Québec

Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace

The Majestic Château Frontenac
(With its Spectacular Dufferin Terrace)

(In the 21st Century)

Now that we have looked at most sections of Old Québec's Fortified Wall in the 21st Century, let's look at its final section: the majestic Château Frontenac with its spectacular Dufferin Terrace, a boardwalk covering a distance of 0.27 mile (1,425 feet or 434 meters). Both of them overlook the St. Lawrence River, with a view that extends for many miles (or many kilometers) and includes part of Old Québec's Lower Town.

Château Frontenac is by far the most prominent feature of Québec City's skyline and has also become the main symbol of that city, recognized throughout the world. Both that magnificent hotel and the Dufferin Terrace, right in front of Château Frontenac on the St. Lawrence River side, astonishingly complement the high cliffs upon which they are perched.


You can see here why the word "majestic" is the right word to qualify Château Frontenac. It has been proclaimed "the most photographed hotel in the world". The walled section that you see right in front of Château Frontenac is a part of Dufferin Terrace that completes Old Québec's Fortified Wall.
© March 2, 2008 / Photo by Bernard Gagnon / Reproduced with the permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ch%C3%A2teau_Frontenac01.jpg

Both Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace were designed and built at the end of the 19th Century, at a time when Old Québec's Fortified Wall had become practically obsolete as a key element of the defensive system for Québec City and Canada, because of the evolution of military technology. So, the main concern at that time was urban embellishment, not the improvement of Québec City's defensive system. This nuance also explains why Château Frontenac was built as a grandiose hotel and Dufferin Terrace as a spectacular boardwalk.


This aerial view offers us another look at both Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace. Designed at the end of the 19th Century by American architect Bruce Price as a "château-style hotel" inspired by splendid châteaux in France, Château Frontenac opened in 1893 and was constantly improved afterward. Designed by Lord Dufferin, the terrace named after him is a most pleasant boardwalk that dates back from 1879.
© September 12, 2009 / Photo by Vanou in Vanou's Photostream / ID Cesna-2009-09-12-9.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/vanou/3913299103/

But that was not always the case. As far back as 1620 for the Forts St. Louis and 1648 for the Châteaux St. Louis, the Forts St. Louis and Châteaux St. Louis stood pretty much at the same place where Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace stand today. They were considered an integral part of the Fortified Wall as well as key elements of the defensive system for Québec City (when it stood essentially where Old Québec stands today). The four different Forts St. Louis were the direct "ancestors" of the Fortified Wall. The two different Châteaux St. Louis were the seat of the colony's executive power for almost 200 years, serving for 32 of 40 French and British Governors or Governors General as their official residence.


This image shows us exactly (in the red area pointed by a dotted line with an arrow) where the Forts St. Louis and Châteaux St. Louis were located for more than 200 years, from 1620 to 1834, compared to the location of Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace today. For that reason, this particular site has been subject to in-depth archaeological excavations since the end of the 20th Century.
© 2005 Parks Canada / Pamphlet entitled "Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux", page 4 / Graphic reproduced with the permission of Parks Canada.

The choice of the term "Château" in the name of the prestigious hotel "Château Frontenac" helped to maintain the memory of the lost Châteaux St. Louis, after a fire destroyed the last one of them in 1834. In 1838, its ruins were finally demolished and it was replaced by the Durham Terrace ... which was later expanded and eventually became the Dufferin Terrace in 1879. The choice of the term "Frontenac" in its name was in honor of Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau, who had been Governor of New France from 1672 to 1682 and again from 1689 to 1698. He was Governor of New France when the French won the Battle of Québec against the British in 1690, after he had given this famous message to an envoy sent by Sir William Phips, the British Admiral who was summoning him to surrender: "No! I have no reply for your general, but by the mouths of my cannons and guns!"