French Heritage and History in the Canadian Province of Quebec

Quebec Province lies on the eastern shores of Canada as one of the largest in the country. French, as the official language, rules the picturesque frame of the historical scene.

Quebec Province got the name by its capital, the city of Quebec. The name Quebec means „straight, narrow“ in the Mi’kmaq language, the ancient language of the Indians of Canada. More than one million lakes and rivers scatter along the natural treasure of Quebec Province. Its delicate charm belongs to the stunning nature, multiculturalism and French spirit.

The colourful palette of art, literature and cuisine created the culture where thousands of tastes and customs dwell. The Western World has shaped this multicultural lifestyle in the last hundred years.

The History of Quebec

The history of Quebec starts in 1608. when the French explorer Samuel de Champlain established New France. Preceding this official beginning, Jacques Cartier made a try to establish the French colony at the Indian village of Stadacona. Jacques Cartier was the first European that visited Canadian territory.

The coat of arms of the Quebec Province and its vibrant colours
The coat of arms of the Quebec Province and its vibrant colours- Credit:

Quebec couldn’t keep its independence on the long trails falling into British rule in 1629, during the Anglo-French War. France regained the territory already in 1632 by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

The final British success to conquer the Quebec area happened at the famous Battle of Quebec at the Plains of Abraham in 1759. After the spectacular Seven Year’s War, the Treaty of Paris made a powerful decision in 1763. Great Britain got possession of French territory in North America.

British North America and Further Independence of Quebec

The Battle of Quebec in 1775 was an attempt of American power on the British territory of Quebec. This poured the new life of French Canadiens, retaining their language, cultural and religious significance. The Quebec Act in 1774 framed these rights. Quebec City became a centre of French culture. The Quebec Act also meant the secure spot of Canadiens under the British crown.

The further development of the Quebec Province resulted in organizing two provinces: Upper Canada (which is now the province of Ontario) and Lower Canada (now the province of Quebec). It was the result of the Constitutional Act in 1791. It was also the time when Loyalists from the USA migrated to Quebec and other areas. Loyalists represented one-third of the population in the American colonies.

Montreal became a leading economic city and Quebec only a port city.

The Folklore of Quebec

The rich tradition of folklore in Quebec includes a large palette of old legends and tales. Superstitions linked with events, dreams and objects are an integral part of this puzzle.

Illustrated book with the Quebec tales and legends
Illustrated book with the Quebec tales and legends- Credit:

European colonists brought their own legends. One of the most popular tales is about a flying canoe with dozens of versions. It speaks about a group of lumberjacks who made a pact with the devil. Most of the stories are intertwined with the devil characters.

Roch Carrier and Joseph Jean Jacques Ferron adapted the traditional stories into modern novels. Marius Barbeau is creditable for preserving many Quebec legends in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.

The Association Quebecoise des Loisirs Folklorique creates the occasional publications of Quebec’s folklore heritage.

French Architecture of the Quebec City

Built in the French style, Quebec City is one of the oldest in North America. The Old City was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It’s the only city north of Mexico characterized by fortifications.

The Castle Frontenac which dominates the city dates back to 1893. Enlightened by night, this hotel spells the magic of fairy tales. The Scottish baronial elements intertwine with the metal roofs of Nouvelle France.

Very charming Rue de Petit Champlain in the Quebec City
Very charming Rue de Petit Champlain in the Quebec City- Credit:

The most charming street in the city, Rue de Petit Champlain, dwells in the architecture of Normandy. It breathes the oldest architectural touch of North America. This pedestrian alley has special rules for buildings due to a fire that happened in 1682.

The heart of Quebec City lies in its square, the Place Royal, where Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in 1608. The Notre-Dame Basilica exquisitely shines with Parisian charm being twice destroyed by fire.

The City Walls of Quebec

Defensive purposes led the French in the 17th and 18th centuries to build the stunning walls and gates around the Old City of Quebec. Its significance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site speaks about its historical value.

The city walls of the Quebec city with impressive towers
The city walls of the Quebec city with impressive towers- Credit:

Amazing views cover 4-6 km along the walls of the Old City. The stunning panorama of Quebec stretches from this important site. Four lovely stone gates express the charming composition.

La Citadelle shines within the beauty of the fort, serving once as a British residence. Framed by the stars, la Citadelle scatters its medieval touch.

Rural Homes in the French Style

Very close to Old Quebec awaits the countryside full of French charm- that’s Île d’Orléans. Nestled in the Saint Lawrence River, this island is one of the oldest colonized spots. In the 6 villages live about 7000 inhabitants.

The entrance to the relaxing fairy tale leads from the Île d’Orléans Bridge. A similar idyllic spot in France exists on the island called Île de Ré. The most impressive site on the island is the viewpoint over Montmorency Falls.

The charming village of Ile d'Orleans in the French style
The charming village of Ile d’Orleans in the French style- Credit:

The island is a treasure for local artists with lovely village shops. During the summer, the choice is pretty vibrant.

The Île d’Orléans bursts with strawberry fields, lush vineyards and lavender fields at Seigneurie de l’ Île d’Orléans. Local cheeses are the special delicacy.

La Maison Drouin is one of the first homes here where you can learn and absorb history.

Montreal- The Largest City in the Quebec Province

Montreal got the name of Mount Real, which lies in the heart of the city. The second largest city in Canada developed from the fortress named Ville Marie that dates back in 1642.

The fascinating Notre-Dame Basilica by night in Montreal
The fascinating Notre-Dame Basilica by night in Montreal- Credit:

The fur trade has developed Montreal’s economy since the first days. Nowadays, the economy gives highlights to aerospace, electronic goods, pharmaceuticals and textiles, among others.

Montreal scatters the palette of churches, 450 of them belonging to the early 19th century, even before. Notre-Dame Basilica in the central square of Montreal Place d’Armes delights with the Gothic interior.

The cultural scene of Montreal stands at the crossroads of the French and English traditions. More than 100 annual festivals enlighten the rich cultural face of Montreal. The Montreal International Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world, entitled as such in the Guinness World Records.

Old Montreal

The cobblestone streets of Old Montreal absorb the rich history where the French style dwells. Simple wandering makes exploration the most fulfilling.

Old Port is a riverside area enjoying the leisurely shine. Many attractions include the Montreal Science Centre, a Clock Tower in the Big Ben style, a giant Ferris wheel and an IMAX Cinema.

Many monuments glorify the founders of Quebec, including the street names. The vibrant streets of Old Montreal delight with lovely shops, restaurants and bars. The special role belongs to Rue Saint-Paul, which is the oldest street since 1672. The name itself honours the city’s founder, Paul de Chomedey. Many hotels conquer the beauty of this lovely street, among which Hotel Nelligan offers popular dining options.

Bonsecours Market was once a town hall and now an elegant building is a public market.

French Language of Quebec

French is the official language of the Quebec province. Colourful panorama of the French language in Quebec includes Quebec French, Acadian French and other nuances. The majority of Canadians speak Québécois French which means around 85%.

The older forms of French characterise the Québécois version with many English expressions. The Acadian French contains many old-fashioned expressions from western France. It’s spoken mostly in New Brunswick by about 350 000 people.

The book of Quebecois French in 10 lessons
The book of Quebecois French in 10 lessons- Credit:

Canadian French differs from standard French in pronunciation and vocabulary. This includes some archaic expressions like mais que (but that with the meaning „as soon as“) or à cause que (because of that).

Canadian French uses not only English, but some Aboriginal words.

Grammatical differences cover the shorter prepositions, subject and object pronouns and similar. Different terminology flows into the various fields like legal, education or healthcare.

Slang and English words represent the major difficulties.

How Important is the French Language in Quebec?

As the only official language of the Quebec province, French touches the core aspects of life. This covers business, education, commerce and daily life. Relocating to Canada requires the knowledge of the French, including the immigration programs.

The cultural identity of Quebec dwells in the French language. It’s a special „joie de vivre“ that belongs to Canadians gently embracing the hundreds of years of history.

The French language occupied the throne as the official language in Quebec from 1974. Maintaining the French language in the public sphere means understanding the cultural identity of Quebec.

Francophone Festivals in Quebec

New France Festival is a top cultural festival in Canada, bringing a vibrant reminiscence of the early period in colonized France. It’s taken place every year in August since 1997 in Quebec City. With the parade and costumes, the festival celebrates the cheerful atmosphere. Many concerts fill the air, bringing entertainment so alive.

The costumes define the historical characters, bringing us back in time. The visitors get the chance to dress in colonial costumes as they can buy them here.

The customized people at the New France Festival in the Quebec City
The customized people at the New France Festival in the Quebec City- Credit:

FrancoFolies de Montréal is the largest event that celebrates French-language music in the world. Since 1989, these free outdoor events gather more than 1000 artists within 250 shows during 10 days in the middle of June.

In the colourful palette of music genres, this festival is a true delicacy for Francophone lovers. The festival is set to the model of the Rochelle festival. Only 15 performances enhanced the first edition.

Culinary Traditions of Quebec

The traditional Quebecois cuisine pulls its roots from 16th century French cuisine. The artistic note of cooking intertwines Quebec society. The local products enrich the culinary delicacies thanks to the pretty developed agricultural industry.

Maple syrup, cheese and beer are some of the most famous Quebec products. Saint-Piere cheese is one of the oldest popular products of the Ile d’Orleans. Maple syrup is an excellent addition to pancakes or sucred bread. The unique dishes of Quebec include poutine, tourtière, maple baked beans, pate chinois, pea soup.

Poutine, as the most famous dish, combines french fries and cheese curds with meat sauce. Tourtière is a traditional meat pie which involves different versions. It’s usually a breakfast meal in Quebec.

The most famous dish of Quebec poutine
The most famous dish of Quebec poutine- Credit:

Some of the most famous desserts include pouding chômeur, grand-pères or pet de soeur. These delicacies with maple syrup are a Canadian cultural sign.

Sovereignty of Quebec

The debate about the independence of Quebec province has posed a vibrant question for ages. Creating a sovereign nation fell off at the referenda in 1980 and 1995. Still, the debate goes on.

Preserving the Quebecois culture and distancing from English as the major language goes in the flavour of Quebec sovereignty. Reasons against sovereignty support the economic values which would aggravate the situation in Canada and Quebec. Quebec’s aerospace and export industries are among the leading in the country.

People at the protest for sovereignty of Quebec with Quebec flags
People at the protest for sovereignty of Quebec with Quebec flags- Credit:

The separation would cause a questionable existence of the far eastern provinces like Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The fascinating charm of Quebec, where diversity rules, attracts the majority of tourists to Canada. This stands as the common advantage of unity. Quebec deviates from the spirit of North America, that’s what makes  it so charming.

Conclusion- The French Heritage of Quebec Province

The French charm defines Quebec just like the mountainous beauty speaks about Austria. The French notes are more deeply involved into the story of Quebec than common thought arrives.

The blend of French and British architecture scatters along Quebec Province just like the jewels on the necklace. The French spirit prevails leading the story of historical preservance.

Though born as a colonized country, Canada absorbed the French authenticity of its own. Canada dwells in the spirit of joy that identifies France but holds the local charm.

The debate of identity crosses the line between tranquile beauty, Canada develops as a unique entity.

The archaic style of the French language invites you to catch the ancient times. In a minute, you could be transported to France in the middle age through many festivals. It’s the way to express Francophone beauty in all its essence.


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