Fort Sainte Therese

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Fort Sainte Therese (1665-1760) - A French Colonial fort established in 1665 in present day Carignan (Chambly), Quebec, Canada along the Richelieu River at the head of Chambly rapids. Three forts were built on the site: Fort Sainte Therese I (1665-1667), Fort Sainte Therese II (1747-1760) and Fort Sainte Therese III (1760). A British camp was built on the same spot in 1760. Fort Sainte-Thérèse.

Fort Sainte Therese Roped off Structure Outline
Fort Sainte Therese Site Entrance
The rope marks the palisade of the first fort, here is one of the bastions.

Fort Sainte Therese, the forts

Fort Sainte Therese I, 1665.

In September 1665, commandant, Henri de Chastelard de Salières, of the Regiment de Carignan newly arrived in Canada, came with some companies of soldiers at the head of the largest rapids of the Richelieu River, also called Iroquois River, and built a simple vertical log fort, 46 by 35 metres, 15 feet high, with four bastions as a base for a campaign against Iroquois tribes in the Mohawks River Valley later in the winter. The palisade was finished October 15 (Saint Therese day in the Catholic calendar) and occupied by a small garrison, Fort Sainte Therese I (1665-1667). In January 1666, the French army of sieur de Courcelles gathered at the fort for the unsuccessful campaign and returned there in February. Next summer, Fort Saint Jean and Fort Sainte Anne were built upper on the river and on the Lake Champlain, then, fort Sainte Therese served as depot and protection of the portage road. In 1667, after the war against the Iroquois, the fort was abandoned. In the few next wars against the British, the site served often as a base camp for raids as the infamous raid against Deerfield in January 1704.

In the war of 1744-1748, again the site was a base for gathering of raiders send at Fort Saint Frederic on Lake Champlain and against British Colonies. In winter 1746-1747, a small garrison was established at the site. In April 1747, Lieutenant Vassan with soldiers and militiamen built an irregular vertical log fort on the site with a house and a storehouse for a better protection of the garrison, Fort Sainte Therese II (1747-1760). In November 1747, a small garrison of soldiers and militiamen kept watch against Iroquois raids in the area. In March 1748, the soldiers of the fort worked at the construction of a new fort at Saint Jean and a road from Laprairie to the last fort, Fort Sainte Therese becoming useless. In September the fort Sainte Therese was abandoned and the usable building materials send to the new fort.

Informative panel.
Informative panel.

In the last French and Indian War (1754-1760), the fort and the storehouse was occupied by a garrison to protect the portage road and served as depot of the main supplying line for the French army on the Lake Champlain. June 16 1760, major Roger and 220 Rangers took by surprise the garrison working at the storehouse and the people of the small village. They killed all animals, burned the village and the fort, released women and children, and kept prisoners 26 French soldiers before retired quickly in the forest to Lake Champlain. In the summer, a snug vertical log fort was built on the same site with a ditch to serve the same purpose with a garrison of 20 regular soldiers and 20 militiamen, Fort Sainte Therese III (1760). August 28, after the withdrawal of Fort de l’Isle aux Noix by the retreated French army, Fort Saint Jean and Fort Sainte Therese were burned by the French garrison. September 2, British invasion troops established a large camp at the burned fort and built an entrenchment around in two days. The fourth, from this camp, colonel Derby and 1000 men took the near Fort Chambly. After the fall of Montreal and the Canada, the British camp was abandoned.

Fort Sainte Therese, History

Archeology research excavation in 2010.

Since the first days of the French colony on the St-Laurent River, the settlers and Native Americans allied were raided by Iroquois from the present days north of New York State, the Lake Champlain – Richelieu River being the main and the best way to go directly to the heart of the colony. In 1666, the king of France sent the Regiment de Carignan in Canada to submit the Iroquois and to stop raids. For this purpose, they built a line of log forts as bases for the campaign against them. Without road, the Lake Champlain was the only route to the Iroquois country, since the planned expedition had to take place in winter; the army needed closer base for protection and food, as a part of this line Fort Sainte Therese I was built at the end of the main and longer portage to the lake as a frontier fort. In January 1666, 300 French soldiers, 300 Canadians gathered at the fort for the unsuccessful campaign. After two new forts further to the south, in September 1666, 600 soldiers, 600 Canadians and 100 Native American Allies assembled for the second better planed mixed successful campaign but with a good result, peace years.

When the border was pushed to the south end of Lake Champlain in 1731, the site of Fort Sainte Therese situated at the head of an essential portage road was occupied and very active in war time as a depot and a gathering camp, particularly in the last years of the French colony when French army needed more and more supply to face the larger British invasion army coming from Albany and Lake Georges along the Lake Champlain. As the log fort was not suitable for defense against an army, it was destroyed by the French army in full retreat in the last days of summer 1760.

Current Status

Nothing remained of the log fort, but archeological research revealed a part of the palisade of the forts on the shore of the river, the east part disappeared in the river by erosion. The site is marked and accessible on the bikeway of the Parc National du Canal de Chambly near Sainte Marie Island, south of Chambly QC.

Location: Canal Chambly National Historic Site, Chambly, Quebec, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.38886 Long: -73.25728


  • Fortin, Real, Le Fort de Sainte-Thérèse et la Nouvelle-France, Éditions Histoire Québec, Quebec QC, 2007, ISBN 2-89586-005-X, 210 pages.


Visited: 1 Aug 2013 (J), 16 Apr 2013 (P)

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