If you're in downtown Montréal and hear what sounds like a gun salute, check your watch: If it's just before noon, the sound is coming from here. After the War of 1812, the British prepared for a possible future American invasion by building a moated fortress, which now houses the David M. Stewart Museum. The duke of Wellington ordered the fort's construction as another link in the chain of defenses along the St. Lawrence. Completed in 1824, it was never involved in armed conflict. The British garrison left in 1870, after confederation of the former Canadian colonies. Today the low stone barracks and blockhouses contain the museum and staff in period costume performing firing drills, tending campfires, attempting to recruit visitors into the king's army, and generally doing all they can to bring this piece of history alive.
The museum displays maps and scientific instruments that helped Europeans explore the New World, military and naval artifacts, and related paraphernalia from the time of Jacques Cartier (1535) through 1763, the end of the colonial period. Useful labels appear in French and English. From late June to late August, though, the fort really comes to life with daily reenactments of military parades and retreats by La Compagnie franche de la Marine and The Olde 78th Fraser Highlanders. (The presence of the French unit is an unhistorical bow to Francophone sensibilities; New France had become English Canada almost 65 years before the fort was erected.) If you absolutely must be photographed in stocks, they are provided on the parade grounds.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010