A building of some sort, representing four major periods in the history of Quebec City, has been on this site since the early 1700's:
ROYAL REDOUBT (1712-1802): In the days of New France, an enclosed defensive structure was built next to the original city walls to serve as a military barracks. After the British captured Quebec in 1759, the Royal Redoubt served as the city's main prison until 1787, when it became a storehouse for the British Army. This original structure was demolished in 1808, to be replaced by the current building.
QUEBEC COMMON GAOL (prison) (1812-1868): This was the city's first purpose-built public prison. For the first time, prisoners were confined in individual cells at night, instead of crowded together. Prisoners had to perform hard labor during the day, but were also offered educational opportunities. They were divided up according to the severity of their crimes; murderers on the ground floor; thieves on the next floor; debaters and those inprisoned for civil crimes on the top floor. However, when new ideas were instituted about "proper conduct", the prison quickly became overcrowded because of public drunkenness, vagrancy, and prostitution. Punishment for capitol crimes was by means of hanging from an iron balcony above the main entrance doorway.
MORRIN COLLEGE (1862-1902): Scotsman Doctor Joseph Morrin founded the first English language institute of higher learning in 1862, which shared rooms with the Masonic Temple. In 1868, the Common Gaol was renovated to make room for Morrin College. When this affiliated with McGill University, courses in general Arts and Sciences were offered. Women were first admitted to the college in 1885 (around the same time as McGill).
LITERACY AND HISTORCAL SOCIETY OF QUEBEC (1824-present): Founded in 1824 by the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor of Lower Canada, this became Canada's first learned society. Following several moves, and two fires, the Society finally settled into the north wing of Morrin College in 1868. It began by gathering historical documents about Canada, as well as encouraging research in all fields of knowledge. Because of its work, the Society was instrumental in founding the National Archives of Canada. Among its other works, the Society helped to preserve some of Canada's heritage, such as the Plains of Abraham battlefield.