The Battlefields Park
History and museums, Natural sights
The Battlefields Park includes the Plains of Abraham with Des Braves Park, both within Quebec City, and forms one of the few Canadian national urban parks. Its significance lies in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the British victory over France, which decided the development of Canada. Established as a park by law on March 17, 1908, it features an interpretive centre and walking trails, and is sometimes used for outdoor concerts, especially during the national festival events . The park contains a collection of about 50 historical artillery pieces scattered about its grounds. It is managed by the National Battlefields Commission, a federal government agency under the Minister of Canadian Heritage with members appointed by the Queen in her Canadian, Ontarian, and Québécois Councils.
Built by the British to prevent the Americans from drawing close enough to lay siege to the walls of Quebec, the four Martello towers were begun by James Craig in 1808 and completed in 1812. The towers were arranged to provide for each other's defence, being situated along an axis that bisects the Plains of Abraham from the northwest to the southeast in order to screen the western approach to Quebec City, and were numbered rather than named. Tower No. 3 was demolished in the 1900s but the other three remain. The limited openings on the tower were designed to prevent the enemy from taking it by storm, while the tower's rounded shape (to deflect projectiles) and thick masonry walls made it nearly impervious to artillery fire.
The doors to the tower are at a height of two and a half times the height of a man - about 4.5 metres - and could only be reached by a removable ladder. The towers were never tested in battle, and became obsolete in the 1860s with the development of rifled artillery, which was powerful enough to breech their walls.
Using the theme of military engineering Martello Tower No. 1 is open for visitors to view its three floors during the summer months.
The Martellos were originally fitted with removable roofs in the fall to keep snow from accumulating on the gun platform at the top and removed in the spring. The roofs were later replaced with newer permanent ones which look almost the same.
The three towers were designated a national historic site in 1990, and also form part of the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.