Fort Frontenac

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Fort Frontenac (1673-Present) - A French Colonial fort established as Fort Cataraqui in 1673 by Louis de Baude, Conte de Frontenac, in present day Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Renamed Fort Frontenac. The British captured and destroyed the fort in 1758 but rebuilt it in 1783. The current post dates from 1819. Active military installation. Also known as Tete de Pont Barracks.

Old Fort Fontenac Northwest Bastion Point
Old Fort Fontenac Northwest Bastion Walls
Fort Frontenac Old Wall with Current Compound in the Background

Fort Frontenac History

Old Fort Frontenac Plan

Established as a French palisaded log and earthworks fort in 1673. The first fort commander was Robert Cavalier, Sieur de LaSalle who used the fort as base of operations for his exploration of the region. In 1675 LaSalle replaced the wood and earth structure of the original fort with stone walls and bastions.

Hostile Iroquois Indians laid siege to the fort and by 1688 many of the garrison had died from scurvy. The post was abandoned by 1689. The French reoccupied the fort in 1695 and established trade on Lake Ontario using boats built at Cataraqui.

As a counter to the expanding French influence on the lake, the British built Fort Oswego and Fort George at present day Oswego, New York. The British also built ships to expand their influence on the lake.


French & Indian War (1754-1763)

As the French & Indian War began, the British warships were driven off the lake by a surprise French attack on 27 Jun 1756. French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm operating from Fort Frontenac attacked British Fort Oswego, Fort George (6) and the new Fort Ontario in mid August 1756, capturing and destroying all three. Two years later a British force under Lieutenant Colonel John Bradstreet captured Fort Frontenac and burned the French ships in the Harbor. Bradstreet withdrew without doing serious damage to the fort. The French were finally defeated in 1760 and the Treaty of Paris in 1763 ceded almost all French claims east of the Mississippi to the British.

With the end of the French & Indian War the need for Fort Frontenac lessened and it lay abandoned until the end of the American Revolutionary War. It was then populated with British troops removed from posts on American soil who built barracks on the old fort ruins. These barracks were named Tete de Pont Barracks about 1789.

War of 1812 (1812-1814)

Kingston became the military headquarters for Upper Canada during the War of 1812 and the Tete de Pont Barracks was an important staging point for troops moving to the conflict. The barracks served as a support base for the construction and the garrison of the original Fort Henry on Henry Point and later supported the unsuccessful British attacks on Sackett's Harbor (Fort Pike and Madison Barracks) in May 1813 and the successful attack on Oswego (Fort Oswego and Fort Ontario) in May 1814.

The barracks was upgraded in the years after the war (1821-1832) with stone barracks, officer's mess and the present outer wall. Much of the old French fort was leveled to accommodate the new construction and the tower in the southeast bastion was removed in 1832.

Canadian confederation in 1867 resulted in the removal of most regular troops from the barracks by 1870 and a battery of militia artillery was formed and posted to Tete de Pont Barracks. The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) remained posted at the barracks until December 1939 when they departed for service in World War II. Tete de Pont Barracks was renamed Fort Frontenac in 1939 and became a personnel depot for the duration of the war. In 1947, the fort became the Canadian Army Staff College and the National Defence College.

Current Status

Fort Frontenac Marker

Now the home of the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Access inside the compound is restricted. Portions of the original French fort northwest bastion and walls have been exposed in an area across the road in front of the compound. Archeological excavations of this area in 1983-1985 revealed a trade goods store with a large amount of trade goods and a barracks building along with many features of the old French fort.

Several historical markers are located outside the compound walls. Inside the compound, parts of the southeast tower foundation and its bastion are exposed in a sunken garden.



Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 44.233333 Long: -76.478611

Recent Blog Posts:

Sources:

  • Unattributed and undated handout from the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College titled "History of Fort Frontenac", 5 pages

Links:

Visited: 29 Jul 2012

Fort Frontenac Picture Gallery

Click on the picture to see a larger version. Contribute additional pictures - the more the better!

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