Lower Yamaska Blockhouse
Lower Yamaska Blockhouse (1778-1783) - A British Colonial blockhouse established in 1778 on the Yamaska River in present day Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada and abandoned in 1783. Also called Blockhaus Yamaska en Bas.
Lower Yamaska Blockhouse , The blockhouse
The blockhouse was constructed in 1778 by order of governor Haldimand on the west shore of Yamaska River at the end of the St-Charles road and after the last settlement (present-day St-Hyacinthe) on the river. It was at the end of a cart road from St-Charles. In February 1779, lieutenant William Fraser, a Loyalist from New York, with is Ranger’s Company of 14 soldiers garrisoned the blockhouse to watch the communication between Rebels spies, mostly Canadiens from the two Canadian Regiments recruited along the Richelieu River by American troops in 1775 invasion of Canada, and Canadiens and Abenakis of St-François. British officers feared for Canadiens allegiance. They added an outpost of 4 soldiers at the first fork of the river, 6 leagues further.
The duty of the garrison was scouting the forest around the portage to Lake Champlain. Lieutenant Thomas Fraser, brother of William came with his company of 12. In May 1781, the family of the Fraser came to live at the blockhouse. In all 1781, the officer’s quarter was newly fitted. When the Upper Yamaska Blockhouse was built closest to Lake Champlain as an advanced post, the Blockhouse served as headquarter for now captain William Fraser and captain Thomas Fraser his assistant newly of the Loyal Rangers, one lieutenant, 5 sergeants and 77 Rangers. A small cart road was established between the blockhouses and a communication by boat was possible. July 5, 1783, the blockhouse is abandoned and receded to the owner of the lot by captain Thomas Fraser and 30 soldiers who went to Fort Isle aux Noix to join the Loyal Rangers of major Jessup. The Blockhouse was then occupied by Loyalist refugees, 40 of them, women and children included the families of the Fraser, received provisions in December 1783. In October 1784, 3 Loyalist families were still there.
After the American Rebel invasion of Canada (1775-1776) and the collapse of the Burgoyne British army at Saratoga NY, the British governor Frederick Haldimand decided to protect the traditional Abenakis Trail from Lake Champlain to the St Lawrence River by the way of Yamaska River, possibly an invasion route, and to avoid Rebel spies infiltration in the Canadien and Abenakis villages. Since two American regiments were recruited within the Canadiens of the Richelieu Valley in 1775, the new governor established few small posts to guard different ways to Rebels control area. For that purpose the Yamaska River was important, so the two Yamaska blockhouses garrisons worked as a team and patrolled on the trails and in the forest south. They usually did not encounter enemies; the job was well done under the Fraser brothers. When an invasion road was cut through the forest by Moses Hazen toward Canada, scouting parties were sent farther and sometimes took some weeks before returning.
The exact location is unknown The site is on private land and nothing remains, no sign.
Location: Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.
Maps & Images
Lat: 45.61750 Long: -72.95860