The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier. He sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1534 and established a colony near present-day Quebec City.
In 1608 French explorer Samuel de Champlain traveled into the St. Lawrence River. He founded Quebec City as a permanent fur trading outpost at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona and signed trading and military agreements with the native people.
|The arrival of Samuel de Champlain on the site of Quebec City|
The name “Québec” comes from the Algonquin word kébec meaning “where the river narrows.”
Quebec City started off with 28 men and colonization was slow and difficult. Many settlers died early, because of harsh weather and diseases. In 1630, there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement, but by 1640, the population had reached 355.
New France became a Royal Province of France in 1663. The population grew from about 3,000 to 60,000 people between 1666 and 1760.
At its peak in 1712 (before the Treaty of Utrecht), the territory of New France extended from Newfoundland to the Canadian prairies and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, including all the Great Lakes of North America.
In 1758, the British attacked New France by sea and captured the French fort at Louisbourg. The following year British General James Wolfe defeated General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm outside Quebec City. The garrison in Quebec surrendered on September 18, 1759, and by the next year New France had been conquered by the British after the attack on Montreal, which had refused to acknowledge the fall of Canada.
France formally ceded its North American land to the British in the Treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1763. The following year, New France was renamed the Province of Quebec.
In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, giving recognition to French law, Catholic religion, and French language in the colony. The Quebec Act gave the Quebec people their first Charter of rights.
On January 25, 1791 the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act, which split the old Province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada.
The British North America Act of 1867 instituted home rule for most of British North America and established French-speaking Quebec (the former Lower Canada) as one of the original provinces of the Dominion of Canada.
The Flag of Quebec was adopted and flown for the first time over the National Assembly of Quebec on January 21, 1948. The day is marked annually as Québec Flag Day.
|Flag of Quebec.|
During an official state visit to Canada on July 24, 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle declared to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: “Vive le Québec libre!” (“Long live free Quebec!”). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians.
In a 1980 referendum the Quebec population rejected by a 60% vote the proposal from its government to move towards independence from Canada.
In 1995 Quebec held a second referendum to become independent of Canada – it was a close run thing this time, but the vote came in 50.58% against.
In 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval.
Quebec is the largest of Canada’s ten provinces by size.
Most of Quebec’s inhabitants live along or close to the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. Not many people live in the north part of the province.
Quebec has the second-highest population of Canada’s ten provinces, after Ontario.
Unlike the other provinces, most people in Quebec speak French (Canadian French) and French is the only official language. There is a strong French-language culture, which includes French-language magazines, newspapers, movies, television and radio shows.