Point of Interest

Fort La Tour

Street Address: 124 Chesley Drive, Saint John, New Brunswick

Charles de Saint-Etienne de la Tour’s Fort Saint-Marie, but more popularly known as Fort La Tour, was built in the summer of 1631. Located at the mouth of the St John River, it was a simple affair of two or three wooden buildings, enclosed within a stockade with V-shaped bastions projecting from the waterfront corners. In September of the following year a small force of Scots from Port Royal commanded by Andrew Forrester captured and plundered the fort, and carried off the garrison.

In the spring of 1633, La Tour was busy restoring his fort and beginning in 1635, strengthening and improving it. In February 1645, La Tour’s rival Charles de Menou, Seigneur d’Aulnay Charnisay, learning that La Tour was absent and that the garrison had been reduced, attacked the fort. It was successfully defended by Madame La Tour. D’Aulnay withdrew, but he returned two months later with a larger force and two cannons. Madame La Tour heroically resisted for four days, but the fort eventually fell through betrayal. In 1654, the fort was attacked unsuccessfully by another French rival and later successfully by New Englanders. In 1672, La Tour’s son-in-law, the Sieur de Martignon, was granted a seigneury at the mouth of the St John River, but he abandoned the fort and let it fall into decay.

In its short history, Fort La Tour was besieged five times and changed hands between French, Scots, and English adventurers and privateers. It is now a protected provincial historic site. For more detail, see NBMHP Volume One Saint John Fortifications by Roger Sarty and Doug Knight or Volume 16 New Brunswick and the Navy – Four Hundred Years by Marc Milner and Glen Leonard. Artifacts found at the site are on display at nearby HMCS Brunswicker.

Madame La Tour