|Its all about ships
Cruising down the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, you see forests of
trees on the hillsides, extending down to the banks of the river. You feel
like you are far from modern civilisation. Then suddenly, seemingly
without any surrounding suburban sprawl, the ship comes upon a city
situated atop a hill. This is Quebec City.
One of the oldest European settlements in North America, Quebec City is
proud of its well-preserved heritage. Indeed, it boasts the only-walled city
in North America north of Mexico. However, as the capital of the Province
of Quebec, it is also a modern government center.
Quebec City lies on the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River near its
meeting with the St. Charles River. The Laurentian Mountains are to the
north of the city.
Although far inland, Quebec City is no stranger to the sea. The St.
Lawrence has acted as a highway to the interior of North America since
colonial times. Quebec City is located at a strategic point where the river
narrows and thus became a trading center. With the advent of modern
ships and the St. Lawrence Seaway, much of Quebec City's role as a
seaport has shifted downriver to Montreal.
Geographically, Quebec City can be divided into the Old City, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the New City. Most of the tourist
attractions are in the Old City while most of the governmental and
commercial aspects of this modern city of over 600,000 residents are in the
The Old City is, in turn, divided into the Lower Town and the Upper
Town. Lower Town is the area along the river where the first Europeans
settled. Upper Town is on the plateau atop the cliff that faces the river.
Quebec City is very much a French-speaking city and looks to France
for much of its heritage. While many people, particularly in places
frequented by tourists, speak English, they do appreciate a "Bonjour" or
other attempts at their language. Quebec has also inherited the French-style
of cooking and the city is known for its good food.
OVERVIEW AND HISTORY..........................................................Page One
CRUISE PORT; SHOPPING; GETTING
PLACES OF INTEREST...................................................................Page Three
The area around Quebec has long been inhabited. In fact,
the name Quebec is a corruption of an Algonquin word, kerbec,
meaning place where the river narrows.
In 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier was the first
European to visit the area. He named the promontory
overlooking the river where the Citadel is now located ‘Cap
Diamant’ because he thought diamonds and other precious
jewels would be found there.
Cartier’s hopes proved unfounded and it was not until 1608
that the first successful commercial venture took place when
Samuel du Champlain opened a fur-trading post at Quebec. He
was soon followed by other French people who settled around
the trading post in the area now known as the Lower Town.
At this time, France and her traditional rival Great Britain
were struggling for control of North America. Consequently,
Quebec was attacked several times by British forces. The
decisive battle took place during the Seven Years War (also
known as the French and Indian War) on the Plans of Abraham,
just outside the city walls.
The British under General James Wolfe had been besieging
Quebec City for three months. Their encampments were on the
Ile d’Orleans and the south bank of the river. The north bank
including Quebec City was controlled by French General
Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm. Although the French
outnumbered the British, the French force included large
numbers of militia and guerrillas whereas the British were
regular soldiers. Nonetheless, the French in their fortified
positions were able to repulse the British assaults.
As the summer dragged on and disease swept their camp,
British morale sank. Wolfe then decided on a bold move. He
would land a small number of soldiers west of the city who
would then scale a 174 foot cliff at night and take the French
position that guarded that point along the river. The rest of the
army would land and assemble on the plateau above the river.
This would force Montcalm to come out of his fortifications
and fight because it would threaten his supply line to Montreal.
The French did not believe that they could be attacked from
the west and so it was not heavily defended. The British
assault team did its job and on the morning of
13 September 1759, Montcalm awoke to find the British army
formed up on Abraham Martin’s farmland. Concerned that the
British would build entrenchments if given time, Montcalm
decided to attack immediately without waiting for his entire
army to gather. This turned out to be a mistake as within 15
minutes the battle was over and the British had captured the
city. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were mortally wounded.
While other battles would follow over the next four years, the
Battle of Quebec spelt the end of French control of Canada.
During the American War for Independence, revolutionary
soldiers from the American colonies led by Benedict Arnold
attacked the British garrison at Quebec. The plan was to free
the Canadian colonists so that Canada could join the newly
formed United States. Arnold’s attack failed and so the British
colonies in North America went their separate ways.
A second unsuccessful American invasion of Canada was
made during the War of 1812 but did not get as far as Quebec.
However, concerned that there might be another attack in the
future, the British began to build a formidable fortress at
Quebec (the Citadel) in 1820.
During the 19th Century, Quebec City continued to grow as
a governmental and commercial center. In 1867, it was
designated the capital of the Province of Quebec in the newly-
created Dominion of Canada.
It played an important role during World War II as the site
of two conferences of Allied leaders. The first in 1943,
included U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime
Minister Winston Churchill, Canadian Prime Minister William
Lyon Mackenzie King and Chinese Foreign Minister T.V.
Soong. The second conference in 1944 was between
Roosevelt and Churchill and involved final decision making
about the liberation of the European continent from the Nazis.
Above: The Quebec City skyline at night.
Below: Looking down from the Citadel at the Lower
Town. The ship is Queen Elizabeth 2.
The legislative branch of the government
of the province of Quebec, known as the
National Assembly, meets in the Hotel du
Parliment (left). It was designed in the
French Second Empire style. Tours include the
National Assembly Chamber (where the
members of provincial parliament sit) and the
Legislative Council Chamber (standing
committees have been held here since
Cruise destination travel guide - - photo tour - - Quebec City, Quebec (Canada) - - page 1
If walking through the Lower Town has the feel of
having stepped back in time, the Upper Town has the
feel of having stepped across the Atlantic with its
European streets and parks.
Above: The Chateau Frontenac on the cliff overlooking
the river is the best-known landmark in the city.
Below: The Lower Town has been thoughtfully preserved
in a way that allows it to have modern cafés and shops
without disrupting the historical atmosphere.
* This photo tour and the accompanying commentary should only be viewed as a general guide that is based upon one writer's research
and experiences. Accordingly, readers should do their own research prior to their journey. Beyondships is not affiliated with any of the
entities depicted or mentioned herein and assumes no responsibility for their actions and for the products and/or services they provide.
Nor is inclusion in this photo tour a recommendation of the entity shown, its products, services or facilities.
Above: Underscoring the continuing bond
between Quebec and France, the French
Navy frigate Guepratte (F 714) pays a call
on Quebec City.