|Motto: Je me souviens (I remember)|
- % fresh water
(1st lgst prov.)
1 542 056 km²
- Total (2001)
7 410 500
|Admittance into Confederation
|Time zone||UTC -5|
|Postal information (http://www.canadapost.ca)
Postal code prefix
G, H, J
|Premier||Jean Charest (PLQ)|
|Government of Quebec (http://www.gouv.qc.ca)|
Quebec (pronounced "kwə-BECK" or "keh-BECK"; French: le Québec) is a Canadian province with a population of 7,410,504 (Statistics Canada, 2001), primarily speakers of the French language making up the bulk of the Francophone population in North America. The capital is Quebec City and the largest city is Montreal. A resident of Quebec is called a Quebecer (also spelled Quebecker) or, in French, un(e) Québécois(e).
Quebec is located in eastern Canada, bordered by Ontario and Hudson Bay to the west, Atlantic Canada to the east, the U.S. (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York States) to the south, and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
The province, Canada's largest, occupies a vast territory (six times the size of France), most of which is very sparsely populated. More than 90 percent of Quebec's area lies within the Canadian Shield, a large part of which was historically referred to as the Ungava Region. This vast and virtually uninhabited northern region created the massive Province of Quebec as seen today. This huge new addition to Quebec bordered James Bay and is where the Province's three largest hydro-electric projects would eventually be built on the La Grande River.
The territory of Quebec is extremely rich in resources in its coniferous forests, lakes, and rivers—pulp and paper, lumber, and hydroelectricity are still some of the province's most important industries. The extreme north of the province, now called Nunavik, is subarctic or arctic and is home to the Inuit nation.
Quebec was inhabited by a range of First Peoples before the arrival of the French, and still is today. The Quebec government recognizes 11 First Peoples on its territory: The Mohawks, the Cree, the Inuit, the Algonquin, the Atikamekw, the Micmac[?], the Hurons-Wendat, the Abenaki, the Montagnais, and the Naskapi. The last two are usally considered to be one tribe called the Innu.
The first European explorer of Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in the Gaspé in 1534 and sailed into the Saint Lawrence in 1535. Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608; it would become the nucleus of New France and the origin of French exploration of North America.
The French brought their religion and language, which were imposed upon the natives. In addition, the French brought the practise of slavery with them, using black Africans shipped from Nantes, the major French port serving the slave trade. The laws of France applied to the colony, and slaves such as the one given the French name of Marie-Joseph Angélique were summarily executed for minor crimes. However large-scale argicultral slavery, as practiced in the Caribbean and the American South, was not economically viable in Quebec's climate, and slaves where only used as domestic servants for the rich. There were never more than 1,200 African slaves in the entire colony.
After 1627, King Louis XIII of France forbade settlement in Quebec by anyone other than Roman Catholics, ensuring that welfare and education was kept firmly in the hands of the church. "New France" became a royal colony in 1663 under Louis XIV and the intendant Jean Talon.
The French colonists living in the Saint Lawrence River Valley, then calling themselves Canadiens, allied with the Hurons against the Iroquois, who were allied to the English. The wars between England and France in Europe and North America came to a head in 1759 when the English general James Wolfe defeated Louis-Joseph de Montcalm at the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City. This event is known as the Conquest.
Great Britain acquired New France at the Treaty of Paris (1763) when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France, which was viewed as a vast, frozen wasteland ("quelques arpents de neige" - Voltaire) of little importance to the French Colonial Empire. The Royal proclamation of 1763 saw New France renamed the Province of Quebec.
Pressured by the agitation in its American colonies, the British crown passed the Quebec Act in 1774, restoring French civil law but keeping the British common law of crimes and court procedures. The dominant land tenure was a form of signeurialism. During the American Revolution, Montreal was captured and the revolutionaries attempted to rally the Canadiens to their cause. The Canadiens remained mostly neutral in the conflict, following the edicts of the Roman Catholic Church.
After the independence of the American colonies, many Loyalists settled in Quebec. The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the former region of France at the Ottawa River, creating Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec).
Under the Constitutional Act, the population of Quebec discovered British parliamentarism. Within the limits of this political system, the representatives of the people battled for autonomy. The sum of the demands and grievances of the people can be read in the Ninety-two resolutions[?] written by Louis-Joseph Papineau, leader of the Patriot Party. Five years after the resolutions were presented, London replied with the ten Russell's resolutions. Following this event, Papineau's political movement became more radical. A mandate of arrest on the nationalist leaders sparked an armed conflict in Lower Canada (as well as in Upper Canada) in 1837. (See History of Canada for more on the Patriotes revolt.)
The rebellion was put down and the report of Lord Durham, sent to investigate the uprising, recommended the union of the Canadas in order to assimilate the French-speaking Canadiens and installing a government to be responsible before the chamber of representatives. The Act of Union was passed by the British Parliament and the new jointly run government was instituted in 1849, under Robert Baldwin from Upper Canada and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine of Lower Canada. Political deadlocks led to talks of a confederation, which in turn led to the creation of the Dominion of Canada with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 1867. The Province of Canada was redivided along the Ottawa River into Ontario and Quebec.
See also: King's Daughters
When Quebec became one of the four founding provinces of the Confederation, guarantees for the maintenance of its language, culture, and religion were specifically written into the Constitution. English and French were made the official languages in Quebec and school systems which provided for public funding of religious schools were established. Under the Constitution, the provinces had control of education and in Quebec the school system was entirely confessional. The Protestants and Roman Catholics ran separate school systems in Quebec until the 1990s when secularization of schools took place under the Parti Québécois government.
Under the Union Nationale government of Maurice Duplessis, the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to maintain religious control over social services such as schools and hospitals. In return, the clergy used its influence to exhort voters to stay with the conservative government, who also took firm stands against social reform and unionism.
In 1960, under a new Liberal Party government led by Premier Jean Lesage, the political power of the church was greatly reduced. Quebec entered an accelerated decade of changes known as the Quiet Revolution which saw near complete decolonization. The changes were so quick and so radical that the Liberal government was voted out in 1965 and the Union Nationale party was returned to power.
During the 1960s, a terrorist group known as the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, murders, robberies and attacks on Government offices. Their activities culminated in events referred to as the October Crisis when the British Trade commissioner to Canada was kidnapped along with Pierre Laporte, a provincial minister and Vice-Premier, who was murdered a few days later.
A non-violent Quebec independence movement slowly took form in the late 1960s. The Parti Québécois was created by the sovereignty-association movement of René Lévesque; it advocated a reconfederation recognizing Quebec as an equal and independent nation. The Parti Québécois was elected in 1976. The first PQ government was known as the "Republic of teachers" for its high number of candidates teaching at the university level. The PQ passed laws to favor equal financing of political parties and the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101). The Charter is a fundamental law making French the sole official language of Quebec while guaranteeing the rights of the English-speaking community. The first enactment of Bill 101 became controversial for its regulations on commercial signs. It banned English-only and bilingual signs, as the government claimed that they violated the right of the French-speaking majority. This section of the law was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, see: Ford v. Quebec (A.G.). With Bill 86, the law was amendend to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The current 1988 law specifies that signs can be multi-lingual so long as French is predominant. Most businesses now voluntarily choose to put up French signs following market laws.
In 1980, Premier Lévesque put sovereignty-association before the Quebec voters in a referendum. 60% of the Quebec electorate voted against it. The Canadian government repatriated the constitution in 1982 without the approval of Quebec. From 1985 to 1994, the federalist Parti libéral du Québec governed under Robert Bourassa and Daniel Johnson, Jr.[?]. Progress on the constitutional issue resulted in the Meech Lake Accord[?] in 1987, but it collapsed in 1990. Another constitutional deal, the Charlottetown Accord[?], which sought to resolve a long list of unrelated issues at the same time as it resolved the nation's relationship with Quebec, was rejected by countrywide referendum in 1992.
The Parti Québécois was re-elected to office in 1994, led by Jacques Parizeau[?], and held another referendum on sovereignty. On October 30, 1995, the measure was rejected by an extremely slim margin, less than one percent. The federal Liberal Party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien came under sharp criticism for mishandling the "no" side of the referendum campaign.
Parizeau resigned and was replaced by the head of the federal Bloc Québécois, Lucien Bouchard. Under Bouchard, the sovereignist option was pushed aside, as it didn't seem possible to gather "winning conditions".
For some the fight for Quebec independence is still very important to this day. However, after ten years of governing by the separatist Parti Québécois in the election of April 14, 2003, Jean Charest, leader of the Parti libéral du Québec, was elected premier of the province.
The motto of Quebec is Je me souviens (I remember), which was carved into the National Assembly building façade in Quebec City.
The provincial bird of Quebec is the snowy owl.