Visited 30-31 Jul 2013 - Saint Helen Island Fort (1820-1870, 1870-1945) was a British colonial fort built on Saint Helen Island in Montreal Harbor. The fort was a combination arsenal and fort built after the War of 1812 while the threat of American invasion was still fresh.
|Fort Front View Note the Cannon on the Right and the Entrance on the Left|
|Original Arsenal Floor and Rails Exposed|
|Museum Entrance Tower|
The access problem for challenged folks could not be solved inside the building so the architect built an external glass elevator/stair tower so anyone can access all three floors with ease. The museum collection is great, don't miss it.
|Enclosed Powder Magazine|
Outside the museum there are a number of great attractions that include a powder magazine, a period blockhouse, a cannon collection and the remains of a 250 man barracks that burned down in 1875. Signage around the grounds and in the museum was good, nearly everything was in English and French.
In the cannon collection there are the usual suspects of mortars and cannons but there is also a large beautiful brass cannon. Other guns are scattered around the compound and there is a fine looking 24-pounder cannon on a regulation iron garrison carriage at the front of the fort.
|1807 Fort Blockhouse|
Only the stone first floor of the 250 man barracks survived the 1875 fire and that is all that remains today. The first floor is covered with a flat roof and appears to be in use. The enclosed powder magazine appears to be in great shape. The period blockhouse at the edge of the compound predates the Fort. It was built in 1807 to monitor traffic on the Saint Lawrence River.
|French Unit Musket Firing|
The museum also operates several demonstration and kids events throughout the day during the summer season. One demonstration group provides the personnel for a French military unit that does drill and musket fire demonstrations. A second unit provides Scottish bagpipe and drum demonstrations.
|Scottish Bagpipe and Drum Demonstration|
Now about the name, it's difficult to determine the real name of this fort. Even the folks at the fort were unwilling to commit to a name and you find all different kinds of names depending on where you look. I've adopted an English placename for the fort since none of the other names seemed appropriate.
This is a great place to visit if you are in Montreal but check for the museum operating days (currently Wednesday thru Sunday in the summer) before you come. We were able to access the Fort grounds even on the days the Museum was closed but you don't want to miss the Museum. Plenty of parking but it is expensive ($6-$20). Structured Museum admission fees.
For more details and pictures see the FortWiki Saint Helen Island Fort page.