Quebéc: Old City Page 2
Quebec, Canada
July 2001

Street artist.

In 1759, unfortunately for the French, the British surprised the French. General James Wolfe and 4500 British soldiers scaled the steep cliffs leading to the Plains of Abraham, under cover of darkness on September 12-13, 1759. The French commander, Lieutenant-General Louis de Montcalm, ordered his army (a combination of French regulars and poorly trained militiamen) to meet the enemy. In a battle that lasted 15 minutes, the British routed the defenders. They battered the city with cannon fire until the French army retreated to Montreal, where they would be defeated a year later and New France would fall to the British.

These canons, from the 19th century, never saw battle.
With the British came order and wealth, and the city grew in leaps and bounds. New sectors of the city were built with their own architecture and character. Agriculture flourished and trade routes extended deeper into the heart of the continent and into the American colonies. But beneath all the British influence remained the "French identity." Citizens refused to give up their language or their culture to the English speaking authorities.

In the background, the Chateau Frontenac, the city's signature landmark. Strategically located, it faces Levis and ile d'Orleans and commands views of the St. Lawrence River. Meeting place for Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and other allies during WWII.

The "French identity" fervour has only increased over time. In 1774, the British passed the Quebec Act, which allowed the French citizens to practice Roman Catholicism and to use French civil law. Still, French-speaking citizens struggled to preserve their culture. During the debates on Confederation in 1867, Quebec representatives refused to join unless guarantees were made to protect the identity of French-speaking people in the newly formed Dominion of Canada.

The Dufferin Terrace, the board walk in front of the Chateau Frontenac. It coffers a spectacular view of Old Lower Town and the St. Lawrence. An 1898 monument to Samuel de Champlain is at the north end of the terrace. From here one can descend the 55 metres to Place-Royale, the center of Old Lower Town. The terrace is linked to Battlefield Park by the Promenade des Bouverneurs, a 670-meter-long walk anchored to a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence.

In our hotel Hotellerie Fleur de Lys

The surrender of Quebec was followed by a period of military occupation and martial law until 1763, when a peace treaty was signed in Paris. With New France now secured as British North America, immigrants arrived to occupy existing cities and to build new ones. The large influx of British, Scottish and Irish immigrants into Quebec City created considerable tension, but it also fostered the international flavour the city still retains. A mingling of cultures over time has resulted in a unique lifestyle and atmosphere.

Quebec City has continued as a hotbed of political activity for those who feel that the French influence in Canada is not strong enough, or that the French are poorly represented and supported by their government. But despite its strong French identity, Quebec remains a city rich in diverse cultural flavours, styles and history. It is a city of passion. Its residents are not only passionate about their politics, but about their desire to enjoy life to its fullest.

At the Place-Royale. Center of Lower Town, was the 1608 site of Samuel de Champlain's abitation, the beginning of French colonization of America. Despite a ruinous fire in 1682 and numerous attacks by the British, who finally captured the city in 1759, the area has been preserved virtually as it was during the 18th century.

French-Canadian beauty

the debating chamber of Quebec's Parliament

Materials above about Quebec's historical background was lifted from quebeccitytourism.ca.