Quebec, city, Canada

Quebec, Fr. Québec, city (1991 pop. 167,517), provincial capital, S Que., Canada, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Charles rivers. The population is largely French speaking, and the town is at the ideological core of French Canada. Quebec is an important port and is an industrial, cultural, service, and tourist center. Part of the city is built on the waterfront and is called Lower Town; that part called Upper Town is on Cape Diamond, a bluff rising c.300 ft (91 m) above the St. Lawrence. Winding, narrow streets link the two sections of the city. The chief industries are shipbuilding and tourism, and the manufacture of pulp, paper, newsprint, leather products, textiles, clothing, machinery, and foods and beverages. The site of Quebec was visited by Cartier in 1535, and in 1608 Champlain established a French colony in the present Lower Town; this was captured (1629) by the English, who held it until 1632. In 1663, Quebec was made the capital of New France and became the center of the fur trade. The city was unsuccessfully attacked by the English in 1690 and 1711. Finally in 1759 English forces under Wolfe defeated the French under Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham (see Abraham, Plains of) and captured Quebec. During the American Revolution, Americans under Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold failed (1775–76) to capture the city, although Arnold briefly held the Lower Town. Quebec became the capital of Lower Canada in 1791. After the union (1841) of Upper and Lower Canada, it was twice the capital of the United Provinces of Canada (1851–55 and 1859–65). The Quebec Conference was held in the city in 1864. Historic old Quebec, much of which is preserved, was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. There are many notable old structures, including the Ursuline Convent (1639); the Basilica of Notre Dame (1647); Quebec Seminary (1663); and parts of the fortifications enclosing Old Quebec. The surrounding area also has many notable sights, such as Montmorency Falls, the Île d'Orléans, and the shrine of Ste Anne de Beaupré. Laval Univ. is a center for the city's largely francophone culture.

See M. de la Roche, Quebec, Historic Seaport (1944); W. P. Percival, The Lure of Quebec (rev. ed. 1965); M. Gaumond, Place Royale: Its Houses and Their Occupants (tr. 1971); D. T. Ruddel, Quebec City, Seventeen Sixty-Five to Eighteen Thirty-Two (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Canadian Political Geography