Quebec (, sometimes ; French: Québec [kebɛk] ()) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. Located in Central Canada, the province shares land borders with Ontario to the west, Newfoundland and Labrador to the northeast, New Brunswick to the southeast, and a coastal border with Nunavut; it also borders the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York to the south. Quebec is the largest province by area, at 1,542,056 km2 (595,391 sq mi), and the second-largest by population, with 8,164,361 people. Much of the population live in urban areas along the St. Lawrence River, between the most populous city, Montreal, and the province's capital city, Quebec City. Quebec is also the home of the Québécois, recognized as a nation by both the provincial and federal governments.
Quebec's official language is French, with 94.6% of the province's population reporting knowledge of the language. Québécois French is the local variety, and there are 17 regional accents deriving from it. Among other things, Quebec is well-known for producing nearly 72% of the world's maple syrup, for its comedy, and for making hockey one of the most popular sports in Canada. It is also renowned for its unique and vibrant culture; the province has its own celebrities, and produces its own literature, music/songs, films, TV shows, festivals, folklore, art, and more. Moreover, it has its own cuisine and national symbols.
Between 1534 and 1763, Quebec was called Canada and was the most developed colony in New France. Following the Seven Years' War, however, Quebec became a British colony in the British Empire: first as the Province of Quebec (1763–1791), then Lower Canada (1791–1841), and lastly Canada East (1841–1867), as a result of the Lower Canada Rebellion. It was, finally, confederated with Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in 1867, beginning the Confederation of Canada. Until the early 1960s, the Catholic Church played a large role in the development of social and cultural institutions in Quebec. However, the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s-1980s increased the role of the Government of Quebec in controlling political, social, and future developments of the state of Quebec.
The Constitution Act, 1867 incorporated the present-day Government of Quebec, which functions within the context of a Westminster system and is both a liberal democracy and a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. The Premier of Quebec, presently François Legault, acts as head of government and holds office by virtue of commanding the confidence of the elected National Assembly. Québécois political culture mostly differs on a nationalist-vs-federalist continuum, rather than a left-vs-right continuum. Quebec independence debates, in particular, have played a large role in politics, with Parti Québécois governments having held referendums on sovereignty in 1980 and 1995.
Quebec society's cohesion and specificity is based on three of its unique statutory documents: the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Charter of the French Language, and the Civil Code of Quebec. Furthermore, unlike in the rest of Canada, law in Quebec is mixed: private law is exercised under a civil-law system, while public law is exercised under a common-law system. Its economy is diversified and post-industrial; sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical industry play leading roles. Quebec's substantial natural resources, notably exploited in hydroelectricity, forestry, and mining, have also long been a mainstay. The province's 2018 output was CA$439.3 billion, making it the .
The name Québec comes from the Algonquin word kébec, meaning 'where the river narrows'. The name 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). 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.
Located in the eastern part of Canada, and (from a historical and political perspective) part of Central Canada, Quebec occupies a territory nearly three times the size of France or Texas, and much closer to the size of Alaska. As is the case with Alaska, most of the land in Quebec is very sparsely populated. Its topography is very different from one region to another due to the varying composition of the ground, the climate (latitude and altitude), and the proximity to water. The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Appalachians are the two main topographic regions in southern Quebec, while the Canadian Shield occupies most of central and northern Quebec.
Quebec has one of the world's largest reserves of fresh water, occupying 12% of its surface. It has 3% of the world's renewable fresh water, whereas it has only 0.1% of its population. More than half a million lakes, including 30 with an area greater than 250 km2 (97 sq mi), and 4,500 rivers pour their torrents into the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Arctic Ocean, by James, Hudson, and Ungava bays. The largest inland body of water is the Caniapiscau Reservoir, created in the realization of the James Bay Project to produce hydroelectric power. Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Quebec.
The Saint Lawrence River has some of the world's largest sustaining inland Atlantic ports at Montreal (the province's largest city), Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City (the capital). Its access to the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of North America made it the base of early French exploration and settlement in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since 1959, the Saint Lawrence Seaway has provided a navigable link between the Atlantic Ocean and the 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 seabirds. The river empties into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This marine environment sustains fisheries and smaller ports in the Lower Saint Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent), Lower North Shore (Côte-Nord), and Gaspé (Gaspésie) regions of the province. The Saint Lawrence River with its estuary forms the basis of Quebec's development through the centuries. Other notable rivers include the Ashuapmushuan, Chaudière, Gatineau, Manicouagan, Ottawa, Richelieu, Rupert, Saguenay, Saint-François, and Saint-Maurice.
Quebec's highest point at 1,652 metres is Mont d'Iberville, known in English as Mount Caubvick, located on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador in the northeastern part of the province, in the Torngat Mountains. The most populous physiographic region is the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Lowlands. It extends northeastward from the southwestern portion of the province along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River to the Quebec City region, limited to the North by the Laurentian Mountains and to the South by the Appalachians. It mainly covers the areas of the Centre-du-Québec, Laval, Montérégie and Montreal, the southern regions of the Capitale-Nationale, Lanaudière, Laurentides, Mauricie and includes Anticosti Island, the Mingan Archipelago, and other small islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence lowland forests ecoregion. Its landscape is low-lying and flat, except for isolated igneous outcrops near Montreal called the Monteregian Hills, formerly covered by the waters of Lake Champlain. The Oka hills also rise from the plain. Geologically, the lowlands formed as a rift valley about 100 million years ago and are prone to infrequent but significant earthquakes. 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. The combination of rich and easily arable soils and Quebec's relatively warm climate makes this valley the most prolific agricultural area of Quebec province. Mixed forests provide most of Canada's springtime maple syrup crop. 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 95% of Quebec's territory lies within the Canadian Shield. It is generally a quite flat and exposed mountainous terrain interspersed with higher points such as the Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec, the Otish Mountains in central Quebec and the Torngat Mountains near Ungava Bay. The topography of the Shield has been shaped by glaciers from the successive ice ages, which explains the glacial deposits of boulders, gravel and sand, and by sea water and post-glacial lakes that left behind thick deposits of clay in parts of the Shield. The Canadian Shield also has a complex hydrological network of perhaps a million lakes, bogs, streams and rivers. It is rich in the forestry, mineral and hydro-electric resources that are a mainstay of the Quebec economy. Primary industries sustain small cities in regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, and Côte-Nord.
The Labrador Peninsula is covered by the Laurentian Plateau (or Canadian Shield), dotted with mountains such as Otish Mountains. The Ungava Peninsula is notably composed of D'Youville mountains, Puvirnituq mountains and Pingualuit crater. While low and medium altitude peak from western Quebec to the far north, high altitudes mountains emerge in the Capitale-Nationale region to the extreme east, along its longitude. In the Labrador Peninsula portion of the Shield, the far northern region of Nunavik includes the Ungava Peninsula and consists of flat Arctic tundra inhabited mostly by the Inuit. Further south lie the subarctic taiga of the Eastern Canadian Shield taiga ecoregion and the boreal forest of the Central Canadian Shield forests, where spruce, fir, and poplar trees provide raw materials for Quebec's pulp and paper and lumber industries. Although the area is inhabited principally by the Cree, Naskapi, and Innu First Nations, thousands of temporary workers reside at Radisson to service the massive James Bay Hydroelectric Project on the La Grande and Eastmain rivers. The southern portion of the shield extends to the Laurentians, a mountain range just north of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Lowlands, that attracts local and international tourists to ski hills and lakeside resorts.
The Appalachian region of Quebec has a narrow strip of ancient mountains along the southeastern border of Quebec. The Appalachians are actually a huge chain that extends from Alabama to Newfoundland. In between, it covers in Quebec near 800 km (497 mi), from the Montérégie hills to the Gaspé Peninsula. In western Quebec, the average altitude is about 500 metres, while in the Gaspé Peninsula, the Appalachian peaks (especially the Chic-Choc) are among the highest in Quebec, exceeding 1000 metres.
In general, the climate of Quebec is cold and humid. The climate of the province is largely determined by its latitude, maritime and elevation influences. According to the Köppen climate classification, Quebec has three main climate regions. Southern and western Quebec, including most of the major population centres and areas south of 51oN, have a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with four distinct seasons having warm to occasionally hot and humid summers and often very cold and snowy winters. The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada and move eastward, and from the southern and central United States that move northward. Because of the influence of both storm systems from the core of North America and the Atlantic Ocean, precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with most areas receiving more than 1,000 mm (39 in) of precipitation, including over 300 cm (120 in) of snow in many areas. During the summer, severe weather patterns (such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) occur occasionally. Most of central Quebec, ranging from 51 to 58 degrees North has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Winters are long, very cold, and snowy, and among the coldest in eastern Canada, while summers are warm but very short due to the higher latitude and the greater influence of Arctic air masses. Precipitation is also somewhat less than farther south, except at some of the higher elevations. The northern regions of Quebec have an arctic climate (Köppen ET), with very cold winters and short, much cooler summers. The primary influences in this region are the Arctic Ocean currents (such as the Labrador Current) and continental air masses from the High Arctic.
The four calendar seasons in Quebec are spring, summer, autumn and winter, with conditions differing by region. They are then differentiated according to the insolation, temperature, and precipitation of snow and rain.
At Quebec City, the length of the daily sunshine varies from 8:37 hrs in December to 15:50 hrs in June; the annual variation is much greater (from 4:54 to 19:29 hrs) at the northern tip of the province. From temperate zones to the northern territories of the Far North, the brightness varies with latitude, as well as the Northern Lights and midnight sun.
Quebec is divided into four climatic zones: arctic, subarctic, humid continental and East maritime. From south to north, average temperatures range in summer between 25 and 5 °C (77 and 41 °F) and, in winter, between −10 and −25 °C (14 and −13 °F). In periods of intense heat and cold, temperatures can reach 35 °C (95 °F) in the summer and −40 °C (−40 °F) during the Quebec winter, They may vary depending on the Humidex or Wind chill. The all time record high was 40.0 °C (104.0 °F) and the all time record low was −51.0 °C (−59.8 °F).
The all-time record of the greatest precipitation in winter was established in winter 2007–2008, with more than five metres of snow in the area of Quebec City, while the average amount received per winter is around three metres. March 1971, however, saw the "Century's Snowstorm" with more than 40 cm (16 in) in Montreal to 80 cm (31 in) in Mont Apica of snow within 24 hours in many regions of southern Quebec. Also, the winter of 2010 was the warmest and driest recorded in more than 60 years.
The large land wildlife is mainly composed of the white-tailed deer, the moose, the muskox, the caribou (reindeer), the American black bear and the polar bear. The average land wildlife includes the cougar, the coyote, the eastern wolf, the bobcat, the Arctic fox, the fox, etc. The small animals seen most commonly include the eastern grey squirrel, the snowshoe hare, the groundhog, the skunk, the raccoon, the chipmunk and the Canadian beaver.
Biodiversity of the estuary and gulf of Saint Lawrence River consists of an aquatic mammal wildlife, of which most goes upriver through the estuary and the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park until the Île d'Orléans (French for Orleans Island), such as the blue whale, the beluga, the minke whale and the harp seal (earless seal). Among the Nordic marine animals, there are two particularly important to cite: the walrus and the narwhal.
Inland waters are populated by small to large fresh water fish, such as the largemouth bass, the American pickerel, the walleye, the Acipenser oxyrinchus, the muskellunge, the Atlantic cod, the Arctic char, the brook trout, the Microgadus tomcod (tomcod), the Atlantic salmon, the rainbow trout, etc.
Among the birds commonly seen in the southern inhabited part of Quebec, there are the American robin, the house sparrow, the red-winged blackbird, the mallard, the common grackle, the blue jay, the American crow, the black-capped chickadee, some warblers and swallows, the starling and the rock pigeon, the latter two having been introduced in Quebec and are found mainly in urban areas. Avian fauna includes birds of prey like the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, the snowy owl and the bald eagle. Sea and semi-aquatic birds seen in Quebec are mostly the Canada goose, the double-crested cormorant, the northern gannet, the European herring gull, the great blue heron, the sandhill crane, the Atlantic puffin and the common loon. Many more species of land, maritime or avian wildlife are seen in Quebec, but most of the Quebec-specific species and the most commonly seen species are listed above.
Some livestock have the title of "Québec heritage breed", namely the Canadian horse, the Chantecler chicken and the Canadian cow. Moreover, in addition to food certified as "organic", Charlevoix lamb is the first local Quebec product whose geographical indication is protected. Livestock production also includes the pig breeds Landrace, Duroc and Yorkshire and many breeds of sheep and cattle.
The Wildlife Foundation of Quebec and the Data Centre on Natural Heritage of Quebec (CDPNQ) (French acronym) are the main agencies working with officers for wildlife conservation in Quebec.
Given the geology of the province and its different climates, there is an established number of large areas of vegetation in Quebec. These areas, listed in order from the northernmost to the southernmost are: the tundra, the taiga, the Canadian boreal forest (coniferous), mixed forest and Deciduous forest.
On the edge of the Ungava Bay and Hudson Strait is the tundra, whose flora is limited to a low vegetation of lichen with only less than 50 growing days a year. The tundra vegetation survives an average annual temperature of −8 °C (18 °F). The tundra covers more than 24% of the area of Quebec. Further south, the climate is conducive to the growth of the Canadian boreal forest, bounded on the north by the taiga.
Not as arid as the tundra, the taiga is associated with the sub-Arctic regions of the Canadian Shield and is characterized by a greater number of both plant (600) and animal (206) species, many of which live there all year. The taiga covers about 20% of the total area of Quebec. The Canadian boreal forest is the northernmost and most abundant of the three forest areas in Quebec that straddle the Canadian Shield and the upper lowlands of the province. Given a warmer climate, the diversity of organisms is also higher, since there are about 850 plant species and 280 vertebrates species. The Canadian boreal forest covers 27% of the area of Quebec. The mixed forest is a transition zone between the Canadian boreal forest and deciduous forest. By virtue of its transient nature, this area contains a diversity of habitats resulting in large numbers of plant (1000) and vertebrates (350) species, despite relatively cool temperatures. The ecozone mixed forest covers 11.5% of the area of Quebec and is characteristic of the Laurentians, the Appalachians and the eastern lowlands forests. The third most northern forest area is characterized by deciduous forests. Because of its climate (average annual temperature of 7 °C [45 °F]), it is in this area that one finds the greatest diversity of species, including more than 1600 vascular plants and 440 vertebrates. Its relatively long growing season lasts almost 200 days and its fertile soils make it the centre of agricultural activity and therefore of urbanization of Quebec. Most of Quebec's population lives in this area of vegetation, almost entirely along the banks of the Saint Lawrence. Deciduous forests cover approximately 6.6% of the area of Quebec.
The total forest area of Quebec is estimated at 750,300 km2 (289,700 sq mi). From the Abitibi-Témiscamingue to the North Shore, the forest is composed primarily of conifers such as the Abies balsamea, the jack pine, the white spruce, the black spruce and the tamarack. Some species of deciduous trees such as the yellow birch appear when the river is approached in the south. The deciduous forest of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Lowlands is mostly composed of deciduous species such as the sugar maple, the red maple, the white ash, the American beech, the butternut (white walnut), the American elm, the basswood, the bitternut hickory and the northern red oak as well as some conifers such as the eastern white pine and the northern whitecedar. The distribution areas of the paper birch, the trembling aspen and the mountain ash cover more than half of Quebec territory.
In 1534, Quebec's coasts off the Saint Lawrence River and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence are explored and claimed as French territory by Jacques Cartier. This new land is called Canada. Between 1534 and 1603, with exploration and expansion, Canada's territory grows to encompass the coasts of the Saint Lawrence River, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, as well as the entirety of Prince Edward Island. Between 1603 and 1673, due to westward exploration, expansion and conflicts with the United Kingdom, Canada becomes composed of the coasts of the Saint Lawrence River, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and of the Great Lakes, as well as southern Ontario and northern New England. In 1663, the Company of New France cedes Canada to the King, who then proclaims Canada a royal province of France and creates the Sovereign Council of New France to administrate the new province. Between 1673 and 1741, due to even more westward exploration and conflicts with the United Kingdom, Canada grows to its largest size and is now composed of the coasts of the Saint Lawrence River, of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, of Labrador and of the Great Lakes, as well as southern Ontario, southern Manitoba and the north-eastern Midwest.
In 1760, The British conquer Canada and the Canadien are put under a British military regime until the end of the Seven Years' War, after which, in 1763, the Treaty of Paris formally transfers Canada to Britain. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 draws the new Province of Quebec out of the conquered territory and the lands now only encompass the banks of the Saint Lawrence River and Anticosti Island. However, in 1774, the Quebec Act more or less restores the lands back to the size they were before the conquest. Around this time, instructions are issued to the colony of Newfoundland, requiring them to supervise Labrador's coasts, even though Labrador belongs to the Province of Quebec not Newfoundland. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris cedes the territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States which massively reduces the Province of Quebec's size. In 1791, the Constitutional Act divides the Province of Quebec into the French-speaking Lower Canada (now Quebec) and the English-speaking Upper Canada (now Ontario). Lower Canada's lands consist of the coasts of the Saint Lawrence River, Labrador and Anticosti Island, with the territory extending very inland north, and extending south until the border with the US, Ontario or New Brunswick. In 1809, Newfoundlanders become no longer willing to supervise the coasts of Labrador. To solve this issue, and as a result of lobbying in London, the British give the coasts of Labrador to the colony of Newfoundland. The inland border between the jurisdiction of Lower Canada and Newfoundland remains undefined. From 1837 to 1838, the Lower Canada Rebellion occurs. In 1840, the British Parliament decide that a proper response to the Lower Canada Rebellion is to try to forcefully assimilate the French-speaking Lower Canada by re-fusing Lower Canada and Upper Canada together, creating the Province of Canada. Lower Canada is renamed Canada East and Upper Canada is renamed Canada West.
In 1867, the Confederation of Canada takes places. The citizens of the Province of Canada are free to divide back into two entities, and while Canada West is renamed Ontario, Canada East is renamed Quebec. In 1898, the Canadian Parliament enacts the Quebec Boundary Extension Act of 1898, which gives Quebec a part of Rupert's Land, a territory bought from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870. This expands the boundaries of Quebec northward. In 1912, The Canadian Parliament enacts the Quebec Boundaries Extension Act of 1912, which gives Quebec another part of Rupert's Land: the District of Ungava. This extends the borders of Quebec northward all the way to the Hudson Strait. In 1927, the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council draws a clear border between northeast Quebec and south Labrador. However, the Quebec government does not recognize the ruling of this council, resulting in a boundary dispute.
Today, Quebec occupies a total surface area of approximately 1,542,056 km2 (595,391 sq mi) and its border is roughly 12,000 km (7,500 mi) long. The province has land borders with Labrador, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Ontario. Quebec also has sea borders with Nunavut and France (via Saint Pierre and Miquelon). The Quebec-Labrador boundary dispute is still ongoing today, which makes some state that Quebec's borders are the most imprecise in the Americas.
During the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, nomads from Asia very gradually made their way to the Bering Strait, crossed it and reached America. From there, they and their descendants then populated the different regions of the continent. The first humans who established themselves on the lands of Quebec arrived there after the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted, roughly 11,000 years ago.
From the first people who settled on the lands of Quebec, various ethnocultural groups emerged. They can today be grouped into eleven indigenous peoples: the Inuit and the ten Amerindian nations of the Abenakis, the Algonquins (or Anichinabés), the Attikameks, the Cree (or Eeyou), the Huron-Wendat, the Wolastoqiyik (or Etchemins), the Micmacs, the Mohawks (or Iroquois), the Innu (or Montagnais) and the Naskapis. In the past, other groups were also present, like the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, a branch of the Iroquois who lived more settled lives growing corn, beans and squash in the Saint Lawrence Valley. They appear to have been supplanted by the Mohawk people.
At the time of the European explorations of the 1500s, it was known that these ethnocultural groups sometimes traded and/or warred with each other. Algonquians organized into seven political entities and lived nomadic lives based on hunting, gathering, and fishing in the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield and Appalachian Mountains. Inuit fished and hunted whales and seals in the harsh Arctic climate along the coasts of Hudson and Ungava Bay.
The first confirmed contact between pre-Columbian civilizations and European explorers occurred in the 10th century, when the Icelandic Viking Leif Erikson explored some of the coasts of Newfoundland, Baffin Island, Greenland and Labrador. From the 15th to 16th century, Basques, Bretons and Normans also occasionally traveled to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to exploit the plentiful fish.
In the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire fell. For the Christian West, this made trade with the Far East, usually for things like spices and gold, more difficult because sea routes were now under the control of less cooperative Arab and Italian merchants. As such, in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Spanish and Portuguese, and then the English and French, began to search for a new sea route. One method involved trying to bypass Africa. But, since the Europeans knew that the Earth was round, a second method involved traveling continuously West to circle the Earth. At the time, the Old World was not aware of the continent of America's existence and that it would be blocking the way. As such, in 1492, the Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus set sail West and became the first European explorer to discover America. Columbus' discovery became the cataclysm for the European exploration movement.
France eventually wanted to find a way to bypass North America and reach China, like Magellan had done with South America by traveling under Cape Horn. Around 1522–1523, the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano persuaded King Francis I of France to commission an expedition to find a western route to Cathay (China). Therefore, King Francis I launched a maritime expedition in 1524, led by Giovanni da Verrazzano, to search for the Northwest Passage. Though this expedition was unsuccessful, it established the name "New France" for Northeastern North America.
In his first expedition ordered from the Kingdom of France, Jacques Cartier became the first European explorer to discover and map Quebec when he landed in Gaspé on July 24, 1534. The second expedition, in 1535, was bigger and comprised 110 men on three ships: the Grande Hermine, the Petite Hermine and the Emérillon. That year, Jacques Cartier explored the lands of Stadaconé and decided to name the village and its surrounding territories Canada, because he had heard two young natives use the word kanata ("village" in Iroquois) to describe the location. 16-century European cartographers would quickly adopt this name. Cartier also wrote that he thought he had discovered large amounts of diamonds and gold, but this ended up only being quartz and pyrite. Then, by following what he called the Great River, he traveled West to the Lachine Rapids. There, navigation proved too dangerous for Cartier to continue his journey towards the goal: China. Cartier and his sailors had no choice but to return to Stadaconé and winter there. In the end, Cartier returned to France and took about 10 Native Americans, including the St. Lawrence Iroquoians chief Donnacona, with him. In 1540, Donnacona told the legend of the Kingdom of Saguenay to the King of France. This inspired the king to order a third expedition, this time led by Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval and with the goal of finding the Kingdom of Saguenay. But, it was unsuccessful.
After these expeditions, France mostly abandoned the idea of America for 50 years because of its financial crisis; France was at war with Italy and there were religious wars between Protestants and Catholics.
Around 1580, France became interested in America again, because the fur trade had become important in Europe. France returned to America looking for a specific animal: the beaver. As New France was full of beavers, it became a colonial-trading post where the main activity was the fur trade in the Pays-d'en-Haut. In 1600, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit founded the first permanent trading post in Tadoussac for expeditions carried out in the Domaine du Roy.
In 1603, Samuel de Champlain travelled to the Saint Lawrence River and, on Pointe Saint-Mathieu, established a defence pact with the Innu, Wolastoqiyik and Micmacs, that would be "a decisive factor in the maintenance of a French colonial enterprise in America despite an enormous numerical disadvantage vis-à-vis the British colonization in the South". Thus also began French military support to the Algonquian and Huron peoples in defence against Iroquois attacks and invasions. These Iroquois attacks would become known as the Beaver Wars and would last from the early 1600s to the early 1700s.
In 1608, Samuel de Champlain returned to the region as head of an exploration party. On July 3, 1608, with the support of King Henri IV, he founded the Habitation de Québec (now Quebec City) on Cap Diamant and made it the capital of New France and all of its regions (which, at the time, were Acadia, Canada and Plaisance in Newfoundland). The settlement was built as a permanent fur trading outpost. First Nations traded their furs for many French goods such as metal objects, guns, alcohol, and clothing. In 1616, the Habitation du Québec became the first permanent establishment of the Indes occidentales françaises with the arrival of its two very first settlers: Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet. Several missionary groups arrived in New France after the founding of Québec, like the Recollects in 1615, the Jésuites in 1625 and the Supliciens in 1657.
Coureurs des bois and Catholic missionaries used river canoes to explore the interior of the North American continent. They established fur trading forts on the Great Lakes (Étienne Brûlé 1615), Hudson Bay (Radisson and Groseilliers 1659–60), Ohio River and Mississippi River (La Salle 1682), as well as the Saskatchewan River and Missouri River (de la Verendrye 1734–1738).
In 1612, the Compagnie de Rouen received the royal mandate to manage the operations of New France and the fur trade. In 1621, they were replaced by the Compagnie de Montmorency. Then, in 1627, they were substituted by the Compagnie des Cent-Associés. Shortly after being appointed, the Compagnie des Cent-Associés introduced the Custom of Paris and the seigneurial system to New France. They also forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics.
In 1629, there was the surrender of Quebec, without battle, to English privateers led by David Kirke during the Anglo-French War. However, Samuel de Champlain argued that the English seizing of the lands was illegal as the war had already ended; he worked to have the lands returned to France. As part of the ongoing negotiations of their exit from the Anglo-French War, in 1632 the English king Charles agreed to return the lands in exchange for Louis XIII paying his wife's dowry. These terms were signed into law with the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The lands in Quebec and Acadia were returned to the Compagnie des Cent-Associés.
In 1634, Sieur de Laviolette founded Trois-Rivières at the mouth of the Saint-Maurice river. In 1642, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded Ville-Marie (now Montreal) on Pointe-à-Callière. He chose to found Montreal on an island so that the settlement could be naturally protected against Iroquois invasions.
In 1663, King Louis XIV officially made New France into a royal province of France. New France would now be a true colony administered by the Sovereign Council of New France from Québec, and which functioned off triangular trade. A governor-general, assisted by the intendant of New France and the bishop of Québec, would go on to govern Canada (Montreal, Québec, Trois-Rivières and the Pays-d'en-Haut) and its administrative dependencies: Acadia, Louisiana and Plaisance.
The French settlers were mostly farmers and they were known as "Canadiens" or "Habitants". Though there was little immigration, the colony still grew because of the Habitants' high birth rates. In 1665, the Carignan-Salières regiment developed the string of fortifications known as the "Valley of Forts" to protect against Iroquois invasions. The Regiment brought along with them 1,200 new men from Dauphiné, Liguria, Piedmont and Savoy. To redress the severe imbalance between single men and women, and boost population growth, King Louis XIV sponsored the passage of approximately 800 young French women (known as les filles du roi) to the colony. In 1666, intendant Jean Talon organized the first census of the colony and counted 3,215 Habitants. Talon also enacted policies to diversify agriculture and encourage births, which, in 1672, had increased the population to 6,700 Canadiens.
In 1686, the Chevalier de Troyes and the Troupes de la Marine seized three northern forts the English had erected on the lands explored by Charles Albanel in 1671 near Hudson Bay. Similarly, in the south, Cavelier de La Salle took for France lands discovered by Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673 along the Mississippi River. As a result, the colony of New France's territory grew to extend from Hudson Bay all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and would also encompass the Great Lakes.
In the early 1700s, Governor Callières concluded the Great Peace of Montreal, which not only confirmed the alliance between the Algonquian peoples and New France, but also definitively ended the Beaver Wars. In 1701, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville founded the district of Louisiana and made its administrative headquarter Biloxi. Its headquarter was later moved to Mobile, and then to New Orleans. In 1738, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, extended New France to Lake Winnipeg. In 1742, his voyageur sons, François and Louis-Joseph, crossed the Great Plains and discovered the Rocky Mountains.
From 1688 onwards, the fierce competition between the French Empire and British Empire to control North America's interior and monopolize the fur trade pitted New France and a number of its Indigenous allies against the Iroquois and their English allies, primarily in the Province of New York, in a series of four successive wars called the French and Indian Wars by Americans, and the Intercolonial wars in Quebec. The first three of these wars were King William's War (1688-1697), Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), and King George's War (1744-1748). Many notable battles and exchanges of land took place. In 1690, the Battle of Quebec became the first time Québec's defences were tested. In 1713, following the Peace of Utrecht, the Duke of Orléans ceded Acadia and Plaisance Bay to the Kingdom of Great Britain, but retained Île Saint-Jean, and Île-Royale (Cape Breton Island) where the Fortress of Louisbourg was subsequently erected. These losses were significant since Plaisance Bay was the primary communication route between New France and France, and Acadia contained 5,000 Acadians. In the siege of Louisbourg in 1745, the British were victorious, but returned the city to France after war concessions.
The last of the 4 French and Indian Wars was called the Seven Years' War ("The War of the Conquest" in Quebec, The French and Indian War in the US) and lasted from 1754 to 1763. In 1754, tensions escalated for control of the Ohio Valley, an area controlled by French fur trade companies but coveted by British fur trade companies. Authorities in New France became more aggressive in their efforts to expel British traders and colonists from the Ohio Valley, and they began construction of a series of fortifications to protect the area. In 1754, George Washington launched a surprise attack in the early morning hours on a group of sleeping Canadien soldiers. It came at a time when no declaration of war had been issued by anyone. This aggressive act, known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen, became the first battle of the Seven Years' War. By 1756, France and Britain were battling the Seven Years' War worldwide. In 1755, the first batch of new French soldiers arrived, commanded by Jean-Armand Dieskau. The latter would go on to fight in the Battle of Lake George, but would be wounded and taken prisoner. Also in 1755, the forceful Deportation of the Acadians was ordered by the Governor Charles Lawrence and Officer Robert Monckton. In 1756, Lieutenant General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm arrived in New France with 3,000 men as reinforcements.
In 1758, on Île-Royale, British General James Wolfe besieged and captured the Fortress of Louisbourg. This allowed him to control access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence through the Cabot Strait. In 1759, he besieged Québec for nearly three months from Île d'Orléans. Then, Wolfe and his men stormed Québec and fought against Montcalm and his men for control of the city in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Both Montcalm and Wolfe died from the battle. The British won on September 13, 1759. Five days later, the king's lieutenant and Lord of Ramezay concluded the Articles of Capitulation of Quebec.
During the spring of 1760, the Chevalier de Lévis, armed with a new garrison from Ville-Marie, besieged Québec and forced the British to entrench themselves during the Battle of Sainte-Foy. However, the loss of the French vessels sent to support and resupply New France after the fall of Québec during the Battle of Restigouche marked the end of France's efforts to try to retake the colony. Then, after the British captured Trois-Rivières, Governor Vaudreuil signed the Articles of Capitulation of Montreal on September 8, 1760.
While awaiting the results of the Seven Years' War, the rest of which was taking place in Europe, New France was put under a British military regime led by Governor James Murray. The regime remained from 1760 to 1763. In 1762, Commander Jeffery Amherst ended the French presence in Newfoundland at the Battle of Signal Hill. Two months later, France ceded the western part of Louisiana and the Mississippi River Delta to the Kingdom of Spain via the Treaty of Fontainebleau in an attempt to curb British expansion towards the west of the continent. On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris concluded the war. With the exception of the small islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, France ceded its North American possessions to Great Britain in favour of gaining Guadeloupe for its then-lucrative sugar cane industry. Thus, France had put an end to New France and abandoned the remaining 60,000 Canadiens who, as a result, sided with the Catholic clergy, refusing to take an oath to the British Crown.
The rupture from France would provoke a transformation within the descendants of the Canadiens that would eventually result in the birth of a new nation whose development and culture would be founded upon, among other things, ancestral foundations anchored in Northeastern America. This is referenced in O Canada with the passage: “terre de nos aïeux” ("land of our ancestors"). What British Commissioner John George Lambton (Lord Durham) would describe in his 1839 report would be the kind of relationship that would reign between the "Two Solitudes" of Canada for a long time: "I found two nations at war within one state; I found a struggle, not of principles, but of races”. Incoming British immigrants would find that Canadiens were as full of national pride as they were, and while these newcomers would see the American territories as a vast ground for colonization and speculation, the Canadiens would regard Quebec as the heritage of their own race - not as a country to colonize, but as a country already colonized.
After the British officially acquired Canada in 1763, King George III reorganized the constitution of Canada using the Royal Proclamation. From this point on, the Canadiens were subordinated to the government of the British Empire and circumscribed to a region of St. Lawrence valley called the Province of Quebec. Canadiens were not happy with British rule. Likewise, during the Pontiac Rebellion of 1763, the Amerindian peoples jointly fought against the new order established by the British, and the Boston Tea Party of 1773 marked the culmination of the protest movements in the British American colonies.
With unrest growing in the colonies to the south, which would one day grow into the American Revolution, the British were worried that the Canadiens might also support the growing rebellion. At the time, Canadiens formed the vast majority of the population of the Province of Quebec (more than 99%) and British immigration was not going well. To secure the allegiance of Canadiens to the British crown, Governor James Murray and later Governor Guy Carleton promoted the need for accomodations. This eventually resulted in enactment of the Quebec Act of 1774. This act allowed Canadiens to regain their civil customs, return to the seigneural system, regain certain rights (including the use of the French language), and reappropriate their old territories: Labrador, the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley, Illinois Country and the Indian Territory. However, the oath of abjuration to the Catholic faith was replaced by an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The Council for the Affairs of the Province of Quebec was established to admit Canadiens - that is to say faithful Catholics - to civil and governmental functions.
As early as 1774, the Continental Congress of the separatist Thirteen Colonies attempted to rally the Canadiens to its cause. However, its military troops failed to defeat the British counteroffensive during its Invasion of Quebec in 1775. When it came to the idea of rebelling against the British, most Canadiens were neutral, although some patriotic regiments allied themselves with the American revolutionaries in the Saratoga campaign of 1777. When the British Empire recognized the independence of the rebel colonies at the signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, it conceded Illinois and the Ohio Valley to the newly formed United States and denoted the 45th parallel as the separation between the British Empire and the US. This drastically reduced the Province of Quebec's size; its southwest borders now ended at the Great Lakes. Then, United Empire Loyalists migrated to the Province of Quebec and populated various regions, including the Niagara Peninsula, the Eastern Townships and Thousand Islands.
Dissatisfied with the many rights granted to Canadiens and wanting to use the British legal system they were used to in the American colonies, the immigrant Loyalists from the United States protested to British authorities until the Constitutional Act of 1791 was enacted, dividing the Province of Quebec into two distinct colonies starting from the Ottawa River: Upper Canada to the west (predominantly Anglo-Protestant) and Lower Canada to the east (predominantly Franco-Catholic). Each colony had a parliamentary system based on the principles of the Westminster system. However, the creation of Upper and Lower Canada allowed most Loyalists to live under British laws and institutions, while most Canadiens could maintain their familiar French civil law and the Catholic religion. Furthermore, Governor Haldimand drew Loyalists away from Quebec City and Montreal by offering free land of 200 acres (81 ha) per person on the northern shore of Lake Ontario to anyone willing to swear allegiance to George III. Basically, these colonies were designed with the intent of keeping French-speakers and English-speakers separate.
In 1813, Beauport-native Charles-Michel de Salaberry became a hero by leading the Canadian troops to victory at the Battle of Chateauguay, during the War of 1812. In this battle, 300 Voltigeurs and 22 Amerindians successfully pushed back a force of 7000 Americans. This loss caused the Americans to abandon the Saint Lawrence Campaign, their major strategic effort to conquer Canada.
Gradually, the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, who represented the people, came more and more into conflict with the superior authority of the Crown and its appointed representatives. Starting in 1791, the government of Lower Canada was criticized and contested by the Parti canadien. In 1834, the Parti canadien presented its 92 resolutions, a series of political demands which expressed a genuine loss of confidence in the British monarchy. London refused to consider these and, in response, submitted Russell's 10 resolutions. Discontentment intensified throughout the public meetings of 1837, sometimes being lead by tribunes like Louis-Joseph Papineau. Despite opposition from ecclesiastics, for example Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Rebellion of the Patriotes began in 1837.
In 1837, Louis-Joseph Papineau and Robert Nelson led residents of Lower Canada to form an armed resistance group called the Patriotes in order to seek an end to the unilateral control of the British governors. They made a Declaration of Independence in 1838, guaranteeing human rights and equality for all citizens without discrimination. Their actions resulted in rebellions in both Lower and Upper Canada. The Patriotes forces were victorious in their first battle, the Battle of Saint-Denis, because the British army was unprepared. However, the Patriotes were unorganized and badly equiped, leading to their loss against the British army in their second battle, the Battle of Saint-Charles, and their defeat in their final battle, the Battle of Saint-Eustache. Following the British's defeat of the Patriotes, the Catholic clergy recovered their moral authority among the people and preached for the cohesion and development of the nation in the fields of education, health and civil society.
As access to new lands remained problematic because they were still monopolized by the Clique du Château, an exodus of Canadiens towards New England began and went on for the next one hundred years. This phenomenon is known as the Grande Hémorragie and greatly threatened the survival of the Canadien nation. The massive British immigration ordered from London that soon followed the failed rebellion would only serve to further compound this problem. In order to combat this, the Church consequently adopted the revenge of the cradle policy.
In response to the rebellions, Lord Durham was asked to undertake a study and prepare a report offering a solution to the British Parliament. In his report, Lord Durham recommended that Canadiens be culturally assimilated, with English as their only official language. In order to do this, the British passed the Act of Union of 1840, which merged Upper Canada and Lower Canada into a single colony: the Province of Canada. Lower Canada became the francophone and densely populated Canada East, and Upper Canada became the anglophone and sparsely populated Canada West. This union, unsurprisingly, was the main source of political instability until 1867. The differences between the two cultural groups of the Province of Canada made it impossible to govern without forming coalition governments. Furthermore, despite their population gap, both Canada East and Canada West obtained an identical number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. In the wake of major immigration from the British Isles, Canada West's population increased. However, the two regions continued to have equal representation in the Parliament, as set out in the Union Act, meaning that Canada East was increasingly over-represented in the Parliament. The corresponding under-representation of Canada West was called into question by debates on "Representation by Population", or "Rep by Pop", and became a rallying cry for the Canada West Reformers and Clear Grits, led by George Brown.
In this period, the Loyalists and immigrants from the British Isles decided to no longer refer to themselves as English or British, and instead appropriated the term "Canadian", referring to Canada, their place of residence. The “Old Canadians” responded to this appropriation of identity by henceforth identifying with their ethnic community, under the name "French Canadian". As such, the terms French Canadian and English Canadian were born. French Canadian writers began to reflect on the survival of their own. François-Xavier Garneau wrote an influential national epic, and wrote to Lord Elgin: “I have undertaken this work with the aim of re-establishing the truth so often disfigured, and of repelling the attacks and insults which my compatriots have been and still are the daily target of, from men who would like to oppress and exploit them all at every opportunity. I thought the best way to achieve this was to simply expose their story”. His and other written works allowed French Canadians to preserve their collective consciousness and to protect themselves from assimilation, much like works like Evangeline had done for Acadians.
Political unrest came to a head in 1849, when English Canadian rioters set fire to the Parliament Building in Montreal following the enactment of the Rebellion Losses Bill, a law that compensated French Canadians whose properties were destroyed during the rebellions of 1837-1838. This bill, resulting from the Baldwin-La Fontaine coalition and Lord Elgin's advice, was a very important one as it established the notion of responsible government. In 1854, the seigneurial system was abolished, the Grand Trunk Railway was built and the Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty was implemented. In 1866, the Civil Code of Lower Canada was adopted. Then, the long period of political impasse that was the Province of Canada came to a close as the Macdonald-Cartier coalition began to reform the political system.
On July 1, 1867, negotiations took place for a confederation between the colonies of the Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This lead to the British North America Act, which created the Dominion of Canada and its four founding provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. These last two came from the splitting of the Province of Canada, and used the old borders of Lower Canada for Quebec, and Upper Canada for Ontario. Since this federal system's constitution was founded on the same principles as that of the United Kingdom's, each of the new provinces was guaranteed sovereign authority in the sphere of its legislative powers.
After having fought as a Patriote at the Battle of Saint-Denis in 1837, George-Étienne Cartier joined the ranks of the Fathers of Confederation and submited the 72 resolutions of the Quebec Conference of 1864 approved for the establishment of a federated state -Quebec- whose territory was to be limited to the region which corresponded to the historic heart of the French Canadian nation and where French Canadians would most likely retain majority status. In the future, Quebec as a political entity would act as a form of protection against cultural assimilation and would serve as a vehicle for the national affirmation of the French-Canadian collective to the face of a Canadian state that would, over time, become dominated by Anglo-American culture. Despite this, the objectives of the new federal political regime were going to serve as great obstacles to the assertion of Quebec and the political power given to the provinces would be restricted. Quebec, economically weakened, would have to face political competition from Ottawa, the capital of the strongly centralizing federal state.
In this time period, the omnipresence of the Church was at its peak. The objective of clerico-nationalists consisted of promoting the values of traditional society: family, the French language, the Catholic Church and rural life. These values were the main ones upon which the French-Canadian nation's survival was based. They continued to be shared, in particular, by Roman du terroir novels and Abbé Gadbois' song La Bonne Chanson. Though the Church was well regarded, it did sometimes have deviants of the ecclesial order to contain. A good example are the Montreal cabarets who defied Prohibition.
Also during this time period, events such as the North-West Rebellion of 1885, the Manitoba Schools Question in 1896 and Ontario's Regulation 17 in 1917, turned the promotion and defenec of the rights of French Canadians into an important concern. Under the aegis of the Catholic Church and the political action of Henri Bourassa, various symbols of national pride were developed, like the Carillon Sacré-Cœur, and O Canada - a patriotic song composed for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. Many organizations would go on to consecrate the affirmation of the French-Canadian people, including the caisses populaires Desjardins in 1900, the Catholic Association of French-Canadian Youth in 1904, the Club de Hockey Canadien (CH) in 1909, Le Devoir in 1910, the Congrès de la langue française in 1912, L'Action catholique in 1915, L'Action nationale in 1917, etc.
On July 15, 1867, Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau became Quebec's first Premier. In 1868, he created the Ministry of Public Instruction which was quickly denounced by the clergy. As such, in 1875, Boucherville abolished the Ministry and the 1867 system was restored. In 1876, Pierre-Alexis Tremblay was defeated in a federal by-election because of pressure from the Church on voters, but succeeded in getting his loss annuled with the help of a new federal law. He quickly lost the subsequent election. In 1877, the Pope sent representatives to force the Quebecois Church to minimize its interventions in the electoral process. At the time, the religious (ex. nuns, priests, etc.) represented 48% of teachers in Catholic schools.
As Montreal was the financial center of Canada during this era, it was the first Canadian city to implement new innovations, like electricity, streetcars and radio. In 1885, liberal and conservative MPs formed the Parti national out of anger with the previous government for not having interceded in the execution of Louis Riel following the North-West Rebellion. They then proposed a series of unsuccessful republican reforms that supported economic nationalism and public education. Then, in 1905, Lomer Gouin's government undertook a series of similar but more modest reforms that were more successful. In 1899, Henri Bourassa vigorously opposed the British government's request for Canada to join the Second Boer War. This would sow the seeds for the future conscription protests of the World Wars.
In 1909, the government passed a law obligating wood and pulp to be transformed in Quebec. This helped slow the Grande Hémorragie by allowing Quebec to export its finished products to the US instead of its labour force. Afterwards, in 1910, Armand Lavergne passed the Loi Lavergne, the first language legislation in Quebec. It required the use of French alongside English on tickets, documents, bills and contracts issued by transportation and public utility companies. At this point in time, companies rarely recognized the majority language of Quebec. Clerico-nationalists eventually started to fall out of favour in the federal elections of 1911.
When World War I broke out, Canada was automatically involved as a Dominion. Many Canadians voluntarily enlisted to fight. However, most of them were English Canadians. Unlike English Canadians, who felt a connection to the British Empire, French Canadians felt no connection to anyone in Europe. Furthermore, Canada was not threatened by the enemy, who was an ocean away and uninterested in conquering Canada. So, French Canadians saw no reason to fight. Nevertheless, a few French Canadians did enlist in the 22nd Battalion - precursor to the Royal 22e Regiment. By late 1916, the horrific number of casualties were beginning to cause reinforcement problems. After enormous difficulty in the federal government, because virtually every French-speaking MP opposed conscription while almost all the English-speaking MPs supported it, the Military Service Act became law on August 29, 1917. French Canadians protested in what is now called the Conscription Crisis of 1917. The conscription protests grew so much that they eventually led to the Quebec riot of 1918.
Following the Balfour declaration at the Imperial Conference of 1926, the Statute of Westminster of 1931 was enacted and it confirmed the autonomy of the Dominions - including Canada and its provinces - from the United Kingdom, as well as their free associaton in the Commonwealth.
When World War II came around, French Canadians would still be against conscription for the same reasons as last time. When Canada declared war in September 1939, the federal government pledged not to conscript soldiers for overseas service. As the war went on, more and more English Canadians voiced support for conscription, despite firm opposition from French Canada. Following a poll on April 27, 1942 that showed 72,9% of Quebec's residents were against conscription, while 80% or more were for conscription in every single other province, the federal government passed Bill 80 for overseas service, then enacted it. Protests exploded and the Bloc Populaire emerged to fight conscription until the end of the war. The stark differences between the values of French and English Canada popularized the expression the "Two Solitudes". Soldier Léo Major became a hero after he liberated the city of Zwolle from the Nazis by himself in 1945.
In the wake of the 1944 conscription crisis, Maurice Duplessis of the Union Nationale ascended to power until 1959. He focused on defending provincial autonomy, Quebec's catholic and francophone heritage, and laissez-faire liberalism instead of the emerging welfare state.
However, as early as 1948, French-Canadian society began to develop new ideologies and desires. This is because many big changes in society were happening simultaneously, for example the: television, baby boomers, workers' conflicts, electrification of the countryside, refrigerator, emergence of a middle class, rural exodus, expansion of universities and bureaucracies, birth of a new intelligentsia, creation of a motorway system, renaissance of litterature and poetry, urbanization, etc... New ideas would sometimes be shared in publications like the Refus global or the Cité Libre before becoming mainstream.
The more French Canadian society was shaken by social change, the more the traditional elites - grouped around clerical circles and the figure of Duplessis - reflexively hardened their conservative and French-Canadian nationalism. Over time, the people became discontent.
The Quiet Revolution was a period of intense modernization, declaricalization and social reform where, in a collective awakening, French Canadians clearly expressed their concern and dissatisfaction with the inferior socioeconomic position French-speaking Canadians had been forced to occupy in Canada, and with the cultural assimilation of francophone minorities in the English-majority provinces. It resulted, among many other things, in the formation of the modern Québécois identity and Québécois nation.
In 1960, the Liberal Party of Quebec was brought to power with a two-seat majority, having campaigned with the slogan “C'est l'temps qu'ça change” ("Its time for things to change"). This new Jean Lesage government had in it the "team of thunder": René Lévesque, Paul Gérin-Lajoie, Georges-Émile Lapalme and Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain. This government made many reforms in the fields of social policy, education, health and economic development. It also created the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Labour Code, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Office québécois de la langue française, Régie des rentes and Société générale de financement.
The Quiet Revolution was particularly characterized by the 1962 Liberal Party's slogan of "Maîtres chez nous" ("Masters of our home"), which, in front of the stranglehold of the Anglo-American conglomerates on the economy and natural resources of Quebec, announced a collective will for freedom of the French-Canadian people. In 1962, the government of Quebec nationalized its electricity and dismanteled the financial syndicates of Saint Jacques Street.
Confrontations between the lower clergy and the laity began. As a result, state institutions began to be declericalized and deconfessionalized, and many parts of civil society began to be desacralized. During the Second Vatican Council, the reform of Quebec's institutions was overseen and supported by the Holy See. In 1963, Pope John XXIII proclaimed the encyclical Pacem in Terris establishing human rights. In 1964, the Lumen Gentium confirmed that the laity had a particular role in the “management of temporal things”.
In 1965, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism wrote a preliminary report underlining Quebec's distinct character, and promoted open federalism, a political attitude guaranteeing Quebec to a minimum amount of consideration(s). To favour Quebec during its Quiet Revolution, Canada, through Lester B. Pearson, adopted a policy of open federalism. In 1966, the Union Nationale was re-elected and continued on with major reforms.
In 1967, for the first time since the Conquest, a French head of state named Charles de Gaulle visited Quebec in order to attend Expo 67 in Montreal. There, he adressed a crowd of more than 100,000 Québécois, making a speech and ending it with the exclamation: "Vive le Québec Libre!" ("Long live free Quebec"). This declaration had a profound effect on Quebec by bolstering the burgeoning modern Quebec sovereignty movement and resulting in a political crisis between France and Canada. Following this, various civilian groups developed and acted, sometimes to the point of confronting public authority, for example, the October crisis of 1970. The meetings of the Estates General of French Canada of November 1967 marked a tipping point where relations between francophones of America, and especially francophones of Canada, would rupture. This breakdown would greatly affect Québécois society's evolution moving forward (as well as the ones of other francophones).
In 1968, class conflicts and changes in mentalities intensified. That year, Option Quebec sparked a constitutional debate on the political future of the province by pitting federalist and sovereignist doctrines against eachother and talking about the cultural and social emancipation of the Quebec and French-Canadian political entities. In 1973, the liberal government of Robert Bourassa initiated the James Bay Project on La Grande River. In 1974, it enacted Bill 22, which made French the official language of Quebec. In 1975, it established the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. In 1976, the Summer Olympics took place in Montreal. In the same vein, between 1964 and 1979, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup every single season, except for the 1974-1975 period.
Quebec's first modern sovereignist government, led by René Lévesque, materialized when the Parti Québécois was brought to power in the 1976 Quebec general election. The Charter of the French Language came into force the following year, strengthening the linguistic rights of Quebecois, most notably at work and concerning signage. Before then, Quebec was the only province to de facto practice institutional English-French bilinguilism.
In the 1980 referendum on sovereignty-association with Canada, 60% of Québécois voted against. Polls showed that the overwhelming majority of Anglo-Quebecers and immigrants voted against, and that Francophone Quebecers were almost equally divided. During the campaign, Pierre Trudeau had stated that a NO vote was a vote for patriation of Canada's constitution. As such, after the referendum, Lévesque went back to Ottawa to start negotiating a new constitution. On the night of November 4, 1981, an event called the Kitchen Accord ("Night of Long Knives" in French) took place. Constitutional negotiations were being discussed between the 10 Premiers and the Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, but, since they did not satisfy Quebec Premier René Levesque, he left to sleep in his hotel room in Hull. Since the other 9 Premiers remained, Pierre Trudeau used this opportunity to get his constitutional law approved by the other Premiers behind René Levesque's back. Because of this corrupt behaviour, the National Assembly of Quebec refused to expressly recognize the new Constitutional Act of 1982, which repatriated the Canadian constitution and made numerous modifications to it. Today, Quebec is still subservient to this 1982 constitution despite never having officially consented to it.
Between 1982 to 1992, the Quebecois government's attitude changed to prioritize reforming the federation, a behaviour described by René Lévesque as a Beau risque ("Beautiful risk"). Unfortunately, the following attempts at constitutional ratifications by the Mulroney and Bourassa governments ended in failure with both the Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, resulting in the creation of the Bloc Québécois. After these failed attempts, Daniel Johnson of the Liberal Party of Quebec briefly seized power as the 25th Premier of Quebec in 1994. He then quickly lost the following election, which established Jacques Parizeau as the new Premier.
In 1995, in a political spirit influenced by the , Jacques Parizeau and his government called a referendum on Quebec's independence from Canada. This consultation ended in failure for sovereignists, and therefore in the maintenance of the province within the federation, though the final outcome was very close: 50.6% NO and 49.4% YES. On average, francophones voted 60% YES, while anglophones and immigrants voted 95% NO.
In 1998, following the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on the reference relating to the secession of Quebec, the Parliaments of Canada and Quebec defined the legal frameworks within which their respective governments would act concerning another referendum. On October 30, 2003, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously to affirm "that the people of Québec form a nation". In 2004, the illegals donations to Option Canada from the federal government to skew the 1995 referendums results towards the NO vote were discovered. The sponsorship scandal (1996-2004), an operation run by the federal government, was also discovered. On November 27, 2006, the federal House of Commons passed a symbolic motion declaring "that this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada." In March 2007, the Parti Québécois was pushed back to official opposition in the National Assembly, with the Liberal party leading.
During the 2011 Canadian federal elections, the people of Quebec rejected the sovereignist Bloc Quebecois in favour of the federalist and previously minor New Democratic Party (NDP). It is thought that this occurred mostly because of dissatisfaction with the Bloc. As the NDP's logo is orange, this event was called the "orange wave". After three subsequent Liberal governments, the Parti Québécois regained power in 2012 and its leader, Pauline Marois, became the first female Premier of Quebec. The Liberal Party of Quebec then returned to power in April 2014. In 2018, the Coalition Avenir Québec, a then 7 year old political party led by François Legault, won the provincial general elections, obtaining a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Between 2020 and 2021, Quebec took measures to protect itself against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The head of government in Quebec is the premier (called premier ministre in French), who leads the largest party in the unicameral National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) from which the Executive Council of Quebec is appointed. The lieutenant governor represents the Queen of Canada and acts as the province's head of state.[law 1] 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. 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.
Quebec is founded on the Westminster system, and is both a liberal democracy and a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary regime. Quebec is a member state of the Canadian federation, as such, its leader is Elizabeth II, who is the incarnation of the Crown of Canada and holder of the government and executive power in the province of Quebec.
The Parliament of Quebec is the legislative body of Quebec. It is made up of the lieutenant governor (representative of the Crown) and an elective chamber bearing the name of the National Assembly (representative of the people). Each legislature has a maximum duration of five years, however, barring exceptions, Quebec now conducts fixed-date elections in October every four years.
The Executive Council (or Council of Ministers), chaired by the premier, is the primary body for executive power in Quebec. Its members are the principal advisers to the lieutenant governor in the exercise of executive power.
Quebec has 78 members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons of Canada. They are elected in federal elections. At the level of the Senate of Canada, Quebec is represented by 24 senators, which are appointed on the advice of the prime minister of Canada.
The Conseil du trésor supports the ministers of the Executive Council in their function of stewardship of the state. The Quebec political spectrum includes - among other dimensions - the theme of the political and constitutional status of Quebec. The Parliament of the 40th legislature is made up of the following parties: Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ), Québec solidaire (QS) and Parti Québécois (PQ), as well as an independent member.
The public lands of Quebec, also called lands of the State (État québécois) or Crown lands, are a vast expanse of public land that cover approximately 92% of the Québécois territory, including almost all of the bodies of water (21% of the total area). Information and records about these lands are kept in the Registre du domaine de l'État, though before 2005, they were kept in the Terrier du Québec. While all of these lands are owned by the Québécois state, they can be administered by a variety of entities, including the Ministère du développement Durable, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et Faune, or the federal government of Canada, among others.
Protected areas are a type of public land and can be classified into about twenty different legal designations (ex. exceptional forest ecosystem, protected marine environment, national park, biodiversity reserve, wildlife reserve, zone d'exploitation contrôlée (ZEC), etc.). More than 2,500 sites in Quebec today are protected areas. As of 2013, the protected areas of Quebec are 9.14% of the Québécois territory. The origins of the lands of the State can be traced back to New France. Back then, all lands not divided into seigneuries and given to settlers were considered Crown land.
Quebec's national policy covers all areas relating to the Quebec nation. It establishes the values and foundations on which Quebec society bases its cohesion and its specificity. The Québécois constitution is enshrined in a series of social and cultural traditions that are defined in a set of judicial judgments and legislative documents, including the Loi sur l'Assemblée Nationale ("Law on the National Assembly"), the Loi sur l'éxecutif ("Law on the Executive"), and the Loi électorale du Québec ("Electoral Law of Quebec").[law 3] Other notable examples include:
It is also based on a set of statements which clarify and reinforce already established social practices. For example, in his press release on February 8, 2007, Jean Charest reaffirmed three of Quebec society's fundamental values:
"That the National Assembly reiterates its desire to promote the language, history, culture and values of the Québécois nation, promote integration into our nation in a spirit of openness and reciprocity, and bear witness to its attachment to our religious and historical heritage represented by the crucifix in our Blue Room and by our coat of arms adorning our institutions."
Since 1969, the Official Languages Act has allowed Quebec to integrate better into the Canadian community, in addition to guaranteeing a legal and linguistic context conducive to the development of the province.
Quebec possesses a network of three offices, each lead by one station chief, for representing itself and defending its interests in Canada: one in Moncton (for Atlantic Canada), one in Toronto (for Ontario and Western Canada) and one in Ottawa (for the federal government). These offices' mandate is to ensure an institutional presence of the Government of Quebec near other Canadian governments and to allow Quebec to interact effectively with the other provinces of the country.
Quebec's international policy is founded upon the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine, formulated in 1965. While Quebec's Ministry of International Relations coordinates guiding principles in international policy, its Quebec's general delegations that are the main interlocutors in foreign countries. In matters relating to Quebec law, or matters relating to treaties, deals, accords and programs, only Quebecois political bodies have negotiatic power, along with heads of state, governments, embassies and foreign consulates. Under the rule of law, any agreement made abroad, by the federal or Quebecois government, is only applicable in domestic politics by the consent of popular sovereignty.
Quebec is the only Canadian province that has set up a ministry to exclusively embody the state's powers for matters of international relations. In other provinces, the general tendency is to entrust this type of mandate to a minister that was already carrying out other responsibilities (most likely in intergovernmental relations).
Since 2006, Quebec has adopted a green plan in order to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol regarding climate change. The (MELCC) is the primary entity responsible for the application of environmental policy on the Québécois territory. The Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ) is the main body responsible for the management of national parks, wildlife reserves, etc.[law 7]
On November 23, 2009, Jean Charest announced Quebec's greenhouse gas reduction targets at the Copenhagen conference: Quebec intended to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2020 (compared to the emissions of 1990) and will focus on the transportation sector, which accounts for 40% of GHG emissions in Quebec. Following this annoucement, the government undertook the initiatives needed to keep its promises. On January 14, 2010, a law came into effect aimed at reducing vehicle GHGs. Automobile manufacturers who sell vehicles in Quebec have to comply with an emission ceiling of 187 g of GHG/km. This emission level was also lowered every year until it fell to 127 g of GHG/km in 2016. Manufacturers have to obtain an emission average equivalent to that of the enforced level, so they are still be able to sell vehicles that sometimes exceed this threshold. These standards are as strict as those of California (United States), according to the Government of Quebec.
Hydroelectricity is Quebec's main energy source. The Hydro-Québec corporation, owned by the government of Quebec, is the main producer and provider of this renewable and low-pollution energy. Hydro-Québec is a profitable company in constant expansion (for example the Manic-Outardes project, the James Bay Project, the Romaine project, etc.). Wind energy also sees modest use.
The population of Quebec seems to be more sensitive to environmental issues than the population of other Canadian provinces. According to a 2019 university study, 67% of Québécois residents are aware of humanity's impact on global warming, while the figure drops to 47% in Saskatchewan and to 42% in Alberta. The economic structure of each of these provinces could be one explanation: "Quebec does not produce petroleum, but mainly hydroelectricity. Compared to Alberta... There is the whole structure of the economy that could explain this phenomenon" analyzes the academic Erick Lachapelle. Nearly 500,000 people took part in a climate protest on the streets of Montreal in 2019.
Agriculture in Quebec has been subject to agricultural zoning regulations since 1978.[law 8] Faced with the problem of expanding urban sprawl, agricultural zones were created to ensure the protection of fertile land, which make up 2% of Quebec's total area. The Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) is the main guarantor. The city of Saint-Hyacinthe is the agricultural technopole of Quebec and is recognized for its agro-food, veterinary and agro-environmental biotechnology.
Quebec's forests are essentially public property. The calculation of annual cutting possibilities is the responsibility of the Bureau du forestier en chef. The Société de protection des forêt contre le feu (SOPFEU) works in a public-private partnership with the Quebec government in order to protect forests against forest fires. The Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) seeks to protect the interests of its members, including forestry workers, and works jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
The Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale du Québec has the mandate to oversee social and workforce developments through Emploi-Québec and its local employment centers (CLE). This ministry is also responsible for managing the Régime québécois d'assurance parentale (QPIP) as well as last-resort financial support for families and people in need. The (CNESST) is the main body responsible for the application of labour laws in Quebec[law 9] and enforcing the collective agreements concluded between unions of employees and their employers.[law 10]
When it comes to taxation, Revenu Québec takes the majority of its revenue through a progressive income tax, a 9.975% sales tax and various other taxes (such as carbon, corporate and capital gains taxes), equalization payments from the federal government, transfer payments from other provinces and direct payments. By some measures Quebec is the highest taxed province; a 2012 study indicated that "Quebec companies pay 26 per cent more in taxes than the Canadian average". A 2014 report by the Fraser Institute indicated that "Relative to its size, Quebec is the most indebted province in Canada by a wide margin".
Immigration to Quebec is supported by integration programs favouring French, as it is the common language, as well as the principles of pluralism and interculturalism. The Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles du Québec is responsible for the selection and integration of immigrants, and immigration policy favours respect for Québécois values as well as respect for Quebec's cultural, historical and social characteristics.
Quebec's health and social services network is administered by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. It is composed of 95 réseaux locaux de services (RLS; 'local service networks') and 18 agences de la santé et des services sociaux (ASSS; 'health and social services agencies'). Quebec's health system is supported by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) which works to maintain the accessibility of services for all citizens of Quebec.[law 11] Pre-hospital care and rescue missions are provided by foundations and non-profit organizations.
The centres de la petite enfance (CPEs; 'centres for young children') are institutions that link family policies to education. They are administered by the Ministère de la Famille et des Aînés du Québec. Quebec's education system is administered by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (primary and secondary schools), the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur (CEGEP) and the Conseil supérieure de l'Education du Québec.[law 12] Postsecondary studies include : the public university of the University of Quebec, vocational training centers, private colleges, public colleges (CEGEPs),[law 13] and private universities.
In 2012, the annual cost for postsecondary tuition was CA$2,168 (€1,700)—less than half of Canada's average tuition. Quebec universities are among the least expensive in Canada. Part of the reason for this is the relative democratization of higher education implemented during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, when the Quebec government froze tuition fees to a relatively low level and created CEGEPs. When Jean Charest's government decided in 2012 to sharply increase university fees, students protests erupted. Because of these protests, Quebec's tuition fees remain relatively low today.
Among these, four have seats in the National Assembly in 2020: the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), the Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ), the Parti québécois (PQ), and Québec solidaire (QS).
Quebec law is the set of laws which are applied on the Québécois territory. Quebec law is under the shared responsibility of the federal government and the provincial government. According to the Constitution of Canada, each of these two government are responsible for enacting law when it falls under their sphere of competence. As such, the federal government is responsible for criminal law, foreign affairs and laws relating to the regulation of Canadian commerce, interprovincial transportion, and telecommunications.[law 14] The provincial government is responsible for private law, the administration of justice and several social domains, such as social assistance, healthcare, education, and natural resources.[law 15]
Quebec law is influenced by two judicial traditions: the civil law and common law. Generally, private law is exercised under civil law, and public law is exercised under common law. However, since the two have always been very influential in Quebec law, with much crossover, the Québécois judicial system is considered to be mixed. The presence of the civil law tradition goes all the way back to the days of New France, when the French king Louis XIV imposed the Custom of Paris in Canada. When the Canada colony was ceded by France to the United Kingdom, following the Conquest of New France in the Seven Years' War, the United Kingdom first tried to impose English law. However, the British changed their minds and enacted the Quebec Act in 1774 which permitted the use of civil law for private relations between individuals in the entirety of the Province of Quebec.
Quebec law comes from the four classic sources of law: legislation, case law, doctrine and customary law. Legislation is the primary source in Quebec law. However, because private law is mostly exercised under a civil tradition, case law is also a strong source. Quebec law is made up of the Constitution of Canada, the laws of the Quebec Legislature and the rules related to legislating.
English is not an official language in Quebec law. 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. The books and records of the National Assembly must also be kept in both languages.
Quebec law can be divided into 2 spheres: private law and public law. Private law concerns the relations between individuals, while public law deals with the rules that govern the Québécois government.
Private law in Quebec affects all relationships between individuals (natural or juridical persons) and is largely under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Quebec. The Parliament of Canada also influences Quebec private law, in particular through its power over banks, bankruptcy, marriage, divorce and maritime law. The Droit civil du Québec is the primary component of Quebec's private law and is codified in the Civil Code of Quebec. The Civil Code of Quebec is the primary text delimiting Jus commune in Quebec and includes the principles and rules of law governing legal persons, property law, family law, obligations, civil liability, conflict of laws, etc. For historical reasons, the Droit civil du Québec has been strongly influenced by the civil law of France.
Public law in Quebec is largely derived from the common law tradition. Quebec constitutional law is the area of law that governs the rules surrounding the Quebec government, the Parliament of Quebec and Quebec's various courts. Quebec constitutional law is governed in large part by the Constitution of Canada, in particular by the Constitution Act of 1867, but also by various acts of the Parliament of Quebec. Quebec administrative law is the area of law that governs relations between individuals and the Quebec public administration. Quebec also has some jurisdiction over criminal law, but in a limited fashion, since the Parliament of Canada is responsible for criminal law. Quebec criminal law nevertheless includes a wide range of offences (road traffic safety (Code de la sécurité routière), Quebec labour law, etc.). Finally, Quebec, like the federal government, has tax law power.
Certain portions of Quebec law are considered mixed. This is the case, for example, with human rights and freedoms which are governed by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, a Charter which applies to both government and citizens.
Although Quebec is a civil law jurisdiction, it does not follow the pattern of other civil law systems which have court systems divided by subject matter. Instead, the court system follows the English model, of unitary courts of general jurisidiction. The provincial courts have jurisdiction to decide matters under provincial law as well as federal law, including civil matters, criminal matters and constitutional matters. The major exception to the principle of general jurisdiction is that the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal have exclusive jurisdiction over some areas of federal law, such as review of federal administrative bodies, federal taxes, and matters relating to national security.[law 16]
All courts, whether federal or provincial, are protected by the principle of judicial independence. The Supreme Court has held that judicial independence is a fundamental constitutional principle. The courts must have complete freedom to decide cases which come before them based on the law and the facts, without any political interference. The federal and provincial governments have legislative authority with respect to court structure and court administration, but the core function of deciding cases is reserved to the courts.[law 17]
The Quebec courts are organized in a pyramid. At the bottom, there are the municipal courts, the Professions Tribunal, the Human Rights Tribunal, and administrative tribunals. Decisions of those bodies can be reviewed by the two trial courts, the Court of Quebec the Superior Court of Quebec. The Court of Quebec is also the main criminal trial court, and also a court for small civil claims. The Superior Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction, in both criminal and civil matters. The decisions of those courts can be appealed to the Quebec Court of Appeal. Finally, if the case is of great importance, it may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is a court of general appeal, with jurisdiction over all legal issues which can arise in the lower courts.
The Parliament of Canada has legislative authority over the Supreme Court and other federal courts, subject to the principle of judicial independence. The federal government pays the judges of those courts and provides the necessary administrative supports, such as court employees and courthouses.[law 18] The federal government also appoints the judges of the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Superior Court, pays their salaries, and has exclusive power to remove them from office.[law 19] Although the judges of these courts are appointed and paid by the federal government, it is the government of Quebec which is responsible for laws regulating the court structure and the necessary administrative supports for the court system.[law 20]
The three main courts are the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court and the Quebec Court. Of these, the Court of Appeal serves two purposes. First, it is the general court of appeal for all legal issues from the lower courts. It hears appeals from the trial decisions of the Superior Court and the Quebec Court. It also can hear appeals from decisions rendered by those two courts on appeals or judicial review matters relating to the municipal courts and administrative tribunals.[law 21] Second, but much more rarely, the Court of Appeal possesses the power to respond to reference questions posed to it by the by the Quebec Cabinet. The Court of Appeal renders more than 1,500 judgments per year.
The Superior Court of Quebec has the inherent power to rule on all cases other than those where jurisdiction is assigned to another court or tribunal.[law 22] This means that the Superior Court has the power to hear all civil claims under the Civil Code of Quebec, determine matters under family law, including under the federal Divorce Act, and hear class actions. It also has jurisdiciton to hear appeals and judicial review applications from lower courts and administrative tribunals. The Superior Court is also a cour of criminal jurisdiction under the federal Criminal Code. It is the trial court for the most serious criminal offences, and also is the appellate court from criminal decisions of the Quebec Court.
The Court of Quebec is a court of statutory jurisdiction, rather than a court of general jurisdiction. However, its criminal law jurisdiction is very extensive, as all but the most serious criminal cases are heard by the Court of Quebec. In addition, the Court of Quebec is made up of three chambers: the Youth Division, the Criminal and Penal Division and the Civil Division. The Civil Division includes the small claims division. Until recently, the Court of Quebec had exclusive jurisdiction over all civil matters where the amount in issue was under $85,000, but the Supreme Court of Canada has held that it is unconstitutional to assign exclusive jurisdiction over those matters to the Court of Quebec and take that jurisdiction away from the Superior Court.[law 23]
The municipal courts, the Human Rights Tribunal, and the Professions Tribunal are all trial courts. Their powers are limited to the powers that are given to them by the statute which created them.
Finally, Quebec has a large number of administrative tribunals responsible for seeing to the application of one or more laws. In total, the Quebec judicial system has more than 500 judges. Nearly 300 of them work in the provincial courts, 25 at the Court of Appeal and nearly 200 at the Superior Court.
The Sûreté du Québec is the main police force of Quebec, and it is responsible for the application of the law on the entire Québécois territory. The Sûreté du Québec can also serve a support and coordination role with other police forces, such as with municipal police forces or with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).[law 24]
Municipal police, such as the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal and the Service de police de la Ville de Québec, are responsible for law enforcement in their municipalities. The Sûreté du Québec fulfills the role of municipal police in the 1038 municipalities that don't have a municipal police force. The indigenous communities of Quebec have their own police forces.
The RCMP has the power to enforce certain federal laws in Quebec. However, given the existence of the Sûreté du Québec, its role is more limited than in the other provinces.
For offences against provincial or federal laws in Quebec (including the Criminal Code), the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting offenders in court through Crown attorneys. The Department of Justice of Canada also has the power to prosecute offenders, but only for offences against specific federal laws (ex. selling narcotics).
When it comes to the penal system, Quebec is responsible for operating the prison system for sentences of less than two years, and the federal government operates penitentiaries for sentences of two years or more.
In 2013, Statistics Canada had estimated the province's population to be 8,155,334. In the 2016 census, Quebec's population had slightly grown from that estimate to 8,164,361 living in 3,531,663 of its 3,858,943 total dwellings, a 3.3% change from its 2011 population of 7,903,001. With a land area of 1,356,625.27 km2 (523,795.95 sq mi), it had a population density of 6.0/km2 (15.6/sq mi) in 2016.
Demographic weight: Quebec accounts for a little under 23% of the Canadian population. Quebec's demographic weight in Canada has been gradually decreasing since 1971 when, back then, it was 28% of the population. In 2018, Quebec's 3 most populated regions are Montreal (2,029,379), Montérégie (1,554,282) and Capitale-Nationale (745,135). Quebec's 3 least populated regions are Nord-du-Québec (45,558), Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine (90,709) and Côte-Nord (91,213).
Age: In 2016, Quebec's median age was 41.2 years old. According to Quebec's age pyramid, the most numerous generation is the baby-boomers that are between 54 and 74 years of age. There are a few other less pronounced peaks, namely in the 1980s, and the one around 2010. A noticeable crater can be observed around the year 2000 because of a record-low amount of births. In 2020, 20.8% of Québécois are less than 20 years old, 59.5% are aged between 20 and 64 years old, and 19.7% are 65 years old or older. In 2019, Quebec witnessed an increase in the number of births compared to the year before (84,200 vs 83,840) and had a replacement rate of about 1,6 per woman. Replacement rates being below 2,1 is a something that is becoming the norm across the world, and is already the norm in industrialised regions like Quebec. Quebec has a higher replacement rate than the Canadian average (1,47). Quebec's rate can also be both higher (ex. Switzerland (1,48), Portugal (1,42), Japan (1,36), Italy (1,29), etc.) or lower (ex. United States (1,73), New Zealand (1,75), Sweden (1,70), England (1,65), etc.) than other industrialised regions'. In Quebec, a lowered rate of giving birth has been mostly observed in people in their 20s. From 30 years of age and onwards, the rate is either increasing or stable. This demonstrates a trend towards wanting to form a family later in life. As of 2020, the average Québécois lifespan is 82.3 years. Between 2010 and 2019, there were between 1000 and 1600 deaths every week, with deaths being at their highest levels in January and their lowest levels in July.
Marriages: In 2019, 22,250 marriages were celebrated, about 600 less than in 2017 and 2018. These numbers illustrate a continuing trend where marriages are becoming less numerous; in 1970, the number of marriages hit a peak with more than 50,000 celebrations and the number has been slowly decreasing ever since. The average age for marriage is now 33.5 for men and 32.1 for women, an increase of 8.0 and 8.5 years respectively since 1970. 72% of marriages occur on a Saturday. Half of all marriages unite a man and woman with an age gap of 3 years or less. Though they are still uncommon, civil unions are becoming more and more popular.
Demographic growth: In 2019, Quebec registered the highest rate of population growth since 1972 (when quality data began to be recorded), with an increase of 110,000 people, mostly because of the arrival of a high number of non-permanent residents. The number of non-permanent residents has recently sky-rocketed from a little over 100,000 in 2014 to 260,000 in 2019. Quebec's population growth is usually middle-of-the-pack compared to other provinces and very high compared to other developed countries (ex. United States, France, Germany, etc.) because of the federal government of Canada's aggressive immigration policies. Since the 1970s, Quebec has always had more immigrants than emigrants. This can be attributed to international immigration as the number of people moving to Quebec from another province is always lower than the other way around. As of 2019, most international immigrants come from China, India or France.
Education and work: In 2016, 3 out of 10 Québécois possessed a postsecondary degree or diploma. While women were more likely to have a university degree (33% vs 26%) or college degree (21% vs 11%), men were more numerous in having received vocational training. In Quebec, couples where both parents work are far more likely to have children than couples where only one parent works or none of them do.
Households: In Quebec, most people are owners of the property that they live in. The vast majority of couples with or without children are property owners. Most one-person households, however, are renters. Single-parent homes are equally divided between being property owners or renters. From 1996 to 2016, the number of people per household has decreased from an average of 2.5 to 2.25. In 2016, the vast majority of low income households were one-person households. In 2016, 80% of both property owners and renters considered their housing to be "unaffordable".
Quebec is unique among the provinces in its overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, though recently with a low church attendance. This is a legacy of colonial times when only Roman Catholics were permitted to settle in New France.
The 2001 census showed the population to be 90.3% Christian (in contrast to 77% for the whole country) with 83.4% Catholic (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).
Quebec differs from other Canadian provinces in that French is the only official and preponderant language, while English predominates in the rest of Canada. French is the common language, understood and spoken by 94.46% of the population. Quebec is the only Canadian province whose population is mainly Francophone; 6,102,210 people (78.1% of the population) recorded it as their sole native language in the 2011 Census, and 6,249,085 (80.0%) recorded that they spoke it most often at home. Knowledge of French is widespread even among those who do not speak it natively; in 2011, about 94.4% of the total population reported being able to speak French, alone or in combination with other languages.
A considerable number of Quebec residents consider themselves to be bilingual in French and English. In Quebec, about 42.6% of the population (3,328,725 people) report knowing both languages; this is the highest proportion of bilinguals in any Canadian province. The federal electoral district of Lac-Saint-Louis, located in the Bilingual Belt, is the most bilingual area in the province with 72.8% of its residents claiming to know English and French, according to the 2011 census. In contrast, in the rest of Canada, in 2006, only about 10.2 percent (2,430,990) of the population had a knowledge of both of the country's official languages.
Quebecers defend the French language and the Francophonie in the face of the mostly English-dominated rest of North America. The Gendron Commission report of 1968 established the foundations for the white book of the government of Quebec' linguistic policy. Dependent on commissions of inquiry, this policy statement is also accompanied the Charter of the French language -or "Bill 101"- since 1977.
"The campaign of systematic disinformation waged by English-language newspapers about Quebec began with the Charter and has never ceased to draw on the Charter; it gave rise to stubborn prejudices and maintains a profound ignorance of the reality of Quebec."
French is the official language of Quebec. Québécois French is the most widely used variant. The Office québécois de la langue française oversees the application of the linguistic policy on the territory jointly with the Superior Council of the French Language and the Commission de toponymie du Québec. Their recommendations then become part of the debate on the standard for Quebec French and are represented in Le Grand Dictionnaire terminologique (GDT), the Banque de dépannage linguistique (BDL) and various other works. Through its linguistic recommendations, the GDT fights against the invasion of Frenglish into the French language. Since the 1970s, scientific research on the matter has been carried out by university organizations, including the Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ) and the Franqus group.
The French settlers who settled in New France came largely from the western and northern provinces of France. They generally spoke a variety of regional languages of the Oïl language family. Thus, creating the need for the colonists to "unify their patois" ("unite their dialects") and creating Quebec French. Québécois French became the vehicular language of New France, and it remained as such until the British's conquest of New France.
Early on, colonists borrowed words from Algonquin, a language they frequently interacted with, often to name and describe new aspects of geography, temperature, fauna or flora not present in the Old World. Then, Quebec French's evolution was affected by the French court due to the arrival of the King's daughters. These 800 women were mostly orphaned girls that had been adopted by the state as part of a program sponsored by King Louis XIV, and been educated in convents to become exemplary settlers and wives. Once their training was complete, between 1663 and 1673, they were sent to New France and married among the colonists, instilling the King's French into the population in the process.
"Canadians have natural spirit; they speak with ease, they cannot write, their accent is as good as in Paris, their diction is full of vicious phrases, borrowed from the language of the Indians or from marine terms, applied in the ordinary style."
The British conquest of 1759 turned the evolution of French in Quebec and North America upside down. By having ties severed with France, the French spoken in Quebec definitively separated from the French spoken in metropolitan France. Quebec French was then truly born, retaining the peculiarities of the old languages of Oïl (which were almost extinct in France at that point) and the King's French, and being both influenced and threatened by the language of the new English conquerors. Quebec's French continued to evolve in its own direction, retaining some aspects the non-isolated rest of the French-speaking world lost, and, over time, new influences and remoteness formed the regional accents and different dialects of Quebec French that we know today.
Today, Canada is estimated to be home to between 32 and 36 regional French accents, 17 of which can be found in Quebec. There are 11 accents exclusive to mainland Quebec; they are the regional accents of Gaspé (Gaspésien), Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean (Saguenéen), Quebec-Charlevoix, Beauce (Beauceron), the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-Haute-Mauricie (Magoua), Greater Montreal, Eastern Montreal-Laval, Rouyn-Noranda and Côte-Nord. There are 4 accents off the mainland, 1 on the Isle-aux-Coudres, and 3 on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine: the accents of Villages Medelinots, Havre-aux-Maisons, and Havre-Aubert. Finally, there are 2 accents that cross provincial borders: the accents of Outaouais-Eastern Ontario (Outaouais) and Témiscouata-Madawaska (Brayon). There are also people in Quebec who will naturally speak using Standard Québécois or Joual, both of which are considered sociolects rather than regional accents.
During the days of New France, there began to be an extremely pronounced demographic increase of anglophones versus francophones in North America, a trend which continues to this day. In 1700, for every 250,000 English-speakers, there was 16,500 French-speakers.
Still today, as French's demographic weight on the continent and in Canada continues to decline, Quebec faces the threat of assimilation. Since 2011, the population with French as their mother tongue on the Island of Montreal, Quebec's metropolis, has fallen below 50%, with only 49% of the population being francophone due to a sharp increase in the immigrant allophone population (whose mother tongue is neither French nor English).
Efforts have been made to preserve the primacy of the French language in Quebec. Such efforts include: enstating the Charter of the French language, Quebec's participation in the Francophonie since 1971, French immigration to Quebec, etc. Several institutions seek to protect and promote French such as the Office québécois de la langue française, the Superior Council of the French Language, the Commission de toponymie du Québec, etc.
As of 2011, English is the mother tongue of nearly 650,000 Quebecers (8% of the population). These anglophones, sometimes called Anglo-Québécois, constitute the second largest linguistic group in Quebec. In addition, in 2001, roughly 50,000 people (0.7% of the population) considered their mother tongue to be both French and English. According to the latest censuses of 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016, the percentage of anglophones in the population has more or less stabilized, but in absolute numbers, they are constantly increasing. Allophones, on the other hand, are increasing sharply in absolute numbers as well as in percentage. According to the 2016 census, 49.1% of people living in Quebec say they can conduct a conversation in English (English as mother tongue or as a second language). As for French-English bilingualism, 44.5% of people in Quebec state that they are bilingual, that is to say, able to conduct a conversation in both French and English.
English made its first appearance in Quebec in 1760, when the British invaded and conquered Canada (New France). Shortly afterwards, the first English and Scottish merchants came to settle in the cities of Québec City and Montreal. In 1784, United Empire Loyalists flooded Quebec following their expulsion from the Thirteen Colonies during the United States' War of Independence. This dramatically increased the number of English speakers in Quebec. These Loyalists, avoiding the French-speaking and Catholic countryside, settled mainly in then underdeveloped regions, such as the Eastern Townships and the Outaouais. The proclamation of the Act of Union of 1840 caused massive immigration from the British Isles to the Québécois territory, which introduced Celtic languages for the first time and increased the power of English. The influence of English and repeated attempts at linguistic assimilation of the French-speaking population had and continues to have a considerable impact on French-language culture in Quebec. Today, Anglo-Quebecers reside mainly in the west of the island of Montreal (West Island), downtown Montreal and the Pontiac.
Anglophones in Quebec have several institutions and infrastructural systems. At the school level, anglophones in Quebec have several school boards grouped together into the Association des commissions scolaire anglophones du Québec. In terms of media, anglophones own, among others, the Montreal Gazette, in Montreal, and the Chronicle-Telegraph, in Quebec City. Other organisations include the Quebec Writers' Federation, which is a group of English-speaking Quebec authors, and the Voice of English-speaking Quebec, which represents the interests of the English-speaking community in the Québec region.
The term "allophone" is used to refer to people whose mother tongue is neither French nor English. We can distinguish two groups of allophones: people who speak indigenous languages, and those who speak so-called immigrant languages.
In the 2016 census, where one could note more than one language as their mother tongue, Quebec had 1,171,045 people (14.5% of the population) who reported a mother tongue that was neither French nor English, and 1,060,830 people (13.2% of the population) who did not declare French or English as a mother tongue at all. In this census, 47,025 (0.6% of the population) reported an aboriginal language as a mother tongue, while 1,124,020 (13.9% of the population) reported an immigrant language as a mother tongue.
Three families of aboriginal languages exist in Quebec, which encompass eleven languages. Each of these languages belong to and are spoken by members of a specific ethnic group. Sometimes, the language in question is spoken natively by all members of the group, sometimes they are spoken only by a few individuals. These languages are also sometimes sub-divided into different dialects in the indigenous communities.
In the 2016 census, 50,895 people in Quebec said they knew at least one indigenous language. Furthermore, 45,570 people declared having an aboriginal language as their mother tongue. For 38,995 of them, it was the language most frequently spoken at home. Additionally, 1,195 people who did not have an aboriginal language as their mother tongue reported using an aboriginal language most often at home.
In Quebec, most indigenous languages are currently transmitted quite well from one generation to the next with a mother tongue retention rate of 92%.
In the 2016 census, 1,124,020 people declared having an immigrant language as their mother tongue in Quebec. The most cited languages are Arabic (2.5% of the total population), Spanish (1.9%), Italian (1.4%), Creole languages (mainly Haitian Creole) (0.8%) and Mandarin (0.6%).
Both the number and proportion of allophones have been increasing in Quebec since the 1951 census.
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905) and may total more than 100 percent due to dual responses.
The 2006 census counted a total Indigenous population of 108,425 (1.5 percent) including 65,085 North American Indians (0.9 percent), 27,985 Métis (0.4 percent), and 10,950 Inuit (0.15 percent). There is a significant undercount, as many of the largest Indian bands regularly refuse to participate in Canadian censuses for political reasons regarding the question of Indigenous sovereignty. In particular, the largest Mohawk Iroquois reserves (Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Kanesatake) were not counted.
Almost 9% of the population of Quebec belongs to a visible minority group. This is a lower percentage than that of British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba but higher than that of the remaining five provinces. Most visible minorities in Quebec live in or near Montreal.
The indigenous peoples of Quebec have inhabited the region for several millennia. Each community possesses its own social structure, culture and territorial entity. In 2003, the indigenous population of Quebec numbered 159,905 people. However, because federal law only recognized children of indigenous fathers until the 1980s, the actual number may be higher. Adding in Métis would also increase the count further.
All the ethnicities living primarily south of the 55th parallel are collectively referred to by Québécois as "Amerindians", "Indians", "First Nations" or, obsolete, "Redskins". The ten Amerindian ethnic groups in Quebec are linked to two linguistic groups. The Algonquian family is made up of eight ethnic groups: the Abenaki, the Algonquins, the Attikameks, the Crees, the Wolastoqiyik, the Mi'kmaq, the Innu and the Naskapis. These last two formed, until 1978, a single ethnic group: the Innu. The Iroquoian family is made up of the Huron-Wendat and the Mohawks. Only the Mohawks were part of the Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee), along with five other Indigenous groups from New York State and Ontario. The eleventh indigenous ethnic group in Quebec, the Inuit (or, obsolete, the Eskimos), belong to the Inuit-Aleut family. The Inuit live mainly in Nouveau Québec (Nunavik) and make up the majority of the population living north of the 55th parallel.
Of these indigenous peoples, so-called "nomadic" tribes exist, specifically the tribes of Algonquian cultures (eg: the Algonquins, the Cree and the Innu), as well as more "sedentary" ones, specifically the tribes of Iroquoian traditions (eg: the Iroquois and the Hurons-Wendat). The more sedentary groups are the ones who developed more complex forms of social organization. Traditionally, nomadic tribes follow the migration of herds of animals that serve as prey, such as bison, moose or seals. The way of life of the Algonquian and Inuit tribes is dictated by the obligations of hunting and fishing. The traditions of the Iroquoian tribes, producers of the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash), are instead developed around a matriarchal structure derived from the "long cabin" called a longhouse which houses within it several families under the authority of one dean.
Although they represent today approximately 3% of the Quebec population, the indigenous peoples of Quebec have contributed a lot to Québécois society thanks to their ideals of respect for flora, fauna, nature and the environment as well as thanks to their values of hospitality, generosity and sharing. Economically, through the fur trade and the development of relationships with settlers, including coureurs des bois, merchants, cartographers and Jesuit fathers. In addition to contributing to Quebec toponymy, indigenous peoples also contributed through their more advanced knowledge than settlers in the following areas: holistic medicine, the functioning of human biology, remedies for several diseases, curing scurvy at settlers' arrival (its thought this was done with a cure made from fir, white cedar or anneda), winter clothing (tanning), architecture that insulates against the cold, means of faster transport on snow (snowshoes and dogsled) and on water (canoes, kayaks and rabaskas), l'acériculture (the process of making maple syrup), sports (lacrosse and ice fishing), moose and caribou hunting, trapping, the territory and its components, watersheds and their watercourses and natural resources.
When Europeans arrived in America in the 16th century, the Algonquian-speaking peoples and the St. Lawrence Iroquoians made allies with the French colonists for the purpose of trade. The first connection was made with the arrival of Jacques Cartier when he set foot in Gaspé and met Donnacona, chief of the village of Stadacona (Stadaconé, today, the city of Quebec), in 1534. Moreover, the legend of the Kingdom of Saguenay prompted King Francis I to finance new trips to the New World.
Rather than by conquest and by force, it is by promoting commercial and military alliances, and by concluding numerous peace and friendship treaties that relations between the two peoples solidified.
In the Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III, the indigenous peoples were stated to have an indisputable right to their lands. However, quickly following the proclamation and after the peace treaties with New France and France concluded, the British Crown decided to institute territorial treaties which allowed British authorities to proceed with the total extinction of the land titles of the Indigenous groups.
Entirely under federal tutelage and direction, indigenous rights were enunciated in the Indian Act and adopted at the end of the 19th century. This act confines First Nations within the Indian reserves created for them. The Indian Act is still in effect today.
In 1975, the Cree, Inuit and the Quebec government agreed to an agreement called the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement that would extended Indigenous rights beyond Indian reserves, and to over two-thirds of the Québécois territory. Because this extension was enacted without the participation of the federal government, the extended Indigenous rights only exist in Quebec. In 1978, the Naskapis joined the agreement when the Northeastern Quebec Agreement was signed. As a result, these three ethnic groups were able to break away from their subjugation to the Indian Act.
In recent times, discussions have been underway for several years with the Montagnais of the Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean for the potential creation of a similar autonomy in two new distinct territories that would be called Innu Assi and Nitassinan. Moreover, in January 2010, an agreement between Quebec City and Montagnais granted the Mashteuiatsh Band Council the ability to plan out development in the entire Ashuapmushuan Wildlife Reserve, which is located on the Nitassinan of the community of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh.
The following table shows the traditional territories of the First Nations and Inuit peoples who live on the Québécois territory in the basins of the St. Lawrence Valley and James Bay, as well as on the Labrador peninsula.
The subject of Acadians in Quebec is an important one as more than a million Québécois are of Acadian ascent, with roughly 4.8 million Québécois possessing one or multiple Acadian ancestors in their genealogy tree. Furthermore, more than a million Québécois wear a patronym of Acadian origin. All of this is because a large number of Acadians had fled Acadia to take refuge in Quebec during the Great Upheaval.
Quebec houses an Acadian community spread out across several regions. Nowadays, Acadians mainly live on the Magdalen Islands and in Gaspesia, but about thirty other communities are present elsewhere in Quebec, mostly in the Côte-Nord and Centre-du-Québec regions. An Acadian community in Quebec can be called a "Cadie" or "Petite Cadie", and some cities and villages use the demonym "Cadien".
The Festival Acadien des Îles-de-la-Madeleine is a festival which occurs every year in memory of the founders of the first villages on the Magdalen Islands. The festival is held in Havre Aubert for about two weeks. There, Québécois and Acadians from all corners of Quebec and other neighbouring lands mingle to celebrate Acadian culture. The town of Bonaventure, in Gaspesia, also houses the Musé Acadien du Québec which features permanent exhibitions on Acadians in Quebec, like Une Acadie québécoise and Secrets d'Acadiens, les coulisses de la rue Grand-Pré. In 2002, on National Acadian Day, the Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec unveiled a monument to Acadians entitled "Towards the Light". The monument symbolizes and explains the predominant role that the Acadians and their descendants played in the history of Quebec. The Premier of Quebec, Bernard Landry, declared at this unveiling that:
Between the Québécois people and the Acadian people, there is more than friendship, there is kinship.
Quebec has an advanced, market-based, and open economy. In 2009, its gross domestic product (GDP) of US$32,408 per capita at purchasing power parity puts the province at par with Japan, Italy and Spain, but remains lower than the Canadian average of US$37,830 per capita.[verification needed] The economy of Quebec is ranked the 37th largest economy in the world just behind Greece and 28th for the GDP per capita.
The economy of Quebec represents 20.36% of the total GDP of Canada. Like most industrialized countries, the economy of Quebec is based mainly on the services sector. Quebec's economy has traditionally been fuelled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and average productivity. The provincial GDP in 2010 was C$319,348 billion, making Quebec the second largest economy in Canada.
The provincial debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 50.7% in fiscal year 2012–2013, and is projected to decline to 33.8% in 2023–2024. The credit rating of Quebec is currently Aa2 according to the Moody's agency. In June 2017, Standard & Poor's (S&P) rated Quebec as an AA- credit risk, surpassing Ontario for the first time.
Quebec's economy has undergone tremendous changes over the last decade. Firmly grounded in the knowledge economy, Quebec has one of the highest growth rate of GDP in Canada. The knowledge sector represents about 30.9% of Quebec's GDP. In 2011, Quebec experienced faster growth of its research-and-development (R&D) spending than other Canadian provinces. Quebec's spending in R&D in 2011 was equal to 2.63% of GDP, above the European Union average of 1.84% and will have to reaches the target of devoting 3% of GDP to research and development activities in 2013 according to the Lisbon Strategy. The percentage spent on research and technology is the highest in Canada and higher than the averages for the and the G7 countries. Approximately 1.1 million Quebecers work in the field of science and technology.
Quebec is also a major player in several leading-edge industries including aerospace, information technologies and software, and multimedia. Approximately 60% of the production of the Canadian aerospace industry are from Quebec, where sales totalled C$12.4 billion in 2009. Quebec is one of North America's leading high-tech players. This vast sector encompassing approximately 7,300 businesses and employ more than 145,000 people. Then-Premier Pauline Marois unveiled a $2-billion budget for the period between 2013 to 2017 to create about 115,000 new jobs in knowledge and innovation sectors; the government also promised to provide about 3% of Quebec's GDP in R&D.
Approximately 52% of Canadian companies in the information technology (IT) sector are based in Quebec, mainly in Montreal and Quebec City. For instance, there are currently approximately 115 telecommunications companies established in the province, such as Motorola and Ericsson. About 180,000 Quebeckers work in different fields of IT. About 60,000 people currently work in computer software development; approximately 12,900 work in over 110 such companies as IBM, CMC, and Matrox. The multimedia sector is also dominated by the province of Quebec. Several companies, such as Ubisoft settled in Quebec since the late 1990s.
The pulp and paper industry generates annual shipments valued at more than $14 billion. The forest products industry ranks second in exports, with shipments valued at almost $11 billion. It is also the main, and in some circumstances only, source of manufacturing activity in more than 250 municipalities in the province. The forest industry has slowed in recent years because of the softwood lumber dispute. This industry employs 68,000 people in several regions of Quebec. This industry accounted for 3.1% of Quebec's GDP.
The agri-food industry plays an important role in the economy of Quebec, with meat and dairy products being the two main sectors. It accounts for 8% of the Quebec's GDP and generate $19.2 billion. This industry generated 487,000 jobs in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing of food, beverages and tobacco and food distribution.
Some of the most important national Québécois companies include: Bombardier, Desjardins, the National Bank of Canada, the Jean Coutu Group, Transcontinental média, Quebecor, the Métro Inc. food retailers, Hydro-Québec, the Société des alcools du Québec, the Bank of Montreal, Saputo, the Cirque du Soleil, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Normandin restaurants, and Vidéotron.
Other renowned Quebec companies include: pulp and paper producers Cascades and AbitibiBowater; milk producer Agropur; information technology company CGI; Cirque du Soleil; convenience store chain Couche-Tard; the GardaWorld Security Corporation; the energy distributor Gaz Métro; the marketing firm Groupe Cossette Communication; the media and telecommunications company Quebecor; the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton; the Saputo fromagerie; the Vachon bakery; the engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin, among others.
Thanks to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Quebec is experiencing an increase in its ability to compete on the international market. As a result of these two agreements, Quebec's trade relations with other countries have become more dynamic and the province has seen its exports increase significantly. NAFTA is especially advantageous as it gives Quebec, among other things, access to a market of 130 million consumers within a radius of 1,000 kilometers. These international exchanges contribute to the strength of the Quebec economy, most particularly in terms of employment. About 60% of exports are made to outside of Canada.
In 2008, Québécois exports to other provinces in Canada and abroad totaled 157.3 billion CND$, or 51.8% of Quebec's gross domestic product (GDP). Of this total, 60.4% were international exports, and 39.6% were interprovincial exports. The breakdown by destination of international merchandise exports is as follows: United States (72.2%), Europe (14.4%), Asia (5.1%), Middle East (2.7%), Central America (2.3%), South America (1.9%), Africa (0.8%) and Oceania (0.7%). Though Quebec exports much internationally, Quebec's main economic partner remains the rest of Canada.
In 2008, Quebec imported $178-billion worth of goods and services, or 58.6% of its GDP. Of this total, 62.9% of goods were imported from international markets, while 37.1% of goods were interprovincial imports. The breakdown by origin of international merchandise imports is as follows: United States (31.1%), Europe (28.7%), Asia (17.1%), Africa (11.7%), South America (4.5%), Central America (3.7%), Middle East (1.3%) and Oceania (0.7%).
Several renowned Quebec companies operate on the international market, including: pulp and paper producers Cascades and AbitibiBowater, milk producer Agropur, transportation builder Bombardier, information technology company CGI, Cirque du Soleil, convenience store chain Couche-Tard, the GardaWorld Security Corporation, the energy distributor Gaz Métro, the marketing firm Groupe Cossette Communication, the media and telecommunications company Quebecor, the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the Saputo fromagerie, the Vachon bakery, the engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin, etc.
The abundance of natural resources gives Quebec an advantageous position on the world market. Quebec stands out particularly in the mining sector, ranking among the top ten areas to do business in mining. It also stands for the exploitation of its forest resources.
Quebec is remarkable for the natural resources of its vast territory. It has about 30 mines, 158 exploration companies and fifteen primary processing industries. Many metallic minerals are exploited, the principals are gold, iron, copper and zinc. Many other substances are extracted including titanium, asbestos, silver, magnesium, nickel and many other metals and industrial minerals. However, only 40% of the mineral potential of Quebec is currently known. In 2003, the value of mineral exploitation reached Quebec 3.7 billion Canadian dollars. Moreover, as a major centre of exploration for diamonds, Quebec has seen, since 2002, an increase in its mineral explorations, particularly in the Northwest as well as in the Otish Mountains and the Torngat Mountains.
The vast majority (90.5%) of Quebec's forests are publicly owned. Forests cover more than half of Quebec's territory, for a total area of nearly 761,100 km2 (293,900 sq mi). The Quebec forest area covers seven degrees of latitude.
More than a million lakes and rivers cover Quebec, occupying 21% of the total area of its territory. The aquatic environment is composed of 12.1% of fresh water and 9.2% of saltwater (percentage of total QC area).
Unlike most other regions of the world, Quebec stands out for its use of renewable energy. In 2008, electricity (more than 99% of which came from renewable energy sources) ranked as the main form of energy used in Quebec (41.6%), followed by oil (38.2%) and natural gas (10.7%). Over time, Quebec pivots more and more towards renewable energy; in 2017, 47% of all energy came from renewable sources.
Quebec produces the vast majority of the hydroelectricity in Canada and is, on its own, one of the main hydroelectricity producers of the world, behind only China, Brazil and the United States. Because of this, Quebec has been described as a potential clean energy superpower. In 2019, Quebec's electricity production amounted to 214 terawatt-hours (TWh), 95% of which comes from hydroelectric power stations, and 4.7% of which come from wind energy. Thermal electricity production is almost completely absent from Quebec, except for a few power stations exploiting forest biomass or diesel generators which supply some twenty remote communities.
The public company Hydro-Québec occupies a dominant position in the production, transmission and distribution of electricity in Quebec. Hydro-Québec operates 63 hydroelectric power stations and 28 large reservoirs; they guarantee a stable and flexible supply which adjusts according to demand. Because of the remoteness of Hydro-Québec's TransÉnergie division, with its main facilities located in James Bay and on the Côte-Nord, the TransÉnergie division operates the largest electricity transmission network in North America. Their network includes 34,361 km of lines and 17 interconnections with neighbouring markets, allowing for the export of 38.3 TWh in 2018 alone.
As Quebec has few significant deposits of fossil fuels, all hydrocarbons are imported. Refiners' sourcing strategies have varied over time and have depended on market conditions. In the 1990s, Quebec purchased much of its oil from the North Sea. Since 2015, it now consumes almost exclusively the crude produced in western Canada and the United States. Quebec's two active refineries (Valero's in Lévis, and Suncor's in Montreal) have a total capacity of 402,000 barrels per day, which is greater than local needs, which stood at 365,000 barrels per day in 2018.
The natural gas consumed in Quebec arrives through the TC Energy transmission network. Since 2016, Quebec's main natural gas distributor, the Énergir company, has been getting its supply at the Dawn reception point in southwestern Ontario, instead of at its previous main source the Empress intersection in Alberta. This change has occurred because of an increase in the non-traditional production of shale gas in North America, stimulating competition between the different supply basins operated across the continent. In 2018, 86% of natural gas came from Dawn and 12% from Empress. The rest consists of injections of natural gas produced locally by the recovery of residual materials.
The Québécois government's energy policy, updated in 2016, has the vision of making Quebec "a North American leader in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency", in order to build, by 2030, a low carbon economy. The policy aims in particular to reduce the quantity of petroleum products consumed by 40%, increase renewable energy production by 25%, and increase the production of bioenergy by 50%. The government estimates that its targets should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030.
The tourism industry is a major economic pillar in Quebec, being the 5th largest export class. The Ministry of Tourism ensures the development of this industry under the commercial name "Bonjour Québec". The Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec also educates and trains professionals for this field.
The industry provides employment to over 400,000 people. These employees work in the more than 29,000 tourism-related businesses in Quebec, most of which are restaurants or hotels. 70% of tourism-related businesses are located in or close to Montreal or Québec. It is estimated that, in 2010, Quebec welcomed 25.8 million tourists. Of this number, 76.1% came from Quebec, 12.2% from the rest of Canada, 7.7% from the United States and 4.1% from other countries. Those from other countries mostly came from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico or Japan. In 2010, it was tourists from France who sojourned the longest (14.9 days on average) and it was tourists from Mexico who spent the most per day ($176 on average). Annually, tourists spend more than $6.7 billion in the different spheres of Quebec's tourism industry. Quebec possesses 21 tourism regions and their development is taken care of by an autonomous network of regional tourism associations.
Finally, Quebec is the theatre where many international events take place. These events often include sports competitions (e.g., Canadian Grand Prix, Rogers Cup, etc.) and festivals (e.g., Quebec Winter Carnival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Festival d'été de Québec, etc.).
Science and technology are key factors in the economic position of Quebec, with more than one million people in Quebec are employed in the science and technology sector.
In 2007, the Government of Quebec launched the Stratégie québécoise de la recherche et de l'innovation (SQRI) aiming to promote development through research, science and technology. The government hoped to create a strong culture of innovation in Quebec for the next decades and to create a sustainable economy. The spending on research and development reached some $7.824 billion in 2007, roughly the equivalent of 2.63% of Quebec's GDP.
As of March 2011, Quebec is ranked 13th in the world in terms of investment in research and development (R&D). The R&D expenditures were more than 3% of the province's GDP in 2013, higher than the average G7 and OECD countries.
Quebec is considered as one of world leaders in fundamental scientific research, having produced ten Nobel laureates in either physics, chemistry, or medicine. It is also considered as one of the world leaders in sectors such as aerospace, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and therefore plays a significant role in the world's scientific and technological communities. Quebec is also active in the development of its energy industries, including renewable energy such as hydropower and wind power. As of 2011, Quebec has had over 9,469 scientific publications in the sector of medicine, biomedical research and engineering since the year 2000. Overall, the province of Quebec count about 125 scientific publications per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009. The contribution of Quebec in science and technology represent approximately 1% of the researches worldwide since the 1980s to 2009. Between 1991 to 2000, Quebec produced more scientific papers per 100,000 inhabitants than the United States and Germany.
The Canadian Space Agency was established in Quebec due to its major role in this research field. A total of four Quebecers have been in space since the creation of the CSA: Marc Garneau, Julie Payette, and David Saint-Jacques as CSA astronauts, plus Guy Laliberté as a private citizen who paid for his trip. Quebec has also contributed to the creation of some Canadian artificial satellites including SCISAT-1, ISIS, Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2.
The province is one of the world leaders in the field of space science and contributed to important discoveries in this field. One of the most recent is the discovery of the complex extrasolar planets system HR 8799. HR 8799 is the first direct observation of an exoplanet in history. Olivier Daigle and Claude Carignan, astrophysicists from Université de Montréal have invented an astronomical camera approximately 500 times more powerful than those currently on the market. It is therefore considered as the most sensitive camera in the world. The Mont Mégantic Observatory was recently equipped with this camera.
Quebec ranks among the world leaders in the field of life science. William Osler, Wilder Penfield, Donald Hebb, Brenda Milner, and others made significant discoveries in medicine, neuroscience and psychology while working at McGill University in Montreal. Quebec has more than 450 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies which together employ more than 25,000 people and 10,000 highly qualified researchers. Montreal is ranked 4th in North America for the number of jobs in the pharmaceutical sector.
The education system of Quebec differs from those of other Canadian provinces. From the establishment of Canada in the 16th century up to the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, the Catholic Church was in charge of the education system of Quebec. Today, this education system is administered by the government of Quebec's Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
The province has five levels of education: first CEGEP (see College education in Quebec); and finally university education. Attached to these levels are the options to also attend professional development opportunities, classes for adults, and continuing education. For every level of teaching, there exists a public network and private network: the public network is financed by taxes while the private options must be paid for by the student. In 2020, school boards were replaced by school service centres.; then
All universities in Quebec exist by virtue of laws adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec in 1967 during the Quiet Revolution. Their financing mostly comes from public taxes, but the laws under which they operate grants them more autonomy than other levels of education.
School work and tests are normally graded using one of two methods (or both simultaneously): a percentage-based 0 to 100% correct system (60% correct is usually the minimum passing grade), or, a letter grade system going from A (best) down to B, C, D and finally, F (failure).
Development and security of land transportation in Canada are provided by Transports Québec. Other organizations, such as the Canadian Coast Guard and Nav Canada, provide the same service for the sea and air transportation. The Commission des transports du Québec works with the freight carriers and the public transport.
The réseau routier québécois (Quebec road network) is managed by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ; Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation) and consists of about 185,000 km (115,000 mi) of highways and national, regional, local, collector and forest roads. In addition, Quebec has almost 12,000 bridges, tunnels, retaining walls, culverts and other structures such as the Quebec Bridge, the Laviolette Bridge and the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge–Tunnel.
In the waters of the Saint Lawrence there are eight deep-water ports for the transhipment of goods. In 2003, 3886 cargo and 9.7 million tonnes of goods transited the Quebec portion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Concerning rail transport, Quebec has 6,678 km (4,150 mi) of railways integrated in the large North American network. Although primarily intended for the transport of goods through companies such as the Canadian National (CN) and the Canadian Pacific (CP), the Quebec railway network is also used by inter-city passengers via Via Rail Canada and Amtrak. In April 2012, plans were unveiled for the construction of an 800 km (497 mi) railway running north from Sept-Îles, to support mining and other resource extraction in the Labrador Trough.
The upper air network includes 43 airports that offer scheduled services on a daily basis. In addition, the Government of Quebec owns airports and heliports to increase the accessibility of local services to communities in the Basse-Côte-Nord and northern regions.
Various other transport networks crisscross the province of Quebec, including hiking trails, snowmobile trails and bike paths; the Green Road being the largest with nearly 4,000 km (2,500 mi) in length.
Public health in Quebec brings together all the measures, knowledge and techniques implemented collectively in Québécois society to prevent disease, preserve health, and improve the vitality and longevity of individuals. Québécois public health pursues a health policy which emphasizes prevention (especially with hygiene and diet), is based on the analysis of health-related data and on the evolution of the health needs of the population. The fundamental principles of Québécois healthcare are: universality, equity, and public administration. Like in other nations, the public health policies implemented in Québécois society have enabled Québécois to considerably extend their life expectancy since the mid-20th century.
Health and social services in Quebec are integrated within the same administration. The Quebec health system is public, which means that the state acts as the main insurer and administrator, and that funding is provided by general taxation. This ensures accessibility to care regardless of the patient's income level.
There are 34 health establishments in Quebec, 22 of which are a Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSS). They ensure the distribution of different services on the territories they are assigned to. Quebec possess approximately 140 hospitals for general or specialised care (CHSGS). Quebec also possess other types of establishments in its healthcare system, such as some Centre local de services communautaires (CLSC), Centre d'hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), Centre de réadaptation and Centre de protection de l'enfance et de la jeunesse. Finally, there are private healthcare establishments (paid for directly by the patient) like Groupe de médecine de famille, pharmacies, private clinics, dentists, community organisations and retirement homes.
Quebec has developed its own unique culture from its historic New France roots. Its culture also symbolizes a distinct perspective: being a French-speaking nation surrounded by a bigger English-speaking culture. Quebecois nationalism has been one expression of this perspective. The culture has also been influenced by First Nations, the British, Americans, other French-speaking North Americans like the Acadians and Franco-Ontarians, English-speaking Canadians and some immigrants. Quebec is the centre of French America.
Montreal's cabarets rose to the forefront of the city's cultural life during the Prohibition era of Canada and the United States in the 1920s. The cabarets radically transformed the artistic scene, greatly influencing the live entertainment industry of Quebec. The Quartier Latin (English: Latin Quarter) of Montreal, and Vieux-Québec (English: Old Quebec) in Quebec City, are two hubs of activity for today's artists. Life in the cafés and "terrasses" (outdoor restaurant terraces) reveals a Latin influence in Quebec's culture, with the théâtre Saint-Denis in Montréal and the Capitole de Québec theatre in Quebec City being among the principal attractions.
A number of governmental and non-government organizations support cultural activity in Quebec. The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) is an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Communications (Quebec). It supports creation, innovation, production, and international exhibits for all cultural fields of Quebec. The (SODEC) works to promote and fund individuals working in the cultural industry. The Prix du Québec is an award given by the government to confer the highest distinction and honour to individuals demonstrating exceptional achievement in their respective cultural field. Other Québécois awards include the Athanase David Awards (Literature), Félix Awards (Music), Gémeaux Awards (Television and film), Jutra Awards (Cinema), Masques Awards (Theatre), Olivier Guimond Awards (Humour) and the Opus Awards (Concert music).
Québécois society bases its cohesion and specificity on a set of statements, a few notable examples of which include:
Traditional music is imbued with many dances, such as the jig, the quadrille, the reel and line dancing, which developed in the festivities since the early days of colonization. Various instruments are more popular in Quebec's culture: harmonica (music-of-mouth or lip-destruction), fiddle, spoons, jaw harp and accordion. The podorythmie is a characteristic of traditional Quebec music and means giving the rhythm with the feet. Quebec traditional music is currently provided by various contemporary groups seen mostly during Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, Quebec National Holiday and many local festivals.
Being a modern cosmopolitan society, today, all types of music can be found in Quebec. From folk music to hip-hop, music has always played an important role in Quebercers culture. From La Bolduc in the 1920s–1930s to the contemporary artists, the music in Quebec has announced multiple songwriters and performers, pop singers and crooners, music groups and many more. Quebec's most popular artists of the last century include the singers Félix Leclerc (1950s), Gilles Vigneault (1960s–present), Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1970s–present) and Céline Dion (1980s–present). The First Nations and the Inuit of Quebec also have their own traditional music.
From Quebec's musical repertoire, the song A La Claire Fontaine was the anthem of the New France, Patriots and French Canadian, then replaced by O Canada. Currently, the song Gens du pays is by far preferred by many Quebecers to be the national anthem of Quebec. The (ADISQ) was created in 1978 to promote the music industry in Quebec. The Orchestre symphonique de Québec and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal are respectively associated with the Opéra de Québec and the Opéra de Montreal whose performances are presented at the Grand Théâtre de Québec and at Place des Arts. The Ballets Jazz de Montreal, the Grands Ballets and La La La Human Steps are three important professional troupes of contemporary dance.
The Cinémathèque québécoise has a mandate to promote the film and television heritage of Quebec. Similarly, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), a federal Crown corporation, provides for the same mission in Canada. In a similar way, the Association of Film and Television in Quebec (APFTQ) promotes independent production in film and television. While the Association of Producers and Directors of Quebec (APDQ) represents the business of filmmaking and television, the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters of Quebec (ARCQ) (French acronym) represents the independent radio stations. Several movie theatres across Quebec ensure the dissemination of Quebec cinema. With its cinematic installations, such as the Cité du cinéma and Mel's studios, the city of Montreal is home to the filming of various productions. The State corporation Télé-Québec, the federal Crown corporation CBC, general and specialized private channels, networks, independent and community radio stations broadcast the various Quebec téléromans, the national and regional news, interactive and spoken programmations, etc. Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois is a festival surrounding the ceremony of the Jutra Awards Night that rewards work and personalities of Quebec cinema. The Artis and the Gemini Awards gala recognize the personalities of television and radio industry in Quebec and French Canada. The Film Festival of the 3 Americas, Quebec City, the Festival of International Short Film, Saguenay, the World Film Festival and the Festival of New Cinema, Montreal, are other annual events surrounding the film industry in Quebec.
From New France, Quebec literature was first developed in the travel accounts of explorers such as Jacques Cartier, Jean de Brébeuf, the Baron de La Hontan and Nicolas Perrot, describing their relations with indigenous peoples. The Moulin à paroles traces the great texts that have shaped the history of Quebec since its foundation in 1534 until the era of modernity. The first to write the history of Quebec, since its discovery, was the historian François-Xavier Garneau. This author will be part of the current of patriotic literature (also known as the "poets of the country" and literary identity) that will arise after the Patriots Rebellion of 1837–1838.
Many Quebec poets and prominent authors marked their era and today remain anchored in the collective imagination, like, among others, Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, Octave Crémazie, Honoré Beaugrand, Émile Nelligan, Lionel Groulx, Gabrielle Roy, Hubert Aquin, Michel Tremblay, Marie Laberge, Fred Pellerin and Gaston Miron. The regional novel from Quebec is called Terroir novel and is a literary tradition specific to the province. It includes such works as The Old Canadians, Maria Chapdelaine, Un homme et son péché, Le Survenant, etc. There are also many successful plays from this literary category, such as Les Belles-sœurs and Broue (Brew).
Among the theatre troupes are the Compagnie Jean-Duceppe, the Théâtre La Rubrique at the Pierrette-Gaudreault venue of the Institut of arts in Saguenay, the Théâtre Le Grenier, etc. In addition to the network of cultural centres in Quebec, the venues include the Monument-National and the Rideau Vert (green curtain) Theatre in Montreal, the Trident Theatre in Quebec City, etc. The National Theatre School of Canada and the form the future players.
Popular French-language contemporary writers include Louis Caron, Suzanne Jacob, Yves Beauchemin, and Gilles Archambault. Mavis Gallant, born in Quebec, lived in Paris from the 1950s onward. Well-known English-language writers from Quebec include Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, and Neil Bissoondath.
First influenced since the days of New France by Catholicism, with works from Frère Luc (Brother Luke) and more recently from Ozias Leduc and Guido Nincheri, art of Quebec has developed around the specific characteristics of its landscapes and cultural, historical, social and political representations.
Thus, the development of Quebec masterpieces in painting, printmaking and sculpture is marked by the contribution of artists such as Louis-Philippe Hébert, Cornelius Krieghoff, Alfred Laliberté, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Jean Paul Lemieux, Clarence Gagnon, Adrien Dufresne, Alfred Pellan, Jean-Philippe Dallaire, Charles Daudelin, Arthur Villeneuve, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Paul-Émile Borduas and Marcelle Ferron.
The Fine arts of Quebec are displayed at the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Quebec Salon des métiers d'art and in many art galleries. While many works decorate the public areas of Quebec, others are displayed in foreign countries such as the sculpture Embâcle (Jam) by Charles Daudelin on Québec Place in Paris and the statue Québec Libre! (free Quebec!) by Armand Vaillancourt in San Francisco. The Montreal School of Fine Arts forms the painters, printmakers and sculptors of Quebec.
Various buildings reflect the architectural heritage that characterizes Quebec, such as religious buildings, city halls, houses of large estates, and other locations throughout the province.
Several circus troupes were created in recent decades, the most important being without any doubt the Cirque du Soleil. Among these troops are contemporary, travelling and on-horseback circuses, such as Les 7 Doigts de la Main, Cirque Éloize, Cavalia, Kosmogonia, Saka and Cirque Akya. Presented outdoors under a tent or in venues similar to the Montreal Casino, the circuses attract large crowds both in Quebec and abroad. In the manner of touring companies of the Renaissance, the clowns, street performers, minstrels, or troubadours travel from city to city to play their comedies. Although they may appear randomly from time to time during the year, they are always visible in the cultural events such as the Winterlude in Gatineau, the Quebec Winter Carnival, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Quebec City Summer Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Festival of New France in Quebec.
The National Circus School and the École de cirque de Québec were created to train future Contemporary circus artists. For its part, Tohu, la Cité des Arts du Cirque was founded in 2004 to disseminate the circus arts.
The Cultural Heritage Fund is a program of the Quebec government for the conservation and development of Quebec's heritage, together with various laws. Several organizations ensure that same mission, both in the social and cultural traditions in the countryside and heritage buildings, including the Commission des biens culturels du Québec, the Quebec Heritage Foundation, the Conservation Centre of Quebec, the Centre for development of living heritage, the Quebec Council of living heritage, the Quebec Association of heritage interpretation, etc.
Several sites, houses and historical works reflect the cultural heritage of Quebec, such as the Village Québécois d'Antan, the historical village of Val-Jalbert, the Fort Chambly, the national home of the Patriots, the Chicoutimi pulp mill (Pulperie de Chicoutimi), the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge. Strongly influenced by the presence of the Catholic Church, the development of the religious history of Quebec is provided by organizations like the Council of the religious heritage of Quebec. Since 2007, the government promotes, with the various players in the field, the conclusion of agreements on the use of property belonging to episcopal factories and corporations to establish "."partnerships in financing the restoration and renovation of religious buildings
Various museums tell the cultural history of Quebec, like the Museum of Civilization, the Museum of French America, the McCord Museum or the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History in Pointe-à-Callière, displaying artifacts, paintings and other remains from the past of Quebec. Many literary works reproduce the daily lives of the past, following the social and cultural traditions of Quebec television series reproducing the old days such as the trilogy of Pierre Gauvreau (Le Temps d'une paix, Cormoran and Le Volcan tranquille), La Famille Plouffe, Les Belles Histoires des Pays-d'en-Haut, La Petite Patrie, Entre chien et loup, Les Filles de Caleb, Blanche, Au nom du père et du fils, Marguerite Volant, Nos Étés or Musée Éden, among others.
The traditional Quebecois cuisine descends from 16th century French cuisine, the fur trade and a history of hunting. French settlers populating North America were interested in a new cuisine to confront the climate and the needs arising from the work of colonization. It has many similarities with Acadian cuisine. Quebec's cuisine has also been influenced by learning from First Nation, by English cuisine and by American cuisine. Quebec is most famous for its Tourtière, Pâté Chinois, Poutine, St. Catherine's taffy among others. "Le temps des sucres" is a period during springtime when many Quebecers go to the sugar shack (cabane à sucre) for a traditional meal. Traditional dishes are also the star of Le temps des fêtes (holiday season, a period which covers the winter holidays.
Quebec is the biggest maple syrup producer on the planet. About 72% of the maple syrup sold on the international market (and 90% of the maple syrup sold in Canada) originates from Quebec. The province has a long history of developing and perfecting the craft of producing maple syrup, and creating new maple-derived products.
Quebec has produced beer since the beginning of colonization especially with the emergence of spruce beer. Quebec also produces a great number of high-quality wines including ice wine and ice cider. Because of the climate and available resources, it is only since the 1980s that these drinks can be produced in industrial quantities. Today there are nearly a hundred breweries and companies, including Unibroue, Molson Coors, Labatt and many others.
Quebec has produced cheese for centuries. Most of the first cheeses were soft cheeses, but after the Conquest of New France, hard cheese began to be created as well. The first cheese-making school in North America was established in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska in 1893. It was at this moment that the monks of La Trappe of Oka began to produce the famous Oka cheese. Today there are over 700 different cheeses in Quebec.
Sports in Quebec constitutes an essential dimension of Quebec culture. The practice of sports and outdoor activities in Quebec was influenced largely by its geography and climate. Ice hockey remains the national sport. This sport, which was played for the first time on March 3, 1875, at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal and promoted over the years by numerous achievements, including the centenary of the Montreal Canadiens, still raises passions. Other major sports include Canadian football with the Montreal Alouettes, soccer with Club de Foot Montréal, the Grand Prix du Canada Formula 1 racing with drivers such as Gilles Villeneuve and Jacques Villeneuve, and professional baseball with the former Montreal Expos. During its history, Quebec has hosted several major sporting events; including the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Fencing World Championships in 1967, track cycling in 1974, and the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo race created for the first time in 1984.
Québec athletes have performed well at the Winter Olympics over recent years. They won 12 of Canada's 29 medals at the most recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (2018); they won 12 of the 27 Canadian medals in Sochi (2014); and 9 of the 26 Canadian medals in Vancouver (2010).
When the early settlers arrived from France in the 17th century, they brought with them popular tales from their homeland. Adapted to fit the traditions of rural Quebec by transforming the European hero into Ti-Jean, a generic rural habitant, they eventually spawned many other tales. Many were passed on through generations by what French speaking Québécois refer to as Les Raconteurs, or storytellers. Almost all of the stories native to Quebec were influenced by Christian dogma and superstitions. The Devil, for instance, appears often as either a person, an animal or monster, or indirectly through Demonic acts. Other forms of folklore include superstitions associated with objects, events and dreams.
Various tales and stories are told through oral tradition, such as, among many more, the legends of the Bogeyman, the Chasse-galerie, the Black Horse of Trois-Pistoles, the Complainte de Cadieux, the Corriveau, the dancing devil of Saint-Ambroise, the Giant Beaupré, the monsters of the lakes Pohénégamook and Memphremagog, of Quebec Bridge (called the Devil's Bridge), the Rocher Percé and of Rose Latulipe, for example.
Quebec's French-speaking populace has the second largest body of folktales in Canada (the first being First Nations). The Association Quebecoise des Loisirs Folkloriques is an organization committed to preserving and disseminating Quebec's folklore heritage. It produces a number of publications and recordings, as well as sponsoring other activities.
Quebec's rich heritage of culture and history can be explored through a network of museums, which include the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée de la civilisation and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Many of Quebec's artists have been educated in universities' arts faculties and specialized art schools. Notable schools include the , the École nationale de théâtre du Canada and the École nationale de cirque. Finally, many public institutions have been created following the Quiet Revolution to catalogue and further develop Québécois culture. Notable public agencies include the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Télé-Québec.
Québécois architecture is characterized by its unique Canadien-style buildings as well as the juxtaposition of a variety of styles reflective of Quebec's history. When walking in any city or town, one can come across buildings with styles congruent to Classical, Neo-Gothic, Roman, Neo-Renaissance, Greek Revival, Neo-Classical, Québécois Neo-Classical, Victorian, Second Empire, Modern, Post-modern or Skyscrapers.
Canadien-style houses and barns were developed by the first settlers of New France who settled along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. These buildings are rectangular one-storey structures with an extremely tall and steep roof, sometimes almost twice as tall as the house below. It is thought that this roof design may have been developed to prevent the accumulation of snow. They were usually built out of wood, but the surviving ones are almost all built out of stone.
Canadien-style churches also developed. Each new village would build its own church, often being inspired by the churches of Québec and Montreal in the process. These churches long served as landmarks while traversing rural Quebec and were built in the center of the town. Quebec is often said to possess the most beautiful churches in North America.
Comedy is a vast cultural sector. Quebec has created and is home to several different comedy festivals, including the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, as well as the Grand Rire festivals of Quebec, Gatineau and Sherbrooke. The Association des professionnels de l'industrie de l'humour (APIH) is the main organization for the promotion and development of the cultural sector of humour in Quebec and the National School of Humour, created in 1988, trains future humorists in Quebec. The Ligue nationale d'improvisation (LNI), created in 1977, promotes a number of comedians by combining humour with improvisation theater. The Gala les Olivier, in honour of the former humorist Olivier Guimond, rewards the personalities of Quebec comedy.
Many popular Québécois comedy shows exist, such as Cré Basile, Le zoo du Capitaine Bonhomme, Lundi des Ha! Ha !, Démons du midi, La petite vie, Les Bougon, Le sketch show, etc. There are also many comedy and cartoon shows for children, such as La boîte à surprise, Bobino, Le pirate Maboule, Fanfreluche, La Ribouldingue, Les 100 Tours de Centour, Patofville, Passe-Partout, Robin et Stella, Iniminimagimo, Vazimolo, Télé-Pirate, Bibi et Geneviève, Watatatow, Caillou, Cornemuse, Macaroni tout garni, Toc toc toc, Ramdam, Tactik, etc.
During the 17th century, the nobles and the bourgeois followed the fashions of France. They were always one year late to the fashion of Paris because it took one year for the King's ship to arrive. The habitants, including the lords and serfs of the seigneuries, adapted their clothes to the customs of Native Americans: women wore shorter skirts and shawls, and men wore mitasses (a type of leggings originating with First Nations), moccasins and woolen toques. Many poorer women often arranged their hair on Sunday in a more sophisticated fashion, despite administrators of the colony stating that this style was reserved for the bourgeois and nobles. Some women wore clothes deemed indecent, with breasts almost visible.
The Coureur des bois and Voyageurs wore similar clothing. During the colder months, they would wear a large coat made of deer, moose, or caribou skin with a large belt around the middle, called a Ceinture fléchée, made of leather or colorful wool. Voyageurs had the option of wearing clothes supplied by their employer, so a Voyageur who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company might have chosen to wear a capote coat with the traditional HBC stripes on them. Though, those who decided to make their own capot could style it to their whims. On their heads, they either wore a fur hat or a toque (a close-fitting knitted cap). Red toques appear frequently in artwork, but other colours like grey and blue were worn too.
Today, Québécois clothes follow the styles of mass-produced fashion. Québécois haute fashion is pioneered today with stylists, such as Marie Saint-Pierre, Marie-Claude Guay, Philippe Dubuc, Leo Chevalier, etc. Works are sold in boutiques and shops like La Maison Simons, Ogilvy's, Holt Renfrew, Les Ailes de la Mode, etc. The internationally renowned designers who do business in Quebec are mainly concentrated in Les Cours Mont-Royal. La Grande Braderie exhibits the works of Québécois fashion designers. The gala de la Griffe d'or rewards the best of those creators.
Quebec is home to a number of unique holidays and traditions not found anywhere else. St-Jean-Baptiste Day is Quebec's national holiday and is one of Quebec's biggest holidays. Festivities include parades, bonfires, fireworks, drinking, feasts, musical concerts, flag waving, contests and patriotic speeches. National Patriots' Day is also a unique public holiday, which honours the patriotes who fought the British in the Patriots' War with displays of the patriote flag, marches, music, public speeches, ceremonies and banquets.
Moving Day is a tradition where leases terminate on July 1. This creates a social phenomenon where everyone seems to be moving out at the same time. The Construction Holiday was born out of legislation which synchronized a two-week holiday in July for the entire construction industry. Other traditions include: the Temps des sucres (a time in March when people go to sugar shacks), Québécois snowbirds (people who migrate to Florida every winter), the Noël des campeurs (campgrounds celebrating Christmas in July), etc…
Quebecois can also have different ways of celebrating certain holidays. A good example is the Réveillon, a giant feast and party which takes place during Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and goes on until midnight. Traditional dishes like tourtière or cipâte are offered, and rigaudon, spoon and/or violin may be played. April Fools' Day is called Poisson d'Avril ("April's Fish") because while pulling pranks is still important, there is another major tradition: sticking fish-shapped paper cutouts to people's backs without them noticing. During Halloween, the sentence used instead of "trick-or-treat!" varies depending on the region.
Religion, more precisely the Roman Catholic Church, has long occupied a central and integral place in Quebec society since the arrival of the first French settlers in New France. However, since the Quiet Revolution and the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, there has been a real separation between state and religion, and society in general sees religion as a private matter. Nevertheless, Catholicism still represents the beliefs of 75% of the Quebec population in 2011.
With a membership rate of 75% among the Québécois population, Catholicism is the main religion in Quebec, although the traditional practice is followed by 10% of believers in Quebec. From the beginning of Canada, and throughout French-Canadian history, catholicism and the Catholic Church have played a preponderant role in the social and political development of Quebec.
The first Québécois mass was celebrated by the priest accompanying Jacques Cartier on his voyage to the New World in 1535. Amerindians were evangelized by Catholic missionaries before the founding of parishes. In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu recited a royal proclamation by Louis XIII which banished all non-Catholics, including Huguenots, from New France. In 1658, the apostolic vicariate of Quebec was founded, followed by the Archdiocese of Quebec in 1674. The archbishop of Quebec, who today is the primate of the Catholic Church of Canada, was once part of the Sovereign Council of New France.
The extraordinary power that the Catholic Church once had in Quebec is reflected in all areas of culture, from language to the fine arts, theater, literature and film. The golden age for ecclesiastics would come in the mid-nineteenth century (around 1840) as this was a period during which the Church, influenced by ultramontanism, concretized its influence (see Clericalism in Quebec). The influence of the Church began to wane a hundred years later, when, after the Grande Noirceur, Quebec society was profoundly transformed by the Quiet Revolution. Created in 1966, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec deals with current issues concerning ethical and moral values (ex. gay marriage, euthanasia and abortion).
Protestantism, a practice consisting of reformed catholicism, has been present in Quebec for a long time. From the very beginning of Canada, several Huguenots of the calvinist religion were present in Quebec. Huguenots have been identified in almost all classes of society: settlers, fishermen, daughters of the king, etc. During the early French Regime, the number of protestant immigrants was estimated to be 1,450 people. In 1627, protestantism became no longer tolerated in New France. After Quebec fell under British rule, the protestant religion, more particularly of the anglican faith, became a religion tolerated on Quebecois territory again. This was because the English immigrants who came to certain regions of Quebec followed this religion.
While the first synagogue was established in Montreal in 1777, Jews remained a negligible religious group in Quebec until the early 20th century when a wave of Jewish immigrants settled in Montreal. The Jewish community of today, established mainly on the island of Montreal, now numbers about 120,000 people. In 2010, this community was made up of 26.1% traditionalist Jews, 24.3% orthodox, 15.2% conservative, 9% reconstructionist and reformist, and 25.4% of Montreal Jews say they have no religious affiliation. In the 20th century, successive waves of immigrants from Africa, Asia, Greece, Ireland and Italy settled in Montreal, bringing their cultural and religious customs. Some religious communities, such as Eastern Christians, then established places of worship.
The oldest parish church in North America is the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. Its construction began in 1647, when it was then known under the name Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, and it was finished in 1664. Its first mass was celebrated by Father Vimont on December 24, 1650. This church obtained the status of cathedral in 1674, when François de Laval became archbishop of Quebec, and then the status of minor basilica in 1874. It was also rebuilt twice after the siege of Quebec in 1759 and the fire of 1922.
The most frequented place of worship in Quebec is the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. This basilica welcomes millions of visitors each year, especially during the novena of Saint Anne, on July 26. The Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica is recognized for its numerous miracles, which is why thousands of crutches can be found at its entrance.
Saint Joseph's Oratory is the largest place of worship in the world dedicated to Saint Joseph. Located beside Mount Royal, it is known for its 283 steps, which pilgrims come to climb on their knees every year, reciting a prayer on each of the steps.
Another important place of worship in Quebec is the anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral, which was erected between 1800 and 1804. It was the first anglican cathedral built outside the British Isles.
In August 2019, the Minister of Culture, Nathalie Roy, announced the allocation of $15 million to preserve the cultural heritage that the churches of Quebec embody, and $5 million for the requalification of places of worship.
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), followed by British rule (lion on red background), followed by Canadian rule (maple leaves), and with Quebec's motto below "Je me souviens". Je me souviens ("I remember") was first carved under the coat of arms of Quebec's Parliament Building in 1883. Je me souviens is an official part of the coat of arms and has been the official licence plate motto since 1978, replacing the previous one: La belle province ("the beautiful province"). The expression La belle province is still used as a nickname for the province. The fleur-de-lis, one of Quebec's most common symbols, is an ancient symbol of the French monarchy and was first shown in Quebec on the shores of Gaspésie in 1534 when Jacques Cartier arrived in Quebec for the first time. Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the patron saint of Canadiens, is honoured every 24 June during Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. Finally, the Great Seal of Quebec is used to authenticate documents issued by the governmnent of Quebec.
When Samuel de Champlain founded Québec City in 1608, his ship hoisted the French merchant flag, which consisted of a white cross on a blue background. Later on, at the Battle of Carillon, in 1758, the Flag of Carillon was flown. This flag inspired the first members of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society to create the Carillon Sacré-Coeur flag, which consisted of a white cross on an azur background with white fleur-de-lis in each corner and a Sacred Heart surrounded by maple leaves in the centre. The Carillon Sacré-Coeur and French merchant flag went on to be the major inspirations for Québécois when creating Quebec's current flag in 1903, called the Fleurdelisé. The Fleurdelisé replaced the Union Jack on Quebec's Parliament Building on January 21, 1948, and it has flown there ever since.
In 1998, the Montreal Insectarium sponsored a poll to choose an official insect for Quebec. The white admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) won with 32% of the 230 660 votes. However, the white admiral was never accepted by the Government of Quebec as an official symbol.
In 1977, the Quebec Parliament declared June 24, the day of La Saint-Jean-Baptiste, to be Quebec's National Holiday. La Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or La St-Jean, honours French Canada's patron saint, John the Baptist. On this day, the song "Gens du pays", by Gilles Vigneault, is often heard. This song is commonly regarded as Quebec's unofficial anthem. Festivities occur on June 23 and 24 all over Quebec. In big cities like Quebec City or Montreal, shows are organized in main public spaces (such as on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, or in Maisonneuve Park in Montreal) where several of the most popular Québécois artists sing until late at night.
National Patriots' Day, a statutory holiday in Quebec, celebrates the patriots that fought in the Lower Canada Rebellion against British forces. Le Vieux de '37 ("The Old Man of '37") is an illustration by Henri Julien that depicts a patriot of this rebellion. Le Vieux de '37 is one of the best known symbols of the rebellion and is sometimes added at the centre of Patriote flags.
International relationships-wise, Quebec's closest partner is the United States of America. Quebec and the United States have a long history of economic relations (such as the Québécois government borrowing from Wall Street to create Hydro-Québec, the Grande Hémorragie, etc.) and military-related interactions (e.g., American assistance in the Lower Canada Rebellion; American invasion in the War of 1812, etc.). Today, 87% of Quebec's international exports head to the United States, and Quebec has several economic and military pacts with the U.S. like NAFTA, NORAD, etc. Products of American culture like songs, movies, fashion and food strongly affect Québécois culture.
When it comes to other countries, Quebec usually has associations for specific countries that it is interested in maintaining relationships with. Quebec has a historied relationship with France as it was a part of the French Empire and both regions share a language. The Fédération France-Québec and the francophonie are a few of the tools used for relations between Quebec and France. In Paris, a place du Québec was inaugurated in 1980 and renovated in 2011. Quebec also has a historied relationship with the United Kingdom, having been a part of the British Empire. Quebec and the UK currently share the same head of state.
Quebec possesses a network of 32 offices in 18 countries. These offices serve the purpose of representing Quebec in the country in which they are situated and they are overseen by Quebec's Ministry of International Relations. Quebec, like other Canadian provinces, also maintains representatives in some Canadian embassies and consulates general.
As of 2019, the Government of Quebec has delegates-general (agents-general) in Brussels, London, Mexico City, Munich, New York City, Paris and Tokyo; delegates to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Rome; and offices headed by directors offering more limited services in Barcelona, Beijing, Dakar, Hong Kong, Mumbai, São Paulo, Shanghai, Stockholm, and Washington. In addition, there are the equivalent of honorary consuls, titled antennes, in Berlin, Philadelphia, Qingdao, Seoul, and California's Silicon Valley.
Quebec maintains relations with the Francophonie and the francophone regions of Canada outside of Quebec. In 1987 and 2008, the Francophonie Summit, the annual meeting of heads of states from member states of the Francophonie, took place in Quebec. The Canadian Francophone Games, a francophone Canadian sports event which takes place every three years, has taken place in Quebec twice since its inception in 1999.
The earliest immigrants to the Canadian prairies were French Canadians from Quebec. These individuals were usually involved in the fur trade and frequented the aboriginals of the area. Most Franco-Albertans, Fransaskois and Franco-Manitobans are descended from these emigrants from Quebec.
From the mid 1800s to the Great Depression, Quebec experienced the Grande Hémorragie ("Great Hemorrhaging"), a massive emigration of 900,000 people from Quebec to New England. French Canadians often established themselves in Little Canadas in many industrial New England centers like Lowell, Lawrence and New Bedford (Massachusetts); Woonsocket (Rhode Island); Manchester and Nashua (New Hampshire); Biddeford, Brunswick and Lewiston (Maine), among others. Of the 900,000 Québécois who emigrated, about half returned. Most of the descendants of those who stayed are now assimilated to the general American population, though a few Franco-Americans remain, speaking New England French.
Some tried to slow the Grande Hémorragie by redirecting people north, which resulted in the founding of many regions in Quebec (ex. Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, Val-d'Or, etc.) but also in Northeastern Ontario. The northeastern Franco-Ontarians of today, which are primarily concentrated in Timmins, Hearst, Moosonee and Sault Sainte Marie, among others, are the descendants of emigrants from Quebec who worked in the mines of the area.
Many of Quebec's national companies have expanded outside of Quebec for various reasons. The Bank of Montreal has branches in the United States and in the other Canadian provinces. Hydro-Québec, the state-owned electricity provider for Québécois, has contracts with much of the northeastern United States. The value of Hydro-Québec's exports currently stands at approximately $1 billion per year. Bombardier is also present in many countries. Couche-Tard has a network of more than 6,000 branches around the globe. Desjardins has infrastructure to assist members no matter where they are in the world. In addition, in the U.S. state of Florida, 3 Desjardins branches exist to assist Québécois snowbirds.
In the realm of litterature and international publishing, the Québec Édition group is a committee created by the National Association of Book Editors dedicated to the international influence of French-language publishings from Quebec and Canada.
The world of song in Quebec has a modest size and impact at the international level. Quebec has produced a number of internationally renowned celebrities, including Alys Robi (1923 - 2011) and Céline Dion (1968 -), among others. The popular and long-running song competition Star Académie has created many celebrities, including some that originate from outside of Quebec.
This article was partially translated from its French-language counterpart Quebec, please see its history for full authorship attribution.