History of Quebec

History of Quebec

Quebec has played a special role in Canadian history; it is the site where French settlers founded the colony of Canada (New France) in the 1600s and 1700s. Its history has taken a somewhat different path from the rest of Canada.

Pre-Columbian (Prehistory–1533)

Paleoindian era (11000–8000)

Existing archaeological evidence attests to a human presence on the current territory of Quebec some time around 10,000 BC. Paleo-Americains populations preceded the arrival of the Algonquian and Iroquoian people in southern Quebec about 8,000 years ago.

Archaic era (8000–3000)

Woodland era (3000–500)

Agriculture appeared experimentally toward the 8th century. It was only in 14th century that it is fully mastered in the St. Lawrence river valley. The Iroquoians cultivated corn, marrow, sunflowers, and beans.

Early French exploration (1508–1607)

In 1508, only 16 years after the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, Thomas Aubert who was probably part of a fishing trip near Newfoundland, brought back a few Amerindians to France. This indicates that in the early 16th century, French navigators ventured in the gulf of the St. Lawrence, along with the Basques and the Spaniards who did the same.

Also, Jacques Cartier wrote in his journal that when he made his first contacts with the Amerindians (St. Lawrence Iroquoians), that they came to him in their boats to offer him furs. All these facts and several other details encourage us to believe that this was not the first meeting of Amerindians and Europeans.

Verrazzano's voyage

In 1524 an official voyage, financed by merchants and the King of France, was organized. Like several other European nations, the French put their trust in an Italian navigator. Indeed, Spain had hired Cristoforo Columbo ("Christopher Columbus"), Amerigo Vespucci, England paid Giovanni Caboto ("John Cabot"), and France called upon Giovanni da Verrazano. Seeking a shorter passage toward Asia, Verrazano ventured in an area which had not really been visited by the other European travellers. He thoroughly skirted the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and Nova Scotia, seeking the coveted passage to the Sea of China. He came back empty handed, but not without taking note of the beauty of the landscape which he compared to a region of Greece which he probably knew, Arcadia.

Jacques Cartier's voyages

On June 24, 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and took possession of the territory in the name of King Francis I of France.

On his second voyage on May 26, 1535, Cartier sailed upriver to the St. Lawrence Iroquoian villages of Stadacona, near present-day Quebec City, and Hochelaga, near present-day (Montreal).

In 1541, Jean-Francois de la Roque de Roberval became lieutenant of New France and had the responsibility to build a new colony in America. It was Cartier who established the first French settlement on American soil, Charlesbourg Royal.

France was disappointed after the three voyages of Cartier and did not want to invest further large sums in an adventure with such uncertain outcome. A period of disinterest in the new world on behalf of the French authorities followed. Only at the very end of the 16th century interest in these northern territories was renewed.

Still, even during the time when France did not send official explorers, Breton and Basque fishermen came to the new territories to stock up on codfish and whale oil. Since they were forced to stay for a longer period of time, they started to trade their metal objects for fur provided by the indigenous people. This commerce became profitable and thus the interest in the territory was revived.

Fur commerce made a permanent residence in the country worthwhile. Good relations with the indigenous providers were necessary. For some fishermen however, a seasonal presence was sufficient. Commercial companies were founded that tried to further the interest of the Crown in colonizing the territory. They demanded that France grant a monopoly to one single company. In return, this company would also take over the colonization of the French American territory. Thus it would not cost the king much money to build the colony. On the other hand, other merchants wanted commerce to stay unregulated. This controversy was a big issue at the turn of the 17th century.

New France (1534–1759)

Modern Quebec was part of the territory of New France, the general name for the North American possessions of France until 1763. At its largest extent, before the Treaty of Utrecht, this territory included five colonies, each with its own administration: Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Nova Scotia, and Louisiana.

The borders of these colonies were not precisely defined, and were open on the western side.

Acadia (1604–1759)

Acadia was first established as a settlement on Saint Croix Island, in the Saint Croix River between modern day Maine and New Brunswick, in 1604 by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts and his navigator Samuel de Champlain. The settlement at Saint Croix failed due to the harsh winter and lack of fresh water, over half of the settlers died in the winter of 1605 and it was moved to the opposite side of the Bay of Fundy at Port Royal. The settlement was again disbanded in 1608 and Champlain sailed to modern day Quebec City where he began the settlement that would become New France. Though settlers returned to and re-established Acadia in 1611 and it remained a de facto French colony until 1713, it was largely left to its own governance and its people became known as the neutral French.

French Canada (1608–1759)

Three quarters of a century after being explored by Jacques Cartier and unsuccessfully colonized by Roberval, Samuel de Champlain laid out the foundation of French Canada, the most important and historically most successful French colony in North America.

Founding of Quebec

Quebec City was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. Some other towns were founded before, most famously Tadoussac in 1604 which still exists today, but Quebec was the first to be meant as a permanent settlement and not a simple trade post. Over time, it became the capital of French Canada and all of New France.The first version of the town was a single large walled building, called the Habitation. This arrangement was made for protection against perceived threats from the indigenous people. The difficulty of supplying the city from France and the lack of knowledge of the area meant that life was hard. A significant fraction of the population died of hunger and diseases during the first winter. However, agriculture soon expanded and a continuous flow of immigrants, mostly men in search of adventure, increased the population.

The Roman Catholic Church would be given "en seigneurie" large and valuable tracts of land estimated at nearly 30% of all the lands granted by the French Crown in New France. Dalton, Roy. "The Jesuit Estates Question" 1760-88, p. 60. University of Toronto Press, 1968.] . In 1627, after meeting with Samuel de Champlain, Cardinal Richelieu granted a charter to the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (or Company of One Hundred Associates). This gave the company control over the booming fur trade and land rights across the territory in exchange for the company supporting and expanding settlement in New France (at the time encompassing Acadia, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Louisiana). Specific clauses in the charter included a requirement to bring 4000 settlers into New France over the next 15 years. The company largely ignored the settlement requirements of their charter and focused on the lucrative fur trade, only 300 settlers arriving before 1640.

The early years of their rule were disastrous for Quebec. The first two convoys of ships and settlers bound for the colony were waylaid near Gaspé by British privateers under the command of three French Huguenot brothers, David, Louis and Thomas Kirke. Quebec was effectively cut off. On 19th July 1629, with Quebec completely out of supplies and no hope of relief, de Champlain surrendered Quebec to the Kirkes without a fight. De Champlain was taken to England as a prisoner of war and released in 1632.

In 1632, under the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Quebec and all other former French possessions in North America were returned to New France. De Champlain was restored as governor but died three years later.

On the verge of bankruptcy, the company lost its fur trade monopoly in 1641 and was finally dissolved in 1662.

overeign Council (1663–1759)

The establishment of the "Conseil souverain", political restructuring which turned New France into a province of France, ended the period of company rule and marked a new beginning in the colonization effort.

British conquest (1756–1760)

"Main articles:" French and Indian War "and" Seven Years' War

In the middle of the 18th century, the British North America had grown to be close to a full-fledged independent country, something they would actually become a few decades later, with more than 1 million inhabitants. Meanwhile New France was still seen mostly as a cheap source of natural resources for the metropolis, and had only 60,000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, New France was territorially larger than New England. When the Seven Years' war started, it was an obvious and easy target for the English.

The first battles were fought inland, in present day Upstate New York. However the French could still retain the advantage in this region due to rough terrains, already built fortresses and alliances with local native tribes. The battle of Fort Carillon (nowadays Fort Ticonderoga) is well-known as one of the few French victories of the time. The present-day flag of Quebec is based on the flag carried by the militia at this battle.

However the next phase of the battle aimed directly at the heart of New France. General James Wolfe lead a fleet of 49 ships holding 8640 British troops from the fortress of Quebec. They disembarked on Île d'Orléans and on the south shore of the river; the French forces under Marquis de Montcalm held the walled city and the north shore. Wolfe lead siege to the city for more than two months, exchanging cannon fire over the river, but neither side could expect resupply during the winter. On 5 September 1759, after successfully convincing Montcalm he would attack by the Baie de Beauport east of the city, the British troops crossed close to Cap-Rouge, west of the city, and successfully climbed the steep Cap Diamant undetected. Montcalm, for disputed reasons, did not use the protection of the city walls and fought on open terrains, in what would be known as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The battle was short and bloody. Both leaders died in battle, but the British easily won. ("The Death of General Wolfe" is a well-known 1770 painting by artist Benjamin West depicting the final moments of Wolfe.)

Now in possession of the main city and capital, and further isolating the inner cities of Trois-Rivières and Montreal from France, the rest of the campaign was only a matter of slowly taking control of the land. The last battle was fought in Montreal in 1760.

British rule (1760–1867)

Royal Proclamation (1763–1774)

Issued on October 7, 1763, the British Royal Proclamation of 1763 laid out the policy of Great Britain regarding its newly acquired colonies of America. The three Quebec districts were united into the Province of Quebec.

Quebec Act (1774)

The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec. Among other components, this act restored the use of the French civil law for private matters while maintaining the use of the English common law for public administration (including criminal prosecution), replaced the oath of allegiance so that it no longer made reference to the Protestant faith, and guaranteed free practice of the Catholic faith. The purpuse of this Act was to secure the allegiance of the French Canadians with unrest growing in the American colonies to the south.

The Battle of Yorktown (1781)

Many Quebecers took part in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Edward Antill, a New Yorker who married Charlotte Riverin, led a regiment of Lafayette in the last battle that gave America its freedom. With him was Major Clément Gosselin, Germain Dionne, and many others French Quebecers who fought with Lafayette and Washington. This British defeat brought 50,000 American loyalists to Quebec, compared to 90,000 French people.

Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil, a Quebecer, was with the French Navy at Yorktown in the Battle of Chesapeake Bay that defeated the British Navy. Simcoe, the founder of Toronto, was defeated by the Quebec regiment called "the Congress' Own".

*1781 - Major Clément Gosselin, a Quebecer from La Pocatière, defeated the British at Yorktown helped by Admiral Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil, who was the Nephew of Pierre Vaudreuil of Montreal.

Constitutional Act (1791–1840)

The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided Quebec into Upper Canada (the part of present-day Ontario south of Lake Nipissing plus the current Ontario shoreline of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior) and Lower Canada (the southern part of present-day Quebec). Upper Canada's first capital was Newark (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake); in 1796, it was moved to York, now Toronto.

The new constitution, primarily passed to answer the demands of the Loyalists, created a unique situation in Lower Canada. The Legislative Assembly, the only elected body in the colonial government, was continually at odds with the Legislative and Executive branches appointed by the governor. When, in the early 1800s, the Parti canadien rose as a nationalist, liberal and reformist party, a long political struggle started between the majority of the elected representatives of Lower Canada and the colonial government.

This struggle has finally lead to armed rebellions that occurred in 1837 and 1838 led by reformers from the Parti canadien. Key goals for the rebels were to have responsible government and, for many, to terminate prejudicial dominance of the Engligh minority over the French majority.

Martial law and Special Council (1838–1840)

Canada (1931-1959)

Modern Quebec (1960–present)

Summary of Quebec's political transformations

Names in bold refer to provinces, others to sub-provincial levels of government; the first names listed are those areas mostly nearly corresponding to modern Quebec.
* Canada, the core of New France (1608–1761): a French colony
* Province of Quebec (1763–1791): a British colony
* Lower Canada, one of the Canadas (1791-1841): a British colony
* the Canada East portion of the Province of Canada (1841–1867): a British colony
* Quebec (1867–present): a province of Canada


* Ramsay Cook, ed. "French-Canadian Nationalism: An Anthology" (1969)
* Pierre A. Coulombe; "Language Rights in French Canada" (1997)
* Jean-C. Falardeau and Mason Wade, eds; "Canadian Dualism: Studies of French-English Relations" (1960), bilingual
* Gagnon, Alain-G., and Mary Beth Montcalm. "Quebec Beyond the Quiet Revolution". Scarborough: Nelson, 1990.
* Gagnon, Alain-G. ed. "Quebec: State and Society" (1984)
* Lachapelle, Guy, et al. "The Quebec Democracy: Structures, Processes and Policies". Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1993.
* Laforest, Guy. _fr. "Trudeau et la fin d'un rêve canadien". Sillery: Septentrion, 1992.
* Langlois, Simon. "La société québécoise en tendances: 1960-1990". Quebec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1990.
* Paul-André Linteau, René Durocher, Jean-Claude Robert, and Robert Chodos. "Quebec: A History 1867-1929" (1983) "Quebec Since 1930" (1991), standard 2 vol textbook.
* Helen Taft Manning; "The Revolt of French Canada, 1800-1835: A Chapter of the History of the British Commonwealth" (1962)
* McRoberts, Kenneth. "Quebec: Social Change and Political Crisis."' Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1988.
* Peter Moogk; "La Nouvelle France: The Making of French Canada a Cultural History" (2000) to 1763
* John Saywell; "The Rise of the Parti Québécois 1967-76" (1977)
* Susan Mann Trofimenkoff, "Dream of Nation: A Social and Intellectual History of Quebec" (1982)
* Mason Wade; "The French Canadians, 1760-1945" (1955), standard history
* Jonathan Weiss and Jane Moss. "French-Canadian Literature" (1996)

See also

*Timeline of Quebec history
*Timeline of Canadian history
*History of Montreal
*History of Canada
*History of the British Empire
*Codex canadiensis

External links

* [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/QuebecHistory/index.htm Quebec History]
* [http://www.haldimand-collection.ca Haldimand Collection - Abstracts of the 22 000 letters ans documents contained in the 232 series]
* [http://www.histoiredesorel.ca Histoire de Sorel-Tracy]
* [http://www.quebecgazette.com The Quebec Gazette / La Gazette de Québec]

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