Quebec as the Cultural and Economical Centre of Canada

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History

Quebec was controlled by the Algonquian, Inuit and Iroquois nations until Europe began to send explorers there in the early 17th century. Living nomadic lives that depended on hunting and fishing the Algonquian were at home in the rugged terrain in which they lived with their neighbors of the Cree, Inuit and Iroquois nations. Iroquois that lived near the St. Lawrence were more settled than some of the other tribes. Growing corn, beans and squash in the rich, fertile St. Lawrence valley. However, the Iroquois were later supplanted by the Mohawk who were a warring tribe, unlike the Iroquois which is probably why they were able conquered them. Inuit would fish, hunt whales and seals along the coasts of Hudson and Ungava Bay while braving the extreme arctic weather. They also sometimes trade food and furs with each other.

In 1523 Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer convinced King Francis I of France to commission an expedition to find a western route to China. Almost ten years later Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula, thereby claiming the land for King Francis. They had not succeeded but they were thrilled to be able to be part of the conquest of the New World. Even though it became a province of New France they failed in actually settling in but were able to make alliances with the First Nations which would later come in handy when the settlers arrived.

In 1603 another expedition was sent out from France. Among the party was none other than Samuel de Champlain who would be a key explorer in the founding of the new continent. Five years later he headed a party whose main goal was to lay down an area that would be used as the French colonial empire. Which was later to be called Champlain’s habitation de Quebec and used as a permanent fur trading post and to secure the military alliance between the French and the Algonquin and Huron nations. Soon more than just explorers began to arrive in New France. Voyageurs, Coureurs des bois and Catholic missionaries began to explore the continents interior and making alliances with the Indians whose land they traveled into. Trading forts quickly sprang up on the Great Lakes, Saskatchewan and Missouri, Ohio and the Mississippi River and also along the Hudson Bay. Indians came to trade their furs in exchange for clothing, guns and other objects of metal.

In 1629 the war between the French and English was finished. However, the British went and captured Quebec who gave in without a fight. Champlain argued that it was illegal since the war was over and that they must return the land back to France, since she was its rightful owner. While debating the final terms for the end of the war King Charles of England agreed to return Quebec to France in exchange for King Louis XIII giving up his wife’s dowry of a little over 500,000 crowns (which equals appx. $ 29, 289 Canadian or $2, 2017 US) and some rare jewels as well.

King Louis XIV of France made what had been been New France and turned it into a Royal Province. Soon The population began to grow and flourish because of the les filles des roi or Daughters of the King. Over eight-hundred young women traveled from France to New France to start new lives. King Louis XIV wanted to even out the imbalance of men to women so by sending sending the women he not only evened the ratio out but also insured that New France would have a prosperous colony for many generations to come.

Soon New France became busy in an effort to expel the brave, but provoking traders and colonists who were from England and were coming into the Ohio Valley. They set up fortifications to defend themselves from the British but one American wasn’t going to let that stop him. One early morning in 1754, while the Canadian soldiers were sleeping, George Washington launched a surprise attack and an epic war that lasted for over half a decade ensued. When Washington led an attack on the Canadians no war had been declared. Soon, however, the French aggression on the frontier began the layout for declaration of the French and Indian War, or as most Canadians know it, the Seven Years’ War. Two years after the war had been started in America it became worldwide which resulted in major catastrophe everywhere.

The British born General Wolfe defeated the French-Canadien General Montcalm in a battle on the plains of Abraham which began the slow down of the war although it was not over until 1761 and the treaties were finalized in 1763. The Treaty of Paris which was finished in 1763 documented the agreements between France and England. When it was finalized the following were terms in which both sides agreed to end the war: France would give up its land in North America and in return Britain would give them the island of Guadeloupe which was coveted due to the booming sugar cane industry. What land France had control in North America was renamed and thus it became, as we know it today, the province of Quebec.

1774 was an unrestful year for the French Canadians. The British were afraid that they would join in the rebellion of the southern colonies. In order to ensure the safety of the British crown in the New World first governor James Murray and Guy Carleton promoted the idea that a change would be beneficial to the colonies. Also the conflict between the French speaking colonists and the newly arriving British subjects was increasing and out of that came the enactment of the Quebec Act. The Quebec Act gave the French subjects their first Charter of Rights and allowed them to keep their language, religion and laws. It was one of the first cases in history that had a state-sanctioned freedom of religious rights, as it allowed the Roman Catholic Church to remain. It would later be the cornerstone to the later recognition of the French language and culture.

When the Quebec Act was activated in 1774 it angered many of the southern colonies. Although it did not relate to the Boston Tea Party the year before they considered it one of the many injustices that Britain forced upon them. They believed that soon the French would come in and take their land and that the English would soon set up one religion for all the colonies and that of course would be Roman Catholicism which provoked the colonists to no end. General Washington invaded Canada in an attempt to capture Quebec on June 27, 1775. However, General Carleton had his army ready and they came down from the St. Lawrence and thus the battle of Trois-Rivières began and destroyed the Americans. When the Americans withdrew to Ticonderoga some of the locals helped them, angering their governor. Carleton severely punished all American sympathizers and all support from them was completely wiped out. Three years later, in 1778, Frederick Haldimand took over for Governor Carleton.

When 10,000 Loyalists arrived in Quebec it completely destroyed the balance that Haldimand and those before him had carefully obtained for political reasons. With more English than French the government was in trouble. Each group demanded different rights and seats in the government and all was in chaos. So King George III sent Carleton back to Quebec to sort it all out as he had a decade ago. Ten years of swelling population had changed the needs of the government since he had first been there. Too many English were not willing to compromise with the French and so it would need to be solved in a more creative manner.

When the Loyalists petitioned to use the English legal system it was granted. So both the French and the British had two different laws. At the suggestion of Carleton, Haldimand drew out the Loyalists within Quebec and had them settle on the northern part of Lake Ontario. This was in effort to keep the two groups separated and still in one country. Soon after this Upper and Lower Canada was formed, each one with their own government. In 1837 Robert Nelson and Louis-Joseph Papineau led an armed rebellion against the British government. Along with their supporters they made a Declaration of Rights which stated all citizens were equal with no discrimination and also a Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada. Soon the rebellion led to both upper and lower Canada. The unprepared British army had to fight off them off. After the rebels won at Saint-Denis the rebels were defeated.

After the rebellions Lord Durham was assigned to figure out how to deal with the colonies. The solution was simple and so in 1840 the two colonies were merged into one Province of Canada along with the Act of Union. However, they remained two distinct governments for quite some time after this. French was made the official language for the new province. In the 1860s delegates from some other colonies from Canada (as it would later be called) met to discuss self-governing for a new confederation. The conference was held in Charlottetown, PEI and was followed by another conference in Quebec which led to delegation in London, England to put out the proposal for a national union. By 1867 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Acts, giving most of the colonies their own nation. Nunavut was the last to join in 1999.

In 1963 a group known as the Front de libération du Québec launched a decade-long series of terrorism primarily on English institutes. They bombed, robbed, attacked and at least five deaths resulted from the propaganda. By the time 1970 rolled around the activities were referred to as the October Crisis. It started being called that when James Cross, was kidnapped along with Pierre Laporte. A few days later Laporte was found dead, strangled by his very own rosary beads. Soon after, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoke the War Measures Act. In 1977 René Lévesque introduced the Charter of the French language, also referred to as Bill 101, and thus Quebec became the only province in Canada to have French as its only official language. The next two elections Lévesque lost but when the third election came around he devoted himself to sovereignty-association instead of his former outright separation. Again he lost and he gave up and went to Trudeau to begin a negotiating a new constitution with ten of the most influential political people of that day. However, Lévesque wasn’t about to accomplish anything yet since the constitution halted to a dead stand-still and when it eventually was finished Quebec was the only province to no assent to the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982.

Culture

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Quebec is mostly french speaking and the center of the French in the New World. In 2007 Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced a commission to on culture diversity. While it was being set up she said, “Equality between men and women, primacy of the French language, and separation of church and state constitute the fundamental values. They are not subject to any arrangement. They cannot be subordinated by any other principle.” They are democratic which means they abide by the rule of law. Much of their traditional music is embedded with dances including the jig, reel, line dancing and much more. They have been around since the early colonization days. Being a cosmopolitan society you can hear all kinds of music from country to hip-hop as it is important in Quebec society. There also have been famous singers from there such as Gilles Vigneault who is said to have written many unofficial anthems for Quebec.

Quebec’s literature was initially developed to record the accounts and travels of famous explorers and their relations to the indigenous people. It began in 1534 up to the present day. François-Xavier Garneau was the first to record the history of Quebec. Varius tales and stories are passed down through oral tradition. Some of them are: the legends of the Bogeyman, the Black Horse of Trois-Pistoles, the Complainte de Cadieux, the Corriveau, the Giant Beaupré, and the Rocher Percé. Art was originally introduced when New France was still under Catholicism. French art mainly focuses on landscape and cultural, historical, social and political representations. Their most excellent art is displayed in the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts and two other museums in Montreal. The buildings also reflect the architecture heritage that gives Quebec much of its character.

Street performers, clowns and, minstrels make their home on the streets entertaining pedestrians. They might be not always noticeable, however, during Winterlude they will be easily found. Also during other symbolic events or holidays. They are an important part of the French culture. The Quebec government has a Cultural Heritage Fund program designed to conserve and develop Quebec’s rich heritage. They preserve places that hold national historical value and have museums for the smaller artifacts and remains from the past. In 2007 the government included religious building and sites as part of the conservation program. Quote released from the government,’partnerships in financing the restoration and renovation of religious buildings’. In Quebec the traditional food can be traced back to the early fur traders and contain high amounts of fat and/or lard. French and Irish had a heavy influence as well as the Acadiens. Poutine, Tourtière and Pâté Chinois are some of Quebec’s most famous meals. The Jews contributed Montreal-styled bagels and also smoked meat. Beer also has been made in Quebec since its original colonization. Jean Talon opened a brewery in 1668 which closed a decade later. For the next two centuries beer was not made in large quantities but suddenly in the 1980s the beer industry sky-rocketed (as did also sanity and responsibility). They also make over three-hundred types of cheese. Thanks to Quebec’s geography and climate sports and other outdoor activities are essential to the culture. In 1875 ice hockey was played for the first time and is now a national sport. They also enjoy football, soccer, baseball and much more. Winning many medals and awards they are among the best in the world. At the 2018 Olympics they won 12 of 29 medals that Canadians won.

Geography

Quebec is located in the eastern part of Canada. It also is nearly three times the size of France or Texas but is just as sparsely populated as they are dense. The Saint Lawrence Lowland and the Appalachians are the two main topographic regions in southern Quebec, and the Canadian Shield occupies most of central and northern Quebec. Quebec has one of the worlds largest reserves of fresh water. It has almost 5,000 rivers not including lakes and streams. Quebec has. 1% of the world’s population while containing 3% of the worlds renewable fresh water. The Caniapiscau Reservoir is the largest inland body of water that is manmade while the largest, natural lake is Lake Mistassini. The Saint Lawrence Seaway provides many routes into the inland and is also the world’s largest estuary. It is the feeding site for many different species of fish, whales and sea birds. Other notable rivers are the Ottawa, Rupurt, Saint-Maurice and many more. The highest point in Quebec is the top of Mount Caubvick or in French as Mont d’lberville which rises to the height of 1,652 meters or 5,420 feet aprx. Caubvick is the tallest of the Torngat Mountains which or on the border of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Labrador Peninsula is covered by the Canadian Shield, dotted with mountains like the Otish Mountains. Further south lie the subarctic taiga of the Eastern Canadian Shield taiga ecoregion and the boreal forest of the Central Canadian Shield forests, where spruce, fir, and poplar trees provide raw materials for Quebec’s major pulp and paper and lumber industries. Although the area is inhabited mostly by the Cree, Naskapi, Innuit First Nations, and thousands of temporary workers reside at Radisson to service the massive James Bay Hydroelectric Project. The southern portion of the shield extends to the Laurentians attracting the local and international tourists to its exhilarating ski hills and breathtaking lakeside resorts.

Quebec has three main climate regions. Southern and western Quebec, including most of the major population centers, have a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons having warm to occasionally hot and humid summers and often very cold and snowy winters. The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada and move eastward, and from the southern and central United States that move northward. Precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with most areas receiving more than 1,000 millimeters of precipitation, including over 300 centimeters (120 in) of snow in many areas. Most of Quebec has a subarctic climate. Winters are long, freezing, and snowy, while summers are warm but very short. Precipitation is also somewhat less than farther south, except at some of the higher elevations. The northern regions of Quebec have an arctic climate, with very cold winters and short, much cooler summers.

The four calendar seasons in Quebec are spring, summer, fall and winter, with conditions differing by region. From temperate zones to the northern territories of the Far North as well as the Northern Lights and midnight sun. Quebec is divided into four climatic zones: arctic, subarctic, humid continental and East maritime. From south to north, average temperatures range in summer between 5 and 25 °C and, in winter, between −10 and −25 °C. In periods of intense heat and cold, temperatures can reach 35 °C in the summer and −40 °C during the Quebec winter.

Government and Politics

The Lieutenant Governor represents the Queen of Canada and acts as the province’s head of state. The head of government is the premier who leads the largest party in the unicameral National Assembly, or Assemblée Nationale, from which the Executive Council of Quebec is appointed. Until 1968, the Quebec legislature was bicameral. In that year, the Legislative Council was abolished and the Legislative Assembly was renamed the National Assembly. Quebec was the last province to abolish its legislative council. The government of Quebec awards an order of merit called the National Order of Quebec. It is inspired in part by the French Legion of Honour. It is conferred upon men and women born or living in Quebec for outstanding achievements.

The government of Quebec takes the majority of its revenue through many different types of taxes. Such as progressive income tax, a 9.97% sales tax and various other taxes (such as carbon, corporate and capital gains taxes), equalization payments from the federal government, transfer payments from other provinces and direct payments. As it is Quebec companies pay more tax than any other province in Canada.

Language

The official language of Quebec is French. Knowledge of French is widespread even among those who do not speak it natively. In 2011, 7.7% of the people in Quebec declared English to be their mother tongue, and 767,415 used it quite often as their home language. Allophones, people whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, made up 12.3 percent of the population, according to the 2011 census, though a smaller figure 7.1 percent actually used these languages most often in the home.

A considerable number of Quebec residents consider themselves to be bilingual in French and English. In Quebec, about 42.6 percent of the population report knowing both languages; this is the highest amount of bilinguals of any of the Canadian provinces. One specific area in the Bilingual Belt called the West Island of Montrea, is the most bilingual area in the province: 72.8% of its residents claim to know English and French according to the most recent census. In contrast, in the rest of Canada, in 2011 only about 17.5 percent of the population had a knowledge of both of the country’s official languages. Altogether, 17.5% of Canadians are bilingual in French and English.

Economy

Quebec has an advanced, market-based, and open economy. In 2009, its gross domestic product of US$32,408 per capita at purchasing power parity puts the province at par with Japan, Italy and Spain, but remains lower than the Canadian average of US$37,830 per capita. The economy of Quebec is ranked the 37th largest economy in the world just behind Greece and 28th for the gross domestic product per capita.

View of Montreal From the Mont-Royal Belvedere

The economy of Quebec represents 20.36% of the total GDP of Canada. Like most industrialized countries, the economy of Quebec is based mainly on the services sector. Quebec’s economy has traditionally been fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and average productivity. The provincial GDP in 2010 was C$319,348 billion, which makes Quebec the second largest economy in Canada. The provincial debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 50% in fiscal year 2014–2015, and is projected to decline to 40% in 2021–2022. The credit rating of Quebec is currently Aa2 according to the Moody’s agency. In June 2017 S&P rated Quebec as an AA- credit risk, surpassing Ontario for the first time.

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Quebec as the Cultural and Economical Centre of Canada [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Nov 11 [cited 2021 Oct 27]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/quebec-as-the-cultural-and-economical-centre-of-canada/
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