Before European settlement, Quebec was inhabited by several Indian tribes for centuries, whose archaeological traces and cultural influences can still be witnessed by visitors.

    The French colony of Quebec was founded in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, and grew into the center of the "New France" colony.  When Champlain chose the location of his settlement he named «Kébec» (a word from an Amerindian language meaning «place where the river becomes narrow»), did he suspect that he was establishing the roots of French civilization in the Americas?

    Québec City was under French rule between 1608 and 1759, except for the period between 1627 and 1632, when the Kirke brothers controlled the city.

     Early European inhabitants were largely fur traders and religious missionaries.   The Récollets, who were the colony's first missionaries, arrived in 1615. They were soon followed by the Jésuites in 1635, then the Ursulines  and Augustines in 1639. The latter two, both orders of nuns, are still active today - 3 Augustines nuns founded the 1st hospital north of México in 1644, it is located on Côte du Palais in Upper Town and is still used as a hospital nowadays (Hôtel-Dieu de Québec); it is possible to visit the monastery (1695, 1756, 1930), the old cloister (1757) and the Augustines museum. The Musée des Ursulines de Québec  in Upper Town (not to be confused with a museum by the same name but located in the city of Trois-Rivières, mentioned elsewhere in the present website) can be visited. During the 17th et 18th centuries, Québec City was the centre of New France and its enormous territory. At the time, this «empire» covered all of what is known today as Eastern Canada, the Eastern United States, the Great Lakes and Louisiana, extending from Hudson's Bay in the North to Florida in the South. Québec City was under the control of France until 1759.

   In 1759, the famous battle of the Plains of Abraham would alter the course of the colony's history that had been, until then, relatively uneventful. The British won the battle and took control of the city, then later the colony. In 1760, France signed the Treaty of Paris, thus transferring ownership of New France to England and putting an end to the Seven Year War.

    Until 1763, the word "Québec" only meant Quebec City; however, in 1763, the Province of Quebec was created by the British out of the captured territories of New France. Then, the Province of Quebec extended along both sides of the St. Lawrence all the way to the sea. 

     In 1775-1776, American troops tried, and failed, to capture Québec City. The City played a role in the early days of the Revolutionary War, when U.S. commanders General Richard Montgomery and General Benedict Arnold led an ill-fated expedition in 1775 to try to capture the city from the British.  Instead, the mission ended in heavy American casualties, including the death of  Gen. Montgomery, and many American troops were taken prisoner.   

 . The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the "Province of Québec" into Upper and Lower Canada. The dividing line was the present Ontario/Quebec boundary.

   In 1841, the Union Act  united the two Canadas. Over a period of a few years, different Canadian cities played the role of national capital, including Québec City. In the mid-1800s, Quebec City was actually the capital of Canada. Even today, Québec City is still referred to in French as the «Vieille capitale», which means former capital. Following the adoption of the British North America Act in 1867, Québec City became the capital of the province of Québec.

    To this day, there is a movement afoot to try to break away from Canada and gain independence for Quebec - a referendum on independence failed in 1995 by the narrowest of margins.


Read more:

Plains of Abraham website  (in French and English)

Modern History Sourcebook: Samuel de Champlain: The Foundation of Quebec 1608

Learn About Heritage

Bonjour Québec's Québec Across the Centuries - A Brief History

Se Souvenir Du Québec (mainly in French, some links in English) with numerous links on history , war leaders, genealogy, etc

City Under a Siege

Wikipedia's  History of Québec City

Wikipedia's  Samuel de Champlain