Fort Amherst | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst, on the west shore of Charlottetown Harbour, Prince Edward Island, was built in late 1758 by the British. The site was known previously as Port La Joie, established in 1720 as the capital of the French colony of Île Saint-Jean.

Military Use

During the Seven Years' War, British troops captured Port La Joie in mid-August 1758, following the surrender of Louisbourg. With the end of hostilities, Fort Amherst soon fell into disrepair. In 1768, the garrison was permanently withdrawn to Halifax, the centre of maritime defence. Nonetheless, in 1799 during the Napoleonic Wars, a blockhouse and battery were erected near the site, although the major defence works were at Charlottetown.

National Historic Site

In 1967, Fort Amherst was designated as a national historic site and has been open to the public since 1973 (see also National Historic Sites in Canada). In 2018, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, based on feedback by Indigenous leaders including Mi’kmaw leader John Joe Sark, renamed the historical site Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada. Requests for the name change were made as a result of evidence that Jeffrey Amherst recommended the use of smallpox laden blankets to wage biological warfare against Indigenous peoples.