Fort Lennox

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Fort Lennox (1819-1870) - A large British colonial fort established on the Isle aux Noix in the Richelieu River in present day St-Paul-de-L’Île-aux-Noix, Québec, Canada. The Island was the site of previous fortifications including the French Fort de l’Isle-aux-Noix (1759-1760) and the British Fort Isle aux Noix (1778-1815). Finally abandoned by the British in 1870.
File:Fort Lennox 1886.jpg
Painting of Fort Lennox, 1886, by Henry Richard S. Bunnett
Main gate of Fort Lennox and ditch.
Fort Lennox on Île aux Noix..

Fort Lennox, the Forts

Plan of French Fort Île aux Noix (1759-1760). (PAC)
Plan of British Fort Isle aux Noix (1778-1819). (PAC)
Plan showing the shipyard at Isle aux Noix with the layout of the British Fort of 1778 and the layout (dotted line) of the future Fort Lennox of 1819. (PAC)
Inside of the barrack of Fort Lennox.

In May 1759, before the planned retreat of the French army of the Lake Champlain against the British invasion, Jean-Guillaume-Charles Plantavit de Margon, chevalier de La Pause built a defensive irregular earth fort on the south half the Isle aux Noix (Nuts Island) to stop for a time the British army, Fort de l’Isle-aux-Noix. In July 1759, after the abandonment and destruction of Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) and Fort Saint-Frédéric (Crown Point), François-Charles de Bourlamaque retreated with 1000 Canadiens and 2000 soldiers and commanded the construction of a small log fort in the center of the earth rampart for the protection of the troop with barracks, storehouse, powder house and one blockhouse. In 1760, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville and 1453 men hastily finished the fort and added 2 redoubts, blockhouses, abattis and a log fence across the river to stop the British fleet. The fort was too large for this small garrison and no competent gunners were available. 1760, August 16, Bougainville were besieged by general Haviland and 3400 men of the Army of Lake Champlain. In August 28, after running low in ammunition, their ships captured and being surrounded, the French garrison fled in the night, the fort was taken and the British invasion continued to Montreal and the collapse of French Army in Canada. By orders of Amherst, the fort remains were destroyed.

In the Revolutionary War, in 1775-1776, Americans invasion Army of the North established a camp on the island without fortification. After the American retreat, the British established two batteries on each side of the island to protect the channels and a blockhouse of 20 by 30 feet for 100 to 120 men. In 1778, the British built a small earth fort from an old French bastion on the East side of the island with 2 barracks for 200 soldiers, storehouse, 2 powder houses and one well, Fort Isle aux Noix. During the war, troops were stationed at the fort and construction of redoubts continued. 1811, the fort is in very bad shape. In the first days of the 1812-1815 War, a shipyard and a garrison were established on the island, several ships were built and the fort was repaired. In the war, the fort was occupied by 1200 soldiers and 60 officers (Sept 1813). After the war, in 1816, construction stopped in the fortification and the shipyard.

Since the conflict between USA and England is not finished in 1819, a new large earth fort was built for 10 years with stone buildings and wet ditch around, Fort Lennox (1819-1870). The 100 men garrison (in 1822) built powder house (1820), guardhouse (1821), 2 storehouses (1821-1823), casemates (1822-1827), officers quarter (1828), barracks (1829). The fort was completed in 1829 and a small garrison occupied the fort, but needed repaired after that time. In 1834, the shipyard was closed. In the Rebellion of 1837-1838, few Patriotes were put in jail in the fort and in 1839 the garrison was raised to 500 men to be maintained at more than 200 men until 1845. Without real threat from the USA, the garrison was from 220 to 30 men from 1845 to 1857, when the garrison was removed. 1858-1862, the fort served as a école de réforme for teenagers. In the U.S. Civil War, in 1862, the fort was occupied and repaired by 100 soldiers and an artillery detachment for the wartime. In November 1865, 200 to 300 soldiers garrison did some repair on the parapet to prevent Fenians raids on Canadian border. In 1870, British troops retired from Canada and the fort was abandoned. The island was used by farmers and in 1899 a summer camp was established. In 1921, the fort became a Historic Site and part of the island was a campground. In the Second World War, the fort served as a jail for German citizens in Canada, mostly Jews. In 1945, the island served as a summer camp for teenagers. Since 1978, a visitor center is situated on the main land with a ferry dock.

Fort Lennox History

Officers’ quarter of Fort Lennox
Fort Lennox Barracks
Fort Lennox Quartermaster Store Building
Fort Lennox Armory Building
Drawbridge to Front Raviline

A fort was first built as a temporary fortification to slow the British invasion army from Lake Champlain, one of the three Armies going to Montreal, one from Quebec, the other from the Great Lakes. As the Lake Champlain was settled and became a main and easy way to go in the heart of the new British Colony of Canada by Rebels and after the 1775-1776 invasion, the British choose the island to stop any fleet and army from the south. After the second war against USA, in 1815, and the construction of an American Fort at Rouses Point on the border, the British built a stronger fort to block the navigation on the Richelieu River and to protect the south approach of Montreal. The British strategists hesitated between Fort Lennox and Fort Saint Jean (2) to be the main fortification because of the development of the country around the island and particularly the construction of good roads and after a time the railroads and the canal Chambly. Fort Lennox didn’t see any action.

Current Status

An animated fort of 1829 can be visited in the Fort Lennox National Historic Park by using a ferry. The ferry runs from the land side visitor center to the island about every half hour during the summer months. You can see few buildings with costumed people acting as British garrison. Period cannons and carriages.

Location: Fort Lennox National Historic Site on the lIle-aux-Noix in Quebec, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.1207 Long: -73.2682


  • Charbonneau, André, The Fortifications of Ile aux Noix, A Portrait of the Defensive Strategy on the Upper Richelieu Border in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Parcs Canada, 1994, ISBN 0-660-15194-4, 382 pages.


Visited: 29 Jul 2013

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