Quebec City (Ville de Québec) my adopted home town.
Since leaving my home city of Gloucester England and moving with my French Canadian wife to Quebec City Canada I have more a less adopted Quebec City as my second home. Come with me as we walk through the streets of the “Ville de Quebec”
- The City of Quebec
- The Capital City of Quebec:
- Before we get to the sites of the city, lets have a bit of history
- The Place to stay in Quebec City.
- Vieux-Québec (Old Quebec)
- Things to see and do in and around Quebec City:
- Sport in Quebec City
The City of Quebec
Quebec City s is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is made up of six boroughs. According to the 2011census the actual city has a population of 516,622, and the metropolitan area has a population of 765,706, making it the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about 233 kilometers to the southwest of the city. The City of Quebec is situated on the banks of the Saint Lawrence river just where the river starts to narrow. Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, and the ramparts surrounding Old Quebec are the only remaining fortified city walls that still exist in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the 'Historic District of Old Quebec”.
The Capital City of Quebec:
For over 400 years Quebec city has been a capital city of one sort or another. From 1608 to 1627 and 1632 to 1763, it was the capital of French Canada and all of what was then called "New France" and would remain so until it became the capital of Lower Canada, between 1791 to 1841 until, in 1867, it became the capital of the Province of Quebec and has remained so ever since. This has caused the city of Quebec, to grow at a dramatic pace, from very small beginnings as a small settlement on the banks of the “St Lawrence River”, into one of the most beautiful cities, boasting one of the most spectacular skylines in “North America”
Before we get to the sites of the city, lets have a bit of history
The first person to attempt to build a permanent settlement on the site that is now “Quebec City”, was a French explorer named Jacques Cartier. He built a fort in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in the spring of 1536. He returned in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement, to take the place of the wooden fort. Unfortunately this first attempt was abandoned less than one year after it began, because of the hostility of local natives and the harsh living conditions during the winter months (I can vouch for this it gets cold here).
The actual foundation of the city was formed by another French explorer and diplomat “Samuel de Champlain” on the 3rd July 1608, at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian native settlement, called Stadacona. The great city of Quebec or the Ville de Quebec was now ready to take its place in the History books of North America, mind-you if you would have visited Quebec City back in 1608, you would have found that it was a far different place than what it is today, in-fact, even in 1665, a full 57 years later there were just 550 people living in 70 houses and one quarter of these people were members of religious orders that included secular priests, Jesuits, nuns and an order that was required for the running of the local hospital, Hotel-Dieu. Who would have thought back then, just how the City of Quebec would grow in size to what we have today as the picture on this page graphically shows.
The Place to stay in Quebec City.
Quebec City has hotels to fit anyone's purse or standards, but one of the most iconic hotels in the City, is the majestic Château Frontenac. This hotel is perched atop a tall cape overlooking the Saint Lawrence River and affords a spectacular view for miles around. It is the most prominent feature by far of the Quebec City skyline when viewed from across the St. Lawrence river. This iconic hotel the “Château Frontenac” was designed by the American architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of "chateau" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The newer portions of the hotel including the central tower were designed by William Sutherland Maxwell and was opened in 1893. This Hotel is a must to go and see even if you do not plan to stay there, as most of the interior of the hotel has been kept to look as the original, with no lowering of the luxury standards you would expect from a luxury hotel.
Vieux-Québec (Old Quebec)
Most of the city's most notable buildings are located to the east of the fortification walls, in Vieux-Québec (Old Quebec) and Place Royale. The whole area has a distinct European feel, with its many stone buildings and winding streets lined with shops and restaurants. You enter this area through the Porte St-Louis and Porte St-Jean main gates through the walls of the old city from the modern section of downtown Quebec. The other gate the “Kent Gate” was a gift to the province of Quebec from Queen Victoria and the foundation stone was laid by the Queen's daughter, Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, on June 11, 1879. Just west of the these walls are the Parliament Hill district and the Plains of Abraham. The Plains of Abraham is the site of the battle, in which the British took Quebec from France, the last stronghold of the French in North America. To get from upper Quebec City down into the lower part, you can take the most neck breaking set of steps I have ever seen (not for the weak of heart), or take a much easier route by taking the “Old Quebec Funicular” a type of cable lift. This is a must part of your visit to Quebec as the lower town of Quebec is filled with original architecture and street designs, dating back to the city's beginnings, including murals and statues of the city founders and its history The lower town is also noted for its wide variety of boutiques, many featuring hand-crafted goods. You can wonder around this area all day and soak up the French atmosphere and high cuisine, or if you want, just sit in the sun and watch the many performing street entertainers this part of Quebec City has to offer,
Things to see and do in and around Quebec City:
Quebec City is known for its Winter Carnival, its summer music festival and for its Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations, but you don’t need to wait for these specific festivals because there seems to be always something happening in the city every week.
If you do decide that you want to visit the surrounding area there are tourist attractions located near Quebec City which include, Montmorency Falls (higher than Niagara falls but not quite as wide though, the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré a tremendously stunning building and of course the Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort which has its own the Ice Hotel (only when cold).
You could have also visited the Jardin zoologique du Québec, which reopened in 2002 after two years of restorations but was closed in 2006 after a political decision, why I do not know. It featured 750 specimens of 300 different species of animals and the zoo specialized in winged fauna and garden themes, but also presented several species of mammals. While it emphasized the indigenous fauna of Quebec, one of its principal attractions was the Indo-Australian greenhouse, featuring fauna and flora from these areas.
The “Parc Aquarium du Québec,” reopened in 2002 on a site overlooking the Saint Lawrence River and presents more than 10,000 specimens of mammals, reptiles, fish and other aquatic fauna of North America and the Arctic. Polar bears and various species of seals of the Arctic sector and the "Large Ocean". They also have a large basin offering visitors the chance to view from underneath the water and is truly spectacular. The list goes on and on to much for this article but I think you get the idea.
Sport in Quebec City
Quebec City has hosted a number of sporting events. The Special Olympics Canada National Winter Games were held in the city from February 26 to March 1, 2008. Quebec City also Co-hosted with Halifax and Nova Scotia, the 2008 IIHF World Championship. Regular sporting events held in the city, include the Challenge Bell, a Women's Tennis Association tournament; Crashed Ice, an extreme downhill skating race; Quebec City International Pee-Wee Tournament, a minor hockey tournament, and the Tour de Québec International cycling stage race. In December 2011, Quebec City hosted the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating final at the Pavilion de la Jeunesse at Expo City.
The city also has a professional baseball team, the “Capitales de Québec” which plays in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball. The team was established in 1999 and originally played in the Northern League. The team has three league titles, won in 2006, 2009 and 2010. The team's stadium is the Stade Municipal.
Quebec City is now hoping to build an amphitheater with the hope of getting an NHL franchise in Quebec City. The project is being funded regardless of whether an NHL team arrives in Quebec City or not. It is also hoped that the arena can help Quebec City win a future Winter Olympics games bid and will replace “Coliseum Pepsi” as the main arena in Quebec City. All in all for a city of this size there is plenty to do.
So I hope you have enjoyed this romp around North Americas oldest city and if you are ever in the area just look us up. We would be pleased to show you the sites of our City
Credits: My Camera, My trusty old books,Wikipedia for some of the research and some Pohotographs.