Military Wiki
Fort Beauséjour
Aulac, New Brunswick
Fort Beauséjour and Cathedral (c.1755)
Type Fortress
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1751
In use 1751-1835
Controlled by France (1751-1755), United Kingdom (1755-1835), Parks Canada (1926-present)
National Historic Site of Canada
Official name Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1920

Coordinates: 45°51′52.49″N 64°17′29.62″W / 45.8645806°N 64.2915611°W / 45.8645806; -64.2915611 Fort Beauséjour (French pronunciation: ​[fɔʁ boseˈʒuːʁ]) (later known as Fort Cumberland) was built by the French during Father Le Loutre's War from 1751–1755; it is located at the Isthmus of Chignecto in present-day Aulac, New Brunswick, Canada.[1] The property is now a National Historic Site of Canada officially known as Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site.[2] To maintain the land route between Louisbourg and Quebec, the French built this fort and two satellite installations: one at present-day Port Elgin, New Brunswick (Fort Gaspareaux) and the other at present-day Saint John, New Brunswick (Fort Menagoueche).[3]

Fort Beauséjour is notable as the site of the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, which was both the final act in the long fight between Britain and France for control of Acadia, and the opening act of the final struggle between the two great empires for North America.[4]

Renamed in 1755 Fort Cumberland by the British, who were victorious, it was the site of the Battle of Fort Cumberland during the American Revolutionary War.[5]

Historical context

Map of surrounding area

Fort Beauséjour was one of several French forts erected after King George's War (1748) to strengthen the French position in North America against the British. Louisbourg was rebuilt (1749), Fort Niagara was established on Lake Ontario (1749), Fort Duquesne was constructed near present-day Pittsburgh (1749), and Fort Rouille was built (1750). In Acadia, Fort Menagoueche was built to the west of the mouth of the St. John River (1748), further up the river they re-occupied Fort Nerepis (1749), Fort Gadiaque - a fortified supply depot - was built at Indian Island (Skull Island), Shediac Bay (1749).[6]

Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the part of Acadia which is known today as peninsular Nova Scotia changed from French to British control, and became another British colony on the eastern seaboard. Due to disagreements in interpretation of the treaty provisions delineating Acadia's boundaries, the ownership of present-day New Brunswick continued to be disputed. An informal dividing line was eventually established on the Isthmus of Chignecto at the Missiguash River. As tensions between France and Britain escalated in the 1740s, the territorial dispute over colonial limits became an important issue.

Father Le Loutre's War

Louis de la Corne, Chevalier de la Corne, Commander at Beausejour

One historian suggests that the French were probably using Beauséjour Ridge, just to the west of the Missiguash, as a camp as early as 1744.[7] During Father Le Loutre's War, on May 1, 1750, Major Charles Lawrence arrived with 400 men to secure the Beauséjour Ridge.[8] Finding a landing impossible, given the presence of French troops, the flotilla moved further up the basin to the village of Beaubassin, on a second ridge immediately east of the Missaguash. When it was clear that Lawrence intended to land, the local priest, Abbé Jean-Louis le Loutre, ordered the village burnt to ensure the British could not use it.[9] The displaced Acadians took refuge with the French encampment on Beauséjour Ridge. In May 1750, Lawrence was ill-prepared to build a fort or to launch an attack on the French, so he retreated. He returned in September 1750 with a force of 700 men. Le Loutre and Acadian militia leader Joseph Broussard resisted the British assault. The British troops defeated them and began construction of Fort Lawrence near the site of the ruined Acadian village of Beaubassin.[10] The work on the fort proceeded rapidly and the facility was completed within weeks.

Construction of Fort Beauséjour

Thomas Pichon - Spy for the British who created the plan of attack used by Monckton

France responded to the construction of Fort Lawrence in September 1750.[11] Work on the French fortress did not begin until the following spring, but by April 1751 construction was underway under the command of Claude-Antoine de Bermen de La Martinière. By the early summer of 1751, La Valiere reported, approximately 250 Acadians had enrolled in the local militia.[12] Construction was slow, and the fort was incomplete when it was attacked in 1755.[13] It was still a more substantial construction than Fort Lawrence, given its earthworks and commanding position overlooking the Cumberland Basin. In 1753, Le Loutre and the Acadians began to build a cathedral just outside the fort. At about the same time, the French built two satellite forts, Fort Gaspareaux and Fort Menagoueche, to shore up defenses of Acadia. For four years, until the outbreak of the French and Indian War, garrisons at Fort Beauséjour and Fort Lawrence kept watch across the frontier between French and British territory on the Isthmus of Chignecto.

In 1754, Louis Du Pont Duchambon de Vergor became the commander of Fort Beausejour.

Battle of Fort Beauséjour

Fort Beauséjour and cathedral (1755)

On June 4, 1755 the British conquest of all of France's North American territory began when a force of British regulars and New England militia attacked Fort Beauséjour from Fort Lawrence under command of Lt. Col. Robert Monckton. Le Loutre and Broussard were active in the unsuccessful defense. The British-led force took control of Fort Beauséjour by June 16, 1755, after which they changed its name to Fort Cumberland. Le Loutre's last act of defiance was to burn the cathedral so that it would not fall into the hands of the British. He was eventually captured, and imprisoned for eight years for his role leading the resistance against the British occupation of Acadia.

Fort Cumberland

French and Indian War

The Deportation of the Acadians

Montague Wilmot - first commander at Fort Cumberland

In the months following the fort's capture, British forces ordered the Acadians living in the Beaubassin region to sign an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. However, the Acadians refused because, fearing retaliation from both sides, they preferred to remain neutral. Although Le Loutre and Broussard escaped, some of the remaining captured Acadians reported that they had been coerced into assisting in the defense of Fort Beauséjour. The British used this fact against them and in August 1755, they began deporting Acadians under the orders of Charles Lawrence, now Governor of Nova Scotia.

This event was the start of what would come to be known as the Great Upheaval (le Grand Dérangement) of Acadian society. It commenced with the Acadians in the Beaubassin region. British forces burnt Acadian homes at Beaubassin and the vicinity of the fort to prevent their return. As the British army had relocated to the more substantial facility at Fort Cumberland, they abandoned and burned Fort Lawrence on October 12, 1756. Fort Cumberland became one of four sites in which the British imprisoned or temporarily held Acadians during the nine years of the expulsion. (The other sites were Fort Edward (Nova Scotia); Fort Frederick, Saint John, New Brunswick, and Fort Charlotte, Georges Island, Halifax.)

Acadian and Mi'kmaq resistance

Under the leadership of French officer Boishébert, Acadians and Mi'kmaq fought the deportation from their homeland. In the early spring of 1756, a band of Acadian and Mi'kmaq partisans ambushed a small party of New England soldiers' cutting wood for Fort Cumberland, killing and mutilating nine men.[14] In April 1757, after raiding Fort Edward, a band of Acadian and Mi'kmaq partisans also raided Fort Cumberland, killing and scalping two men and taking two prisoners.[15] On July 20, 1757 Mi'kmaq captured two of Gorham's rangers outside Fort Cumberland.[16] In March 1758, forty Acadian and Mi'kmaq attacked a schooner at Fort Cumberland and killed its master and two sailors.[17] In the winter of 1759, five British soldiers on patrol were ambushed while crossing a bridge near Fort Cumberland. They were ritually scalped and their bodies were mutilated as was common in frontier warfare.[18]

American Revolution

Colonel Jonathan Eddy

Battle of Fort Cumberland

The Beauséjour Ridge fort became a strategically important British military emplacement during the American Revolutionary War as it guarded the overland route to peninsular Nova Scotia and also the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy. In 1776, early in American Revolutionary War, Fort Cumberland and its garrison of the Royal Fencible American Regiment repelled several rebel attacks from local guerrillas led by the American sympathizer Jonathan Eddy. This event had historical significance as the imperial loyalties of some Nova Scotian settlers (especially recent planters) were suspect; and if Fort Cumberland had fallen, Nova Scotia might have joined in the revolutionary effort.

War of 1812

Fort Cumberland was abandoned in the late 1780s. With the British resumption of hostilities with the United States in 1812, British forces reoccupied and refurbished the fort. Although it did not see any action during this conflict, the presence of a British garrison served as a deterrent to attack. The British military in 1835 declared the fort surplus property. It was abandoned.

ruins of Fort Beauséjour

In popular culture

Fort Beauséjour museum

  • The "Father of Canadian Poetry", Charles G.D. Roberts, wrote The Raid from Beausejour (1894), a novella about this period. It was his first published prose work.
  • C.A.M Edwards wrote Brook Watson of Beausejour (1957), a novel dealing with this period. Its lead character Brook Watson was a man notable as the subject of the famous painting Watson and the Shark that he commissioned by John Singleton Copley; it portrayed the event of a shark's attacking him as a youth.
  • Thomas H. Raddall's novel His Majesty's Yankees (Doubleday, New York, 1942) is centered around the Siege of Fort Cumberland in 1776.


In 1920, the property was declared a National Historic Site of Canada. A museum has been built there and portions of the fort restored. Its major earthworks command a view of Chignecto Bay.

On 28 June 1985 Canada Post issued 'Fort Beauséjour.' one of the 20 stamps in the “Forts Across Canada Series” (1983 & 1985). The stamps are perforated 12½ x 13 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited based on the designs by Rolf P. Harder.[19]


The Museum is affiliated with: CMA, CHIN, and Virtual Museum of Canada.

See also


Primary Sources


  1. Charlotte Gray, The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder, Random House, 2004
  2. Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  3. Hand, p. 25
  4. Chris M. Hand. The Siege of Fort Beausejour 1755. p. 12
  5. Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site of Canada, Parks Canada
  6. Hand, p. 17
  7. Hand, p. 14
  8. Hand, p. 20
  9. The practice of burning one's own residences for military ends was not uncommon. For example, in 1755, French officer Boishebert burned the French Fort Menagoueche on the Saint John River to prevent it from falling in the hands of the British and to allow Acadians to escape to the forest (see Grenier p. 179; Hand, p. 95). For similar reasons, the British burned Fort Gaspereaux because it was about to be over-taken by the French officer Boishebert (1756). As well, the British burned their military officers own residents at Annapolis Royal to help defeat the French, Mi'kmaq and Acadian attacks during King Georges War. (See Brenda Dunn. Port Royal/ Annapolis Royal. 2004. Nimbus Press).
  10. Hand, p. 20
  11. Hand, p. 21
  12. Faragher, p. 271
  13. Hand, p. 22
  14. John Faragher. Great and Noble Scheme, Norton. 2005. p. 397.
  15. John Faragher.Great and Noble Scheme. Norton. 2005. p. 398.
  16. John Grenier, p. 190
  17. John Grenier, p. 195
  18. John Faragher, p. 410
  19. Canada Post stamp

Further reading

  • Chris M. Hand, The Siege of Fort Beausejour 1755, 2004, Fredercton: Goose Lane Editions and the New Brunswick Military Heritage Project. ISBN 0-86492-377-5.
  • Bernard Pothier, Battle for the Chignecto Forts, 1995, Toronto: Balimuir.
  • Dr. John Clarence Webster, The Forts of Chignecto, 1930, self published.
  • Dr. John Clarence Webster, Thomas Pynchon: The Spy of Beausejour, 1937, Sackville: Tribune Press.
  • Dr. John Clarence Webster, The Building of Fort Lawrence in Chignecto, 1941, Saint John: New Brunswick Museum.
  • Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, 2000, New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40642-5.
  • John Grenier. The Edge of Empire. Oklahoma Press. 2008.
  • Ernest Clarke, The Siege of Fort Cumberland, 1776, 1995. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0-7735-1323-X.
  • Ross, Sally (translator), The Fort of Beauséjour, 1993, Les Éditions d'Acadie, Moncton, New Brunswick.
  • Schmeisser, Barbara M., Yorkshire Immigrants in Search of a Better Life, 1772–1775, 2001, Fort Beauséjour NHS bulletin, Parks Canada.
  • Parks Canada, "Fort Beauséjour", National Historic Park brochure, 2001
  • Parks Canada, Memories of the Marsh: Burials at Fort Beauséjour, NHS brochure, undated (2001 ?).
  • Various British soldiers kept journals of the deportation from Beaubassin, such as Jeremiah Bancroft.

External links

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