Friday, February 18, 2011

Fort Ste Thérèse on the Richelieu

Several postings ago, there was a story about my personal hunt for Fort St Thérèse on the Richelieu and how I ended up meeting Roger, the bridge keeper,  who directed me to the area believed to be where the fort once stood.  It is "believed to be" because the fort was abandoned and for a long time no one had any thought about it or its location 

I wanted to find Fort St Thérèse because the soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment, built the first Fort St Therese. There are so many of these soldiers in the ancestry of the families on this blog, it seemed pretty important to take a look.  It is not famous, there's no signs telling you it is up ahead and there's no admission. As I wrote previously,  the St Jean Touriste office had no idea what I was talking about.  Thank goodness for Roger!  The mystery of its location, likely because it was built quickly with with timbers and wood, not stone sentenced the fort to oblivion.  It was quite literally forgotten for many decades.

Then in 2007, the rediscovery of an aerial photograph taken in 1933, below, helped determine the location

The interpretation of the photograph lead to new digs in the vicinity. The current state of the archaeology work done in 2008 and 2009 by Parks Canada is described here Bulletin of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Information from Wikipedia found at

There has always been confusion as to the precise location of  Fort Sainte Thérèse. A well known historian of the Richelieu Valley, Réal Fortin, published in 2003, an interesting study on the location of the fort. Reconstructing the deeds of the forts in the area, Fortin was able to conclude that the location of the fort was lot 343 of the city of Carignan, on the west side of the Richelieu. It was situated on the south side of point Portage facing the island of Sainte Marie.


First Fort (1665–1667)

The first fortification was constructed in Octobre 1665 by Henri de Chastelard de Salières, officer in the Carignan-Salières Regiment. He finished the fortifications on October 15, which was the religious anniversary of St. Thérèse.   The location of the fort was strategic but it was abandoned in 1667.

Second Fort (1747–1760)

In 1731, the governor of New France, because of his concerns about the behavior of the Iroquois and the English colonies to the south, ordered the reconstruction of forts along the Richelieu. This operation led to the construction of  Fort Saint-Frédéric, on Lake Champlain. Following these undertakings, a road was built between Chambly and the old fort of Sainte Thérèse, and again between Chambly and La Prairie. In 1741 and 1742, Clément Sabrevois de Bleury constructed a hangar for boats at Sainte Thérèse, which served to store the boats of the King. Because of English threats from the south, commander Vassant was asked to build a new fort at Sainte Thérèse in 1747, and posted several regiments. The fort was abandon the following year to concentrate efforts on Fort Saint-Jean, further south. However, what was left of Fort Sainte-Thérèse was used to stock merchandise during the British invasion of (1756–1759), until it was finally burned by major Robert Rogers and his men in 1760.

Third Fort (1760)

After abandoning the forts on Lake Champlain in the last months of fighting in the French & Indian War, the French still  sent soldiers to Fort Sainte Thérèse in the summer of 1760.  However, in  September the fort, already burnt, was abandoned by the French, after being defeated at Île aux Noix. The English took possession of the fort and built trenches all around it. The location served as a point of rally for the troops before the invasion of Fort Chambly, on September 4, 1760.

Sainte Thérèse, after the British

The location of the fort was used by the British as an English Post. The troops improved the road between Sainte Thérèse and Chambly, which was extended to Saint-Jean in (1776), during the American Revolution. The fortifications, however, were in ruins and were quickly forgotten..
Construction of the Chambly Canal, between 1831 and 1843, made the site of the fort less accessible. Only a commemorative plate, installed by Commission des Sites et des Monuments historiques du Canada in 1927, serves as testimony to the history of the region.

Here are some photographs from my walk to the site of the fort.... 

Walking north from the bridge and along the eastern side of the Chambly Canal

one sees a sign indicating where the archaeology was being recently conducted

Following this path, one leaves the canal and is directed towards the Richelieu River and its shoreline.  At the edge of land, the marsh reeds grow, birch trees stand and houses on the Island of St Marie are visible

It isn't much to see if you are accustomed to seeing Fort Ticonderoga, Chambly or even the ruins of Fort St Frederic but it was a beautiful place to stop and think about the ancestors who were young men recruited from France who joined the Carignan-Salieres and choose to remain in New France.  Were their prospects in the old world so dire? Did they fall for a jeune fille?  Whatever, they remained in the new world and here I am today.

Here is a list of stories on this blog about the forts in the Champlain-Richelieu Valleys:

1 comment:

  1. La Corporation historique du fort Sainte-Thérèse was founded in 2009 to help population and passionate historian not to forget the fort. After the digs from 2008 to 2011, archeological research conclusions were published by Maggy Bernier in February 2012. La Corporation historique du fort Sainte-Thérèse still continue to volunteer each year to offer free guided tours around this fort we do not see. We enhance the visit with pictures, maps and artifacts discovered on the site.

    FREE GUIDED TOUR since 2009, Sundays of August, from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Bienvenue au fort Sainte-Thérèse!

    Feel free to contact us through email at or on Facebook to get more informations. We would be please to help enrich your website and receive visitors from your country.

    Carole Forget (
    Présidente de la Corporation historique du fort Sainte-Thérèse
    Coordonatrice des visites guidées des 4 dimanches du mois d'août