Although today Senneville is a quiet and peaceful village, it wasn't always this way. In the long and eventful history of the Montreal area, Senneville certainly played it's part.
What was to become known as "Fort Senneville" originated as a French trading outpost in 1671. With it's strategic location - no more than a mile from the rapids in Sainte Anne du Bout de L'Ile (formerly St. Louis de Bout du L'Ile in honor of then reigning King Louis XIV), and with a commanding view of the Ottawa River, the Lake of Two Mountains, and the Outaouais River - it's value as a sentry post was recognised, and it became of use in the defense of the western approach to the island of Montreal, as well as a being safe haven for settlers threatened by the then increasingly hostile indians.
In 1679 Michel Sidrac Dugé, sieur of Boisbriand, sold his land (the fief of Boisbriand) to fur traders Charles LeMoyne and Jacques Le Ber. Le Ber then renamed the fief of Boisbriand “Senneville” after his hometown, Senneville sur Fécamp in France.
By late 1686 Le Ber had built a wooden fort and a stone windmill on the point of the island. The windmill also served as a watchtower. The structure was certainly among the most fortified windmills in New France, with thick stone walls, gunholes for muskets, and stone protusions at the top so as to allow the occupants to drop liquid or stones on attackers.
In October 1687, Sainte Anne de Bellevue (then a stockade called Fort Sainte Anne which had been established in 1683) and Fort Senneville were attacked by Iroquois. Although the attackers were driven out they succeeded in killing a number of settlers. In 1691 Fort Senneville was again attacked by Iroquois, this time resulting in the burning and destruction of the fort leaving only the Stone fortified mill standing. Governor General Frontenac immediatelly ordered the construction of a new, more imposing and fortified Fort Senneville. Work started in 1692 and the result was a more castle-like stone structure with four small towers located on each corner connected by heavy stone walls with cannons and wall guns.
This fortified version of Fort Senneville was manned by a garrison under the orders of M. de Vaudreuil and twenty-six Canadians. The objective of this building was to send a message, and by all accounts it succeeded in doing so - while under control of the French, the new fort stood guard of Montreal's western approaches for decades without being attacked.
From 1701 when The Great Peace was agreed with the Indians, the military importance of the fort diminished. It was around this time that the Seigneur of Senneville, Jacque Le Ber built his home within the boundaries of Fort Senneville, and for decades thereafter farming and mill activites were conducted within the fort. The watchtower/windmill was restored in 1700, and appears to have been in use until the 1780s. The fort itself was abandoned in 1760, but on May 25th 1776 American troops under the direction of Benedict Arnold briefly took control of the Fort. A small unit of Canadians and Indians fought the Americans further West in the Battle of the Cedars, however as they retreated to the South, the Americans set Fort Senneville ablaze, destroying all that was left within the fort. The fort was never to be used again. It's ruins sit on private property and the site is inaccessible to the public. On November 20th, 2003, the Minister of Culture recognized the sites historical value and classified it as a Historical and Archeological Site.
Jacques Le Ber cleared and cultivated fifty arpents (75 acres) around the fort. Although now essentially a residential community, there are still some remnants of the agricultural life started in Senneville by Le Ber. A true pioneer of Senneville, Jacques Le Ber created a colony by providing security to settlers, to work the land and solidify a colonist presence on the western tip of the island.
Note: This is a partial history. More will be added here shortly.
Montreal History | Senneville History | History of Senneville, Quebec