Upper Yamaska Blockhouse
Upper Yamaska Blockhouse (1781-1784) - A British Colonial blockhouse established in 1781 on the Yamaska River at 21 miles of Lower Yamaska Blockhouse in present day Saint-Césaire, Québec, Canada. Also called Blockhaus Yamaska en Haut.
Upper Yamaska Blockhouse , The blockhouse
From January 1781, the squared timber Upper Yamaska Blockhouse is built as an advanced outpost for the Lower Yamaska Blockhouse by lieutenant William Fraser and his Rangers with help of 7 skilled American prisoners of war. The site is a bluff of about 30 feet on the west shore below the first rapids from Lower Yamaska Blockhouse, in front of île à l’Ail that will become the soldier’s garden when cleared, about 21 miles (7 leagues on the ice in the winter) upriver. Sick, lieutenant Fraser was replaced by his brother lieutenant Thomas Fraser for the construction. During the winter, they cleared 200-250 yards of forest on the site and the Blockhouse was surrounded “with a picketing and glacis” and equipped with a bomb-proof cellar after the thaw permit it. The Blockhouse, probably the standard two stories wood construction used as barrack, officer’s quarter, powder magazine, store and defensive fort, was armed with one swivel and two brass paterarors with 2 chambers and equipped with an iron stove. The area inside the palisade was probably large enough for a camp.
In the summer 1781, 30 soldiers garrisoned the new post and Abenakis came some times to help as guides. The blockhouse was finished in July. The garrison duty was scouting the area from the blockhouse to Lake Champlain continually. In December, a territory was assigned to avoid overlapping the scouting territory of groups operated from Fort St-Jean. In May 1782, they watched anxiously the fast construction of Hazen Road in present-day Vermont sending several scouting parties. The Lower Yamaska Blockhouse served as headquarter. In September, they were garrisoned by now captain William Fraser and captain Thomas Fraser his assistant newly of the Loyal Rangers, one lieutenant, 5 sergeants and 77 Rangers, but most of the soldiers were at the Blockhouse for scouting. In winter 1782-1783, Abenakis arrived at the Blockhouse to avoid desertions, a big problem, they had orders to pursue deserters and scalp them. In the spring 1783, 2 bateaux and 2 whale boats were used to bring store to the Blockhouse, however a cart path existed. In the summer, after the evacuation of the Lower Yamaska Blockhouse to Isle aux Noix, captain William Fraser commanded about 45 Rangers. In March 1784, the war ended, the blockhouse was emptied and abandoned. In October, the Blockhouse was in good repair and the boats remained there, nobody lived around yet.
After the American Rebel invasion of Canada (1775-1776), their repulse 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. After the war, the knowledge of the land around and the military cart road to the blockhouse helped the settlement of the area.
The exact location is unknown The site is on private land and nothing remains, no sign.
Location: Saint-Césaire, Québec, Canada.
Maps & Images
Lat: 45.38265 Long: -72.99780