The Trinity House
Trinity House was established in 1805 to maintain order at the growing port of Quebec City and its location greatly favoured city’s development. Indeed, Quebec City was then the upstream limit of sailing navigation for ocean-going ships. Each spring when the ice thawed, wood destined for British shipyards was floated down the St. Lawrence in great rafts for transport overseas. Actually, Quebec was given a boost by the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1796, Napoleon cut off Britain’s timber supplies in the Baltic region. Britain looked to Canada for vital ship-building material, and wood soon overtook furs as Quebec’s main export. In a few years, annual port traffic in Quebec grew from about 100 ships a year in the 1790s to more than 650 vessels in 1810 and 2,000 in 1830.
The timber trade was in high gear, supplying the British Navy. It also provided building materials for the ever-increasing immigrant population. Quebec produced wheat for export.
During the shipping season all manner of boats plied the waters. Fishing sloops, tugboats, barges, horse-drawn ferries, rowboats, canoes and river steamers jostled the shores alongside great timber ships. Trinity House wardens regulated all this traffic. The institution issued pilot’s licences, looked after lights and buoys in the St. Lawrence and dealt with criminal matters. In 1888 many of these duties were transferred to the Quebec Harbour Commission (Quebec Port Authority).
The building was erected in 1913-14, and it occupies the former site of the Great Northern grain elevator, razed by fire. It has a prominent clock tower.
Address of the Trinity House:
130 Dalhousie Street