Capital and port of Québec province, Canada, at the junction of the Saint-Charles and St Lawrence rivers, Canada; population (2001 est) 169,100, metropolitan area (2001 est) 682,800. It is a major inland seaport, and a commercial, financial, and administrative centre. Industries include printing and publishing, and the production of paper, pulp, wood products, electronic goods, textiles, and leather. Lumber and wheat are exported. It is a centre of French culture, and most of its inhabitants are French-speaking.
Growth of the city Québec was founded by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain as a fur-trading post in 1608, although Basque whalers and fishermen probably visited the area earlier. The British, under General James Wolfe, captured Québec in 1759 after a battle on the nearby Plains of Abraham; both Wolfe and the French commander Louis-Joseph Montcalm-Gozon, were killed. Québec was capital of Lower Canada 1791–1841; capital of the United Provinces of Canada 1851–55 and 1859–67; and at the formation of the Dominion in 1867, became capital of Québec province. The opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in 1959 reduced the volume of shipping, although it remains a major port. There are two universities: Laval (1663), the oldest in North America; and Québec (1969). The picturesque old town survives below the Citadel, a fortress built 1820–52, which is perched on a 110 m/360 ft cliff above the St Lawrence River.
Location Québec lies in the southern part of the province, 290 km/180 mi northeast of Montréal. Situated on the left bank of the St Lawrence, it occupies the rocky promontory of Cape Diamond, between the Saint-Charles and St Lawrence rivers. The strategic value of the site was recognized by the Huron, the native Canadian people who inhabited the village of Stadacona in an area they named Kebec, when the French explorer Jacques Cartier visited the region in 1535.
The city is divided into two main sections: the Upper Town, or Haute-Ville, on the cliff, which is mainly residential; and the Lower Town, or Basse-Ville, which contains the oldest part of the city and a business district that spreads out along the waterfront and up the Saint-Charles Valley. There is a funicular railway connecting the two sections. Ample power supplies are provided by the hydroelectric stations at the 83 m/272 ft-high Montmorency Falls nearby, and the vast Maligne plant at the head of the Saguenay River.
Architecture Québec is the only walled city in North America, and the city walls, erected 1823–32, surround much of the older city. Most of the city's old houses date from after 1759, but were still built in a traditional French style. Québec is the religious capital of French-Canadian Roman Catholics, and contains the archbishop's palace, cathedrals, and several seminaries and nunneries. The oldest place of worship in the city is the Basilica of Notre Dame. First built in 1647, the church serves the longest-standing parish in North America; the body of Samuel de Champlain lies in its crypt. Other religious foundations include the Hôtel-Dieu du Précieux Sang (1637), the oldest hospital in North America and still inhabited by its Augustinian order; the Ursuline Convent (1639), the first girls' school in North America; the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victories (1688); the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Québec (1650); and the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral (1804). The late-19th-century parliament buildings are situated in extensive grounds. Down by the waterfront, the oldest part of the city still retains the steep, winding, narrow streets and stone houses which pre-date Wolfe's arrival. Place Royale, the site of Samuel de Champlain's original farmstead, lies at its heart. The Fairmont Château Frontenac hotel (1892), with its stone towers and copper turrets, overlooks the St Lawrence River. The old city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Cultural institutions Galleries and museums include the Québec Museum, housing over 18,000 works of art; the Québec Seminary Museum; the Musée de la Civilisation; and the National Archives of Québec. The principal centres for the performing arts are the Capitole Theatre 1903, the Palais Montcalm (1932), the Québec Conservatory of Music (1944), and the Grand Theatre (1971).
Historic sites Montmorency Park, at the top of Mountain Hill, was the site of the first Canadian parliament, at which the Pact of Confederation was signed in 1867. The Seminary Gardens enclose the house of Guillaume Couillard, son-in-law of Louis Hebert, reputedly the first French settler in Canada. Dufferin Terrace, a promenade in the Haute-Ville overlooking the St Lawrence, was built on the site of Château St-Louis, the cornerstone of which was laid by Samuel de Champlain in 1620.
The Plains of Abraham lie southwest of the city in the National Battlefields Park, which contains a monument to General Wolfe. Also to the southwest is Wolfe's Cove; traditionally the landing point of Wolfe's troops in 1759.
Québec City and Area
Notre Dame, Québec
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