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40+ Interesting facts about Quebec, Quebec City & Montreal

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North America’s oldest city, the most photographed hotel, Summer Olympics venue, poutine, and Molson Canadian all have something in common – Quebec. Want to learn more about these interesting facts about Quebec and its history? You are at the right spot!

Quebec is a Canadian province, located in the central part of the country. It is home to vibrant cities such as Montreal, Quebec City, and highlights like the Saint Lawrence River, Mont-Tremblant, and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

So let’s dive into some of the fun facts about Quebec!

40+ Interesting facts about Quebec, Québec City & Montreal

Flag and map of Quebec: Interesting facts about Quebec
Interesting and fun facts about Quebec

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1. Quebec is the largest province in Canada (by area)

Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories. Quebec is not only one of the oldest provinces but it is also the largest by area. 

It is also the second-largest province by population in Canada! 

2. The origins of Quebec traces back to a French explorer

The origins of Quebec dates back to the year 1534 when the French explorer Jacques Cartier landed at present-day Gaspé. He was in charge of the land in the name of the king of France.

Montreal Lanes
Old Montreal Lanes

3. It is French but Quebec was a British Colony and was known as Canada, once upon a time

Quebec was the most developed colony in New France. 

But after the Seven Years’ War, it became a British colony. It was known by different names over the course of the next few decades. It was known as the Province of Quebec (from 1763–1791), then Lower Canada (from 1791–1841), and later Canada East (from 1841–1867).

So in 1791, the official name of Canada was used when the new Province of Quebec was divided into the colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. 

In 1841, these two colonies were united under one name, the Province of Canada.

Later, in 1867 it was confederated with Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, forming the Canadian Confederation. 

4. The flag of Quebec was adopted in 1948

The Quebec flag is also known as the Fleurdelyse aka lily flowered. It has a blue background with a white cross, stylized between four fleurs-de-lis.

Flag of Quebec

The white lilies symbolize purity and the blue field denotes heaven! 

5. Other symbols of Quebec

The fleur-de-lis is Quebec’s most common symbol. It is a symbol of the French monarchy. Here are some of the other important symbols of the province of Quebec, 

  • Coat of arms: It dates back to the year 1868, the Coat of Arms was granted by a royal warrant issued by Queen Victoria. It was adopted in its current form by the Government of Quebec in 1939 to reflect Quebec’s political history.
  • Motto: The motto, Je me souviens (“I remember”), was devised by the architect of Quebec’s Parliament Building, Eugène-Étienne Taché, in 1883. It is an official part of the coat of arms and has been the official license plate motto since 1978. 
  • Provincial Bird: Snowy Owl, adopted in 1987
  • Provincial Flower: Blue Flag, adopted in 1999
  • Provincial Tree: Yellow Birch, adopted in 1993

6. Did you know that Quebec is the only Canadian province with a French-speaking majority?

Quebec’s official language is French. About 95 percent of Quebecers speak French, but many are bilingual, and also speak English!

7. But why is Quebec Francophone? Answer: 70s Quebec law called Bill 101

Quebec adopted the Charter of the French Language (70s Quebec law called Bill 101), which allowed the predominant use of French within provincial government institutions and in Quebec society. 

8. Borders of Quebec

Quebec shares a border with Ontario (west), Newfoundland and Labrador (northeast), New Brunswick (southeast), and US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. 

9. Quebec has unique civil laws

Whenever there are countrywide promotional campaigns usually Quebec and/or its residents are excluded! This is because Quebec is the only province in Canada to have a juridical legal system under which civil matters are regulated by French-heritage civil law. 

However, public law, criminal law, and federal law operate according to Canadian common law.

10. Quebec has a lot of historic sites, many of European origins 

Because Quebec has been settled since the beginning of New France, it is home to a lot of the country’s historic buildings and sites.

Quebec Cityscape with Chateau Frontenac: Interesting facts about Quebec

11. There is Quebec and then there is Quebec City

Quebec is the name of the province, and there is a city, by the same name – Quebec City. It refers to 2 different things. 

12. Not Montreal, Quebec City is the capital of the province

Although Montreal may be more popular and well known to international visitors, it is not the capital city of the province. Quebec City is!

13. Quebec City dates back to 1608

First Nations peoples have lived in the area we know as Quebec City, today. But it was officially founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer in 1608, making it the oldest European settlement in Canada and North America. 

Its Old Town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site (1985).

14. The Company of One Hundred Associates + Fur Trading

With Champlain came other French explorers, settlers particularly fur trappers, and missionaries to form the colony. Fur trading companies were amalgamated together under one organization, the Company of One Hundred Associates. 

This was the permanent trading post on the site of Quebec City, set up by the early French fur traders (17th century). 

15. The only walled city in North America is located in Quebec

Quebec City is not only one of the oldest cities in Canada, but it is also the only remaining walled city in North America north of Mexico. The city walls extend 4.6 kilometres (2.9 miles), with the southern portions of the ramparts forming a part of the Citadelle of Quebec.

La Citadelle is the fortified area in Quebec City that includes defensive works and buildings built during various eras. The current fortress was constructed from 1820 to 1832 under the supervision of Lieutenant Colonel Elias Walker Durnford. 

The Citadelle is a National Historic Site of Canada and forms part of the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada.

16. Home to the most photographed hotel in the world: Fairmont Chateau Frontenac 

Quebec City is home to the beautiful Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. It was developed by the Canadian Railways in the late 1800s. 

View of Fairmont Frontenac Quebec
Beautiful Fairmont Le Château Frontenac: Interesting facts about Quebec

It is considered to be the world’s most photographed hotel, overlooking the St. Lawrence River and Old Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, this 5-star hotel is designated a National Historic Site in 1981. You can book a guided tour of the hotel here

17. Home to the oldest church in Canada: Quebec City facts

Notre-Dame de Québec is the oldest church in Canada. The Roman Catholic Church was elevated to the rank of a minor basilica, by Pope Pius IX in 1874.

18. The oldest English language newspaper in North America is in Quebec City

Quebec City has been publishing a weekly English newspaper called the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph since 1764, making it the oldest surviving English newspaper in North America.

19. Origins of the word Quebec

The word “Kebec” is an Algonquin word meaning where the river narrows. 

20. There are French and there are Irish too

There is a large Irish population in Quebec City – about 40% of the population is said to have Irish lineage (dating back to the 17th century). 

21. Quebec Winter Carnival: Celebrations since 1894

Quebec City organizes the Winter Carnival every year in February. It is the oldest winter festival of its kind, dating back to the 1890s. Visitors from near and far come to participate in the winter festival and to enjoy skating, ice sculptures, sledding, night parades, and more. 

Quebec winter carnival activities
Quebec Winter Carnival activities: Interesting facts about Quebec

22. Montreal was founded in 1642

Montreal was founded by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, a French military official, and Jeanne Mance, a female settler who left Paris to start the city of Ville-Marie. 

The city was founded as Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary” and was named after Mount Royal. And this is where the origins of the city are found.

Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve built dwellings, a chapel, and other buildings to protect the settlement against Indian attack in New France!

23. Canada’s Culture Capital and the second largest city

Montreal is known as Canada’s “Cultural Capital” and is also the country’s second-largest city. Montreal is home to world-class museums, international festivals, art, culture, history, and amazing food. 

24. Montreal was host to the 1976 Summer Olympics (the only Summer Olympics held in Canada)

Montreal was host to the 1976 Summer Olympics, which is one of the three times Olympics were ever hosted by Canada. The other two were Winter Olympics held in 1988 (Calgary Alberta), and 2010 (Vancouver/Whistler British Columbia). 

Olympic National Park Montreal
Interesting facts about Quebec

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

Montreal Olympic Stadium was built for the global sporting event. However, it cost well over budget, and wasn’t even completed for the 1976 Olympics!

The Olympic Stadium is nicknamed “The Big O”, referring to its name and shape (like a doughnut). It is also called so, due to the expenses aka construction costs that the city incurred, and is referred to as “The Big Owe”.  

Montreal Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium and tower: Interesting facts about Quebec

There is a tower that stands next to the stadium, called The Montreal Tower, and it is the tallest inclined tower in the world with an angle elevation of 45 degrees. It stands tall at 175 metres (574 ft). 

Today it is used as a multi-purpose sporting venue and is open to visitors. 

26. Montreal Olympic Stadium: Largest seating capacity in Canada

The stadium has a seating capacity of over 66,000 spectators and it is the highest in Canada. 

27. Home to the Grand Prix

Montreal is also home to the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. These annual races have been organized since 1961. It has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967.

28. City of Design: Montreal

Montreal has been named the 1st UNESCO City of Design in 2006 and also as one of the New York Times’ 52 Places to Visit in 2007.

29. Paris of North America

Montreal was once known as “The Paris of North America” and still holds a European flair today with its cobblestone streets, old buildings, and abundance of cafes.

30. Home to one of the oldest breweries in North America

Molson Canadian Beer is produced in Montreal, in one of the oldest breweries in North America. It was founded in 1786 by the Molson family. It still operates from the site of Molson’s first brewery that was located on the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal.

Molson Canadian Beer
Canadian Beer – Molson: Interesting facts about Quebec

Today it is known as Molson Coors, after the 2005 merger with Adolph Coors Company. This is a popular and common beer in Canada, and you can order it anywhere in the country. 

31. Largest jazz festival according to Guinness World Record: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

The Montreal Jazz Fest is regarded as the world’s largest jazz festival (as per the 2004 Guinness World Record). It is an annual jazz festival held in Montreal. 

32. Poutine was invented in Quebec

Poutine is a Canadian dish, of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It is believed to be originated in the province of Quebec, in rural areas in the 1950s when a trucker named Fernand Lachance invented ‘poutine’.

The word, “Poutine” is Quebec slang for “a mess.”

Today, you can order poutine from anywhere across Canada. And the most expensive poutine can be found in Montreal at Au Pied de Cochon. 

33. Quebec provides 72% of the world’s maple syrup

Quebec produces more than 11 million gallons of maple syrup annually. This is 72% of the world’s maple syrup production, and this also accounts for more than 90% of all Canadian domestic production.

Quebec produces 72% of the world’s maple syrup: Interesting facts about Quebec

34. Famous people born in Quebec

Quebec is also the home to many well-known artists such as Celine Dion, Glenn Ford, Vanessa Lengies, Anna Hopkins, etc who left an indelible mark in their field of work.

35. Unique linguistic features

Quebec is known for its unique language “Le joual” which has no equivalent in France!

36. Quebec is home to falls that are higher than the Niagara Falls

Montmorency Falls, located near Quebec City is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls. This natural wonder is a popular tourist attraction in the province. 

Montmorency Falls Quebec
Montmorency Falls is taller than Niagara Falls: Interesting facts about Quebec

When you travel to Quebec City for the first time, you must add this natural attraction to your itinerary. 

37. A legacy of education

Quebec is home to world-class educational institutions, and this is nothing new. Take the Université Laval, for example. It was set up in 1852 and is regarded as the oldest educational institution in Canada. 

Then there is the Ursuline Convent, dating back to 1642. The Ursulines founded North America’s first school for girls in Quebec City. 

McGill University in Montreal is a popular public university in Canada. It was founded in 1821 by a royal charter granted by King George IV.

38. World’s largest freshwater reserve

Quebec has one of the world’s largest reserves of freshwater, occupying 12% of its surface. It has 3% of the world’s renewable freshwater, whereas it has only 0.1% of its population. 

39. National and provincial parks in Quebec

Quebec has 3 national parks and 27 provincial parks. National Parks include Forillon National Park, La Mauricie National Park, and Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

40. Highest point of Quebec

Quebec’s highest point at 1,652 meters (5420 feet) above sea level is Mont d’Iberville. It is situated on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador.

So that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed learning about the province of Quebec and its popular cities. Quebec has everything you need for an epic getaway from natural to heritage sites, culinary to outdoorsy activities like hiking, bike tours, skiing, and tobogganing in the winter. 

Excited to visit Canada? Here are some more fun facts

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