Fort LaTour, Saint John, New Brunswick (Haunted Place)

Eastern Canada

New Brunswick

Fort LaTour

Fort LaTour Drive Saint John, New Brunswick

In 1631, the self-appointed governor of Acadia, Charles de LaTour, established a fort at Portland Point near the mouth of the St. John River. Fort LaTour (also called Fort Sainte Marie) was a strategic location to facilitate fur trading in New France. When one self-appoints himself governor, there’s a good chance that another might step up and feel more entitled. Such was the case with D’Aulnay de Charnisay, who also claimed the governorship of the region. Charles de LaTour’s wife, French actress Madame Francoise Marie de LaTour, is considered Canada’s first heroine because of the way she gallantly defended the fort from Charnisay’s four-day attack while her husband was in Boston.

On Easter Sunday, the fifth day of battle, the fort was finally captured while the men were praying at their Easter service. Charnisay bribed his way into the fort, and Madame de LaTour agreed to surrender on the condition that the men’s lives would be spared.

Charnisay agreed, then immediately broke his word. He forced Madame de LaTour to watch as he had each one of her men hung in front of her. Within three weeks, Madame LaTour died—one bit of lore says her death was caused by a broken heart, another says she was poisoned by Charnisay. She was buried near the fort, but her gravesite has been lost to history.

Charnisay built Fort Saint Jean on the western side of the harbor. Soon after, he met with his own untimely death by drowning while canoeing off the coast. Charles de LaTour then married charnisay’s widow and became the undisputed Governor of Acadia. But Madame LaTour’s story didn’t end with her death, if we’re to believe some of the local legends.

Some locals have repeatedly seen a woman in an old-fashioned gray gown strolling along the bay close to the former Navy Island in Jervis Bay. Several people have uncovered some pine coffins in the area while excavating, though historians knew of no graveyard nearby. Some of the workers who made the discovery were quick to spread the word that the remains were that of Madame LaTour’s, but none of the claims have ever proved to actually be true—they were some other woman’s bones.

Canada’s first heroine may still be walking the bay, waiting for her grave to be found so she can receive a burial and monument befitting a hero. In the 1950s, the original site of Fort LaTour was finally discovered by archaeologists. Today, a fenced-in grassy hill with a plaque and a Canadian flag flying proudly overhead marks where the fort once stood. Nearby, the Harbour Bridge casts its shadow over the site.

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