Coordinates: 53°45′N 071°59′W / 53.75°N 71.983°W / 53.75; -71.983 (Quebec)

La Belle Province
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Je me souviens
(English: I remember)
Capital Quebec City
Largest city Montreal
Largest metro Greater Montreal
Official languages French[1]
Demonym Quebecer,
Type Constitutional monarchy
Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne
Premier Jean Charest (Liberal)
Legislature Quebec National Assembly
Federal representation in Canadian parliament
House seats 75 of 308 (24.4%)
Senate seats 24 of 105 (22.9%)
Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st, with Ont., N.S., N.B.)
Area  Ranked 2nd
Total 1,542,056 km2 (595,391 sq mi)
Land 1,365,128 km2 (527,079 sq mi)
Water (%) 176,928 km2 (68,312 sq mi) (11.5%)
Proportion of Canada 15.4% of 9,984,670 km2
Population  Ranked 2nd
Total (2010) 8,008,000 (est.)[3]
Density (2010) 5.87 /km2 (15.2 /sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 2nd
Total (2009) C$303,747 billion[4]
Per capita C$37,278 (10th)
Postal QC[5]
ISO 3166-2 CA-QC
Time zone UTC−5, −4
Postal code prefix G, H, J
Flower Blue Flag Iris[6]
Tree Yellow Birch[6]
Bird Snowy Owl[6]
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Quebec /kwɨˈbɛk/ or /kəˈbɛk/ (French: Québec [kebɛk] ( listen))[7] is a province in east-central Canada.[8][9] It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay, to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. It is bordered on the south by the US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Quebec is Canada's second most populous province, after Ontario. Most inhabitants live in urban areas near the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, the capital. English-speaking communities and English-language institutions are concentrated in the west of the island of Montreal but are also significantly present in the Outaouais, Eastern Townships, and Gaspé regions. The Nord-du-Québec region, occupying the northern half of the province, is sparsely populated and inhabited primarily by Aboriginal peoples.[10]

Sovereignty plays a large role in the politics of Quebec, and the official opposition social democratic Parti Québécois advocates national sovereignty for the province and secession from Canada. Sovereignist governments have held referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the Canadian House of Commons passed a symbolic motion, the Québécois nation motion, recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."[11][12]

While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become the second most economically influential province, second only to Ontario.[13]

Forillon National Park in Gaspésie, Quebec


Etymology and boundary changes

The arrival of Samuel de Champlain, the father of New France, on the site of Quebec City.

The name "Quebec", which comes from the Algonquin word kébec meaning "where the river narrows", originally referred to the area around Quebec City where the Saint Lawrence River narrows to a cliff-lined gap. Early variations in the spelling of the name included Québecq (Levasseur, 1601) and Kébec (Lescarbot 1609).[14] French explorer Samuel de Champlain chose the name Québec in 1608 for the colonial outpost he would use as the administrative seat for the French colony of New France.[15]

The Province of Quebec was founded in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 after the Treaty of Paris formally transferred the French colony of Canada[16] to Britain after the Seven Years' War. The proclamation restricted the province to an area along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. The Quebec Act of 1774 restored the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley regions to the province. The Treaty of Versailles, 1783 ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States.

After the Constitutional Act of 1791, the territory was divided between Lower Canada (present day Quebec) and Upper Canada (present day Ontario), with each being granted an elected Legislative Assembly.[17] In 1840, these became Canada East and Canada West after the British Parliament unified Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada. This territory was redivided into the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario at Confederation in 1867. Each became one of the first four provinces.

In 1870, Canada purchased Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Over the next few decades the Parliament of Canada transferred portions of this territory to Quebec that more than tripled the size of the province.[18] In 1898, the Canadian Parliament passed the first Quebec Boundary Extension Act that expanded the provincial boundaries northward to include the lands of the Cree. This was followed by the addition of the District of Ungava through the Quebec Boundaries Extension Act of 1912 that added the northernmost lands of the aboriginal Inuit to create the modern Province of Quebec. In 1927, the border between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador was established by the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Quebec officially disputes this boundary.


Map of Quebec

Located in the eastern part of Canada and (from a historical and political perspective) part of Central Canada, Quebec occupies a territory nearly three times the size of France or Texas, most of which is very sparsely populated.[19] Its area is very different from a region to another due to the varying composition of the ground, the climate (latitude and altitude) and with the proximity with water. The Saint Lawrence Lowland (south) and the Canadian Shield (north) are the two main topographic regions and are radically different.[20]

Present borders

Quebec shares a land border with four northeast states of the United States (Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont) and with three other Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador).[21] However, as said in the Etymology and boundary changes section, a border dispute remains regarding the ownership of Labrador. The border with Labrador is still not officially recognized by Quebec Government.[22][23] A maritime boundary also exists with the territories of Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Quebec has officially more than 12,000 kilometres (7,500 mi) of borders of all types. Half of these are land limits, 12% river limits and 38% marine limits.[21]


Quebec has one of the world's largest reserves of freshwater,[24] which occupies 12% of its surface.[25] It has 3% of the world's renewable fresh water, whereas it is only 0.1% of its population.[26] More than half a million lakes,[24] including 30 with an area greater than 250 km², and 4,500 rivers[24] pour their torrents into the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Arctic Ocean, by James, Hudson and Ungava bays. The largest inland body of water is the Caniapiscau Reservoir, created in the realization of James Bay Project to produce hydroelectric power. The Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Quebec.[27]

Michel's falls on Ashuapmushuan River in Saint-Félicien, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

The Saint Lawrence River has one of the world's largest sustaining inland Atlantic ports at Montreal (the province's largest city), Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City (the capital). Its access to the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of North America made it the base of early French exploration and settlement in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since 1959, the Saint Lawrence Seaway has provided a navigable link between the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes. Northeast of Quebec City, the river broadens into the world's largest estuary, the feeding site of numerous species of whales, fish and sea birds.[28] The river empties into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This marine environment sustains fisheries and smaller ports in the Lower Saint Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent), Lower North Shore (Côte-Nord), and Gaspé (Gaspésie) regions of the province. The Saint Lawrence River and its estuary forms the basis of Quebec's development through the centuries. At the same time, many affluent rivers testify to the exploration of land, whose rivers Ashuapmushuan, Chaudière, Gatineau, Manicouagan, Ottawa, Richelieu, Rupert, Saguenay, Saint-François, Saint-Maurice, etc.


Autumn Landscape of Haute-Gaspésie.

Quebec's highest point at 1,652 meters is Mont D'Iberville, known in English as Mount Caubvick, located on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador in the northeastern part of the province, in the Torngat Mountains.[29] The most populous physiographic region is the Saint Lawrence Lowland. It extends northeastward from the southwestern portion of the province along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River to the Quebec City region, limited to the North by the Laurentian Mountains and to the South by the Appalachians. It mainly covers the areas of the Centre-du-Québec, Laval, Montérégie and Montreal, the southern regions of the Capitale-Nationale, Lanaudière, Laurentides, Mauricie and includes Anticosti Island, the Mingan Archipelago,[30] and other small islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence lowland forests ecoregion.[31] Its landscape is low-lying and flat, except for isolated igneous outcrops near Montreal called the Monteregian Hills, formerly covered by the waters of Lake Champlain. The Oka hills also arise from the plain. Geologically, the lowlands formed as a rift valley about 100 million years ago and are prone to infrequent but significant earthquakes.[20] The most recent layers of sedimentary rock were formed as the seabed of the ancient Champlain Sea at the end of the last ice age about 14,000 years ago.[32] The combination of rich and easily arable soils and Quebec's relatively warm climate make the valley Quebec's most prolific agricultural area. Mixed forests provide most of Canada's maple syrup crop every spring. The rural part of the landscape is divided into narrow rectangular tracts of land that extend from the river and date back to settlement patterns in 17th century New France.

Representation of the distribution of the CS over Quebec's area

More than 95% of Quebec's territory lies within the Canadian Shield.[33] It is generally a quite flat and exposed, mountainous terrain interspersed with higher points such as the Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec, the Otish Mountains in central Quebec and the Torngat Mountains near Ungava Bay. The topography of the Shield has been shaped by glaciers from the successive ice ages, which explains the glacial deposits of boulders, gravel and sand, and by sea water and post-glacial lakes that left behind thick deposits of clay in parts of the Shield. The Canadian Shield also has a complex hydrological network of more than a million lakes, bogs, streams and rivers. It is rich in the forestry, mineral and hydro-electric resources that are a mainstay of the Quebec economy. Primary industries sustain small cities in regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, and Côte-Nord.

The Labrador Peninsula is covered by the Laurentian Plateau (Canadian Shield), dotted with mountains such as Otish Mountains. The Ungava Peninsula is notably composed of D'Youville mountains, Puvirnituq mountains and Pingualuit crater. While low and medium altitude peak from western Quebec to the far north, high altitudes mountains emerge in the Capitale-Nationale region to the extreme east, along its longitude. In the Labrador Peninsula portion of the Shield, the far northern region of Nunavik includes the Ungava Peninsula and consists of flat Arctic tundra inhabited mostly by the Inuit. Further south lie the subarctic taiga of the Eastern Canadian Shield taiga ecoregion and the boreal forest of the Central Canadian Shield forests, where spruce, fir, and poplar trees provide raw materials for Quebec's pulp and paper and lumber industries. Although the area is inhabited principally by the Cree, Naskapi, and Innu First Nations, thousands of temporary workers reside at Radisson to service the massive James Bay Hydroelectric Project on the La Grande and Eastmain rivers. The southern portion of the shield extends to the Laurentians, a mountain range just north of the Saint Lawrence Lowland, that attracts local and international tourists to ski hills and lakeside resorts.

The Appalachian region of Quebec has a narrow strip of ancient mountains along the southeastern border of Quebec. The Appalachians is actually a huge chain that extends from Alabama to Newfoundland. In between, it covers in Quebec near 800 km, from the Montérégie hills to the Gaspé Peninsula. In western Quebec, the average altitude is about 500 meters, while in the Gaspé Peninsula, the Appalachian peaks (especially the Chic-Choc) are among the highest in Quebec, since they exceed 1000 meters.


"Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver" ("My country isn't a country, it's winter") Gilles Vigneault

Quebec has three main climate regions. Southern and western Quebec, including most of the major population centres, have a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with four distinct seasons having warm to occasionally hot and humid summers and often very cold and snowy winters.[34] The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada and move eastward, and from the southern and central United States that move northward. Because of the influence of both storm systems from the core of North America and the Atlantic Ocean, precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with most areas receiving more than 1000 mm (40 in) of precipitation, including over 300 centimetres (120 in) of snow in many areas.[35] During the summer, severe weather patterns (such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) occur occasionally.[36] Most of central Quebec has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Winters are long, very cold, and snowy, and among the coldest in eastern Canada, while summers are warm but very short due to the higher latitude and the greater influence of Arctic air masses. Precipitation is also somewhat less than farther south, except at some of the higher elevations. The northern regions of Quebec have an arctic climate (Köppen ET), with very cold winters and short, much cooler summers. The primary influences in this region are the Arctic Ocean currents (such as the Labrador Current) and continental air masses from the High Arctic.

The four seasons in Quebec are the spring, the summer, the autumn and the winter, whose conditions differ by region. They are then differentiated according to the brightness, temperature and precipitation of snow and rain.[37]

Daily sunshine duration is eight hours in December, time of year when it is the shortest.[38] From temperate zones to the northern territories of the Far North, the brightness varies with latitude, as well as the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun.

Baie-Saint-Paul during winter.

Quebec is divided into four climatic zones: arctic, subarctic, humid continental and East maritime. From south to north, average temperatures range in summer between 25 °C (77 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F) and, in winter, between −10 °C (14 °F) and −25 °C (−13 °F).[39][40] In periods of intense heat and cold, temperatures can reach 35 °C (95 °F) in the summer[41] and −40 °C (−40 °F) during the Quebec winter,[41] it may vary depending on the Humidex or Wind chill.

The all time record of the most precipitations in winter was established in winter 2007-2008 with more than five meters[42] of snow in the area of Quebec city, while the average amount received per winter is around three meters.[43] It is, however, in 1971 that came the "Century's Snowstorm" with more than 40 centimetres (16 in) (Montreal) to 80 centimetres (31 in) (Mont Apica) of snow within 24 hours in many regions of southern Quebec. Also, the winter of 2010 was the warmest and driest ever recorded in more than 60 years.[44]


The large land wildlife is mainly composed of the White-tailed Deer, the Moose, the Musk ox, the Caribou, the American black bear and the polar Bear. The average land wildlife includes the Cougar, the Coyote, the Eastern Wolf, the Bobcats (wild cat), the Arctic Fox, the Fox, etc. Small animals, seen most commonly, include the Eastern gray squirrel, the Snowshoe Hare, the Groundhog (siffleux), the Skunk, the Raccoon, the Chipmunk and the Canadian Beaver.

Biodiversity of the estuary and gulf of St. Lawrence River[45] consists of an aquatic mammal wildlife, which most goes upriver through the estuary and the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park until the Île d'Orléans (French for Orleans Island), such as the blue Whale, the Beluga, the Minke Whale and the Harp seal (Earless seal). Among the Nordic marine animals there are two particularly important to cite: the Walrus and the Narwhal.[46]

Snowy owl : official bird of Quebec

Inland waters consist of small to large fresh water fish, such as the Largemouth bass, the American Pickerel, the Walleye, the Acipenser oxyrinchus, the Muskellunge, the Atlantic cod, the Arctic char, the Brook trout, the Microgadus tomcod (tomcod), the Atlantic salmon, the rainbow trout etc.[47]

Among the birds commonly seen in the south inhabited part of Quebec, there are the American robin, the house sparrow, the Red-winged Blackbird, the Mallard, the common Grackle, the blue Jay, the American crow, the Black-capped Chickadee, some Warblers and Swallows, the Starling and the Rock Pigeon, the latter two having been introduced in Quebec and are found mainly in urban areas.[48] Avian fauna includes birds of prey like the Golden Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Snowy owl and the Bald Eagle. Sea and semi-aquatic birds seen in Quebec are mostly the Canada Goose, the Double-crested Cormorant, the Northern Gannet, the European Herring Gull, the Great Blue Heron, the Sandhill Crane, the Atlantic Puffin and the Great Northern Loon.[49] Many more species of land, maritime or avian wildlife are seen in Quebec but most of the Quebec specific species and the most commonly seen species are listed above.

Some livestock have the title of "Québec heritage breed", namely the Canadian horse, the Chantecler chicken and the Canadian cow.[50] Moreover, in addition to food certified as "organic", Charlevoix lamb is the first local Quebec product whose geographical indication is protected.[51] Livestock production also includes the pig breeds Landrace, Duroc and Yorkshire[52] and many breeds of sheep[53] and cattle.

The Wildlife Foundation of Quebec and the Data Centre on Natural Heritage of Quebec (CDPNQ)(French acronym)[54] are the main agencies working with officers for wildlife conservation in Quebec.


Taiga forest in Gaspé, Québec, Canada

Given the geology of the province and its different climates, there is an established number of large areas of vegetation in Quebec. These areas, listed in order from the northernmost to the southernmost are: the tundra, the taiga, the Canadian boreal forest (coniferous), mixed forest and deciduous forest.[33]

On the edge of the Ungava Bay and Hudson Strait is the tundra, whose flora is limited to a low vegetation of lichen with only less than 50 growing days a year. The tundra vegetation survives an average annual temperature of −8 °C (18 °F). The tundra covers more than 24% of the area of Quebec.[33] Further south, the climate is conducive to the growth of the Canadian boreal forest, bounded on the north by the taiga.

The different forest areas of Quebec

Not as arid as the tundra, the taiga is associated with the sub-Arctic regions of the Canadian Shield[55] and is characterized by a greater number of both plant (600) and animal (206) species, many of whom live there all year. The taiga covers about 20% of the total area of Quebec.[33] The Canadian boreal forest is the northernmost and most abundant of the three forest areas in Quebec that straddle the Canadian Shield and the upper lowlands of the province. Given a warmer climate, the diversity of organisms is also higher, since there are about 850 plant species and 280 vertebrates species. The Canadian boreal forest covers 27% of the area of Quebec.[33] The mixed forest is a transition zone between the Canadian boreal forest and deciduous forest. By virtue of its transient nature, this area contains a diversity of habitats resulting in large numbers of plant (1000) and vertebrates (350) species, despite relatively cool temperatures. The ecozone mixed forest covers 11.5% of the area of Quebec and is characteristic of the Laurentians, the Appalachians and the eastern lowlands forests.[55] The third most northern forest area is characterized by deciduous forests. Because of its climate (average annual temperature of 7 °C (45 °F)), it is in this area that one find the greatest diversity of species, including more than 1600 vascular plants and 440 vertebrates. Its relatively longe growing season lasting almost 200 days and its fertile soils make it the centre of agricultural activity and therefore of urbanisation of Quebec. Most of Quebec's population lives in this area of vegetation, almost entirely along the banks of the St. Lawrence. Deciduous forests cover approximately 6.6% of the area of Quebec.[33]

The total forest area of Quebec is estimated at 750,300 square kilometres (289,700 sq mi).[56] From the Abitibi-Témiscamingue to the North Shore, the forest is composed primarily of conifers such as the Abies balsamea, the Jack Pine, the white spruce, the black Spruce and the Tamarack. When approaching the river in the south, gradually appear some species of deciduous trees such as the Yellow Birch. The deciduous forest of the Saint Lawrence Lowlands is mostly composed of deciduous species such as the Sugar Maple, the Red Maple, the white Ash, the American beech, the Butternut (White Walnut), the American elm, the basswood, the Bitternut Hickory and the northern red oak as well as some conifers such as the Eastern White Pine and the Northern Whitecedar. The distribution areas of the Paper Birch, the Trembling Aspen and the Mountain Ash cover more than half of Quebec territory.[57]


Glacial lakes Agassiz and Ojibway, 7,900 BPE.

Indigenous peoples and European exploration

At the time of first European contact and later colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and Inuit tribes were the peoples who inhabited what is now Quebec.[58] Their lifestyles and cultures reflected the land on which they lived. Seven Algonquian groups lived nomadic lives based on hunting, gathering, and fishing in the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield: (James Bay Cree, Innu, Algonquins) and Appalachian Mountains (Mi'kmaq, Abenaki). St. Lawrence Iroquoians, a branch of the Iroquois, lived more settled lives, planting squash and maize in the fertile soils of the St. Lawrence Valley. They appear to have been later supplanted by the Mohawk tribe. The Inuit continue to fish and hunt whale and seal in the harsh Arctic climate along the coasts of Hudson and Ungava Bay. These people traded fur and food and sometimes warred with each other.

Basque whalers and fishermen traded furs with Saguenay natives throughout the 16th century.[59] The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier,[60] who planted a cross in 1534 at either Gaspé or Old Fort Bay on the Lower North Shore. He sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1535 and established an ill-fated colony near present-day Quebec City at the site of Stadacona, a village of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Linguists and archeologists have determined these people were distinct from the Iroquoian nations encountered by later French and Europeans, such as the five nations of the Haudenosaunee. Their language was Laurentian, one of the Iroquoian family. By the late 16th century, they had disappeared from the St. Lawrence Valley.

New France

Around 1522 - 1523, the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano persuaded King Francis I of France to commission an expedition to find a western route to Cathay (China).[61] Late in 1523, Verrazzano set sail in Dieppe, crossing the Atlantic on a small caravel with 50 men.[61] After exploring the coast of the present-day Carolinas early the following year, he headed north along the coast, eventually anchoring in the Narrows of New York Bay. The first European to discover the site of present-day New York, he named it Nouvelle-Angoulême in honour of the king, the former count of Angoulême. Verrazzano's voyage convinced the king to seek to establish a colony in the newly discovered land. Verrazzano gave the names Francesca and Nova Gallia to that land between New Spain (Mexico) and English Newfoundland.

A portrait of Jacques Cartier by Théophile Hamel, 1844. No contemporary likeness of Cartier has been found to exist.[62]

In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I.[63] It was the first province of New France. However, initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure.[63] French fishing fleets, however, continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, making alliances with First Nations that would become important once France began to occupy the land. French merchants soon realized the St. Lawrence region was full of valuable fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver, an important commodity as the European beaver had almost been driven to extinction. Eventually, the French crown decided to colonize the territory to secure and expand its influence in America.

Samuel de Champlain was part of a 1603 expedition from France that travelled into the St. Lawrence River. In 1608, he returned as head of an exploration party and founded Quebec City with the intention of making the area part of the French colonial empire.[64][65][66] Champlain's Habitation de Quebec, built as a permanent fur trading outpost, was where he would forge a trading, and ultimately a military alliance, with the Algonquin and Huron nations. Natives traded their furs for many French goods such as metal objects, guns, alcohol, and clothing.

Hélène Desportes, born July 7, 1620, to the French habitants (settlers) Pierre Desportes and his wife Françoise Langlois, was the first child of European descent born in Quebec.

From Quebec, coureurs des bois, voyageurs and Catholic missionaries used river canoes to explore the interior of the North American continent, establishing fur trading forts on the Great Lakes (Étienne Brûlé 1615), Hudson Bay (Radisson and Groseilliers 1659–60), Ohio River and Mississippi River (La Salle 1682), as well as the Saskatchewan River and Missouri River (de la Verendrye 1734–1738).

After 1627, King Louis XIII of France introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics. Sulpician and Jesuit clerics founded missions in Trois-Rivières (Laviolette) and Montreal or Ville-Marie (Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance) to convert New France's Huron and Algonquian allies to Catholicism. The seigneurial system of governing New France also encouraged immigration from the motherland.

New France became a Royal Province in 1663 under King Louis XIV of France with a Sovereign Council that included intendant Jean Talon. This ushered in a golden era of settlement and colonization in New France, including the arrival of les "Filles du Roi". The population grew from about 3,000 to 60,000 people between 1666 and 1760.[67] Colonists built farms on the banks of St. Lawrence River and called themselves "Canadiens" or "Habitants". The colony's total population was limited, however, by a winter climate much harsher than that of France, by the spread of diseases, and by the refusal of the French crown to allow Huguenots, or French Protestants, to settle there. The population of New France lagged far behind that of the Thirteen Colonies to the south, leaving it vulnerable to attack. Many donnes (the assistants to the Jesuit priests) tried to convert the natives of New France during the 17th century.

Seven Years' War and capitulation of New France

Authorities in New France became more aggressive in their efforts to expel British traders and colonists from the Ohio Valley. They began construction of a series of fortifications to protect the area.[68] In 1754, George Washington launched a surprise attack on a group of Canadien soldiers sleeping in the early morning hours. It came at a time when no declaration of war had been issued by either countries. This frontier aggression known as the Jumonville affair, set the stage for the French and Indian War (a US designation; in Canada it is usually just referred to as the Seven Years' War, although French Canadians often call it La guerre de la Conquête ["The War of Conquest"][69][70]) in North America. By 1756, France and Britain were battling the Seven Years' War worldwide. In 1758, the British mounted an attack on New France by sea and took the French fort at Louisbourg.

On September 13, 1759, General James Wolfe defeated General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. With the exception of the small islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, located off the coast of Newfoundland, France ceded its North American possessions to Great Britain through the Treaty of Paris (1763) in favor of the island of Guadeloupe for its then-lucrative sugar cane industry.[71] The British Royal Proclamation of 1763 renamed Canada (part of New France) as the Province of Quebec.

The Battle of Sainte-Foy was the bloodiest battle in Quebec history. It was the last French victory during the Seven Years' War.

At roughly the same time as the northern parts of New France were being turned over to the British and beginning their evolution towards modern day Quebec and Canada, the southern parts of New France (Louisiana) were signed over to Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1762. As a result of double cession of Quebec to the British and Louisiana to the Spanish, the first French colonial empire collapsed, with France being expelled almost entirely from the continental Americas, left only with a rump set of colonies restricted principally to scattered territories and islands in the Caribbean.[72]

After the capture of New France the British implemented a plan to control the Canadiens and entice them to assimilate into the British way of life. They prevented Catholics from holding public office and forbade the recruitment of priests and brothers, effectively shutting down Quebec's schools and colleges. This first British policy of assimilation (1763–1774) was deemed a failure. Both the demands in the petitions of the Canadiens' élites and the recommendations by Governor Guy Carleton played an important role in persuading London to drop the assimilation scheme, but the looming American revolt was certainly also a factor as the British were fearful that the French-speaking population of Quebec would side with the rebellious Thirteen Colonies to the south, especially if France allied with the Americans as it appeared it would.

Quebec Act

The Province of Quebec in 1774.

With unrest growing in the colonies to the south, which would one day grow into the American Revolution, the British were worried that the French-speaking Canadians might also support the growing rebellion. At that time, French-speaking Canadians formed the vast majority of the population of the province of Quebec (more than 99%) and British immigration was not going well. To secure the allegiance of the approximately 90,000 French-speaking Canadians to the British crown, first Governor James Murray and later Governor Guy Carleton promoted the need for change. There was also a need to compromise between the conflicting demands of the French-speaking Canadians subjects and those of newly arrived British subjects. These efforts by the colonial governors eventually resulted in enactment of the Quebec Act[73] of 1774.

The Quebec Act provided the Quebec people with their first Charter of Rights. This paved the way to later official recognition of the French language and French culture. The act also allowed Canadiens to maintain French civil law and sanctioned freedom of religion, allowing the Roman Catholic Church to remain, one of the first cases in history of state-sanctioned freedom of practice. Further, it restored the Ohio Valley to Quebec, reserving the territory for the fur trade. New France had thus been restored, so that it could play the same role as it did before the Conquest in North America.[74]

Effects of the American Revolution

Although the Quebec Act was unrelated to the events in Boston of 1773, and not regarded as one of the Coercive Acts. The timing of its passage led British colonists to the south to believe that it was part of the program to punish them. The Quebec Act offended a variety of interest groups in the British colonies. Land speculators and settlers objected to the transfer of western lands previously claimed by the colonies to a non-representative government. Many feared the establishment of Catholicism in Quebec, and that the French Canadians were being courted to help oppress British Americans.[75]

Defending Quebec from an American attack, December 1775

On June 27, 1775, General George Washington decided to attempt an invasion of Canada by the American Continental Army to wrest Quebec and the St. Lawrence River from the British. A force led by Brigadier General Richard Montgomery headed north from Fort Ticonderoga along Lake Champlain and up the St. Lawrence River valley. Meanwhile, Colonel Benedict Arnold persuaded Washington to have him lead a separate expedition through the Maine wilderness. The two forces joined at Quebec City, but were defeated at the Battle of Quebec in December 1775. Prior to this battle Montgomery (killed in the battle) had met with some early successes but the invasion failed when British reinforcements came down the St. Lawrence in May 1776 and the Battle of Trois-Rivières turned into a disaster for the Americans. The army withdrew back to Ticonderoga.[76] Although some help was given to the Americans by the locals, Governor Carleton punished American sympathizers and public support of the American cause came to an end.

The American Revolutionary War was ultimately successful in winning independence for the Thirteen Colonies. In the Treaty of Paris (1783), the British ceded their territory south of the Great Lakes to the newly formed United States of America.[77]

In 1778, Frederick Haldimand took over for Guy Carleton as governor of Quebec. Haldimand, like the previous governors of the Province of Quebec, appreciated the hard-working Canadiens and acted in his power to keep the English merchants in line.

The arrival of 10,000 Loyalists to Quebec in 1784 destroyed the political balance that Haldimand (and Carleton before him) had worked so hard to achieve. The swelling numbers of English encouraged them to make greater demands for recognition with the colonial government. To restore stability to his largest remaining North American colony, King George III sent Carleton back to Quebec to remedy the situation.[78]

In ten years, Quebec had undergone a dramatic change. What worked for Carleton in 1774 was not likely to succeed in 1784. Specifically, there was no possibility of restoring the previous political balance—there were simply too many English people unwilling to reach a compromise with the 145,000 Canadiens or its colonial governor. The situation called for a more creative approach to problem solving.[78]

Separation of the Province of Quebec

Loyalists soon petitioned the government to be allowed to use the British legal system they were used to in the American colonies. The creation of Upper and Lower Canada allowed most Loyalists to live under British laws and institutions, while the French-speaking population of Lower Canada could maintain their familiar French civil law and the Catholic religion.[79]

The fact was that the two peoples simply could not co-exist. Therefore, Governor Haldimand (at the suggestion of Carleton) drew Loyalists away from Quebec City and Montreal by offering free land on the northern shore of Lake Ontario to anyone willing to swear allegiance to George III. The Loyalists were thus given land grants of 200 acres (81 ha) per person. Basically, this approach was designed with the intent of keeping French and English as far apart as possible. Therefore, after the separation of the Province of Quebec, Lower Canada and Upper Canada were formed, each with its own government.[78]

Patriotes' Rebellion in Lower Canada

In 1837 residents of Lower Canada, led by Louis-Joseph Papineau and Robert Nelson, formed an armed resistance group to seek an end to the unilateral control of the British governors.[80] They made a Declaration of Rights with equality for all citizens without discrimination and a Declaration of Independence of Lower-Canada in 1838.[81] Their actions resulted in rebellions in both Lower and Upper Canada. An unprepared British Army had to raise militia force, the rebel forces scored a victory in Saint-Denis but were soon defeated. The British army burned the Church of St-Eustache, killing the rebels who were hiding within it. The bullet and cannonball marks on the walls of the church are still visible to this day.

After the rebellions, Lord Durham was asked to undertake a study and prepare a report on the matter and to offer a solution for the British Parliament to assess.[82] The final report recommended that the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada be united, and that the French speaking population of Lower Canada be assimilated into British culture. Durham's second recommendation was the implementation of responsible government across the colonies. Following Durham's Report,[82] the British government merged the two colonial provinces into one Province of Canada in 1840 with the Act of Union.[83] However, the political union proved contentious. Reformers in both Canada West (formerly Upper Canada) and Canada East (formerly Lower Canada) worked to repeal limitations on the use of the French language in the Legislature. The two colonies remained distinct in administration, election, and law.

In 1848, Baldwin and LaFontaine, allies and leaders of the Reformist party, were asked by Lord Elgin to form an administration together under the new policy of responsible government. The French language subsequently regained legal status in the Legislature.[83]

Canadian Confederation

In the 1860s, the delegates from the colonies of British North America (Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland) met in a series of conferences to discuss self-governing status for a new confederation. The first Charlottetown Conference took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, followed by the Quebec Conference in Quebec City which led to a delegation going to London, Britain, to put forth a proposal for a national union.[84]

As a result of those deliberations, in 1867 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Act, providing for the Confederation of most of these provinces. The former Province of Canada was divided into its two previous parts as the provinces of Ontario (Upper Canada) and Quebec (Lower Canada). New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined Ontario and Quebec in the new Dominion of Canada. The other provinces then joined the Confederation, one after the other: Manitoba and the Northwest Territories in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Yukon in 1898, Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905, Newfoundland in 1949 and finally Nunavut in 1999.[85]


Canada is a federal state[86] and not a confederate association of sovereign states, the usual meaning of confederation; but is often considered to be among the world's more decentralized federations.[87] In this Canadian context, confederation generally describes the political process that united the colonies in the 1860s and related events, and the subsequent incorporation of other colonies and territories.[88]

Quiet Revolution

The conservative government of Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale dominated Quebec politics from 1944 to 1959 with the support of the Catholic Church.[89] Pierre Elliot Trudeau and other liberals formed an intellectual opposition to Duplessis's regime, setting the groundwork for the Quiet Revolution under Jean Lesage's Liberals. The Quiet Revolution was a period of dramatic social and political changes[90] that saw the decline of Anglo supremacy in the Quebec economy, the decline of the Roman Catholic Church's influence, the nationalization of hydro-electric companies under Hydro-Québec[90] and the emergence of a pro-sovereignty movement under former Liberal minister René Lévesque.

Front de libération du Québec

Beginning in 1963, a paramilitary group that became known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade-long series of propaganda and terrorism that included bombings, robberies and attacks[91] directed primarily at English institutions, resulting in at least five deaths. In 1970, their activities culminated in events referred to as the October Crisis when James Cross, the British trade commissioner to Canada, was kidnapped along with Pierre Laporte, a provincial minister and Vice-Premier.[92] Laporte was strangled with his own rosary beads a few days later. In their published Manifesto, the militants stated: "In the coming year Bourassa will have to face reality; 100,000 revolutionary workers, armed and organized."

At the request of Premier Robert Bourassa, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act. In addition, the Quebec Ombudsman[93] Louis Marceau was instructed to hear complaints of detainees and the Quebec government agreed to pay damages to any person unjustly arrested (only in Quebec). On February 3, 1971, John Turner, the Minister of Justice of Canada, reported that 497 persons had been arrested throughout Canada under the War Measures Act,[94] of whom 435 had been released. The other 62 were charged, of which 32 were crimes of such seriousness that a Quebec Superior Court judge refused them bail. The crisis ended a few weeks after the death of Pierre Laporte at the hands of his captors. The fallout of the crisis marked the zenith and twilight of the FLQ which lost membership and public support.

Parti Québécois and national unity

In 1977, the newly elected Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque introduced the Charter of the French Language. Often known as Bill 101, it defined French as the only official language of Quebec in areas of provincial jurisdiction.[95]

Lévesque and his party had run in the 1970 and 1973 Quebec elections under a platform of separating Quebec from the rest of Canada. The party failed to win control of Quebec's National Assembly both times — though its share of the vote increased from 23 percent to 30 percent — and Lévesque was defeated both times in the riding he contested.[96] In the 1976 election, he softened his message by promising a referendum (plebiscite) on sovereignty-association rather than outright separation, by which Quebec would have independence in most government functions but share some other ones, such as a common currency, with Canada. On November 15, 1976, Lévesque and the Parti Québécois won control of the provincial government for the first time. The question of sovereignty-association was placed before the voters in the 1980 Quebec referendum. During the campaign, Pierre Trudeau promised that a vote for the "no" side was a vote for reforming Canada. Trudeau advocated the patriation of Canada's Constitution from the United Kingdom. The existing constitutional document, the British North America Act, could only be amended by the United Kingdom Parliament upon a request by the Canadian parliament.

René Lévesque in Paul Sauvé arena, Montreal, on the 1973 election night

Sixty percent of the Quebec electorate voted against the proposition.[97] Polls showed that the overwhelming majority of English and immigrant Quebeckers voted against, and that French Quebeckers were almost equally divided, with older voters less in favour and younger voters more in favour. After his loss in the referendum, Lévesque went back to Ottawa to start negotiating a new constitution with Trudeau, his minister of Justice Jean Chrétien and the nine other provincial premiers. Lévesque insisted Quebec be able to veto any future constitutional amendments. The negotiations quickly reached a stand-still.

Then on the night of November 4, 1981, (widely known in Quebec as La nuit des longs couteaux and in the rest of Canada as the "Kitchen Accord") Federal Justice Minister Jean Chrétien met with all of the provincial premiers except René Lévesque to sign the document that would eventually become the new Canadian constitution. The next morning, they presented the "fait accompli" to Lévesque. Lévesque refused to sign the document and returned to Quebec. In 1982, Trudeau had the new constitution approved by the British Parliament, with Quebec's signature still missing (a situation that persists to this day). The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Trudeau's assertion that every province's approval is not required to amend the constitution. Quebec is the only province not to have assented to the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982.[98]

In subsequent years, two attempts were made to gain Quebec's approval of the constitution. The first was the Meech Lake Accord of 1987, which was finally abandoned in 1990 when the province of Manitoba did not pass it within the established deadline. (Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells had expressed his opposition to the accord, but, with the failure in Manitoba, the vote for or against Meech never took place in his province.) This led to the formation of the sovereignist Bloc Québécois party in Ottawa under the leadership of Lucien Bouchard,[99] who had resigned from the federal cabinet. The second attempt, the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, was rejected by 56.7 percent of all Canadians and 57 percent of Quebeckers. This result caused a split in the Quebec Liberal Party that led to the formation of the new Action démocratique (Democratic Action) party led by Mario Dumont and Jean Allaire.

The results of the 1995 Quebec referendum per circonscription. Dark brown means high no %; Dark blue means high yes %

On October 30, 1995, with the Parti Québécois back in power since 1994, a second referendum on sovereignty took place. This time, it was rejected by a slim majority (50.6 percent NO to 49.4 percent YES).[100]

The referendum was enshrouded in controversy. Federalists complained that an unusually high number of ballots had been rejected in pro-federalist areas, notably in the largely Jewish and Greek riding of Chomedey (11.7 percent or 5,500 of its ballots were spoiled, compared to 750 or 1.7 percent in the general election of 1994) although Quebec's chief electoral officer found no evidence of outright fraud. Moreover, this accusation had been brought despite the fact that only 1.82% of total votes were rejected on a total participation rate of 93,5%[100] which is lower than the normal rejection rate. The federal government was accused of not respecting provincial laws with regard to spending during referendums (leading to a corruption scandal that would become public a decade later, greatly damaging the Liberal Party's standing), and of having accelerated the naturalization of immigrants in Quebec before the referendum in order that they could vote, as naturalized citizens were believed more likely to vote no. (43,850 immigrants were naturalized in 1995, whereas the average number between 1988 and 1998 was 21,733.)[citation needed]

The same night of the referendum, an angry Jacques Parizeau, then premier and leader of the "Yes" side, declared that the loss was because of "Money and the ethnic vote". Parizeau resigned over public outrage and as per his commitment to do so in case of a loss. Lucien Bouchard became Quebec's new premier in his place.

Federalists accused the sovereignist side of asking a vague, overly complicated question on the ballot. Its English text read as follows:

Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?

After winning the next election in 1998, Bouchard retired from politics in 2001. Bernard Landry was then appointed leader of the Parti Québécois and premier of Quebec. In 2003, Landry lost the election to the Quebec Liberal Party and Jean Charest. Landry stepped down as PQ leader in 2005, and in a crowded race for the party leadership, André Boisclair was elected to succeed him. He also resigned after the renewal of the Quebec Liberal Party's government in the 2007 general election and the Parti Québécois becoming the second opposition party, behind the Action Démocratique. The PQ has promised to hold another referendum should it return to government.

Statut particulier ("special status")

Given the province's heritage and the preponderance of French (unique among the Canadian provinces), there is an ongoing debate in Canada regarding the unique status (statut particulier) of Quebec and its people, wholly or partially. Prior attempts to amend the Canadian constitution to acknowledge Quebec as a 'distinct society' – referring to the province's uniqueness within Canada regarding law, language, and culture – have been unsuccessful; however, the federal government under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would later endorse recognition of Quebec as a distinct society.[101]

On October 30, 2003, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously to affirm "that the people of Québec form a nation."[102] On November 27, 2006, the House of Commons passed a symbolic motion moved by Prime Minister Stephen Harper declaring "that this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."[103][104][105] However, there is considerable debate and uncertainty over what this means.[106][107]

At present, nationalism plays a large role in the politics of Quebec, with all three major provincial political parties seeking greater autonomy and recognition of Quebec's unique status. In recent years, much attention has been devoted to examining and defining the nature of Quebec's association with the rest of Canada.

As of the most recent polls (April 2010), a minority of 39.9 percent of Quebeckers support separation, with a majority of 52.8 percent who opposed separation, and with 7.3 percent undecided.[108] The number of Quebeckers who support separatism has remained relatively stable since the year 2000, hovering around at roughly 38-43 percent.[109] There was a decline in support after the failed 1995 referendum, where vote levels of support for separation was at 49.4 percent.

Fundamental values of Quebec society

On February 8, 2007, Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced the setting up of a Commission tasked with consulting Quebec Society on the matter of arrangements regarding cultural diversity. The Premier's press release[110] reasserted the three fundamental values of Quebec society:

Equality between men and women, primacy of the French language, and separation of church and state constitute the fundamental values. They are not subject to any arrangement. They cannot be subordinated by any other principle.[110]

Furthermore, Quebec is a free and democratic society that abides by the rule of law.[111]

Quebec society bases its cohesion and specificity on a set of statements, a few notable examples of which include:


The Lieutenant Governor represents Queen Elizabeth II as the de facto head of state.[115] The head of government is the premier (called premier ministre in French) who leads the largest party in the unicameral National Assembly, or Assemblée Nationale, from which the Executive Council of Quebec is appointed.

Until 1968, the Quebec legislature was bicameral,[116] consisting of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. In that year the Legislative Council was abolished, and the Legislative Assembly was renamed the National Assembly. Quebec was the last province to abolish its legislative council.

The government of Quebec awards an order of merit called the National Order of Quebec. It is inspired in part by the French Legion of Honour. It is conferred upon men and women born or living in Quebec (but non-Quebeckers can be inducted as well) for outstanding achievements.[117]

Administrative subdivisions

Quebec has subdivisions at the regional, supralocal and local levels. Excluding administrative units reserved for Aboriginal lands, the primary types of subdivision are:

At the regional level:

  • 17 administrative regions.

At the supralocal level:

At the local level:


Quebec has an advanced, market-based and open economy. In 2009, its gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 32,408 per capita at purchasing power parity puts the province at par with Japan, Italy and Spain, but remains lower than the Canadian average of US$ 37,830 per capita.[118][citation not found] The economy of Quebec is ranked the 37th largest economy in the world just behind Greece[119] and ranked the 21st largest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.[120]

View of Montreal from the Mont-Royal belvedere

Quebec is 16th among selected industrialized countries for the unemployment rate and 17th for the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.[121] The economy of Quebec represents 20.36% of the total GDP of Canada. Like most industrialized countries, the economy of Quebec is based mainly on the services sector. Quebec's economy has traditionally been fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and average productivity. The provincial GDP in 2010 is C$ 303,747 billion[4] which makes Quebec the second largest economy in Canada.

The credit rating of Quebec is currently rated Aa2 according to Moody's rating agency.[122] In comparison to the rest of the world, Quebec has the same credit rating as countries such as Italy, Japan and Spain.[122] The Quebec economy has changed dramatically in recent years. Between 1995 and 2001, the credit rating of Quebec was rated A2, considered as the worst rating in the Quebec history. The provincial debt has reached 47% of GDP in 2011[122] which represent approximately C$129 billion or C$16 642 per inhabitant.[123] The government of Quebec will reducing the provincial debt by 25% by 2025.[123]

Quebec's economy has undergone tremendous changes over the last decade.[124] Firmly grounded in the knowledge economy, Quebec has one of the highest growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) in Canada. The knowledge sector represents about 30.9% of Quebec's GDP.[125] Quebec is experiencing faster growth of its R&D spending than other Canadian provinces.[126] Quebec's spending in R&D in 2011 was equal to 3% of GDP, above the European Union average of 1.84% and the Lisbon Strategy target of devoting 3% of GDP to research and development activities.[127] The percentage spent on research and technology (R&D) is the highest in Canada and higher than the averages for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G7 countries.[128] Approximately 1.1 million Quebeckers work in the field of science and technology.[129]

Since 1856, Quebec has established itself as a pioneer of modern aerospace industry.[130] Quebec has over 260 companies which employ about 43,000 people. Approximately 62% of Canadian aerospace industry are based in Quebec.[131][132]

Quebec is also a major player in several leading-edge industries including aerospace, information technologies and software and multimedia. Approximately 60% of the production of the Canadian aerospace industry are from Quebec, where sales totaled C$ 12.4 billion in 2009.[133] Quebec is one of North America's leading high-tech player. This vast sector encompassing approximately 7,300 businesses and employ more than 145,000 people.[134]

The mining industry accounted for approximately 6.3% of Quebec's GDP.[135] It employs approximately 50,000 people[136] in 158 different companies.[136] Quebec is one of the ten largest producers in the world in the mining sector.

The pulp and paper industries generate annual shipments valued at more than $14 billion.[137] The forest products industry ranks second in exports, with shipments valued at almost $11 billion. It is also the main, and in some circumstances only, source of manufacturing activity in more than 250 municipalities in the province. The forest industry has slowed in recent years because of the softwood lumber dispute.[138] This industry employs 68,000 people in several regions of Quebec.[139] This industry accounted for 3.1% of Quebec's GDP.[140]

Agri-food industry plays an important role in the economy of Quebec. It accounts for 8% of the Quebec's GDP and generate $19.2 billion. This industry generated 487,000 jobs in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing of food, beverages and tobacco and food distribution.[141]

Imports and exports

Saint-Hyacinthe, in the Montérégie region, is the hub of the North American markets in the agro-alimentary, biotechnology, veterinary and environmental fields.

In 2008, Quebec exports elsewhere in Canada and in the world totaled 157.3 billion Canadian dollars, or 51.8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of this total, the share of international exports is 60.4% compared with 39.6% for interprovincial exports. The breakdown by destination of international exports of goods is: United States (72.2%), Europe (14.4%), Asia (5.1%) Middle East (2.7%), Central America (2.3%), South America (1.9%), Africa (0, 8%) and Oceania (0.7%). In 2008, Quebec imports C$ 178.0 billion in goods and services, or 58.6% of GDP. International imports up 62.9% of the total compared with 37.1% for interprovincial imports. The breakdown by source of international merchandise imports is as follows: United States (31.1%), Europe (28.7%), Asia (17.1%), Africa (11.7%), South America (4.5%), Central America (3.7%), Middle East (1.3%) and Oceania (0.7%).

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), grants Quebec, among other things, the access to a market of 130 million consumers within 1,000 kilometres (620 mi).[142] With the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the NAFTA, Quebec is increasing its ability to compete internationally. Following these agreements, trade relations with other countries were boosted. As a result, Quebec has seen its exports increase significantly. These international trade contribute to the strength of the Quebec economy, especially concerning employment.[142]

In 2010, Quebec exports declined by 0.6% compared to previous years. Exports to the United States have remained fairly stable while those to Europe surged by 46.3% and sales to Asia were down 12.8%.[143] The unemployment rate in Quebec is around 7%.

Several prominent Quebec companies work within the international market: the producers of pulp and paper Cascades and AbitibiBowater, the milk producer Agropur, the manufacturer of transport Bombardier, the company of information technology CGI, the Cirque du Soleil, the convenience stores Couche-Tard, the Garda (security company), the energy distributor Gaz Métro, the marketing firm Cossette Communication Group, the media and telecommunications company Quebecor, the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the Saputo empire and the Vachon bakery, the engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin, etc.


The ferry N.M. Camille-Marcoux, of the Société des traversiers du Québec, ensuring liaison Baie-Comeau—Matane and Godbout—Matane.

Development and security of land transportation in Canada are provided by the ministère des Transports du Québec.[144] Other organizations, such as the Canadian Coast Guard and Nav Canada, provide the same service for the sea and air transportation. The Commission des transports du Québec works with the freight carriers and the public transport.

The réseau routier québécois (Quebec road network) is managed by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) (Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation) and consists of about 185,000 kilometres (115,000 mi) of highways and national, regional, local, collector and forest roads. In addition, Quebec has almost 12,000 bridges, tunnels, retaining walls, culverts and other structures[145] such as the Quebec Bridge, the Laviolette Bridge and the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge-Tunnel.

In the waters of the St. Lawrence there are eight deep-water ports for the transhipment of goods. In 2003, 3886 cargo and 9.7 million tonnes of goods transited the Quebec portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway.[146]

Concerning the rail transport, Quebec has 6,678 kilometres (4,150 mi) of railways[147] integrated in the large North American network. Although primarily intended for the transport of goods through companies such as the Canadian National (CN) and the Canadian Pacific (CP), the Quebec railway network is also used by inter-city passengers via Via Rail Canada and Amtrak.

The upper air network includes 43 airports that offer scheduled services on a daily basis.[146] In addition, the Government of Quebec owns airports and heliports to increase the accessibility of local services to communities in the Basse-Côte-Nord and northern regions.[148]

Various other transport networks crisscross the province of Quebec, including hiking trails, snowmobile trails and bike paths; the Green Road being the largest with nearly 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) in length.[149]

Science and technology

Hubert Reeves is an astrophysicist know for his popular science works. It is also known worldwide for his research on stellar nucleosynthesis. He has received numerous awards for his works, including the Albert Einstein Medal.[150][151]

Science and technology are key factors in the economic position of Quebec. More than one million people in Quebec are employed in science and technology sector.[129] The research and development expenditures represented more than 3% of the province's GDP. The R&D expenditure in Quebec is higher than the average G7 and OECD countries.[129] Quebec is ranked, as of March 2011, 13th in the world in terms of investment in research and development.[152]

Quebec is considered as one of world leaders in fundamental scientific research, having produced ten Nobel laureates in either physics, chemistry, astrophysics or medicine.[153] It is also considered as one of the world leaders in sectors such as aerospace, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and therefore plays a significant role in the world's scientific and technological communities.[154] Quebec is also active in the development of its energy industries, including renewable energy such as hydropower and wind power. Quebec has had over 9,469 scientific publications in the sector of medicine, biomedical research and engineering since the year 2000.[155] Overall, the province of Quebec count about 125 scientific publications per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009.[156] The contriubution of Quebec in science and technology represent approximately 1% of the researches worldwide since 1980s to 2009.[157] Between 1991 to 2000, Quebec has had produces more scientific papers per 100 000 inhabitants than the United States and Germany.[158]

Rudolph A. Marcus is a chemist who received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his theory of outer sphere electron transfer.


The Canadian Space Agency was established in Quebec due to its major role in this research field. A total of three Quebeckers have been in space since the creation of the CSA: Marc Garneau, Julie Payette and Guy Laliberté. Quebec has also contributed to the creation of some Canadian artificial satellites including SCISAT-1, ISIS, Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2.[160][161][162]

The province is one of the world leaders in the field of space science and contributed to important discoveries in this field.[163] One of the most recent is the discovery of the complex extrasolar planets system HR 8799. HR 8799 is the first direct observation of an exoplanet in history.[164][165] Olivier Daigle and Claude Carignan, astrophysicists from Université de Montréal have invented an astronomical camera approximately 500 times more powerful than those currently on the market.[166] It is therefore considered as the most sensitive camera in the world.[167][168][169] The Mont Mégantic Observatory was recently equipped with this camera.[170]

Quebec ranks among the world leaders in the field of life science.[171] Quebec has more than 450 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies which together employ more than 25,000 people and 10,000 highly qualified researchers.[171] Montreal is ranked 4th in North America for the number of jobs in the pharmaceutical sector.[171][172]


Quebec has been described as a clean energy superpower.[173][174] The energy balance of Quebec has undergone a large shift over the past 30 years. In 2008, electricity ranked as the main form of energy used in Quebec (41.6%), followed by oil (38.2%) and natural gas (10.7%).[175]

Quebec is the fourth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world after China, Brazil and the United States and relies almost exclusively (97% in 2008) on this source of renewable energy for its electricity needs.[176]

Government-owned Hydro-Québec has a virtual monopoly on the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Quebec. With 60 hydroelectric and one nuclear power plant, Hydro-Quebec is the largest producer of electricity in Canada and the single largest hydroelectric generation company in the world[177][178] In 2010, the company owned a total generation capacity of 36,671 megawatts and sold 192.8 terawatt-hours of electricity.[179]

Natural resources

Mining town of Fermont, North Shore, the beginning of the road of iron.

The abundance of natural resources gives Quebec an advantageous position on the world market. Quebec stands out particularly in the mining sector, ranking among the top ten world producers.[180] It also stands for the exploitation of its forest resources.

Quebec is remarkable for the natural resources of its vast territory. It has about 30 mines, 158 exploration companies and fifteen primary processing industries. Many metallic minerals are exploited, the principals are gold, iron, copper and zinc. Many other substances are extracted including titanium, the asbestos, the silver, the magnesium, the nickel and many other metals and industrial minerals.[181] However, only 40% of the mineral potential of Quebec is currently known. In 2003, the value of mineral exploitation reached Quebec 3.7 billion Canadian dollars.[182] Moreover, as a major centre of exploration for the diamond,[183] Quebec has seen, since 2002, an increase in its mineral explorations, particularly in the Northwest as well as in the Otish Mountains and the Torngat Mountains.

The vast majority (90.5%) of Quebec's forests are publicly owned. Forests cover more than half of Quebec's territory, for a total area of nearly 761,100 square kilometres (293,900 sq mi).[184] The Quebec forest area covers seven degrees of latitude.

Quebec covers more than a million lakes and rivers, occupying 21% of the total area of its territory. The aquatic environment is composed of 12.1% of fresh water and 9.2% of saltwater (percentage of total QC area).[185]


Tourism plays an important role in the economy of Quebec. Tourism represents 2.5% of Quebec's GDP and nearly 400,000 people are employed in the tourism sector.[186] Nearly 30,000 businesses are related to this industry which 70% are located outside of Montreal and Quebec City.[187] In 2011, Quebec welcomed 26 million foreign tourists, most of them from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Japan.[186][188]

The province of Quebec has 22 tourist regions, each of which presents its geography, its history and culture. The capital, Quebec City, is the only fortified city in North America and has its own European cachet. The oldest Francophone city in North America, Quebec City was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985[189] and has celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. Montreal is the only Francophone metropolis in North America and also the second largest Francophone city after Paris in terms of population.[190] This major centre of 3.6 million inhabitants is a tapestry of cultures from the world over with its many neighbourhoods, including Chinatown, the Latin Quarter, the Gay Village, Little Italy, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, the Quartier International and Old Montreal. Montreal has a rich architectural heritage, along with many cultural activities, sports events and festivals.

The province of Quebec has over 400 museums including the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, which is the oldest museum in Canada and one of the most important art institutions. It is Montreal's largest museum and is amongst the most prominent in the world.[191]

Quebec is also a religious tourism destination.[192] The Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal are the most popular religious site in the province. In 2005, the Oratory was added to the List of National Historic Sites of Canada on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.[193] Quebec has over 130 church and Cathedrals. All of which bear witness to the many origins that colonized the region.[194]

Environmental and energy policy

Since 2006, Quebec has a green plan in order to achieve the objective of the Kyoto protocol on climate change.[195] The Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec (Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks) is primarily responsible for implementing environmental policy. For its part, the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ) is the lead agency for the management of national parks and wildlife reserves. Quebec currently protects nearly 8.12% (135,326 km2) of its territory.[196] The first protected area was the creation of Parc du Mont-Royal in 1876 followed by the Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in 1894.

The Quebec government has been working to introduce the electric car since 1994, including contributing financing for technologies such as the TM4 MФTIVE, an electric motor designed and manufactured in Quebec.[197] Hydro-Québec has recently tested more than 50 i-MiEV in order to gradually introduce the charging stations across the province. This is the largest pilot test of electric cars in Canada.[198] Quebec was the first province in Canada to allowed the ZENN car to drive on the roads.[199]

Tata Indica EV engine bay featuring TM4 MФTIVE electric motor

During the inaugural speech of 2011, Jean Charest has announced five priorities for the next 30 years including the Plan Nord and has called for a revolution in electric car.[200][201]

On November 23, 2009, Premier Jean Charest had announced targets for reducing greenhouse gases during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Quebec will cut its emissions by 20% by the year 2020 compared to international reference of 1990. On January 14, 2010, a new law came into force to reduce greenhouse gases from automobiles which represent 40% of Quebec GHGs.[202] This new law stipulates that car manufacturers serving the territory of Quebec must meet an emission ceiling of 187 grams of GHG/km or approximatively 7.7 L/100 km. This level must be reduced annually up to 127 grams of GHG/km or approximatively 5.3 L/100 km in the year 2016. These standards are as stringent as those in California (United States), according to the Government of Quebec.[203] The provincial government plans to offer up to 8,000$ rebate towards the purchase of an electric car. The government hopes that by 2020, a quarter of cars purchased in Quebec will be electric.[204] The plan would position Quebec as a world leader in electrified transportation according to Jean Charest.[205]

Quebec became the first nation in North America to set a carbon tax. Since 2007, consumers pay a special tax on gasoline.[206] Since July 2011, Quebec has imposed a carbon tax that affect more than 85% of industries in the province. This tax will be mandatory from 2013.[207] The sectors affected by this carbon tax will have to reduced their carbon dioxide below 25 000 kilotonnes per year. Only the forest industry, agriculture and waste industries are not affected by this tax.[208] In addition, the Quebec government plans to recover 60% of putrescible organic matter by 2015 in order to reduce its emissions.[209] Quebec climate policy has been harsly criticised by the federal government under Prime minister Stephen Harper. In 2010, former minister Jim Prentice has openly criticized Quebec's plan to set GHG standards for motor vehicles sold in the province, describing it as "lunatic".[210] However, ten months later, Prentice successor, John Baird, has praised Quebec as a world leader in GHG abatement.[211]


At 1.74 children per woman,[212] Quebec's 2010 fertility rate is above the Canada-wide rate of 1.59,[213] and has increased for five consecutive years. However, it is still below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This contrasts with its fertility rates before 1960, which were among the highest of any industrialized society. Although Quebec is home to only 23.9 percent of the population of Canada, the number of international adoptions in Quebec is the highest of all provinces of Canada. In 2001, 42 percent of international adoptions in Canada were carried out in Quebec. By the year 2012, the population of Quebec will reach 8 million and the population will reach 9.2 million in 2056.[214]

All the tables in the following section have been reduced from their original size, for full tables see main article Demographics of Quebec.

Year Population Five-year
% change
% change
Rank among
1971 6,027,765 4.3 14.6 2
1976 6,234,445 3.4 7.8 2
1981 6,438,403 3.3 6.8 2
1986 6,532,460 1.5 4.8 2
1991 6,895,963 5.6 7.1 2
1996 7,138,795 3.5 9.3 2
2001 7,237,479 1.4 5.0 2
2006 7,546,131 4.3 5.7 2

Source: Statistics Canada[215][216]

Origins in this table are self-reported and respondents were allowed to give more than one answer.

Ethnic origin Population Percent
Canadian (Canadiens) 4,474,115 60.1%
French 2,151,655 28.9%
Irish 406,085 5.5%
Italian 299,655 4.0%
English 245,155 3.3%
North American Indian 219,815 3.0%
Scottish 202,515 2.7%
Québécois 140,075 1.9%
German 131,795 1.8%

Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905) and may total more than 100 percent due to dual responses.
Only groups with 1.5 percent or more of respondents are shown.

The 2006 census counted a total aboriginal population of 108,425 (1.5 percent) including 65,085 North American Indians (0.9 percent), 27,985 Métis (0.4 percent), and 10,950 Inuit (0.15 percent). It should be noted however, that there is a significant undercount, as many of the biggest Indian bands regularly refuse to participate in Canadian censuses for political reasons regarding the question of aboriginal sovereignty. In particular, the largest Mohawk Iroquois reserves (Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Kanesatake) were not counted.

Nearly 9 percent of the population of Quebec belongs to a visible minority group. This is a lower percentage than that of British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba but higher than that of the other five provinces. Most visible minorities in Quebec live in or near Montreal.

Visible Minorities in Quebec.
Visible minority Population Percentage
Total visible minority population 654,355 8.8%
Black 188,070 2.5%
Arab 109,020 1.5%
Latin American 89,505 1.2%
Chinese 79,830 1.1%
South Asian 72,845 1.0%
Southeast Asian 50,455 0.7%

Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905).
Only groups with more than 0.5 percent of respondents are shown

Quebec is unique among the provinces in its overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population. This is a legacy of colonial times when only Roman Catholics were permitted to settle in New France. The 2001 census showed the population to be 90.3 percent Christian (in contrast to 77 percent for the whole country) with 83.4 percent Catholic Christian (including 83.2 percent Roman Catholic); 4.7 percent Protestant Christian (including 1.2 percent Anglican, 0.7 percent United Church; and 0.5 percent Baptist); 1.4 percent Orthodox Christian (including 0.7 percent Greek Orthodox); and 0.8 percent other Christian; as well as 1.5 percent Muslim; 1.3 percent Jewish; 0.6 percent Buddhist; 0.3 percent Hindu; and 0.1 percent Sikh. An additional 5.8 percent of the population said they had no religious affiliation (including 5.6 percent who stated that they had no religion at all).
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,125,580)[219]


80.1 percent of the people of Quebec speak French as their first language. In total, about 97.4 percent are able to speak French.
Mother tongue in Quebec.

The official language of Quebec is French. Quebec is the only Canadian province whose population is mainly francophone, with 80.1 percent (5,877,660) of the population giving a singular response regarding their first language according to the 2006 Census.[220] About 97.4 percent of the people reported being able to speak French, whether as their first, second, or in some cases, third language. English is not designated an official language by Quebec law.[221] However, both English and French are required by the Constitution Act, 1867 for the enactment of laws and regulations and any person may use English or French in the National Assembly and the courts of Quebec. The books and records of the National Assembly must also be kept in both languages.[222][223]

In 2006, 575,560 (7.7 percent of population) people in Quebec declared English to be their mother tongue, 744,430 (10.0 percent) mostly used English as their home language, and 918,955 (12.9 percent according to the 2001 Census) reported English to be their First Official language spoken.[224][225][226] The English-speaking community or Anglophones are entitled to services in English in the areas of justice, health, and education;[221] services in English are offered in municipalities in which more than half the residents have English as their mother tongue. Allophones, people whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, made up 11.9 percent (886,280) of the population, according to the 2006 census.[220]

A considerable number of Quebec residents consider themselves to be bilingual (having a knowledge of French and English). In Quebec, about 40.6 percent (3,017,860) of the population are bilingual; on the island of Montreal, this proportion reaches 60.0 percent (1,020,760). Quebec has the highest proportion of bilinguals of any Canadian province. In contrast, in the rest of Canada, only about 10.2 percent (2,430,990) of the population has a knowledge of both of the country's official languages. Overall, 17.4 percent (5,448,850) of Canadians report being bilingual.[227] Since the 1970s, languages other than French on commercial signs have been permitted only if French is given marked prominence. This law has been the subject of periodic controversy since its inception. French place-names in Canada retain their accents in English text. Legitimate exceptions are Montreal and Quebec,. However, the accented forms are increasingly evident in some publications. The Canadian Style states that Montréal and Québec (the city) must retain their accents in English federal documents.

Of the population of 7,546,131 counted by the 2006 census, 7,435,905 people completed the section about language. Of these, 7,339,495 gave singular responses to the question regarding their first language. The languages most commonly reported were the following:

Language Number of
native speakers
Percentage of
singular responses
French 5,877,660 80.1%
English 575,555 7.8%
Italian 124,820 1.7%
Spanish 108,790 1.5%
Arabic 108,105 1.5%

Following were Chinese (0.9%), Berber (0.6%), Portuguese (0.5%), Romanian (0,4%), Vietnamese (0,3%), Russian (0,3%), etc. Numerous other languages were also counted, but only languages with more than 1% of native speakers on the total population are shown.
(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses)[228]

Population centres

Largest Metropolitan Areas in Quebec[229]
Rank Core City Administrative Region Pop. Rank Core City Administrative Region Pop. view · talk · edit

Quebec City
Quebec City

1 Montreal Montréal 3,635,571 16 Rouyn-Noranda Abitibi-Témiscamingue 39,924
2 Quebec City Capitale-Nationale 715,515 17 Salaberry-de-Valleyfield Montérégie 39,672
3 Gatineau Outaouais 283,959 18 Alma Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 32,603
4 Sherbrooke Estrie 186,952 19 Val-d'Or Abitibi-Témiscamingue 32,288
5 Saguenay Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 151,643 20 Saint-Georges Chaudière-Appalaches 31,364
6 Trois-Rivières Mauricie 141,529 21 Baie-Comeau Côte-Nord 29,808
7 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Montérégie 87,492 22 Sept-Îles Côte-Nord 27,827
8 Drummondville Centre-du-Québec 78,108 23 Thetford Mines Chaudière-Appalaches 26,107
9 Granby Montérégie 68,352 24 Rivière-du-Loup Bas-Saint-Laurent 24,570
10 Shawinigan Mauricie 56,434 25 Amos Abitibi-Témiscamingue 17,918
11 Saint-Hyacinthe Montérégie 55,823 26 Matane Bas-Saint-Laurent 16,438
12 Victoriaville Centre-du-Québec 48,893 27 La Tuque Mauricie 15,293
13 Sorel-Tracy Montérégie 48,295 28 Dolbeau-Mistassini Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 14,546
14 Rimouski Bas-Saint-Laurent 46,807 29 Cowansville Montérégie 12,666
15 Joliette Lanaudière 43,595 30 Lachute Laurentides 11,832
Canada 2006 Census


Music and dance

Félix Leclerc

Being a modern cosmopolitan society, today, all types of music can be found in Quebec. From folk music to hip-hop, music has always played an important role in Quebercers culture. From La Bolduc in 1920s-1930s to the contemporary artists, the music in Quebec has announced multiple songwriters and performers, pop singers and crooners, music groups and many more. Here are photos of two of Quebec's most popular artists of the last century: the singers Félix Leclerc ('50s) and Céline Dion (present).[230] The First Nations and the Inuit of Quebec also have their own traditional music.

Celine Dion during her concert Taking Chances in 2008

From Quebec's musical repertoire, the song A La Claire Fontaine[231] was the anthem of the New France, Patriots and French Canadian, then replaced by the O Canada. Currently, the song Gens du pays is by far preferred by many Quebecers to be the national anthem of Quebec. The Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ) was created in 1978 to promote the music industry in Quebec.[232] The Orchestre symphonique de Québec and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal are respectively associated with the Opéra de Québec and the Opéra de Montreal whose performances are presented at the Grand Théâtre de Québec and at Place des Arts. The Ballets Jazz de Montreal, the Grands Ballets and La La La Human Steps are three important professional troups of contemporary dance.

Various musical events are held throughout Quebec, such as the Festival d'été de Québec, the Emerging Music Festival of Rouyn-Noranda, Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Granby International Song Festival, the International Festival of Rhythms of the World in Saguenay, the Festival Western de Saint-Tite, the Montreal FrancoFolies festival, the Mondial des Cultures of Drummondville, the White Nights of Anse de Roche, Woodstock en Beauce, etc. Other festivals join music to fireworks, such as Grand Feux Loto-Québec at the Montmorency Falls, Quebec City, the International Loto-Québec Firework at amusement park La Ronde, Montreal, or the Grands Feux du Casino in the park of Lac-Leamy in Gatineau.[233]

Traditional music is imbued with many dances, such as the jig, the quadrille, the reel and line dancing, which developed in the festivities since the early days of colonization. Various instruments are more popular in Quebec's culture: harmonica (music-of-mouth or lip-destruction), fiddle, spoons, jaw harp and accordion. The podorythmie is a characteristic of traditional Quebec music and means giving the rhythm with the feet. Quebec traditional music is currently provided by various contemporary groups seen mostly during Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, Quebec National Holiday and many local festivals.

Film, television, and radio

Claude Jutra during the filming of Kamouraska in 1972

The Cinémathèque québécoise has a mandate to promote the film and television heritage of Quebec. Similarly, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), a federal Crown corporation, provides for the same mission in Canada. In a similar way, the Association of Film and Television in Quebec (APFTQ) promotes independent production in film and television.[234] While the Association of producers and directors of Quebec (APDQ) represents the business of filmmaking and television, the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters of Quebec (ARCQ)(French acronym) represents the independent radio stations.[235] Several movie theatres across Quebec ensure the dissemination of Quebec cinema. With its cinematic installations, such as the Cité du cinéma and Mel's studios, the city of Montreal is home to the filming of various productions.[236] The State corporation Télé-Québec, the federal Crown corporation CBC, general and specialized private channels, networks, independent and community radio stations broadcast the various Quebec téléromans, the national and regional news, interactive and spoken programmations, etc.[237][238] Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois is a festival surrounding the ceremony of the Jutra Awards Night that rewards work and personalities of Quebec cinema.[239] The Artis and the Gemini Awards gala recognize the personalities of television and radio industry in Quebec and French Canada. The Film Festival of the 3 Americas, Quebec City, the Festival of International Short Film, Saguenay, the World Film Festival and the Festival of New Cinema, Montreal, are other annual events surrounding the film industry in Quebec.

Literature and theatre

Henri Julien, La Chasse-galerie

From New France, Quebec literature was first developed in the travel accounts of explorers such as Jacques Cartier, Jean de Brébeuf, the Baron de La Hontan and Nicolas Perrot, describing their relations with indigenous peoples. The Moulin à paroles traces the great texts that have shaped the history of Quebec since its foundation in 1534 until the era of modernity. The first to write the history of Quebec, since its discovery, was the historian François-Xavier Garneau. This author will be part of the current of patriotic literature (also known as the "poets of the country" and literary identity) that will arise after the Patriots Rebellion of 1837-1838.[240]

Various tales and stories are told through oral tradition, such as, among many more, the legends of the Bogeyman, the Chasse-galerie, the Black Horse of Trois-Pistoles, the Complainte de Cadieux, the Corriveau, the dancing devil of Saint-Ambroise, the Giant Beaupré, the monsters of the lakes Pohénégamook and Memphremagog, of Quebec Bridge (called the Devil's Bridge), the Rocher Percé and of Rose Latulipe, for example.[241]

Émile Nelligan, Quebec poet, famous for his poem Winter evening

Many Quebec poets and prominent authors marked their era and today remain anchored in the collective imagination, like, among others, Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, Octave Crémazie, Honoré Beaugrand, Émile Nelligan, Lionel Groulx, Gabrielle Roy, Hubert Aquin, Michel Tremblay, Marie Laberge, Fred Pellerin and Gaston Miron. The regional novel from Quebec is called Terroir novel and is a literary tradition[242] specific to the province. It includes such works as The Old Canadians, Maria Chapdelaine, Un homme et son péché, Le Survenant, etc. There are also many successful plays from this literary category, such as Les Belles-sœurs and Broue (Brew).

Among the theatre troupes are the Compagnie Jean-Duceppe, the Théâtre La Rubrique at the Pierrette-Gaudreault venue of the Institut of arts in Saguenay, the Théâtre Le Grenier, etc. In addition to the network of cultural centres in Quebec,[243] the venues include the Monument-National and the Rideau Vert (green curtain) Theatre in Montreal, the Trident Theatre in Quebec City, etc. The National Theatre School of Canada and the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec form the future players. The summer theatre is a true symbol of Quebec literature.[244][245] Presented in the summer, it offers a variety of amusements, usually musicals or humorous dramas, sometimes outdoors, in rural and semi-rural regions of Quebec, in venues such as the theatre of la Dame de Cœur (the Lady of Heart) in Upton, Montérégie, the Grands Chênes (Great Oaks) Theatre in Kingsey Falls, Centre-du-Québec and the theatre of la Marjolaine in Eastmain, Estrie. The Quebec Theatre Academy and the Quebec Association of Playwrights (AQAD) are the main organizations for the promotion of literature and theatre in Quebec. The Quebec literary awards, including the Medal of the Académie des lettres du Québec, and the Soirée des Masques reward the important personalities of the year.

Fine arts

Charles Daudelin, La Cavalière, 1963, Sculpture installed in front of the pavilion Gérard Morisset of the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec City

First influenced, since the days of New France, by the religious cult of Catholicism, with works from Frère Luc (Brother Luke) and more recently from Ozias Leduc and Guido Nincheri, art of Quebec has developed around the specific characteristics of its landscapes and cultural, historical, social and political representations.[246]

Thus, the development of Quebec masterpieces in painting, printmaking and sculpture is marked by the contribution of artists such as Louis-Philippe Hébert, Cornelius Krieghoff, Alfred Laliberté, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Clarence Gagnon, Adrien Dufresne, Alfred Pellan, Jean-Philippe Dallaire, Charles Daudelin, Arthur Villeneuve, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul-Émile Borduas and Marcelle Ferron.

The Fine arts of Quebec are displayed at the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Quebec Salon des métiers d'art and in many art galleries. While many works decorate the public areas of Quebec, others are displayed in foreign countries such as the sculpture Embâcle (Jam) by Charles Daudelin on Québec Place in Paris and the statue Québec Libre! (free Quebec!) by Armand Vaillancourt in San Francisco. The Montreal School of Fine Arts forms the painters, printmakers and sculptors of Quebec.

Various buildings reflect the architectural heritage that characterizes Quebec, such as religious buildings, city halls, houses of estates, etc.

Humor and youth programs

Several comedy festivals were created in Quebec, including the festival Just for Laughs in Montreal, which enjoys an international reputation, and the Grand Rire festival of Québec, Gatineau and Sherbrooke. Several prominent Quebec artists and humorous groups are known nationally and internationally, such as Rose Ouellette (known as La Poune), Juliette Petrie, Stéphane Rousseau, Roméo Pérusse, Gilles Latulippe, Yvon Deschamps, Marc Favreau (famous for his character of Sol, a hobo clown), Michael Noël (and the character of Captain Bonhomme), Jacques Desrosiers (performer of the famous clown Patof), Serge Thériault and Claude Meunier (as Ding et(and) Dong), Les Grandes Gueules, Lise Dion, Jean-Michel Anctil, Martin Matte and Louis-José Houde, to name only a few.[247] Some humorous programs are or were also popular such as Cré Basile, Le Zoo du Capitaine Bonhomme, Lundi des Ha! Ha! (Monday, Ha! Ha!), Démons du midi (Midday Devils), La Petite Vie, Les Bougon, The sketch show (Quebec version), etc.

The National improvisation League (LNI), created in 1977, puts on scene number of actors and comedians in humorous shows joining the improvisation theatre to comedy. The National School of humor (École nationale de l'humour) was created in 1988 to form the next generations of Quebec comedians. The Association of professionals of the humor industry (APIH)[248] was created in 1998 and is the premier organization for promoting and developing the cultural sector of humor in Quebec. The Gala Les Olivier, in honour of the former comedian Olivier Guimond, recognizes Quebec personalities of humor.[249]

Children also have their comedy and animated cartoons such as The Surprise Box, Bobino, Le Pirate Maboule, Fanfreluche, the Ribouldingue, Les 100 tours de Centour, Patofville, Passe-Partout, Robin et Stella, Iniminimagimo, Vazimolo, Tele-Pirate, Bibi et Geneviève, Watatatow, Caillou, Cornemuse, Macaroni tout garni,Toc toc toc, Ramdam, Tactik and many more.[250]

Circus and street art

The show Dralion, Cirque du Soleil, introduced in 2004

Several circus troupes were created in recent decades, the most important being without any doubts the Cirque du Soleil.[251] Among these troops are contemporary, travelling and on horseback circuses, such as Cirque Éloize, Cavalia, Kosmogonia, Saka and Cirque Akya.[252] Presented outdoors under a tent or in venues similar to the Montreal Casino, they attract large crowds both in Quebec and abroad. In the manner of touring companies of the Renaissance, the clowns, street performers, minstrels, or troubadours travel from city to city to play their comedies. Although they may randomly appear from time to time during the year, they are always visible in the cultural events such as the Winterlude in Gatineau, the Quebec Winter Carnival, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Quebec City Summer Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Festival of New France in Quebec.

The National Circus School and the École de cirque de Québec were created to train future Contemporary circus artists. For its part, Tohu, la Cité des Arts du Cirque was founded in 2004 to disseminate the circus arts.[253]


The school and the convent of the Congregation of Our Lady of Good Council, the ghost town of Val-Jalbert, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

The Cultural Heritage Fund is a program of Quebec government[254] for the conservation and development of Quebec's heritage, together with various laws.[255] Several organizations ensure that same mission, both in the social and cultural traditions in the countryside and heritage buildings, including the Commission des biens culturels du Québec, the Quebec Heritage Fondation, the Conservation Centre of Quebec, the Centre for development of living heritage, the Quebec Council of living heri tage, the Quebec Association of heritage interpretation, etc.

Several sites, houses and historical works reflect the cultural heritage of Quebec, such as the Village Québécois d'Antan, the historical village of Val-Jalbert, the Fort Chambly, the national home of the Patriots, the Chicoutimi pulp mill (Pulperie de Chicoutimi), the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge. Strongly influenced by the presence of the Catholic Church, the development of the religious history of Quebec is provided by organizations like the Council of the religious heritage of Quebec. Since 2007, the government promotes, with the various players in the field, the conclusion of agreements on the use of property belonging to episcopal factories and corporations to establish "partnerships in financing the restoration and renovation of religious buildings".[256]

Various museums tell the cultural history of Quebec, like the Museum of Civilization, the Museum of French America, the McCord Museum or the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History in Pointe-à-Callière, displaying artifacts, paintings and other remains from the past of Quebec. Many literary works reproduce the daily lives of the past, following the social and cultural traditions of Quebec television series reproducing the old days[257] such as the trilogy of Pierre Gauvreau (Le Temps d'une paix, Cormoran and Le Volcan tranquille), La Famille Plouffe, Les Belles Histoires des Pays-d'en-Haut, La Petite Patrie, Entre chien et loup, Les Filles de Caleb, Blanche, Au nom du père et du fils, Marguerite Volant, Nos Étés or Musée Éden, among others.


Gastronomy of Quebec

The historical context of 'traditional' Quebec cuisine is from the fur trade period and many dishes have a high fat or lard content. From the early 17th century, French settlers populating North America were interested in a new cuisine to confront the climate and the needs arising from work of colonization. Mindful of the same nutritional needs as settlers from Acadia, it has many similarities with the Acadian cuisine. Quebec's cuisine has a strong French and Irish influence, although many aspects of Canadian aboriginal cuisine have also had a significant impact on Quebec cuisine. Quebec is most famous for its Tourtière, Pâté Chinois and Poutine. The temps des sucres (sugar season) is one of the oldest of Quebec culinary traditions. During springtime, many Quebeckers go to the cabane à sucre (sugar house) for a traditional meal. The Jewish community of Montreal has contributed Montreal-style bagels and smoked meat which is similar to pastrami.


Canadiens de Montréal at the Bell Centre

Sports in Quebec constitutes an essential dimension of Quebec culture. The practice of sports and outdoor activities in Quebec was largely influenced by its geography and climate. The ice hockey remains the national sport. This sport, which was played for the first time on March 3, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal and promoted over the years by numerous achievements of the centenary of the Canadiens de Montréal, still raises passions.[258] During its history, Quebec has hosted several major sporting events including the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Fencing World Championships in 1967, track cycling in 1974, in addition to hosting the Grand Prix du Canada Formula 1 championships.

National symbols

The Fleurdelisé leads a ship to harbour near Quebec City.

In 1939, the government of Quebec unilaterally ratified its coat of arms to reflect Quebec's political history: French rule (gold lily on blue background), British rule (lion on red background) and Canadian rule (maple leaves) and with Quebec's motto below "Je me souviens".[259] Je me souviens ("I remember") was first carved under the coat of arms of Quebec's Parliament Building façade in 1883. It is an official part of the coat of arms and has been the official license plate motto since 1978, replacing "La belle province" (the beautiful province). The expression La belle province is still used mostly in tourism as a nickname for the province.

The fleur-de-lis, the ancient symbol of the French monarchy, first arrived on the shores of the Gaspésie in 1534 with Jacques Cartier on his first voyage. In 1900, Quebec finally sought to have its own uniquely designed flag. By 1903, the parent of today's flag had taken shape, known as the "Fleurdelisé". The flag in its present form with its 4 white "fleur-de-lis" lilies on a blue background with a white cross replaced the Union Jack on Quebec's Parliament Building on January 21, 1948.

Other official symbols

The harfang des neiges (snowy owl), official bird of Quebec.
  • The floral emblem of Quebec is the Iris versicolor.[6]
  • Since 1987 the avian emblem of Quebec has been the snowy owl.[6]
  • An official tree, the yellow birch (bouleau jaune, merisier), symbolises the importance Quebeckers give to the forests. The tree is known for the variety of its uses and commercial value, as well as its autumn colours.[6]

In 1998 the Montreal Insectarium sponsored a poll to choose an official insect. The White Admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis)[260] won with 32 % of the 230 660 votes against the Spotted lady beetle (Coleomegilla maculata lengi), the Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata), a species of bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) and the six-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata sexguttata).

Fête nationale (National Holiday)

In 1977, the Quebec Parliament declared June 24 to be Quebec's National Holiday. Historically June 24 was a holiday honouring French Canada's patron saint, St. John the Baptist, which is why it is commonly known as La Saint-Jean-Baptiste (often shortened to La St-Jean). On this day, the song "Gens du pays" by Gilles Vigneault is often heard and commonly regarded as Quebec's unofficial anthem. The festivities occur on June 23 and June 24 and are celebrated all over Quebec. In cities like Québec and Montréal, great shows are organized in the main public places (such as the Abraham plains, Québec, or Maisonneuve Park, Montréal) where several of the most popular Quebec artists relay each others till late at night.

See also



  1. ^ Office Québécois de la langue francaise. "Status of the French language". Government of Quebec. Retrieved November 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ The term Québécois (feminine: Québécoise), which is usually reserved for francophone Quebeckers, may be rendered in English without both e-acute (é): Quebecois (fem.: Quebecoise). (Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage; ISBN 0-19-541619-8; p. 335).
  3. ^ Statistics Canada (September 15, 2011). "Canada's population estimates: Table 2 Quarterly demographic estimates". Government of Canada. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Statistics Canada (November 4, 2010). "Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by province and territory". Government of Canada. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ Canada Post (January 17, 2011). "Addressing Guidelines". Canada Post Corporation. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Quebec Portal (September 29, 2010). "National Flag and Emblems". Government of Quebec. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  7. ^ According to the Canadian government, Québec (with the acute accent) is the official name in French and Quebec (without the accent) is the province's official name in English; the name is one of 81 locales of pan-Canadian significance with official forms in both languages. In this system, the official name of the capital is Québec in both official languages. The Quebec government renders both names as Québec in both languages.
  8. ^ (Merriam & Webster 2003)
  9. ^ Quebec is located in the eastern part of Canada, but is also historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada (with Ontario).
  10. ^ "Community highlights for Nord-du-Québec". Statistics Canada. 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Routine Proceedings: The Québécois". Hansard of 39th Parliament, 1st Session; No. 087. Parliament of Canada. November 22, 2006. Retrieved April 30, 2008. 
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Further reading

  • Armony, Victor (2007). Le Québec expliqué aux immigrants. Montréal: VLB Éditeur. ISBN 978-2-89005-985-6. 
  • Babin, Andrée (1986). L’interatlas: Ressources du Québec et du Canada. Montréal: Centre éducatif et culturel. ISBN 2-7617-0317-0. 
  • Binot, Guy (2004). Pierre Dugua de Mons: gentilhomme royannais, premier colonisateur du Canada, lieutenant général de la Nouvelle-France de 1603 à 1612. Vaux-sur-Mer: Bonne anse. ISBN 2914463138. 
  • Brûlotte, Suzanne (2009). Les oiseaux du Québec. Boucherville: Éditions Broquet. ISBN 289654075X. 
  • Dupont, Jean-Claude (2008). Légendes du Québec - Un héritage culturel. Sainte-Foy: Les éditions GID. ISBN 9782896340231. 
  • Institut de la statistique du Québec (2010) (PDF). Le Québec chiffres en main. Government of Quebec. ISBN 978-2-550-49444-7. 
  • Lacoursière, Jacques; Provencher, Jean; Vaugeois, Denis (2000). Canada-Québec 1534–2000. Sillery: Septentrion. ISBN 2-89448-156-X. 
  • Lacoursière, Jacques (2005). Histoire du Québec, Des origines à nos jours. Paris: Édition Nouveau Monde. ISBN 2-84736-113-8. 
  • Liebel, Jean (1999). Pierre Dugua, sieur de Mons, fondateur de Québec. Paris: Le Croît vif. ISBN 2907967487. 
  • Linteau, Paul-André (1989). Histoire du Québec contemporain; Volume 1; De la Confédération à la crise (1867–1929). Montréal: Les Éditions du Boréal. ISBN 978-2-89052-297-8. 
  • Linteau, Paul-André (1989). Histoire du Québec contemporain; Volume 2; Le Québec depuis 1930. Montréal: Les Éditions du Boréal. ISBN 978-2-89052-298-5. 
  • Ministry of Environment of Quebec (2002) (PDF). Water. Life. Future. National Policy on water. Government of Quebec. ISBN 2-550-40074-7. 
  • Venne, Michel (2006). L'annuaire du Québec 2007. Montréal: Fides. ISBN 2-7621-2746-7. 

External links


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