The Organization of New France

Staff Officers

The Garrison Staff

Louis-Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1691­1763)

Caption: Louis-Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1691­1763)

The towns which were administrative centres, such as Quebec City, Montreal and Trois-Rivières in Canada, Louisbourg on Île Royale and New Orleans in Louisiana, each had a governor who was responsible for the civil and military administration. However, since Quebec City was the capital of the whole colony, the governor general also acted as that town's governor.

Each governor had his own garrison staff, which was composed of several officers responsible for the town's military administration. The garrison itself, however, remained under the direct command of its own officers. The officers of the garrison staff had some rather unusual titles because of the medieval origin of their functions. They included the king's lieutenant, the town major, and the captain of the gates.

The king's lieutenant did not, of course, report to the king in person! Actually, he was a lieutenant-governor who was primarily concerned with military administration and acted as governor when that official was absent. The position of king's lieutenant was only established in Quebec City in 1692, Montreal in 1697, and Trois-Rivières in 1715.

The rank of town major is the oldest in Canada. As early as 1648, Lambert Closse was commissioned to be town major in Montreal, but the authorities waited until 1669 to appoint one in Quebec City, and there was none in Trois-Rivières until 1692. The town major generally saw to the details of military administration, and in particular the lodging of the troops.

The captain of the gates, a function that went back to the Middle Ages when towns were walled, still existed in the garrison staff of Montreal in the middle of the eighteenth century. His role was to ensure that the town gates were well guarded during the day and closed at night.

Those promoted to the garrison staff were usually officers of the Navy troops. This was done to give them access to more influential posts in the military organization or as a reward for their loyal service.