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The Little Falls Blockhouse

Between 1830 and 1842, the border conflict between New Brunswick and Maine worsens to the point that war seems imminent. During these years of extreme tension, U.S. and British authorities build military roads and forts on both sides of the Upper Saint John River Valley. In Little Falls (Petit-Sault), an imposing blockhouse is built to defend the region against any potential American invaders. In the National Archives in Ottawa are documents collated by Prudent-L. Mercure, who had the desire to someday write a history of Madawaska. Thanks to him, we have a description of the Blockhouse at Little Falls.

The old fort in Edmundston was built in 1841 during the "Aroostook War". The site is well known in the locality and its cellar can be seen on the rocky hill south of the mouth of the Madawaska River. A contemporary description of the fort is given in Lanman, Adventures in the Wilds of the United States and Canada, 1856, p. 306-307. It seems that Lanman had come to Madawaska in 1846.

The landscape of this place without a name, it seems, is most beautiful. The fort is located on the top of a promontory and was built at a cost of approximately $5,000 to defend this part of New Brunswick during the recent period of border unrest. The building is constructed of stone and wood and looks like a square box placed in a triangle on another larger one: it seems be 30 feet wide and 150 feet tall. 1 It is well equipped with musket loopholes to which leads another staircase, and is covered by a roof. The fort has two floors and in addition, a well-stocked storage room. It is well equipped with rifles and guns and almost every variety of bullet, and cannon ball etc. Previously it had been occupied by three military companies (about its total capacity), but currently, the only human being dealing with this fort is a trustworthy man who acts as watchman. The view that this fortress overlooks is extremely picturesque, embracing the Saint John and Madawaska River Valleys that get lost in the wilderness and picturesque mountains.

P. L.Mercure adds the following notes: “The top floor of this building was also partially destroyed by lightning in 1868. Unfortunately, the lower portion, made of stone, has been transported from this historic site to be used in the construction of a dam on the Madawaska River.”

G. Desjardins


  1. Probably a height of 150 feet above the river.
Université de Moncton campus d'Edmundston Société Historique du Madawaska Ville d'Edmundston Patrimoine Canadien