Quebec City facts

Quebec
City
Québec
Skyline of Quebec
Flag of Quebec
Flag
Coat of arms of Quebec
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "La Vieille Capitale"
Motto: Don de Dieu feray valoir
("I shall put God's gift to good use"; the Don de Dieu was Champlain's ship)
Quebec city map, Canada
Quebec city map, Canada
Country  Canada
Province  Quebec
Region Capitale-Nationale
Metropolitan community Communauté métropolitaine de Québec
Agglomeration Agglomeration of Quebec City
First settled 11 October 1535, by Jacques Cartier
Founded 3 July 1608, by Samuel de Champlain
Constituted 1 January 2002
Boroughs
Government
 • Type Quebec City Council
 • Mayor Régis Labeaume
 • MPs
 • MNAs
Area
 • City 485.77 km2 (187.56 sq mi)
 • Land 453.38 km2 (175.05 sq mi)
 • Metro 3,408.70 km2 (1,316.11 sq mi)
Elevation 98 m (322 ft)
Population (2016)
 • City 531,902 (11th)
 • Density 1,173.2/km2 (3,039/sq mi)
 • Metro 800,296 (7th)
 • Metro density 234.8/km2 (608/sq mi)
 • Pop 2011-2016 Increase 3.0%
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code(s) G1A to G2N
Area code(s) 418 and 581
Website www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/index.aspx

Quebec City (pronounced Listeni/kwˈbɛk/ or /kəˈbɛk/; French: Québec [kebɛk]  ( listen)); French: Ville de Québec; officially Québec) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec. The city had a population estimate of 531,902 on July 2016, ( Increase of 3.0% from 2011 to 2016 ) and the metropolitan area had a population of 800,296 on July 2016, ( Increase of 4.3% from 2011 to 2016 ) making it Canada's seventh-largest metropolitan area and Quebec's second-largest city after Montreal.

The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River proximate to the city's promontory, Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond), and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning "where the river narrows". Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the 'Historic District of Old Québec'.

The city's landmarks include the Château Frontenac, a hotel which dominates the skyline, and La Citadelle, an intact fortress that forms the centrepiece of the ramparts surrounding the old city. The National Assembly of Quebec (provincial legislature), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec), and the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization) are found within or near Vieux-Québec.

Name

According to the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, the Commission de toponymie du Québec, and the Geographical Names Board of Canada, the names of Canadian cities and towns have only one official form. Thus, Québec is officially spelled with an accented é in both Canadian English and French, although the accent is often not used in common English usage. In English, the city and the province are formally distinguished by the fact that the province does not have an accented é while the city does, while informally the form "Quebec City" is frequently (although unofficially) used to distinguish the city from the province.

History

See also: History of Quebec City, Timeline of Quebec City history, and Name of Quebec City

Early history

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. While many of the major cities in Latin America date from the sixteenth century, among cities in Canada and the U.S., few were created earlier than Quebec City (St. John's, Harbour Grace, Port Royal, St. Augustine, Santa Fe, Jamestown, and Tadoussac). Also, Quebec's Old Town (Vieux-Québec) is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist.

Champlain Habitation de Quebec
Quebec Settlement, 1608

French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort at the site in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in spring 1536. He came back in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement. This first settlement was abandoned less than one year after its foundation, in the summer 1542, due in large part to the hostility of the natives combined with the harsh living conditions during winter.

Quebec was founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and diplomat on 3 July 1608, and at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona. Champlain, also called "The Father of New France", served as its administrator for the rest of his life.

The name "Canada" refers to this settlement. Although called the cradle of the Francophone population in North America, the Acadian settlement at Port-Royal was established three years earlier. The place seemed favourable to the establishment of a permanent colony.

In 1629 there was the surrender of Quebec, without battle, to English privateers led by David Kirke during the Thirty Years' 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 French Company of One Hundred Associates.

In 1665, there were 550 people in 70 houses living in the city. One-quarter of the people were members of religious orders: secular priests, Jesuits, Ursulines nuns and the order running the local hospital, Hotel-Dieu.

Quebec City was the headquarters of many raids against New England during the four French and Indian Wars. In the last war, the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War), Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759 and held until the end of the war in 1763. It was the site of three battles during Seven Years' War - the Battle of Beauport, a French victory (31 July 1759); the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in which British troops under General James Wolfe defeated the French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on 13 September 1759 and shortly thereafter took the city; and the final Battle of Sainte-Foy, a French victory (28 April 1760). France ceded New France, including the city, to Britain in 1763.

At the end of French rule in 1763, forests, villages, fields and pastures surrounded the town of 8,000 inhabitants. The town distinguished itself by its monumental architecture, fortifications, affluent homes of masonry and shacks in the suburbs of Saint-Jean and Saint-Roch. Despite its urbanity and its status as capital, Quebec City remained a small colonial city with close ties to its rural surroundings. Nearby inhabitants traded their farm surpluses and firewood for imported goods from France at the two city markets.

British rule

View near the Grand Battery, Quebec, Quebec
View near the Grand Battery, Quebec, Quebec. By George Heriot, c. 1807.

During the American Revolution revolutionary troops from the southern colonies assaulted the British garrison in an attempt to 'liberate' Quebec City, in a conflict now known as the Battle of Quebec. The defeat of the revolutionaries from the south put an end to the hopes that the peoples of Quebec would rise and join the American Revolution so that Canada would join the Continental Congress and become part of the original United States of America along with the other British colonies of continental North America. In effect, the outcome of the battle would be the effective split of British North America into two distinct political entities. The city itself was not attacked during the War of 1812, when the United States again attempted to annex Canadian lands. Fearing another American attack on Quebec City in the future, construction of the Citadelle of Quebec began in 1820. The Americans never did attack Canada after the War of 1812, but the Citadelle continued to house a large British garrison until 1871. The Citadelle is still in use by the military and is also a tourist attraction.

In 1840, the role of capital was shared between Kingston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City (from 1852 to 1856 and from 1859 to 1866).

Long before the Royal Military College of Canada was established in 1876, there were proposals for military colleges in Canada. Staffed by British Regulars, adult male students underwent a 3 month long military course in Quebec City in 1864 at the School of Military Instruction in Quebec City. Established by Militia General Order in 1864, the school enabled Officers of Militia or Candidates for Commission or promotion in the Militia to learn Military duties, drill and discipline, to command a Company at Battalion Drill, to Drill a Company at Company Drill, the internal economy of a Company and the duties of a Company's Officer. The school was retained at Confederation, in 1867. In 1868, The School of Artillery was formed in Montreal.

In 1867, Ottawa (which was chosen to be the permanent capital of the Province of Canada) was chosen by Queen Victoria to be the capital of the Dominion of Canada. The Quebec Conference on Canadian Confederation was held here.

20th and 21st centuries

Quebec-wharf
Port of Quebec City in the early 20th century

Quebec City was struck by the 1925 Charlevoix–Kamouraska earthquake.

During World War II, two conferences were held in Quebec City. The First Quebec Conference was held in 1943 with Franklin D. Roosevelt (the United States' president at the time), Winston Churchill (the United Kingdom's prime minister), William Lyon Mackenzie King (Canada's prime minister) and T.V. Soong (China's minister of foreign affairs). The Second Quebec Conference was held in 1944, and was attended by Churchill and Roosevelt. They took place in the buildings of the Citadelle and at the nearby Château Frontenac. A large part of the D-Day landing plans were made during those meetings.

Capital

Throughout its over 400 years of existence, Quebec City has served as a capital. From 1608 to 1627 and 1632 to 1763, it was the capital of French Canada and all of New France; from 1763 to 1791, it was the capital of the Province of Quebec; from 1791 to 1841, it was the capital of Lower Canada; from 1852 to 1856 and from 1859 to 1866, it was capital of the Province of Canada; and since 1867, it has been capital of the Province of Quebec. The administrative region in which Quebec City is situated is officially referred to as Capitale-Nationale, and the term "national capital" is used to refer to Quebec City itself at provincial level.

Geography

Panorama of Quebec City's skyline (2009)

Quebec City is located in the Saint Lawrence River valley, on the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River near its meeting with the St. Charles River. The surrounding area is low-lying and flat. The river valley has rich, arable soil, which makes this region the most fertile in the province. The Laurentian Mountains lie to the north of the city.

A portion of the city, as well as most of the Old Quebec area, is built on a plateau sometimes called the promontory of Quebec. Because of this topographic feature, the central and oldest area of the city is sometimes divided into upper and lower town. On the eastern end of the hill, upper Town lies on the top of Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond) promontory. The Plains of Abraham are located near the edge of the promontory, on which high stone walls have been integrated during colonial days. On the other hand, lower town is located on the eastern foot of this plateau. It has been a working class area for most of its history unlike uptown, which for the most part, quickly became a place of choice for the local middle-class and bourgeoisie.

Climate

The climate of Quebec City is classified as humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb).

Quebec City experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and occasionally hot, with periods of hotter temperatures which compounded with the high humidity, create a high heat index that belie the average high of 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and lows of 11–13 °C (52–55 °F). Winters are often cold, windy and snowy with average high temperatures −5 to −8 °C (23 to 18 °F) and lows −13 to −18 °C (9 to 0 °F). Spring and fall, although short, bring chilly to warm temperatures. Late heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are a common occurrence.

On average, Quebec City receives 1,190 millimetres (46.85 in) of precipitation, of which 899 millimetres (35.39 in) is rain and 303 millimetres (11.93 in) is the melt from 316 centimetres (124.4 in) of snowfall per annum. The city experiences around 1,916 hours of bright sunshine annually or 41.5% of possible sunshine, with summer being the sunniest, but also slightly the wettest season. During winter, snow generally stays on the ground from the end of November till mid-April.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Quebec City was 36.1 °C (97 °F) on 17 July 1953. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −36.7 °C (−34 °F) on 10 January 1890 and 14 January 2015.

Parks and Gardens

Quebec city is home to over a hundred parks and gardens, which offer certain attractions like bird watching, hiking or canoeing for visitors.

Joan of Arc Plains of Abraham, Quebec,Qc
Joan of Arc on Horseback, The Battlefields Park

One of the most notable is The Battlefields Park, which is home to 50 historical artillery pieces and the Plains of Abraham. The park offers views of the St. Lawrence River and has multiple historical structures and statues like the Joan of Arc on Horseback and the Martello Towers. Historically this was the site of an American revolutionary battle, the Battle of Quebec (1775) where the British were able to hold onto its last stronghold in the Northern extent of its North American territory.

Another notable park is the Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge, which is known for its gardens and bird watching, is the second largest urban park in Quebec City. The Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge also has historical influence being the site of gardens that were created by British and French royalty. Quebec City's largest park is the Parc Chauveau, which offers a range of outdoor activities from hiking, canoeing and skiing. Other notable areas are Beauport bay, Domaine de Maizerets, Marais du Nord and Parc Cartier-Roberval.

Boroughs and districts

Quebec Arrondissements
Quebec City's six boroughs

On 1 January 2002, the 12 former towns of Sainte-Foy, Beauport, Charlesbourg, Sillery, Loretteville, Val-Bélair, Cap-Rouge, Saint-Émile, Vanier, L'Ancienne-Lorette, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Lac-Saint-Charles were annexed by Quebec City. This was one of several municipal mergers which took place across Quebec on that date. Following a demerger referendum, L'Ancienne-Lorette and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures were reconstituted as separate municipalities on 1 January 2006, but the other former municipalities remain part of Quebec City. On 1 November 2009, the Quebec City re-organized its boroughs, reducing the number from 8 to 6.

Arrondissement Quebec1
Borough limits (yellow) as seen from Édifice Marie-Guyart. A partial view of the urbanized La Cité-Limoilou is shown as well as of the suburban Charlesbourg (left) and Beauport right) in the background

As of 2011 Quebec City comprises six boroughs (arrondissements) which are further divided into 35 districts (quartiers). All districts are numbered, and most are named. In most cases the name of the district is similar to a historical town or village it replaced, but not always. Districts each elect their own council, which are part of public consultations with the city government. The numbering system was based on the 2002-2009 borough boundaries, so post-2009 the numbers do not correspond completely with the boroughs.

Compared to many other cities in North America, there is less variation between average household incomes between the districts. However, some disparities exist. Montcalm, Sillery, Cap-Rouge, and the southern part of Sainte-Foy are considered to be the wealthiest, along with all areas found west of Old Quebec along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River.

The city's traditional working-class areas are found in the lower town below Old Quebec (Saint-Sauveur and Saint-Roch) and directly across the Saint Charles River (Vanier and Limoilou). However, parts of Limoilou and particularly Saint-Roch have seen gentrification in the last 20 years, attracting young professionals and the construction of new offices and condos.

The central part of the city consists of industrial areas while northern sections (Loretteville, Val-Bélair) and eastern sections (Beauport, Charlesbourg) are mostly a mix of middle-class residential suburbs.


Borough Districts
1/6 La Cité-Limoilou La Cité: 1-1 Vieux-Québec—Cap-Blanc—colline Parlementaire · 1-2 Saint-Roch · 1-3 Saint-Jean-Baptiste · 1-4 Montcalm · 1-5 Saint-Sauveur · 1-6 Saint-Sacrement · Limoilou: 6-1 Vieux-Limoilou · 6-2 Lairet · 6-3 Maizerets
2 Les Rivières 2-1 Neufchâtel-Est–Lebourgneuf · 2-2 Duberger-Les Saules · 2-3 Vanier
3/8 Sainte-Foy–Sillery–Cap-Rouge 3-2 Cité universitaire · 3-3 Saint-Louis · 3-4 Plateau · 3-5 Pointe-de-Ste-Foy 8-2 · L'Aéroport · 8-3 Cap-Rouge
4 Charlesbourg 4-1 Notre-Dame-des-Laurentides · 4-2 Quartier 4-2 · 4-3 Quartier 4-3 · 4-4 Jésuites, Quebec City · 4-5 Quartier 4-5 · 4-6 Quartier 4-6
5 Beauport 5-1 Quartier 5-1 · 5-2 Quartier 5-2 · 5-3 Chutes-Montmorency · 5-4 Quartier 5-4 · 5-5 Vieux-Moulin
7/8 La Haute-Saint-Charles 7-1 Lac-Saint-Charles · 7-2 Saint-Émile · 7-3 Loretteville · 7-4 Des Châtels · 8-1 Val-Bélair

Demographics

Québec City
Year Pop. ±%
1871 76,593 —    
1881 80,249 +4.8%
1891 80,546 +0.4%
1901 88,615 +10.0%
1911 102,214 +15.3%
1921 122,698 +20.0%
1931 168,249 +37.1%
1941 199,588 +18.6%
1951 245,742 +23.1%
1956 279,521 +13.7%
1961 321,917 +15.2%
1966 372,373 +15.7%
1971 408,440 +9.7%
1976 429,757 +5.2%
1981 434,980 +1.2%
1986 440,598 +1.3%
1991 461,894 +4.8%
1996 473,569 +2.5%
2001 476,330 +0.6%
2006 491,142 +3.1%
2011 516,622 +5.2%
2016 531,902 +3.0%

According to Statistics Canada, there were 531,902 people residing in Quebec City proper, and 800,296 people in the metropolitan area. Of the former total, 48.2% were male and 51.8% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.7% of the resident population of Quebec City. This compares with 5.2% in the province of Quebec, and 5.6% for Canada overall.

The vast majority of city residents are native French speakers. The English-speaking community peaked in relative terms during the 1860s, when 40% of Quebec City's residents were Anglophone. Today, Anglophones make up only 1.5% of the population of both the city and its metropolitan area. However, the annual Quebec Winter Carnival attracts both Francophone and Anglophone tourists alike, so the Anglophone population increases considerably during the duration of the event.

According to the Statistics Canada website, 94.6% of Quebec City's population speaks French as their mother tongue. In addition, more than a third of city residents can speak both French and English.

Mother tongue language (2006)
Mother tongue Population Percentage
French 456,225 94.6%
English 7,030 1.5%
English and French 1,460 0.3%
Other languages 17,825 3.7%
Unilingual French speakers 315,135 65.3%
Unilingual English speakers 835 0.2%
Bilingual French and English speakers 165,340 34.3%

In 2001, 13.0% of the resident population in Quebec City was of retirement age (65 and over for males and females) compared with 13.2% in Canada. The average age is 39.5 years of age compared to 37.6 years of age for Canada as a whole.

In the five years between 2006 and 2011, the population of Quebec City grew by 6.5%, compared with an increase of 4.9% for the province of Quebec. The population density of Quebec City averaged 228.6 inhabitants per square kilometre (592/sq mi), compared with an average of 5.3/km2 (14/sq mi) for the province as a whole.

At the time of the 2001 census, the population of the Quebec City authority was 682,757, but was 710,700 when encompassing the Greater Quebec City Area, compared with a resident population in the province of Quebec of 7,237,479 people.

In 2006, visible minorities made up 3% of the city's population, which is the smallest proportion of any major Canadian city. There has, however, been a growing number of new arrivals from North and West Africa, as well as Latin America, who have settled in the city. Recent arrivals tend to be more concentrated in Limoilou, Vanier and the northern part of Sainte-Foy, where the availability of lower cost apartments is higher than the rest of the city

According to the 2001 census, over 90% of the population was Roman Catholic. The city also contains small Protestant, Muslim and Jewish communities.

Architecture

Québec City shore
Québec City shore

Much of the city's most notable architecture is located east of the fortification walls in Vieux-Québec (Old Quebec) and Place Royale. This area has a distinct European feel with its stone buildings and winding streets lined with shops and restaurants. Porte St-Louis and Porte St-Jean are the main gates through the walls from the modern section of downtown; the Kent Gate was a gift to the province from Queen Victoria and the foundation stone was laid by the Queen's daughter, Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, on 11 June 1879. West of the walls are the Parliament Hill district and the Plains of Abraham.

QuebecCitySum04
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville (Lower Town)

The Upper Town is linked by the Escalier « casse-cou » (literally "neck-breaking" steps) and the Old Quebec Funicular to the Lower Town, which includes such sites as the ancient Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, the historic Petit Champlain district, the port, and the Musée de la Civilisation (Museum of Civilization). The Lower Town is filled with original architecture and street designs, dating back to the city's beginnings. Murals and statues are also featured. The Lower Town is also noted for its wide variety of boutiques, many featuring hand-crafted goods.

Ex Machina 01
A former fire station now used by the multidisciplinaryart company Ex Machina

Quebec City's downtown is on the lower part of the town. Its epicentre is adjacent to the old town, spanning from the Saint-Roch district, throughout the Saint Sauveur, Saint-Sacrement and Limoilou quarters. Some interpretations consider Quebec's downtown to be the central southern portion of the town ranging from the old city and Saint Roch, all the way west to the Quebec city Bridge.

Quebec City's skyline is dominated by the massive Château Frontenac Hotel, perched on top of Cap-Diamant. It was designed by architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of "château" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company. The railway company sought to encourage luxury tourism and bring wealthy travelers to its trains.

Quebec-1008
Chateau Frontenac in the Fall

Alongside the Château Frontenac is the Terrasse Dufferin (Dufferin Terrace), a walkway along the edge of the cliff, offering beautiful views of the Saint Lawrence River. The Terrasse Dufferin leads toward the nearby Plains of Abraham, site of the battle in which the British took Quebec from France, and the Citadelle of Quebec, a Canadian Forces installation and the federal vice-regal secondary residence. The Parliament Building, the meeting place of the Parliament of Quebec, is also near the Citadelle.

Near the Château Frontenac is Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral, mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec. It is the first church in the New World to be raised to a basilica and is the primatial church of Canada.

There are 37 National Historic Sites of Canada in Quebec City and its enclaves.

Culture

See also: List of events in Quebec City and Media in Quebec City
Carnival 1
Ice castle during the carnival

Quebec City is known for its Winter Carnival, its summer music festival and for its Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations.

Tourist attractions located near Quebec City include Montmorency Falls, the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, the Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort, and the Ice Hotel.

The Jardin zoologique du Québec, now closed, initially reopened in 2002 after extensive repairs before ultimately shuttering in 2006. It featured 750 specimens of 300 different species of animals. The zoo specialized in winged fauna and garden themes, but also featured several species of mammals. While it emphasized the indigenous fauna of Quebec, one of its main attractions was the Indo-Australian greenhouse, featuring fauna and flora from regions surrounding the Indian Ocean.

Bibliotheque Monique-Corriveau 03
The Monique-Corriveau library moved into a vacant church in 2013

Parc Aquarium du Québec, which reopened in 2002 on a site overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, features more than 10,000 specimens of mammals, reptiles, fish and other aquatic fauna of North America and the Arctic. Polar bears and various species of seals of the Arctic sector and the "Large Ocean", a large basin offering visitors a view from underneath, make up part of the aquarium's main attractions.

There are a number of historic sites, art galleries and museums in Québec City, including Citadelle of Quebec, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Ursulines of Quebec, and Musée de la civilisation.

Partner cities

Quebec City is mainly twinned with Calgary and Bordeaux. It has other formal agreements with other cities although they are not active anymore as of 2012. These include Saint Petersburg, Guanajuato City, Huế and Liège and Namur in francophone Belgium.

Images


Quebec City Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.