The early efforts at colonization in New France were modest: the French had to cope with the harshness of the climate and of nature, the hostility of the Aboriginal inhabitants, the distance separating them from the homeland and the difficulty of obtaining supplies. The first rudimentary buildings were small forts surrounded by a wooden palisade. Serving as trading posts and sometimes missions, they were most often located at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and one of its tributaries. Only a few settlements, such as Québec, Montréal and Trois-Rivières, grew in size and population. In the 18th century, there was an attempt at urban development, with plans for street grids, lots and public squares and parade grounds. These plans were drawn up by renowned royal engineers Robert de Villeneuve, Josué Dubois Berthelot de Beaucours, Jacques Levasseur de Neré and Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry. Urban planning remained largely a military concern: the towns had a fort, a fortress, one or more batteries, redoubts, and an enclosure. However, the lack of maintenance of the fortifications and the vacillations of the court and the administration in their decisions to construct solid, fortified enclosures often precipitated the surrender of towns and forts at the close of the French period.

Louisbourg Lighthouse, 1733
FR CAOM COL C11B 39 110
North America by Franquelin
The Forts
Richelieu River Forts
The Missions