Cannon Along the Walls of Québec

In what I think is the last set of diagrams and illustrations describing the fortifications of Ville de Québec, we have the reason why the overall design and construction were so difficult as well as why there are so many star-like bastions pointing out of the walls.

The difficulty comes from the topography. Québec was, as I mentioned earlier, described by Charles Dickens as the Gibraltar of North America. It features a high, defensible cliff and then a city on the lowlands below it. But building a wall that defends it from the cliffs to the river is not easy. Especially because the angles and slopes of the walls have to account for the fact that enemy cannon near Cap Diamant could otherwise see very well into the city below. And therefore target the city. But how drastic was the descent?

A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River
A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River

And then to point the second, why so many stars? Well, the problem with straight walls is that if you manage to get beneath the firing range of the cannon along the wall, the defenders really cannot fire at you. And that gives you all the time to plant explosives and blow a massive hole in the fortifications. So the stars actually give the defenders nearly a complete field of fire along the entirety of the city walls.

Defending the city walls with cannon
Defending the city walls with cannon

Credit for the pieces go to the graphics department of Parks Canada.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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