The old constructions, monuments and commemorative plaques that we see on the Campus, as well as the names of the buildings and streets, recall that the site is not ordinary, but, in fact, is part of our national heritage.
Well before the arrival of Europeans in North America, Amerindians, who lived especially off hunting and fishing, were familiar with this place. They stayed on the site for short periods when they sailed up and down the river (Richelieu). In 1609, after the foundation of Quebec, Champlain also came, and in 1666 the Carignan regiment built a fort intended to restrain Iroquois south of the 45th parallel. At the time of the Seven Years War, several companies of French regiments also stayed in and again strengthened the place. In 1748, the famous military engineer Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry built a fort, which, beginning in 1757, at the instigation of the marquis de Montcalm, was renovated to reinforce the defence system set up to stop British invasions. This fort was burned down by its defenders on August 29, 1760, a few days before the capitulation of Montreal.
In the eighties, archaeological excavations unveiled significant remnants of this establishment near the officers' mess.
Fort Saint-Jean did not, however, disappear with the Conquest. It was rebuilt in 1775, and played a decisive role during the invasion of Canada by the Americans. General Richard Montgomery and his army besieged it for several long weeks and the keen resistance of the French-Canadian and British troops, under the command of Major Charles Preston, finally made the takeover of Quebec and Canada impossible. Thanks to Fort Saint-Jean, the project of the Americans to make Canada their 14th state or colony had failed miserably. Fort Saint-Jean was thereafter converted into a ship-building yard and played a significant role during operations which resulted, in 1776, in the defeat of the American fleet on Lake Champlain. The impressive ramparts that still welcome visitors date from that time.
It is impossible to summarize in a few lines what occurred at Fort Saint-Jean during the two centuries that followed the defeat of the Americans. Let us recall, however, that the fort went through a significant expansion in 1839, following the Patriot Rebellion.
Several of the buildings that we can admire nowadays go back to that time. It is also known that in 1883 an infantry school, which was at the origin of the famous Royal Canadian Regiment, was organized. The Royal Canadian Dragoons also occupied the site for many years, and the Royal 22e Régiment was born here in 1914. We will also remember that this establishment sheltered several training centres, of which one of the most significant was the Canadian Army Training School (CATS). In 1952 the Governor General of Canada officially opened Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean (CMR), which closed in 1995.
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