From Academic Kids

This article describes the Canadian province. For other usages, see Quebec (disambiguation).

Template:Canadian province or territory

Quebec (pronounced or ) (French: Québec, pronounced ) is the largest province in Canada geographically, and the second most populous, after Ontario, with a population of 7,568,640 (Statistics Canada, January 2005). This represents about 24% of the Canadian population. Quebec's primary and only official language is French, making up the bulk of the Francophone population in North America. Quebec is the only Canadian province where English is not an official language, and it is one of only two Canadian provinces where French is an official language (the other one being New Brunswick). The capital is Quebec City (simply referred to as "Québec" in French) and the largest city is Montreal (or Montréal in French).

A resident of Quebec is called a Quebecer (also spelled Quebecker), or in French, un(e) Québécois(e).



Main article: Geography of Quebec

The province, Canada's largest, occupies a vast territory (nearly three times the size of France), most of which is very sparsely populated. More than 90 percent of Quebec's area lies within the Canadian Shield, a large part of which was historically referred to as the Ungava Region. The addition of the vast and scarcely inhabited northern region (which borders James Bay, Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait) by the Parliament of Canada through passage of the Quebec Boundary Extension Act, 1898 and the Quebec Boundaries Extension Act, 1912 created the massive Province of Quebec of today. Quebec is located in eastern Canada, bordered by Ontario and Hudson Bay to the west, Atlantic Canada to the east, the United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York) to the south and the Arctic Ocean to the north.

The province's three largest hydro-electric projects are built on La Grande Rivière. The extreme north of the province, now called Nunavik, is subarctic or arctic and is home to part of the Inuit nation.

The most populated region is the St. Lawrence River Valley in the south, where the capital, Quebec City, and the largest city, Montreal, are situated. North of Montreal are the Laurentians, a range of ancient mountains, and to the east are the Appalachian Mountains which extends into the Eastern Townships and Gaspésie regions. The Gaspé Peninsula juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the east.

10 Largest Municipalities by population

Municipality 2001 1996
Montreal 1,812,723 1,774,846
Quebec City 507,986 504,605
Longueuil 348,091 373,009
Laval 343,005 330,393
Gatineau 226,696 217,591
Saguenay 148,050 153,476
Sherbrooke 146,689 135,501
Trois-Rivières 122,395 124,417
Lévis 121,999 118,344
Terrebonne 80,531 75,110


Main article: History of Quebec

The name Quebec, which comes from the Mi'kmaq word Gepèèg meaning "strait," originally meant the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River off what is currently Quebec City.

The first European explorer of what is now Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in the Gaspé in 1534 and sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1535.

Quebec City was founded near the site of Stadacona, a village populated by Iroquoians when Jacques Cartier explored Canada. However, the village was no longer there when Samuel de Champlain established the Habitation de Quebec in 1608.

After 1627, King Louis XIII of France introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics, ensuring that welfare and education was kept firmly in the hands of the church. New France became a royal province in 1663 under King Louis XIV of France and the intendant Jean Talon.

Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris (1763) when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France, which was viewed as a vast, frozen wasteland of little importance to the French colonial empire. By the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, Canada (part of New France) was renamed the Province of Quebec.

In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act that helped ensure the survival of the French language and French culture in the region. The Act allowed Quebec to maintain the French civil law as its judicial system and sanctioned the freedom of religious choice, allowing the Roman Catholic Church to remain.

Quebec retained its seigneurial system and civil law code after France's giving of the territory to England. Owing to an influx of Loyalist refugees from the US Revolutionary War, the Constitutional Act of 1791 saw the colony divided in two at the Ottawa River (a small portion west of the Ottawa/St. Lawrence River confluence, which had the westernmost seigneuries, was retained in Lower Canada); the western part became Upper Canada and changed to the British legal system. The eastern part was named Lower Canada.

In 1837, after the government had allowed the French Canadians to be represented in the House of Commons, some residents of Upper Canada launched a rampage through the western part of the Lower Canada. They did not think that the French population would take part so actively in the new government and would therefore ask for a more fair and respectful House of Commons. The residents of Lower Canada then formed a group of resistance, called the Patriotes, but were soon crushed by the British army after only one victory in Saint-Denis, south of Montreal.

After this clash, Lord Durham was asked to write a report on this incident and concluded that the French population were "without history and culture of any kind" and were "to be assimilated".

After the Patriotes Rebellion of 1837, the British government merged the Canadas into one Province of Canada in 1841. However, the union proved contentious. In 1867 the Province of Canada, joining with the other British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Canadian Confederation, was redivided into its two parts, under the names Ontario and Quebec.

The conservative government of Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale dominated Quebec politics from 1944 to 1960 with the support of the Catholic church. Pierre Trudeau and other intellectuals and liberals formed an intellectual opposition to Duplessis' repressive 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 the Roman Catholic Church's influence, the nationalization of Hydro-Québec and the emergence of a separatist movement under former Lesage minister René Lévesque.

Missing image
The slogan on the current Quebec license plate, first introduced in 1978 is "Je me souviens" which translated into English means "I remember".
During the 1960s, a terrorist group known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, robberies and attacks on government offices. 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, who was murdered a few days later. In response, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared martial law using the War Measures Act. A Federal government inquiry later revealed that under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's demand, some Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) agents infiltrated the group and pushed them towards terrorist actions in order to gain evidence of the group's willingness to commit terrorist acts.

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 and is to this day still controversial and widely misunderstood inside and outside Quebec by the English speaking population.

Lévesque put sovereignty-association before the voters in the 1980 Quebec referendum. Sixty percent of the Quebec electorate voted against it.

On October 30, 1995, in a second referendum the vote for Quebec independence was rejected by a slim majority (50.6% NO to 49.4% YES).

Missing image
Map of Quebec


Main article: Politics of Quebec

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.


Main article: Economy of Quebec

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

North of the St. Lawrence River Valley, the territory of Quebec is extremely rich in resources in its coniferous forests, lakes, and rivers—pulp and paper, lumber, and hydroelectricity are still some of the province's most important industries.

High-tech industries are very important around Montreal. It includes the aerospace companies like jet manufacturer Bombardier, the jet engine company Pratt & Whitney, the flight simulator builder CAE and defense contractor Lockheed Martin Canada. Those companies and other major subcontractors make Quebec the fourth biggest player worldwide in the aviation industry.


Main article: Culture of Quebec

The Québécois people, a people also found in small minorities of Canada and of the United States, consider Quebec their homeland. The Québécois are the largest population of French speakers in the Americas. Most French Canadians live in Quebec, though there are other concentrations of francophones throughout Canada with varying degrees of ties to Quebec. (The North American society and the main French-speaking society on the continent. Montreal is the vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis of Quebec. History made Quebec a place where cultures meet, where people from all over the world experience America, but from a little distance and through a different eye. Often described as a crossroads between Europe and America, Quebec is home to a people that has the privilege of being connected to the strong cultural currents of the United States, France, and the British Isles all at the same time.

Quebec is also home to 11 aboriginal cultures and that of a large Anglo-Quebecer minority of approximately 600,000 people.


Main article: Demographics of Quebec

Quebec's fertility rate is now among the lowest in Canada. At 1.48, it is well below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This contrasts with the fertility rate before 1960 which was among the highest of the industrialized countries.

Although Quebec represents only 24% 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.


The majority of the population are of French descent, approximately 80% of the population. Other White groups like Italians, Portuguese, Spanish, and Irish are also very large in number.

Racial Groups

Religious Groups


Main article: Demolinguistics of Quebec

Quebec is the only Canadian province where French is the only official language and the majority. In 2001 the population was:

  • French speakers: 81.2%
  • English speakers: 8.0%
  • French and English: 0.8%
  • Allophones: 10.0% (Italian 6.3%, Spanish 2.9%, Arabic 2.5%, and others)

Symbols and emblems

The motto of Quebec is Je me souviens (I remember), which is carved into the Parliament Building façade in Quebec City (Ville de Québec) and is seen on the coat of arms and licence plates.

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The fleur-de-lis leads a ship to harbour near Quebec City

The graphic emblem of Quebec is the fleur-de-lis, usually white on a blue background, as on the flag of Quebec (above), the Fleurdelisé. As indicated on the government of Quebec's Web site, the flag recalls the Royal banner said to have accompanied the army of General Montcalm, Marquis de Saint-Véran during the victorious battle of Carillon in 1758.

The floral emblem of Quebec is the blue flag iris (Iris versicolor). It was formerly the Madonna lily, to recall the fleur-de-lis, but has been changed to the iris which is native to Quebec.

The avian emblem of Quebec is the snowy owl.

The patron saint of French Canada is John the Baptist. La Saint-Jean-Baptiste, June 24, is Quebec's national day, and is officially called the Fête nationale du Québec since 1977. The song "Gens du pays" by Gilles Vigneault is often regarded as Quebec's unofficial anthem.

Quebec is sometimes referred to as "La Belle Province" which means "The Beautiful Province". Until the late 1970s, this phrase was displayed on Quebec licence plates. It has since been replaced by the province's official motto: "Je me souviens" which means "I remember". A common debate in popular Canadian culture (both French and English) is to what is being remembered.

See also


External links

Provinces and territories of Canada
Provinces: Alberta British Columbia Missing image

New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador
Alberta British Columbia Manitoba New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia Ontario Missing image
Prince Edward Island

Quebec Saskatchewan
Nova Scotia Ontario Prince Edward Island Quebec Saskatchewan
Territories: Yukon Missing image
Northwest Territories

Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut

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