Québec: Wikis


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

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,[2] Québécois(e)[3]
Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne
Premier Jean Charest (Liberal)
Federal representation in Canadian Parliament
House seats 75
Senate seats 24
Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st)
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%)
Population  Ranked 2nd
Total (2009) 7,782,561 (est.)[4]
Density 5.63 /km2 (14.6 /sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 2nd
Total (2006) C$285.158 billion[5]
Per capita C$37,278 (10th)
Postal QC[6]
ISO 3166-2 CA-QC
Time zone UTC−5, −4
Postal code prefix G, H, J
Flower Blue Flag Iris[7]
Tree Yellow Birch[7]
Bird Snowy Owl[7]
Website www.gouv.qc.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Quebec Pronunciation: /kəˈbɛk/ or Pronunciation: /kwɪˈbɛk/ (French: Québec [kebɛk]  ( listen))[8] is a province in east-central Canada.[9][10] It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking identity 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 U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Quebec is the 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, the 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.[11]

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 recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."[12][13]

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.[14]

Downtown Montreal


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).[15] 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.[16]

The Province of Quebec was founded in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 after the Treaty of Paris formally transferred the French colony of Canada[17] 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. In 1840, these become 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.
Quebec City seen from Spot Satellite

Located in the eastern part of Canada and (from an 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. Quebec's highest point is Mont D'Iberville, located on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador in the northeastern part of the province.

The Saint Lawrence River has one of the world's largest sustaining large 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.[19] 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.

Satellite view of three Monteregian Hills in Saint Lawrence Lowlands.

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, and includes Anticosti Island, the Mingan Archipelago,[20] and other small islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.[21] Its landscape is low-lying and flat, except for isolated igneous outcrops near Montreal called the Monteregian Hills. Geologically, the lowlands formed as a rift valley about 100 million years ago and are prone to infrequent but significant earthquakes.[22] 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.[23] The combination of rich and easily arable soils and Quebec's warmest 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.

More than 90% of Quebec's territory lies within the Canadian Shield, a rough, rocky terrain sculpted and scraped clean of soil by successive ice ages. 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. In the Labrador Peninsula portion of the Shield, the far northern region of Nunavik includes the Ungava Peninsula and consists of Arctic tundra inhabited mostly by the Inuit. Further south lie subarctic taiga and boreal forest, where spruce, fir, and poplar trees provide raw materials for Quebec's pulp and paper and lumber industries. Although 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 Montreal and Quebec City that attracts local and international tourists to ski hills and lakeside resorts.

The mixed forests of the Appalachian Mountains flank the eastern portion of the province, extending from New England into the Eastern Townships, northeastward through the Beauce region, and on to the Gaspé Peninsula, where they disappear into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This region sustains a mix of forestry, industry, and tourism based on its natural resources and landscape.


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 warm, humid summers and long, cold and snowy winters. The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada which 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 100 centimetres(40 in) of precipitation, including over 300 centimetres (120 in) of snow in many areas. During the summer, severe weather patterns (such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) occasionally occur.

Most of central Quebec has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Winters are long 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.


First Nations

At the time of first European contact and later colonization, Algonquian, Iroquoian and Inuit tribes were the peoples who inhabited what is now Quebec. 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 lived more settled lives, planting squash and maize in the fertile soils of the St. Lawrence Valley. 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.

Early European exploration

Basque whalers and fishermen traded furs with Saguenay natives throughout the 16th century.[24]

The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in 1534 at either Gaspé or at 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 convinced King Francis I of France to commission an expedition to find a western route to Cathay (China). Late in 1523, Verrazzano set sail in Dieppe, crossing the Atlantic on a small caravel with 53 men. 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.[25]

In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I. It was the first province of New France. However, initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure. 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. 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 Prairie 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 Algonkian 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.[26] 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 significantly harsher than that found in 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.

The Seven Years' War / Capitulation of New France

In 1753 France began building a series of forts in the contested Ohio Country. They refused to leave after being notified by the British Governor, and in 1754 George Washington launched an attack on the French Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) in the Ohio Valley in an attempt to enforce the British claim to the territory. This frontier battle set the stage for the French and Indian War 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. The British Royal Proclamation of 1763 renamed Canada (part of New France) as the Province of Quebec.

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.

The Quebec Act

After the capture of New France the British implemented a plan to control the French 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 convincing 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.

In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act through which the Quebec people obtained 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.

The Quebec Act, while designed to placate one North American colony, had the opposite effect among the Americans to the south. The act was among the so called "Intolerable Acts" that infuriated the American colonists, leading them to the armed insurrection of the American Revolution.

Quebec during the American Revolutionary War

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.

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.

At the end of the war, 50,000 British Loyalists from America came to Canada and settled amongst a population of 90,000 French people. Many of the loyalist refugees settled into the Eastern Townships of Quebec, in the area of Sherbrooke, Drummondville and Lennoxville.

Patriotes' Rebellion in Lower Canada

Lower-Canada Patriotes Flag.

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.[27] They made a Declaration of Rights with equality for all citizens without discrimination and a Declaration of Independence of Lower-Canada in 1838.[28] 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.

Act of Union

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.

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, the British government merged the two colonial provinces into one Province of Canada in 1840 with the Act of Union.

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.

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.

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).

Quiet Revolution

The conservative government of Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale dominated Quebec politics from 1944 to 1959 with the support of the Roman Catholic church. 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 change 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 and the emergence of a pro-sovereignty movement under former Liberal minister René Lévesque.

Front de libération du Québec

Beginning in 1963, a terrorist group that became known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, robberies and attacks[29] 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.[30] Laporte was strangled with his own rosary beads a few days later. In their published Manifesto, the terrorists 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[31] 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,[32] 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.

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% to 30% — and Lévesque was defeated both times in the riding he contested. 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.

Sixty percent of the Quebec electorate voted against the proposition. Polls showed that the overwhelming majority of English and immigrant Quebecers voted against, and that French Quebecers 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.[33]

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, who had resigned from the federal cabinet. The second attempt, the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, was rejected by 56.7% of all Canadians and 57% of Quebecers. 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.

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% NO to 49.4% YES); a clear majority of French-speaking Quebecers voted in favour of sovereignty.

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 % or 5,500 of its ballots were spoiled, compared to 750 or 1.7% in the general election of 1994) although Quebec's chief electoral officer found no evidence of outright fraud. 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.)

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 "unique society".[34] On October 30, 2003, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously to affirm "that the Quebecers form a nation".[35] On November 27, 2006, the House of Commons passed a symbolic motion moved by Prime Minister Stephen Harper declaring that "this House recognize[s] that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."[36][37][38] However, there is considerable debate and uncertainty over what this means.[39][40]

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. Currently, the population is roughly divided between two political visions for the future of their province.[citation needed] About 40% of Quebecers support the idea of either full sovereignty (completely separating from Canada and forming an independent state) or of sovereignty-association with the rest of Canada, which would entail the sharing of some institutional and governmental responsibilities with the federal government in a manner similar to how the European Union shares a common currency and various other services. On the other hand, a slightly larger faction of Quebecers are satisfied with the status quo and wish their province to remain within a united Canadian federation.

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[41] reasserted the Three Fundamental Values of Quebec Society:

  • Equality between Men and Women
  • Primacy of the French Language
  • Separation of State and Religion
[These Values] are not subject to any arrangement. They cannot be subordinated to any other principle.[42]

Furthermore, Quebec is a free and democratic society that abides by the Rule of Law[43]

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


At 1.74 children per woman,[47] Quebec's 2008 fertility rate is above the Canada-wide rate of 1.59,[48] 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% of the population of Canada, the number of international adoptions in Quebec is the highest of all provinces of Canada. In 2001, 42% of international adoptions in Canada were carried out in Quebec.

Population of Quebec since 1851

Year Population Five-year
% change
% change
Rank among
1851 892,061 n/a n/a 2
1861 1,111,566 n/a 24.6 2
1871 1,191,516 n/a 7.2 2
1881 1,359,027 n/a 14.1 2
1891 1,488,535 n/a 9.5 2
1901 1,648,898 n/a 10.8 2
1911 2,005,776 n/a 21.6 2
1921 2,360,665 n/a 17.8 2
1931 2,874,255 n/a 21.8 2
1941 3,331,882 n/a 15.9 2
1951 4,055,681 n/a 21.8 2
1956 4,628,378 14.1 n/a 2
1961 5,259,211 13.6 29.7 2
1966 5,780,845 9.9 24.9 2
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[49][50]

Ethnic origin

Ethnic origin Population Percent
Canadian 4,474,115 66.2%
French 2,292,450 30.8%
Irish 406,085 5.5%
Italian 299,655 4.0%
English 245,155 3.3%
Native American 219,815 3.0%
Scottish 202,515 2.7%
German 131,795 1.8%
Chinese 91,900 1.2%
Haitian 91,435 1.2%
Spanish 72,090 1.0%
Jewish 71,380 1.0%
Greek 65,985 0.9%
Polish 62,800 0.8%
Lebanese 60,950 0.8%
Portuguese 57,445 0.8%
Belgian 43,275 0.6%
East Indian 41,601 0.6%
Romanian 40,320 0.5%
Russian 40,155 0.5%

Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905) and may total more than 100% due to dual responses.
Only groups with 0.5% or more of respondents are shown.

Aboriginal status

The 2006 census counted a total aboriginal population of 108,425 (1.5%) including 65,085 North American Indians (0.9%), 27,985 Métis (0.4%), and 10,950 Inuit (0.15%). 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.

Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905)[52]

Visible minorities

Nearly 9% of the population of Quebec belongs to a visible minority group. This is a lower percentage than that of British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta, but higher than that of the other six 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% 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 83.4% Catholic Christian (including 83.2% Roman Catholic); 4.7% Protestant Christian (including 1.2% Anglican, 0.7% United Church; and 0.5% Baptist); 1.4% Orthodox Christian (including 0.7% Greek Orthodox); and 0.8% other Christian; as well as 1.5% Muslim; 1.3% Jewish; 0.6% Buddhist; 0.3% Hindu; and 0.1% Sikh. An additional 5.8% of the population said they had no religious affiliation (including 5.6% who stated that they had no religion at all).
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,125,580)[54]


80.1% of the people of Québec speak French as their first language. In total, about 95 % are able to speak French.

The official language of Quebec is French. Quebec is the only Canadian province whose population is mainly francophone, constituting 80.1% (5,877,660) of the population giving a singular response regarding their first language according to the 2006 Census.[55] About 95% of the people reported being able to speak French, either as their first or second language, and for some as a third language.

English is not designated an official language by Quebec law.[56] 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.[57][58]

In 2006, 575,560 (7.7% of population) people in Quebec declared English to be their mother tongue, 744,430 (10.0%) mostly used English as their home language, and 918,955 (12.9% according to the 2001 Census) reported English to be their First Official language spoken.[59][60][61] The English-speaking community or Anglophones are entitled to services in English in the areas of justice, health, and education;[56] services in English are offered in municipalities in which more than half the residents have English as their mother tongue.

Allophones, whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, make up 11.9% (886,280) of the population.[55]

There is a considerable number of people that consider themselves to be bilingual (having a knowledge of French and English). In Quebec, about 40.6% (3,017,860) of the population are bilingual; on the island of Montreal, this proportion grows to 60.0% (1,020,760). Quebec has the highest proportion of bilinguals of any Canadian province. The proportion in the rest of Canada is only about 10.2% (2,430,990) of the population having a knowledge of both of the country's official languages. Overall, 17.4% (5,448,850) of Canadians report being bilingual.[62][63]

Languages other than French on commercial signs are only permitted if French is given marked prominence. While this law is now accepted by most of the population, ongoing arguments on its application has led to some conflicts from time-to-time.[citation needed].

In English Context

French place names in Canada retain their accents in English text. Legitimate exceptions are Montreal and Quebec, although they are not listed as names of pan-Canadian significance. Quebec province, however, is on the list and is shown without an accent in English. 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.

First language

Of the 7,546,131 population 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%
Chinese 63,415 0.9%
Berber 54,145 0.6%
Greek 41,845 0.6%
Portuguese 34,710 0.5%
Romanian 27,180 0.4%
Vietnamese 25,370 0.3%
Russian 19,275 0.3%
German 17,855 0.2%
Polish 17,305 0.2%
Armenian 15,520 0.2%
Persian 14,655 0.2%
Creole 14,060 0.2%
Cree 13,340 0.2%
Punjabi 11,905 0.2%
Tagalog (Filipino) 11,785 0.2%
Tamil 11,570 0.1%
Hindi 9,685 0.1%
Bengali 9,660 0.1%
Inuktitut 9,615 0.1%
Montagnais-Naskapi 9,335 0.1%
Khmer (Cambodian) 8,250 0.1%
Yiddish 8,225 0.1%
Hungarian (Magyar) 7,750 0.1%
Marathi 6,050 0.1%
Turkish 5,865 0.1%
Ukrainian 5,395 0.1%
Atikamekw 5,245 0.1%
Bulgarian 5,215 0.1%
Lao 4,785 0.1%
Hebrew 4,110 0.1%
Korean 3,970 0.1%
Dutch 3,620 0.05%

Numerous other languages were also counted, but only languages with more than 3,000 native speakers are shown.
(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses)[64]


View of Montreal from the Mount-Royal belvedere.

The St. Lawrence River Valley is a fertile agricultural region, producing dairy products, fruit, vegetables, foie gras, maple syrup (of which Quebec is the world's largest producer), fish, and livestock.

North of the St. Lawrence River Valley, the territory of Quebec has significant resources in its coniferous forests, lakes, and rivers—pulp and paper, lumber, and hydroelectricity (of which Quebec is also the world's largest producer through Hydro-Québec)[65][66] are still some of the province's most important industries.

There is a significant concentration of high-tech industries around Montreal, including aerospace companies such as aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, the jet engine company Pratt & Whitney, the flight simulator builder CAE, defence contractor Lockheed Martin, Canada and communications company Bell Canada. In the video game industry, large video game companies such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have studios in Montreal.[67]


The Lieutenant Governor represents Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. 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 Council of Ministers is appointed.

Until 1968, the Quebec legislature was bicameral, 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-Quebecers can be inducted as well) for outstanding achievements.

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:

At the supralocal level:

At the local level:

Population centres

Largest Metropolitan Areas in Quebec[68]
Rank Core City Administrative Region Pop. Rank Core City Administrative Region Pop.

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

Sports teams

Former sports teams


The Fleurdelisé leads a ship to harbour near Quebec City.

Coat of arms

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".[69]


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.
  • Since 1987 the avian emblem of Quebec has been the snowy owl.[7]
  • An official tree, the yellow birch (bouleau jaune, merisier), symbolises the importance Quebecers give to the forests. The tree is known for the variety of its uses and commercial value, as well as its autumn colours.[7]

In 1998 the Montreal Insectarium sponsored a poll to choose an official insect. The White Admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis)[70] 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

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.

See also


  1. ^ Titre I – Le statut de la langue française – Chapitre I – La langue officielle du Québec.
  2. ^ It is sometimes spelled "Quebecker"
  3. ^ The term Québécois (feminine: Québécoise), which is usually reserved for francophone Quebecers, 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).
  4. ^ Statistics Canada. "Canada's population estimates 2009-26-03". http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/090326/t090326a2-eng.htm. Retrieved 209-07-04. 
  5. ^ Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by province and territory.
  6. ^ "Addressing Guidelines". Canada Post. http://www.canadapost.ca/tools/pg/manual/PGaddress-e.asp#1380608. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "National Flag and Emblems". Services Québec. http://www.gouv.qc.ca/portail/quebec/pgs/commun/portrait?id=portrait.drapeau&lang=en. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Quebec." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. 2003. (ISBN 0-87779-809-5) New York: Merriam-Webster, Inc."
  10. ^ Quebec is located in the eastern part of Canada, but is also historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada (with Ontario).
  11. ^ "Community highlights for Nord-du-Québec". Statistics Canada. 2006. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/profiles/community/Details/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=CD&Code1=2499&Geo2=PR&Code2=24&Data=Count&SearchText=Nord-du-Qu%E9bec&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=24&B1=All&Custom=. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  12. ^ "Routine Proceedings: The Québécois". Hansard of 39th Parliament, 1st Session; No. 087. Parliament of Canada. 2006-11-22. http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=39&Ses=1&DocId=2528725#SOB-1788846. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  13. ^ "House of Commons passes Quebec nation motion". CTV News. 2006-11-27. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061127/quebec_motion_061127?s_name=&no_ads=. Retrieved 2009-10-03.  "The motion is largely seen as a symbolic recognition of the Québécois nation."
  14. ^ Poitras, François (2004-01). "Regional Economies Special Report Micro-Economic Policy Analysis" (PDF). Industry Canada. http://www.ic.gc.ca/epic/site/eas-aes.nsf/vwapj/srreo200401e.PDF/$FILE/srreo200401e.PDF. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
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  17. ^ From Treaty of Paris, 1763: "His Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannick Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants".
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  • Armony, Victor (2007). Le Québec expliqué aux immigrants. Montréal, VLB Éditeur, 208 pages, ISBN 978-2-89005-985-6.
  • Lacoursière, Jacques, Jean Provencher et Denis Vaugeois (2000). Canada-Québec 1534–2000. Sillery, Septentrion. 591 pages, (ISBN 2-89448-156-X)
  • Jacques Lacoursière, Histoire du Québec, Des origines à nos jours, Édition Nouveau Monde, 2005, ISBN 2-84736-113-8
  • Linteau, Paul-André (1989). Histoire du Québec contemporain – Volume 1; De la Confédération à la crise (1867–1929), Histoire, coll. «Boréal Compact» n° 14, 758 pages, (ISBN 2-89052-297-8)
  • Linteau, Paul-André (1989). Histoire du Québec contemporain – Volume 2; Le Québec depuis 1930, Histoire, coll. «Boréal Compact» n° 15, 834 pages, (ISBN 2-89052-298-5)
  • Québec. Institut de la statistique du Québec (2007). Le Québec chiffres en main, édition 2007[pdf]. 56 pages, (ISBN 2-550-49444-7)
  • Venne, Michel (dir.) (2006). L'annuaire du Québec 2007. Montréal, Fides. 455 pages, (ISBN 2-7621-2746-7)

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Quebec article)

From Wikitravel

Chateau Frontenac
Chateau Frontenac

For the city bearing the same name see Quebec City.

Quebec [1] (French: Québec) is a province of Canada, the largest in size and second to Ontario in population. Predominantly French-speaking (French being the official language), Quebec is located in the east of Canada and is situated east of Ontario; to the west of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; finally, to the south of the territory of Nunavut. The capital of Quebec is Quebec City, its largest city Montreal.

Québec is unique among tourist destinations. Its French heritage does set the province apart, and it is one of the only areas in North America to have preserved its Francophone culture. Its European feel and its history, culture and warmth have made Québec a favourite tourist destination both nationally and internationally.


Discussion on creating new top-level regions for Quebec is in progress. If you know the area or have an opinion, please share your thoughts on the talk page.

Québec is made up of 69 separate tourist regions:

Château Frontenac in Québec city, Québec
Château Frontenac in Québec city, Québec

The three largest cities in Québec are Montréal, Québec City and Gatineau.

  • Québec was a French colony for more than two centuries, between the arrival of Jacques Cartier in 1534 and Governor Vaudreuil’s capitulation to the English in 1760.
  • It is the only province in Canada where French is the sole official language, and it is one of the rare former French colonies in North America where French is still spoken.
  • Québec is Canada’s second most populous province. It has 7 million inhabitants, including 5.6 million (approx. 80%) whose mother tongue is French.
  • French is the mother tongue of 82% of Quebecers, and English is the mother tongue of 10% of the population. The remaining 8% is divided among some 30 languages such as, in order of importance, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Greek. However, it is very easy to travel in Québec speaking only English, especially in Montreal, and to a lesser extent, Quebec City. In fact, over 40% of the population is bilingual. In major cities like Montréal, this percentage is as high as 64%, and 16% of the population speaks a third language.
  • The majority of the population lives in the vicinity of the St. Lawrence River, in the southern portion of the province. The population is largely urbanized; close to 50% of Quebecers live in the metropolitan area of Montréal.
A fall landscape in Québec
A fall landscape in Québec

There are four distinct seasons in Québec—spring, summer, fall and winter offering a wonderful view of the nature and variety of activities.

  • Summer (end of June to end of August): Summers in Québec are hot but the season offers many festivals and outdoor activities.
  • Fall (September to end of October): The leaves change color in Québec, creating breathtakingly colorful landscapes.
  • Winter (November to end of March): Québec’s extremely low temperatures and abundance of snowfall makes skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowmobiling and dogsledding possible. In December, Québec’s vast outdoors turns into a snow-covered white dreamland. February marks the maple syrup festivities in the sugar shacks, as the maple trees awaken from the winter cold and prepare for the forthcoming springtime.
  • Spring (April to end of June): While April may still be relatively cold at times and another large snowfall can occur, April feels like winter is at, long last, over. As May approaches, nature awakens, trees start to bloom and the air warms, welcoming everybody to a magnificent, colorful outdoor scenery.


Canada is officially bilingual, meaning that most federal government official documents, signs, and tourist information will be in both French and English. Staff at retail shops, restaurants and tourist attractions will often speak English, especially in Montreal. Smaller establishments, especially outside Montreal, may not offer services in English, but will do their best to accommodate travelers. About 8% of the province's residents speak English as a mother tongue, and an additional 31% consider that they can get by speaking it.

The official language of Quebec, however, is French. Provincial government signs (highway signs, government buildings, hospitals, etc.) generally post in French only. Tourist information is offered in English and other languages. The visibility of English and other languages is restricted by law except for English-speaking media, educational institutions, and cultural venues (theatres, cinemas, bookstores). Most businesses will not post in English except in tourist areas and localities with a large English-speaking population. Language is a very sensitive subject politically, particularly in Montreal. If you cannot read a sign in a store or restaurant, most sales people will be sympathetic and help you find your way. Most restaurants in tourist areas will supply English menus if asked.

82% of Québec’s population is francophone, but English is also commonly spoken, particularly in the province’s major cities such as Montréal where the percentage is 24%. For French-speaking people from elsewhere, the French spoken in Québec is often difficult to understand. Books have been published on Québec expressions, and these may be worth consulting if you are planning to stay in Québec for any length of time.

Isolated from France for centuries, and unaffected by that country's 19th-century language standardization, Quebec has developed its own "accent" of French. The continental variety -- called "international French" or français international here -- is well-understood, and something closely approximating it is spoken by broadcasters and many businesspeople. While Quebecers understand European French, European tourists may feel lost until they grow accustomed to the local accent(s).

There are a few main differences between Quebecois French and continental French-from-France. One is that in Quebec it's relatively common to tutoyer (use the familiar tu second-person pronoun instead of vous when saying you) for all, regardless of age or status (though there are common exceptions to this in the workplace and the classroom). The interrogative particle -tu is used to form yes-or-no questions, as in On y va-tu? "Shall we go?" Finally, there are a number of vocabulary words that differ, particularly in very informal contexts (for example, un char for a car, rather than une voiture), and some common expressions (C'est beau for "OK" or "fine"). Overall, however, pronunciation marks the most significant difference between Quebec and European French.

Probably the most puzzling difference in Quebec's French is that one will often sacrer (blaspheme) rather than using scatological or sexual curse words. Terms like baptême (baptism) or viarge (deformation of vierge, i.e. virgin) have become slangy and taboo over the centuries in this once fervently Catholic culture. Hostie de tabarnac! ("communion wafer of the tabernacle!") or just tabarnak! is one of the most obscene things to say, and more polite versions like tabarnouche or tabarouette are equivalent to "darn" or "fudge!"

Although sacre may seem funny, be assured that Quebeckers, particularly the older generation, do take it seriously. Don't sacre any time you don't really mean it! But be sure that younger Quebeckers may be fond of teaching you a little sacrage lesson if you ask them.

English-speaking Quebeckers are generally bilingual and reside mostly in the Montreal area, where 25% of the population speaks English at home. Aside from the occasional borrowing of local French terms (e.g. "dépanneur" as opposed to corner store or convenience store.), their English differs little from standard Canadian English, including the occasional "eh" at the end of the sentence; accents are influenced heavily by ethnicity, with distinct Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Greek inflections heard in Montreal neighborhoods. Conversations between anglophones and francophones often slip unconsciously between English and French as a mutual show of respect. This can be confusing if you're not bilingual, and a look of puzzlement will generally signal a switch back to a language everyone can understand. Although English-speakers will usually greet strangers in French, it is considered pretentious and overzealous for a native English-speaker to continue a conversation in French with other English speakers (though two francophones will easily converse together in English when in a room of anglophones). Local English-speakers may also refer to street names by their English names as oppose to posted French names (for example, Mountain street for rue de la Montagne, Pine avenue for avenue des Pins).

See also: French phrasebook

Get in

By plane

There are flights to Québec from major cities in North America, Europe and Asia. Montréal is a 70-minute flight from New York and is less than 6 hours and 45 minutes by air from London or Paris.

Montréal has two international airports: Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, located on the island, about 30 minutes from downtown, and Mirabel airport, located on the North Shore, 40 minutes from downtown. Mirabel is no longer in use.

Air Canada serves many U.S. and European cities with departures from Montréal. There are daily flights to Paris, London and Frankfurt. Some flights also serve Québec City (flights to Paris every Saturday).

Air France operates three daily flights between Paris and Montréal during the summer and two flights during the winter.

Low-cost flights (charters) are available at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

You can also fly directly to Québec City. It’s often simply a matter of getting information from a travel agency or carrier. While Paris is the only European city linked with Québec City, there are regular flights from Toronto, New York (Newark), Chicago and Detroit.

By boat

The days when immigrants arrived in Québec by boat are long over, but visitors with a bit of time can enjoy any one of the many cruises available along the St. Lawrence River.

Numerous cruise lines offer routes that sail the Saint Lawrence [2]. Cruise companies include these routes in their Canada & New England destinations. The port of embarkation and debarkation for most of these itineraries are New York, Boston, Montréal and Québec City. Depending on the individual cruise, their itineraries include stops in Montréal, Québec City, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Îles, the Gaspésie, and the Îles de la Madeleine.

C.T.M.A. [3] operates a daily cruise-ferry during the summer (and less frequently at other times of the year) from Souris, P.E.I. to Cap-aux-Meules, Qué. Labrador Marine [4] operates up to three ferries daily (no service January through April) from St. Barbe, Nfld. to Blanc-Sablon, Qué.

By train

From the US, the Amtrak [5] "Adirondack" runs from New York City several times a day, with stops connecting to bus routes serving upstate New York. The trip is a scenic 6 hours along the Hudson River, but be prepared for delays at the border that can tack on 2-3 hours to the trip.

VIA Rail Canada (www.viarail.ca), the federal passenger railway, operates numerous trains daily from both Toronto and Ottawa to Montréal, with multiple connections to Québec City. They also run a daily train from Halifax, Nova Scotia, stopping in Moncton, New Brunswick into Montréal. A more scenic route follows the Gaspe Peninsula. Significant discounts are available to youths and to university students carrying as ISIC Card (International Student Identity Card).

Tshiuetin Rail Transportation operates two trains weekly from western Labrador (Newfoundland) to Sept-Îles, Qué. and Schefferville, Qué.

By bus

Adirondack Trailways [6] and Greyhound Lines [7] operate frequent motorcoach service from New York. Vermont Transit [8] and Greyhound Lines [9] operate frequent motorcoach service from Boston.

Coach Canada [10] operates frequent motorcoach service from Toronto into Montréal. Voyageur [11], an affiliate of Greyhound Canada [12], operates hourly motorcoach service from Ottawa into Montréal. There is also limited transportation service from Ottawa into Grand-Remous, Que. via Voyageur [13], as well as from North Bay, Ontario. into Rouyn-Noranda via Autobus Maheux [14].

By car

From Toronto, there is only one option: highway 401 (six hours by car). From the United States, visitors can arrive from New York City (six hours by car), or from Vermont. Acadian Lines [15] operates two trips daily by motorcoach from Halifax, N.S. and Moncton, N.B. into Rivières-du-Loup, Qué., and then continuing onward to Québec, Qué. and Montréal, Qué. Orléans Express [16] operates two trips daily by motorcoach from Campbellton, N.B. into Rimouski, Qué., and then continuing onward to Québec, Qué. and Montréal, Qué.

Get around

Québec has a vast road and air network that makes it easy to travel between cities. You can travel by car, bus, plane, train, bike or boat [17].

By plane

Using air transportation to travel between the different cities in Québec is not recommended. But air travel is indispensable for getting around northern Québec (except for the Baie-James region, which is served by a paved highway), because there are no highways or railways serving these remote areas.

By train

The railway network is used mainly for freight trains; it links Montréal, Québec City, the Gaspé Peninsula, Toronto, New York, and the Atlantic provinces, in Acadia. However, this transportation method is fairly slow because there are no high-speed trains in Canada. The bus is a sometimes better alternative given that there are more daily connections.

By bus

The main way to travel between cities is by bus. The bus network is very well developed, particularly for connections between Québec City-Montréal, Ottawa-Montréal and Toronto-Montréal.

By car

Renting a car and driving around Canada poses no particular problem, even in the cities. However, it is best to arrange the rental from where you are coming. Read the rental contract carefully, particularly the section on insurance. Often, you can rent a car in one city and return it in another without prohibitive costs. Rental companies are Viau (Montréal), Enterprise, ...

Québec has a good network of toll-free highways connecting all the main cities and surrounding areas.

Driving in Québec—in the cities and on the highways—is much like driving in Paris. This means drivers have to be able to react quickly behind the wheel, and watch for other cars changing lanes and merging onto the highway from access ramps. Also, beware of people passing on the right, which is a common occurrence. Signaling lane changes and turns is practically unheard of, on highways and elsewhere alike. A note for European tourists: in Québec, the highway speed limit is 100 km/h (generally tolerated up to 120 km/h when passing a radar).

The Québec highway code is theoretically similar to that practiced in most of Europe, albeit poor training, low examination standards, and general lack of enforcement (except for stop signs, alcohol, and speeding) result in most of the driving population to forget it the moment they sit behind a wheel. A couple of differences are that traffic lights are often located across the intersection, not at the side, and you are allowed to turn right at a red light except on the Island of Montréal or where otherwise indicated. At stop signs, every one advances in turn, based on the order in which the cars arrived at the stop sign. Roundabouts are very rare, and where they exists, their usage is pretty chaotic.

By bike

Québec’s regions boast an impressive network of bicycle paths, totalling more than 3,400 km (2,111 mi). This means you can visit several regions by bicycle and find local accommodations near the bike paths (Route verte [18]).

By boat

Numerous cruises are also available on the St. Lawrence River, one of the world’s biggest waterways [19].

With AmigoExpress, Allo-Stop or Quebec-Express

For people travelling in small groups and wanting to keep their costs down (primarily students), Amigoexpress, Allo Stop and Quebec-Express are a great alternative to any of the transportation methods mentioned above. They are ride-sharing networks serving most of Québec’s major cities. To access this service, simply register online (or at one of the offices (registration costs $6) for Allo stop). Then you can reserve your spot in a car belonging to someone who is travelling to the same destination as you—sometimes for up to half the price of the bus. The only inconvenience with this system is that it doesn’t serve every city, so some areas are not accessible using this method.

By motorcycle

Québec’s winding, scenic secondary roads are ideal for a motorcycle ride. However, in southern Québec, the best season for travelling by motorcycle is limited to between May and October. In remote areas, the nicest season is two months shorter than that, running from June to September. In the last few years, taking to Québec’s roads by motorcycle has become increasingly popular. The province boasts several motorcycle clubs [2], and visiting tourists can rent motorcycles.

Québec’s motorcyclists share a special fraternity and team spirit. If your motorcycle breaks down, you certainly won’t remain stranded on the roadside for long before another motorcyclist stops to help. So don’t be surprised to see other motorcyclists wave to you on the road or spontaneously engage in conversation at a rest stop.

Other information

VIA Rail [20] offers train service along the St. Lawrence river, up the Saguenay and in the Gaspé Peninsula.

Within cities, public transit tends to be good by North American standards, though showing the signs of funding cuts in recent years.

"La route verte" [21] comprises 3,600 kilometres of bikeways linking the various regions of Québec.

  • Provincial Parks, [22]. Quebec has 22 provincial parks (known as National parks in French and in official English documentation). They vary from smallish, easily accessible preserves to massive tracts of remote near-wildnerness and everything in between.
  • Jardins de Metis (Reford Gardens), 200, route 132, Grand-Métis (located on route 132 mid-way between Rimouski and Matane), +1 418-775-2222 (fax: +1 418-775-6201), [23]. See Website for hours. An internationally renowned center for garden art and design. $16 Adults, $8 Young Adult.  edit
  • Montmorency Falls. A beautiful natural waterfall right outside Québec City, taller than Niagra Falls.  edit


Québec offers many activities including sports and outdoor recreation, cultural and natural sites, festivals and events.

Sliding in Québec city, Québec
Sliding in Québec city, Québec

Sites and attractions

Québec has a number of sites and attractions.

  • Casinos: Québec has three casinos: Montréal, Charlevoix and Lac-Leamy
Reford Gardens in Gaspésie, Québec
Reford Gardens in Gaspésie, Québec
  • Cruises: Québec offers a variety of cruises, whether for whale watching, travelling the St. Lawrence River or touring the waterways.
  • Gardens: the Montréal Botanical Garden, the Insectarium, Reford Gardens and the international garden festival in Gaspésie are among Québec’s garden attractions.
  • Museums: Québec has over 400 museums.
  • Theme parks: La Ronde, the Old Port of Montréal and of Québec City, the Village québécois d’Antan, Granby Zoo
  • Religious heritage: St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Québec.

Festivals and Events

Quebecers are known for their festive spirit and taste for celebration. This explains the close to 400 festivals held each year in Québec. [24]. Québec’s events are varied, from sports to cultural events and festivals, and attract visitors from around the world.

For all Québec events and festivals, check here: [25].

Cultural events


  • Montréal International Jazz Festival [26]: With over 500 concerts, 350 of them presented free outdoors, the Montréal International Jazz Festival features the top Canadian and international ambassadors of jazz (end of June to beginning of July).
  • Just For Laughs Festival [27]: Montréal’s Just For Laughs Festival is the largest comedy festival in the world and attracts over 2 million spectators each year (July).
  • Francofolies de Montréal [28]: The largest Francophone music festival, the Francofolies de Montréal features over 1,000 artists, singing stars, musicians and emerging talent from some 20 countries around the world (end of July to beginning of August).
Just For Laughs Festival, Montréal, Québec
Just For Laughs Festival, Montréal, Québec
  • Les Concerts Loto-Québec de l'OSM dans les Parcs [29]: These three concerts by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) are presented in Montréal parks in a family atmosphere (June and July).
  • L'International des Feux Loto-Québec [30]: The International des Feux Loto-Québec presented at La Ronde draws the largest pyrotechnics companies from around the world. Each show lasts 30 minutes, and the fireworks competition is the most prestigious and largest in the world (every Wednesday and Saturday evening from the end of June to the end of July).
  • International Flora/Le festival de jardins de Montréal [31]: The International Flora lets you visit the loveliest gardens on the festival site itself (end of June to beginning of September).
  • Festival international Nuits d'Afrique [32]: The international-calibre Festival Nuits d'Afrique features music from Africa, the West Indies and the Caribbean, along with workshops, an African market and exotic cuisine (month of July).

Québec City

  • Québec City Summer Festival [33]: For 40 years, the Québec City Summer Festival has been presenting hundreds of artists from around the world on ten sites around the capital, all easily accessible on foot (beginning of July).
  • Loto-Québec International Fireworks Competition [34]: This international musical fireworks competition takes place at the Montmorency Falls (end of July to beginning of August).
  • Plein Art Québec [35]: Over 100 craftspeople gather at the Plein Art Québec festival to exhibit Québec arts and craft creations in ceramics, textile and jewellery (beginning of August).
  • SAQ New France Festival [36]: A celebration of the history of the first Europeans to arrive in North America, the New France Festival presents over 1,000 artistic events every year in a journey back to the past in the heart of Old Québec (beginning of August).
  • Quebec City International Festival of Military Bands [37]: Since 1998, the Quebec City International Festival of Military Bands is the place to go at the end of August if we like Military Music. Bands from Canada and also from all around the world arrive in Quebec City every year to offer spectacular performances.
  • Quebec City Winter Carnival [38] is the biggest winter carnival in the world. The festival typically starts on the last Friday of January or the first Friday of February and it continues for 17 days, usually with close to one million participants every year.


  • Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival [39]: One of the most popular events in Eastern Canada, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival features hot air balloons and shows (beginning of September).
  • Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light [40]: The Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light is a competition that crowns the champion of the international circuit of musical fireworks competitions over water (end of July to beginning of August).

Sports events


  • Rogers Cup [41]: For tennis fans, the Rogers Cup is one of nine Association of Tennis Professionals tournaments on the Masters circuit (beginning of August).
  • The Presidents Cup [42]: A prestigious golf tournament, the Presidents Cup presents the best international players at The Royal Montréal Golf Club (end of September).
  • Montréal Bike Fest [43]: A number of cycling activities take place during the Montréal Bike Fest including the Tour de l'île de Montréal, the largest gathering of cyclists in North America (end of May to beginning of June).

Country routes

To truly get a feel for the “authentic” Québec, take one or several of the tourist routes that run alongside the St. Lawrence or criss-cross the countryside not far from the major axial highways. Clearly indicated by a series of blue signs, these routes are designed to showcase the cultural and natural treasures of their respective regions.

Québec cuisine
Québec cuisine
  • Québec’s cuisine derives its rich flavour from a blend of influences. It has a solid French culinary base and is enriched by the contribution of the Amerindian peoples and the different cultural communities that have made the province their home. This blend of culinary cultures is what makes Québec cuisine what it is today. Many quality regional products are also used in its cuisine. Terroir products that grace Québec tables include ice cider, micro-brewed beer, wine and over 100 different varieties of cheese.
  • Another unique feature of Québec is the sugar shack (cabane à sucre), a family culinary tradition of eating maple products to the rhythms of Québec folklore. You can go as a group at the beginning of spring, during March and April. Most sugar bushes also sell maple products on site (maple butter, taffy and syrup) at very attractive prices. If this formula interests you, be sure to reserve in advance, and—in true tradition—go in as large a group as possible. It’s customary for several families to go together, but there’s no obligation to do so, particularly seeing as people rarely travel in groups of 50! Certain sugar bushes are open year round.
  • Others Québec culinary specialities include: shepherd’s pie, poutine, sugar pie, pouding chômeur (a sponge cake with a maple syrup sauce), maple syrup, baked beans, tourtière (a meat pie), cretons (a pork spread with onions and spices), etc.
  • Maple syrup (French: sirop d'érable) is the sticky, drippy giant on Quebec's culinary landscape. Boiled down from sap of the maple tree in sugar shacks (cabanes à sucre) around the province, it's got a more tangy flavor than the corn-based pancake syrup you may be used to. Different types of candies are obtained by pushing the boiling process further and are popular gifts during springtime. Also don't miss taffy-on-the-snow (tire sur neige). In Quebec, the syrup is used for more than just pancakes, though. You can find it as a glaze for pork and beef, mixed in with baked beans (fèves au lard), or in desserts like pouding chômeur ("welfare cake") or tarte au sucre (sugar pie). It's also made into loose sugar and candies. Syrup is on sale practically anywhere you want to go, but if you really want to take some home, stop into a farmer's market or a grocery store rather than a tourist shop. You can get the same high-quality syrup as at the souvenir stand for about half the price.
A mouth-wateringly delicious-looking plate of poutine
A mouth-wateringly delicious-looking plate of poutine
  • No visit to Quebec is complete without at least one plate of poutine. This unique dish is a plate of French fries, drowned in gravy, and topped with chewy white cheddar cheese curds . There are variations on the theme -- adding chicken, beef, vegetables or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato meat sauce (poutine italienne). Poutine can be found in practically any fast-food chain restaurant in Quebec, but higher-quality fare can be found at more specialized poutine shops. Local restaurant chains are your best bet. One great spot for trying out poutine is Ashton (in the Québec City area), where, in January only, you will get a discount based on the outdoor temperature (the colder it is outside, the cheaper the poutine!). The origin of poutine is still under debate, but it was first served in Drummondville in 1964, at the Roy Jucep restaurant owned by Mr. Roy. Since then, the surrounding areas have been trying to lay claim to its creation.
  • Befitting the province's sub-arctic climate, Quebecois cuisine favors rich, hot foods with more calories than you want to know about. Tourtière du Lac-Saint-Jean for instance is a deep-dish pie, typically from the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, made of various meats (usually beef and pork, often including game, cut into small cubes) and diced potatoes, baked together in a flakey pastry shell.
  • A great place to eat is La Grolla at 815, côte d'Abraham. A very cosy atmosphere and impeccably friendly service together with scrumptious food makes this a perfect place to refuel after a long day of sightseeing. A great selection of fondues and raclette as well as other dishes.
Shopping in the Petit Champlain district of Old Québec in Québec City
Shopping in the Petit Champlain district of Old Québec in Québec City
  • Prices are marked without tax (unless otherwise indicated). At the cash, a 5% goods and services tax (GST – federal tax) and a 7.5% provincial sales tax (QST), i.e. 12.875%, will be added to the marked price. Certain items are not taxed at the same rate. This is the case with most foods, which are best bought in quantities of six when sold individually (otherwise, they are considered immediate consumption and taxed).
  • Since April 2007, tourists can no longer obtain reimbursement of the QST.
  • Tipping: Like elsewhere in North America, servers in restaurants and bars earn only a modest salary. This is why tipping is systematic when ordering in bars or restaurants (tipping does not apply to take-out food). A tip should be about 15% of the pre-tax price. Tips also apply to taxis, drinking establishments, restaurants and hair salons.
  • Alcohol and tobacco: Alcoholic drinks and cigarettes are subject to specific taxes. Wines and spirits are particularly expensive: up to three times the European price for French wine, for instance (and 50% more when ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant, hence the appeal of the “bring your own wine” formula). It is advisable to buy local wines, which are very comparable to French wines and less expensive. This enables you to support local products, which need it given the small market. Cigarettes cost between $7 and $9.50 a pack (a pack contains 25 cigarettes). Canadian cigarettes have quite a different taste than U.S. or French brands. Keep in mind, though, that since May 31, 2006, smoking is prohibited in all public places in Québec, including bars, restaurants and theatres.


Legal drinking age in Quebec is 18.

Quebecers’ favourite alcohol is beer given the high taxes on wine. The province boasts several very good microbreweries. Here is a list of the best brew pubs in Québec by region. In Montréal, there is Dieu du Ciel!, L’Amère à Boire, Le Cheval Blanc and Brutopia. In Québec City, there is La Barberie and L'Inox. One of the best is Le Broumont in Bromont, near the foot of the ski hill. If you visit Sherbrooke, be sure to stop in at the Mare au Diable. In the Mauricie region, there is Le Trou du Diable (Shawinigan)[44] and Gambrinus (Trois-Rivières). For anyone wishing to visit the stunning Charlevoix region, there is the Charlevoix microbrewery in Baie St-Paul. Liquor and wine are sold mainly at Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) stores, but beer and wine (often of a lesser quality) can also be found at supermarkets and convenience stores. In the country, good quality wine and liquor can be found at the grocery store. The sale of alcohol is prohibited after 11:00 p.m. at convenience stores and supermarkets, and may not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Bars are open until 3:00 a.m. (except in Gatineau where they close at 2:00 a.m. to avoid an influx of partiers when the bars close in Ottawa).

Beer and a so-so selection of wine are available at most grocery stores and depanneurs (corner markets), but by law distilled spirits are only available at provincial stores called the SAQ [45] (pronounced "ess-ay-cue" or "sack"). The SAQ also has a higher-quality selection of wine, mostly European, Australian, or South American-- there's a peculiar blind spot for California vintages, though British Columbian wines are plentiful, unlike in Ontario's LCBO stores. Although closing time in bars is 3AM, most SAQs close between 6 and 9PM (some Express SAQ may close at 10 or 11PM) , and sales of other alcohol are banned after 11PM.

Quebec is blessed with some of the finest beers on the North American continent. As in the rest of Canada, they are higher-proof than in the US; alcohol content starts around 5-6% but 8-12% is not unusual.


Quebec offers the usual range of North American accommodations including hostels, chain motels, and high-end resort hotels. Particular to Quebec are Auberge, literally "Inn" but range from faux-lodge style motels to large B&Bs and Gites, guest houses, sometimes with only a single room for rent.

Stay safe

Quebec is generally a safe place, with the exception of a few "bad" neighborhoods of Montreal and Quebec City. Visitors should use common sense when traveling, as they would anywhere else.


On paper, Quebec has an excellent autoroute (freeway) system. All of the province's major cities are connected by Highway. However, in practice, most of the highways are extremely poorly maintained. Deep pot-holes and large cracks cover most boulevards, as well as the exits and entrances to highways. This is especially true in the Montreal area. Roads in general are not as well maintained as they may be in the United States or in Ontario.

Provincial legislation leaves any damage caused to vehicles by the state of the road to be at the vehicle owner's expense.

Though not as aggressive as many out-of-province visitors say they are, Quebec drivers are certainly not calm. Posted speed limits are rarely obeyed, as police will only hand out fines to extremely dangerous speeders. On highways, while the limit is 100 km/h, most Quebeckers will be angry at you if you don't drive around 120 km/h. If you are used to driving at a slower pace, you may find angry drivers honking at you for clogging traffic. Be aware that turning right on a red light is illegal on the whole Montreal island, and police will not hesitate to hand you a ticket if you are caught. However, off the island of Montreal, turning right on red is legal unless indicated otherwise at the intersection in question.

  • It is considered respectful to refer to Quebec citizens as Quebecer (Québécois) and not French-Canadian. Most citizens of Quebec who are not separatists still feel more Quebecois than Canadian.
  • Generally, expressing yourself in French is considered by Quebecers as a sign of respect and is much appreciated. People working in the tourism industry often speak several languages. Many young people (especially in the Montreal area) are perfectly bilingual and will speak in English if they see you struggling. Don't be afraid to ask for a French lesson; most locals will be happy to teach you a couple of words.
  • Québec’s language is key to the province’s cultural identity, and its inhabitants battled for several centuries to preserve it against the odds. Quebecers have heard it all when it comes to making fun of their linguistic particularities, so it’s best to avoid this. In Québec, "French from France" isn’t "real French"; on the contrary, it is associated with a foreign accent. Quebecers view it as an insult to be told they don’t speak "comprehensible" French, or to be asked whether they can speak "proper" French. Avoid this.
  • Like in several Canadian provinces, it is officially prohibited to smoke inside public buildings, including restaurants, bars and theatres. It is also forbidden to smoke within a nine-metre (30-foot) perimeter of the doors to public buildings (there is often a visible line delineating this perimeter in front of hospitals, CLSCs, etc.) and it is forbidden to smoke anywhere on school property.
  • The issue of sovereignty is an extremely complicated and emotional issue that is almost sure to cause hard feelings if you bring it up. Also, note that some residents who aren't souverainistes seriously speak of Quebec as a nation with national parks, national assembly, and national capital. To further complicate matters, there are innocuous local translations for the word "national(e)" that do not contemplate a sovereign nation-state, such as the Canadian Parliament's acknowledgment of a Quebecois nation. The discussion of Quebecois politics is therefore best left to Quebecois and Canadians.
  • Although Quebec is part of Canada, you'll see few maple leaf flags, and the Quebec media outlets don't emphasize connections with the ROC ("Rest of Canada"). Some Quebecers consider the display of the Canadian flag to be an inflammatory symbol of Canadian "dominance"; others see displays of the Quebec flag as overzealous ethnic nationalism. Phrases like here in Canada or as a Canadian may make your conversational partner ill at ease. Depending of the region, very few people will celebrate Canada Day (July 1st) but Quebec's National (la Saint-Jean Baptiste on June 24th) is probably the most important party throughout the province. In fact, the holiday of the first of July is used by many Quebecers for moving to their new apartment or house!
  • Note also that Quebec is not France. Jokes about French stereotypes (Jerry Lewis, poor hygiene, eating frogs' legs, and especially "surrendering") will bring puzzled stares, or at best show that you have no idea which continent you're on. And comparing Quebecois culture and language unfavourably to France's is probably not a path to go down, either. Although Quebec and France have many ties, the Quebecois typically regard themselves as a distinct culture quite separate from the country that "abandoned" them three centuries ago.



Most hotels and hostels offer internet access and many have onsite computers for guests to use. Montreal has a free WiFi program called Ile Sans Fil (Wireless Island), look for the sticker in cafe and restaurant windows.

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Quebec




Proper noun

Québec m.

  1. Quebec

Derived terms



  • IPA: /keˈbɛk/

Proper noun

Québec n.

  1. Quebec (city)

This German entry was created from the translations listed at Quebec. It may be less reliable than other entries, and may be missing parts of speech or additional senses. Please also see Québec in the German Wiktionary. This notice will be removed when the entry is checked. (more information) November 2008

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