

gorgeous view from the watchtower

gorgeous view from the watchtower

gorgeous view from the watchtower

gorgeous view from the watchtower

gorgeous view from the watchtower

gorgeous view from the watchtower

I always thought this model of a bird was pretty

I always thought this model of a bird was pretty

entering the Albany room (named for the singer Albani), which holds temporary exhibits (currently about the War of 1812)

entering the Albany room (named for the singer Albani), which holds temporary exhibits (currently about the War of 1812)

"For Canadians, the War of 1812 was about the successful defense of a small colony against attack by a much larger neighbor."

“For Canadians, the War of 1812 was about the successful defense of a small colony against attack by a much larger neighbor.”

a cocky 13-year-old boy did not believe the Americans would win

a cocky 13-year-old boy did not believe the Americans would win

"For the United States, the War of 1812 was a second successful war of independence from Britain."

“For the United States, the War of 1812 was a second successful war of independence from Britain.”

I am really amused that the US thinks it won the War of 1812 because Canada didn't conquer it.

I am really amused that the US thinks it won the War of 1812 because Canada didn’t conquer it.

Tony Blair apologizes for the British/Canada burning down the Library of Congress during the War of 1812.

Tony Blair apologizes for the British/Canada burning down the Library of Congress during the War of 1812.

Tony Blair apologizes for the British/Canada burning down the Library of Congress during the War of 1812.

Tony Blair apologizes for the British/Canada burning down the Library of Congress during the War of 1812.

While US and British relations normalized after the War of 1812, Native Americans were left vulnerable.

While US and British relations normalized after the War of 1812, Native Americans were left vulnerable.

modern Britain has almost completely forgotten the War of 1812

modern Britain has almost completely forgotten the War of 1812

back in the courtyard, we're heading towards the luxurious (for the time) privies

back in the courtyard, we’re heading towards the luxurious (for the time) privies

this luxurious privy was over fast moving water, meaning no smells or diseases

this luxurious privy was over fast moving water, meaning no smells or diseases

looking up the rapids

looking up the rapids

looking towards the rear of the fort

looking towards the rear of the fort

Grand-maman packed lunch. It doesn't look like much, but it got me to dinner, which is no small feat! We had crackers, cheese, almonds, a fig, half a banana, and a couple of bite-sized oatmeal chocolate chip cookies each, plus water. We ate on the grass in the shade of a big tree.

Grand-maman packed lunch. It doesn’t look like much, but it got me to dinner, which is no small feat! We had crackers, cheese, almonds, a fig, half a banana, and a couple of bite-sized oatmeal chocolate chip cookies each, plus water. We ate on the grass in the shade of a big tree.

the watchtower we visited

the watchtower we visited

the watchtower we visited

the watchtower we visited

the rear of the fort (with fake watchtowers)

the rear of the fort (with fake watchtowers)

In 1775-1776, during their War of Independence, the Americans invaded Canada. In 1812, we finally had enough and burned down their White House. :)

In 1775-1776, during their War of Independence, the Americans invaded Canada. In 1812, we finally had enough and burned down their White House. ­čÖé

Saint-Jean was favoured over Chambly for defense starting in 1840

Saint-Jean was favoured over Chambly for defense starting in 1840

I used to climb this tree and read in its branches for hours!!!

I used to climb this tree and read in its branches for hours!!!

The big hole was smaller back then, but the seat-like branch where I'd make myself comfy is still there

The big hole was smaller back then, but the seat-like branch where I’d make myself comfy is still there

the tree looks a lot worse for wear now!

the tree looks a lot worse for wear now!

:(

­čÖü

the father of one of my high school friends was the reverend of this church

the father of one of my high school friends was the reverend of this church

the guard house (closed to visits)

the guard house (closed to visits)

my grand-mother thought it was hilarious that my best memory of this park and community centre was of the time I stepped in dog doo there!

my grand-mother thought it was hilarious that my best memory of this park and community centre was of the time I stepped in dog doo there!

The Ducharme residence (formerly a garrison, then converted to a stately home)

The Ducharme residence (formerly a garrison, then converted to a stately home)

it's for sale!

it’s for sale!

the house was bought in 1908 and used as a saddlery, then was converted to a residence in 1938

the house was bought in 1908 and used as a saddlery, then was converted to a residence in 1938

Fort Chambly is a National Historic Site

Fort Chambly is a National Historic Site

intersection of Bourgogne and Langevin, the street where I grew up. I took my bus here one year and resented it badly since I lived on the opposite end of the street (quite a distance) and the bus passed just a block from my house.

intersection of Bourgogne and Langevin, the street where I grew up. I took my bus here one year and resented it badly since I lived on the opposite end of the street (quite a distance) and the bus passed just a block from my house.

looking down Langevin street

looking down Langevin street

I lived here from 1987 to 1998 (age 8 to 19). It's not a mansion! There are three apartments; we lived in two and rented the third. The joke was that the guy who built it was missing only two tools: a level and a square. The house was a bunch of rooms added to each other and we actually discovered a secret room off the garage (cold cellar) and there was a secret passage going from my room to the downstairs apartment!

I lived here from 1987 to 1998 (age 8 to 19). It’s not a mansion! There are three apartments; we lived in two and rented the third. The joke was that the guy who built it was missing only two tools: a level and a square. The house was a bunch of rooms added to each other and we actually discovered a secret room off the garage (cold cellar) and there was a secret passage going from my room to the downstairs apartment!

Bourgogne Avenue (further back, the street has really been developed into a touristy strip)

Bourgogne Avenue (further back, the street has really been developed into a touristy strip)

downtown Montreal, place Ville-Marie (building that looks like a carpenter's pencil)

downtown Montreal, place Ville-Marie (building that looks like a carpenter’s pencil)

Place Bonaventure (the train depot, mega shopping centre, and the hub of underground Montreal)

Place Bonaventure (the train depot, mega shopping centre, and the hub of underground Montreal)

the hideous Palais des congr├Ęs

the hideous Palais des congr├Ęs

the hideous Palais des congr├Ęs

the hideous Palais des congr├Ęs

we're on the roof terrace of my cousin's loft (shared space) looking at the H├┤tel Inter-Continentel

we’re on the roof terrace of my cousin’s loft (shared space) looking at the H├┤tel Inter-Continentel

church from the terrace

church from the terrace

water tower?

water tower?

National Bank headquarters (on the right, behind the crane)

National Bank headquarters (on the right, behind the crane)

close up of the H├┤tel Inter-Continentel

close up of the H├┤tel Inter-Continentel

closeup of the church

closeup of the church

I like churches :)

I like churches ­čÖé

Hydro-Qu├ębec headquarters (they have the monopoly to create and provide electricity)

Hydro-Qu├ębec headquarters (they have the monopoly to create and provide electricity)