8 Interesting Facts About Quebec

Last Updated on

The Quebec flag.
The Quebec flag.

Canada is one of my favorite countries and a place I have extensively explored during my more than a decade of world travels. Many of my trips have focused on visiting and recording every single one of Canada’s 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but I’ve also dedicated many trips to visiting every province and every Canadian national park

On this trip, the Canadian passenger rail company VIA Rail invited me to visit and test out their new wifi service, so I have been journeying around via train to the country’s most notable cities, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. Next up? Quebec City, which means it’s exactly the right time for another installment of 8 Facts You Might Not Have Known: Quebec edition!

1. America once invaded Quebec.

The Battle of Chateauguay took place on October 26, 1813, during the War of 1812. Although 4,000 Americans attempted to take Montreal, they were repulsed by 1,630 French Canadians. If the Americans had been successful, all subsequent North American history would have been different, and today, Canada as we know it might not have existed.

2. It has the oldest English language newspaper in North America.

Despite being a French speaking province, Quebec City is home to the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, a weekly English language newspaper. It was founded in 1764, making it the oldest surviving newspaper and English newspaper in North America.

 

3. Quebec is Canada’s largest province by area.

At over 1,500,000 sq/km, Quebec is almost 50% larger than Ontario, and only slightly smaller than Alaska. It is not as large as the Canadian territory of Nunavut, which is over 2,000,000 sq/km in size—but Nunavut is not a province, however, so Quebec wins in the size competition (mostly on a technicality!).

4. The Appalachian Mountains run through Quebec.

The Appalachian mountain range keeps going after it hits the U.S./Canada border and extends through Quebec, all the way up to Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, the Appalachian mountains extend for almost 2,000 miles (3,200 km) into Canada, and end in central Alabama. Culturally speaking, though, I don’t think the Quebecois have their own version of hillbillies.

iew of Montmorency Falls from afar near Quebec City, Canada.
iew of Montmorency Falls from afar near Quebec City, Canada.

5. Quebec was the scene of many terrorist acts in the 60’s and 70’s.

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a Quebec separatist and Marxist-Leninist  paramilitary organization that committed several political murders and bombings. The group firmly believed in the Quebec sovereignty movement, but most support for the FLQ ended after they kidnapped and murdered Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte in what is known as the “October Crisis.” 

6. It took Quebec 30 years to finish paying for the 1976 Olympics.

The 1976 Olympics were held in Montreal and the city took on a huge debt to finance the games. The mayor of Montreal famously said, “the Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby.”

Well, men apparently started having babies because the bonds to pay for the Olympics weren’t fully paid off until 2006—a staggering 30 years after the games had long since passed.

7. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is the largest inclined tower in the world.

The stadium built for the ’76 Olympics is unique in many ways. The tower, which supports the fabric dome roof of the stadium, is the largest inclined tower in the world at 574 ft (175 m). The building costing over $1.6 billion and actually wasn’t completed in time for the 1976 Olympics!

Today, the stadium has no permanent tenant since the Expos left for Washington. There have been calls to demolish the stadium because it has so many structural problems, but because it sits on top of a subway line, demolition would cost an additional $700 million. This long and expensive is why it’s known locally as the “Big O” (as in “owe”).

Street scene in Old Quebec, Quebec City, Canada
Street scene in Old Quebec, Quebec City, Canada

8. The Montreal Canadiens are the most storied ice hockey team in NHL history.

The Canadiens were one of the original teams in the National Hockey Association in 1909. The team’s nickname in both in English and French is the “Habs,” and they have won the Stanley Cup 24 times (and were the fist team in NHL history to win 3,000 games). The majority of their Stanley Cup wins occured in the 50s and 60s when they had a truly all-star, powerhouse team. But that’s not to say they’ve entirely lost steam—they last won the Stanley Cup in the 1992–93 season.

Recommended Resources And Readings:

If you’re traveling to Quebec, (or visiting Canada as a whole) then you’ll likely want to pick up a Lonely Planet Quebec guidebook for the best advice on where to go, what to see, and where to stay.

And if you’re keen to learn more fascinating facts about Quebec’s rich history, culture, and landscape, here are our favorite reads.

Best Books About Quebec, Canada:

  • People’s History of Quebec: A fascinating read shining new light on Quebec’s 450-year history, detailing not just how the province’s history unfolded, but the impact the Quebecois had on mapping the Americas.
  • Champlain’s Dream: A truly well done deep dive into New France and how Samuel de Champlain helped shape the region that would later become Quebec.
  • Jeanne Chevalier, Fille du Roi: Her Story: Sent by Louis XIV to help settle the new colony in France, Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier this engaging true story unfolds the early days of life in New France through the story of a woman who faced many challenges, dangers, and deaths in her quest for a new life. (Hélène’s World is also a notable book unfolding during Champlain’s earliest days in the colony as a woman struggles to survive and thrive in 17th century France and New France).

18 thoughts on “8 Interesting Facts About Quebec”

  1. Great post! Love hearing visitors’ impressions of our city, and particularly the hilarious Olympics debacle. Safe travels.

  2. Another thing you might not have known is that the English speakers of Quebec (yes, we have a large English-speaking community. It’s not all French) built Montreal into a lively, financially-powerful city. Since 1976, “separation anxiety” has driven this beautiful city into a downward tailspin.

  3. Great post Gary! I loved the Via Rail when I took it to Montreal as well… it definitely beats the “greyhound experince”. One thing I also found that was really funny was the starbucks.. it was starbucks café lol

  4. I lived in Montreal for about 5 years and visited Quebec City several times. It’s a gorgeous city, filled with history, beautiful buildings and good food :-) It’s probably the closest North America gets to a European city, but with a modern, North American vibe: the best of both worlds!

  5. I loved Montreal. A beautiful mix of old and new world charm. Will you be going to the Madelen Islands? Take it from me they are absolutely fantastic! (Although the Ferry ride from PEI was a bit ropey!).

  6. Wow,a trip across Canada via VIA Rail (sorry couldn’t resist!) is an absolute dream for me. Interesting to hear that Quebec seems more divided politically/culturally/linguistically than Montreal. I’d hear it has a rep for being quite radical. I recently had to research Montreal for a post about it and am now seriously fired up about the place despite having never been! I hope I get to watch a Habs Ice Hockey game and sample some poutine before too long. Quebec seems int too, oh for unlimited time and money! Thanks, Jools

  7. “They have won the Stanley Cup 24 times and were the fist team in NHL history to win 3,000 games. ”

    s/fist/first/

    -Jot

  8. You’ve got to be kidding, Quebec is FULL of hillbillies! Don’t let the French fool you.

    Try poutine, Montreal-style bagels, and smoked meat while you’re here.

  9. Welcome to Montreal. I moved here from England two years ago and blog about the difference between the two in Dear England, Love Canada at http://annekostalas.blogspot.com.
    Good luck on your travels. I drove alone across the States a few years back. Loved every minute of it.

  10. Great list, Gary! Yes, those damn Canadiens… We’re still looking for our first Cup here in Vancouver. :)

    • Well, considering how great our team has been doing for the past years, you might as well just win the Cup this year ;)

      • Well, it’s been predicted this year! Aw, we don’t have to fight over this, do we? ;) How Canadian to be filling up the comments section with hockey banter…

  11. Good points! We do love our Olympic Stadium, although it is often referred to as the expensive UFO (not only did we have trouble paying it, but there were many problems with the roof that made the headlines and cost a lot of money).

    I like that you mentionned our history and underlined the fact that we could be Americans today. I wonder what nickname you’d give us ;)

  12. The Apalachian are only on the sout shore of St-Lawrence River , on the North Shore it’s called the Bouclier Canadien. It’s not the same kinds of soil and rock. There is a little part of Appalachian in Newfoudland but not in Labrador (bouclier canadien) wich is on the north shore of St-Lawrence River.

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalaches

  13. We loved Quebec City…great place to take photos. We were there on Canada Day, so there was a lot of activity (including a fair share of separatists protesting).
    Oh…and have some poutine. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had it, but it’s a pretty guilty pleasure for a lot of folks :)

  14. Quebec definitely has its own version of a hillbilly. If you get a chance, go and eat at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. You will see what I mean.

    http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca/

    Jason

    (It’s famous, and apparently an amazing culinary experience. The head chef and owner, though, is pretty wacked)

Comments are closed.