Introduction to Quebec

(continuer en français) – Last updated: February 10, 2022

The only fully French-speaking province is a bit of a world apart in English-dominated North America. And yet there was a time when New France stretched from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, covering the entire central part of the North American continent. But there was nobody, just a few coureurs des bois.

The creation of the Canadian Confederation in 1867 was seen as a chance for many French Quebecers to preserve their identity, more easily than to risk being integrated into the United States one day.

Château Frontenac

Quebec City

The provincial capital is also the oldest city in Canada, founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. The European imprint is still evident in the historic centre, which is still fortified by its stone wall. For many American visitors, whether by language or architecture, Quebec City is like a piece of Europe transplanted to the heart of America. The Château Frontenac overlooks the old Petit Champlain quarter to form a unique tourist attraction.


Montreal was founded in 1642 and quickly became Canada’s first major city, with Toronto not overtaking it until the 20th century. Its metropolitan area has a population of over 4 million. Despite a highly Americanised urban landscape, there is a well-preserved old quarter around the Old Port. In the summer, a recreation area provides a lot of entertainment, making it a popular tourist destination (more).


The city was founded in 1634, the second oldest in the province. Located halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, Trois-Rivières is probably too close to these two large cities to develop fully. For many it is just a stop on the highway at the halfway point. Its antiquity can be seen in its old buildings, dating back to the time of the French regime, with its ‘manors’ which are large bourgeois houses.


Gatineau is the Quebec neighbourhood of Ottawa, the federal capital, located on the border of Ontario and Quebec, straddling the Ottawa River. The Canadian Museum of History dates from 1989, succeeding several other institutions. Its unique architecture houses the essential stages of Canadian civilizations over a period of 20,000 years. A large place is given to the First Peoples, then to the settlement of the European newcomers who transformed the country.

Ile d’Orléans

The Ile d’Orléans looks like a large raft on the St. Lawrence, blocked in its upstream journey by the narrowing at the level of Quebec. It is both a residential area of the capital and an agricultural land with beautiful rural landscapes, with the river in the background. Along the road around the island, there are beautiful houses with various roof shapes, as a collection of different attempts to adapt to the climate.


Located just north of the Montreal metropolitan area, the Laurentians is a beautiful rural region that rises gradually to Mont-Tremblant. The resort has outdoor activities for all four seasons, although its strong point remains its ski area, the best in Quebec, which also attracts a wealthy clientele from Ontario and the United States. The entire region benefits from its proximity to Montreal by offering numerous opportunities for relaxation and recreation.


The remote Témiscamingue region has long served as a reservoir of agricultural land around Ville-Marie, receiving the overcrowded populations of the St. Lawrence Valley. Then mining activities developed, as in Rouyn-Noranda in Abitibi. Relying on its relative isolation, the region has created its own identity, oriented towards nature, hunting and fishing, with cultural developments producing various festivals.


The Gaspé Peninsula seems to want to get as far away from Montreal as possible, contrasting the populous agglomeration with its vast deserted regions. Resources are scarce and so are the people, who are attached to their traditions of life. This large piece of land ends at Rocher-Percé, a geographical curiosity that attracts visitors who are seduced by the authenticity of this region, which is a direct descendant of French colonization.

Côte Nord

Running along the north shore of the St. Lawrence, Highway 138 connects several increasingly isolated communities to the rest of Quebec. Then comes the moment when the road stops, to resume 220 miles, 350 kilometres, further on. This last part, around Blanc-Sablon, seems to condemn the population to turn towards Labrador, as long as the Route 138 connection remains a project on the drawing board.

Magdalen Islands

The Magdalen Islands archipelago is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence 50 miles, 82 kilometres, from the nearest coast. Its beautiful beaches are now a sought-after holiday destination, a nice alternative to the fashion for long-distance travel. The agricultural and fishing traditions have also fostered an interesting local culture, accentuated by the natural isolation and the coexistence of groups of different origins, Acadians, Irish and Scots (more).

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  1. Wow! I’ve been to Quebec but only to Gatineau… clearly there is much left to explore. I’m particularly drawn to the rugged coastlines further north. Wonderful photos, and thanks for the tour of the province 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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