Québec Settlement was founded in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, just one year after Jamestown, Virginia was fortified by the British. Champlain chose an Amerindian word, pronounced “kay-beck,” to name the city. It means “place where the river becomes narrow.” The French used this site as a major center of control over New France from its founding up to the decisive battle of the Seven Years’ War in 1759.
Benedict Arnold brought a small army of colonists to overtake Québec City during the Revolutionary War, c. 1775-76. His men suffered many hardships, traveling through rough terrain in bitter weather farther than they expected. Despite several successes, they failed to capture the city. The British had to divert a large number of troops to defend the territory, though, which was an advantage for Americans in the colonies.
From 1791 to 1841, Québec City was the capital of “Lower Canada,” the British territory named and divided because of its geographic position relative to the St.Lawrence River’s source. Division by this method was meant to help the different regions’ economies expand and compete, but it largely seems to have engendered later franco-anglo conflicts in the territory.
Québec City is now the capital of the eponymous, largely francophone Canadian province. I’m sure we won’t have time to take in but a fraction of the historical sites and current culture. Here are just a few of the ideas we had:
- Touring the Plains of Abraham, the site of the 1759 Conquest that helped make Canadian French so distinctive.
- Ice skating at place d’Youville. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean we’re going to stay indoors all day!
- Meeting a sled dog team! And learning about native Canadians in the process.
Bonjour Québec is a site full of more ideas, if you’d like to visit yourself. Happy travels!