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(kwēbĕk`, kwə–, kē–, kə–), Fr. Québec (kābĕk`), province (2001 pop. 7,237,479), 594,860 sq mi (1,553,637 sq km), E Canada.


Quebec is bounded on the N by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, on the E by the Labrador area of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on the S by New Brunswick and the United States, and on the W by Ontario, James Bay, and Hudson Bay. Quebec is Canada's largest province; it is three times the size of France and seven times the size of Great Britain. The Canadian (or Laurentian) Shield underlies the northern nine tenths of the province, which is relatively unexplored and uninhabited; the region has been planed by glacial action into a pattern of rounded hills (including the Laurentian Mts.), swiftly flowing rivers, and numerous lakes and bogs. Dense forests cover much of the land, and the region is rich in minerals.

South of the Canadian Shield lies the great St. Lawrence River. On both sides of the river south of Quebec city are lowlands that are the centers of agriculture, commerce, and industry. QuebecQuebec,
Fr. Québec, city (1991 pop. 167,517), provincial capital, S Que., Canada, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Charles rivers. The population is largely French speaking, and the town is at the ideological core of French Canada.
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 city and Trois RivièresTrois Rivières
or Three Rivers,
city (1991 pop. 49,426), S Que., Canada, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Maurice rivers. It is a port and an industrial center.
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 are on the north bank of the river, and MontrealMontreal
, Fr. Montréal , city (1991 pop. 1,017,666), S Que., Canada, on Montreal island, surrounded by St. Lawrence River and Rivière des Prairies.
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, the leading industrial center of Canada, occupies an island where the Ottawa River joins the St. Lawrence. Another industrial center is the region of JonquièreJonquière
, city (1991 pop. 57,933), S Que., Canada, on the Saguenay River, W of Chicoutimi. Its chief industries produce paper, pulp, and aluminum. The city was reincorporated in 1976, when it absorbed the surrounding cities of Arvida and Kénogami and the
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 and Chicoutimi, on the Saguenay River north of Quebec city. In the southeast are the Appalachian Highlands, which run parallel to the St. Lawrence. The Gaspé PeninsulaGaspé Peninsula
or Gaspésie
, tongue of land, E Que., Canada, between the estuary of the St. Lawrence River on the north and Chaleur Bay on the south, and extending eastward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is c.
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, on the south of the St. Lawrence, extends into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Quebec's climate is generally temperate, with variations among the regions. Tourism is important throughout the province during the summer season, and in the winter the Laurentian Mts. attract skiers. The Eastern Townships (Estrie) region, near the New York and Vermont borders, has many fashionable lake and country resorts. Quebec has vast waterpower resources—Hydro-Quebec is the largest producer of electricity in Canada. The massive James Bay ProjectJames Bay Project,
a colossal hydroelectric development of the rivers emptying into the E James Bay, central Quebec, Canada. La Grande Phase I, finished in 1985, created the world's largest underground powerhouse, a tiered spillway on La Grande River three times the height of
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, whose first phases exploited the flow of La Grande and nearby rivers, was dealt a severe blow in 1992, when the New York State Power Authority refused to sign a purchase contract; the proposed development of the Great Whale River was held up by opposition from the Cree who live in and claim the area. Further work on the entire project was suspended in 1994, but a 2002 agreement with the Cree allowed completion of the La Grande complex.

The city of Quebec is the capital. Montreal is the largest city; other important centers are VerdunVerdun
, city (1991 pop. 61,307), S Que., Canada, on the south shore of Montreal island, on the St. Lawrence River. It is a residential suburb of Montreal.
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, LavalLaval,
city (1991 pop. 314,398), coextensive with Île-Jésus (94 sq mi/243 sq km), S Que., Canada, between the Rivière des Mille Îles and the Rivière des Prairies, just NW of Montreal.
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, Trois Rivières, GatineauGatineau
, city (2016 pop. 276,245), SW Que., Canada, at the junction of the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers and across the Ottawa from Ottawa, Ont. The fourth largest city in Quebec, it was created through the merger of five municipalities in 2002, including Gatineau, the most
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, and SherbrookeSherbrooke,
city (1991 pop. 76,429), S Que., Canada, at the confluence of the Magog and the St. François rivers, E of Montreal. It is the commercial and market center for the surrounding farm and mining region and is an industrial city, with textile mills and plants
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Economy and Higher Education

The forests of the north yield wood for pulp, paper, and lumber industries, and throughout the north copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold are mined. Iron ore deposits in the Ungava Bay region have been exploited in recent decades. Asbestos is found in the far north, but more importantly historically in the Thetford Mines region of the Appalachian Highlands. Jonquière has one of the world's largest aluminum plants.

The small farms of the lowlands yield dairy products, sugar beets, and tobacco. Quebec is second to Ontario among the Canadian provinces in industrial production. Its main manufactures include refined petroleum, food products, beverages, motor vehicles, aircraft, clothing, furniture, iron and steel, chemicals, and metal and paper products. The fur and fishing trades are still important in Quebec. The service sector has grown significantly since 1970. Although many anglophone businesses have abandoned the Montreal area since the 1960s in response to separatist agitation and provincial laws requiring the nearly exclusive use of French, Quebec continues to be a center of international commerce. Montreal and Quebec city are both tourist magnets.

Quebec has many universities, including Bishop's Univ., at Lennoxville; Concordia Univ., McGill Univ., and the Univ. of Montreal, at Montreal; Laval Univ., at Quebec city; the Univ. of Sherbrooke, at Sherbrooke; and the Univ. of Quebec, with an administrative center at Sainte-Foy and campuses at Chicoutimi, Gatineau, Montreal, Rimouski, Rouyn, and Trois Rivières.

History and Politics

Early History

Since many continental explorations began in the region, Quebec has been called the cradle of Canada. In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé and the following year he sailed up the St. Lawrence. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain built a trading post on the site of the present-day Quebec city, and from this and subsequent settlements Catholic missionaries, explorers, and fur traders penetrated the North American continent. The activities of private fur-trading companies ended, for a time, in 1663 when Louis XIV made the region, then known as New France, a royal colony and chose Jean Baptiste Talon to be intendant, or administrator.

The long struggle to protect the colony and the fur trade from the Iroquois (other tribes were allies of the French) and the British was effectively lost in 1759, when the British defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham (see Abraham, Plains ofAbraham, Plains of,
fairly level field adjoining the upper part of the city of Quebec, Canada. There, in 1759, the English under Gen. James Wolfe defeated the French under Gen. Louis Montcalm.
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). By the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Great Britain acquired New France. In an attempt to conciliate the French inhabitants, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, under which the colony was allowed to continue its semifeudal system of land tenure and to retain its language, religion, legal system, and customs.

After the American Revolution, many British Loyalists came to settle in Quebec. By the Constitutional Act of 1791 the British separated the area west of the Ottawa River and created the colony of Upper Canada (now Ontario) there. Quebec became known as Lower Canada, and in 1791 the first elective assembly was introduced.

The resentment of leaders of the French community toward the British precipitated a revolt in 1837 led by Louis PapineauPapineau, Louis Joseph
, 1786–1871, French Canadian political leader and insurgent, b. Montreal. After serving as an officer in the War of 1812, he entered (1814) the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (Quebec), of which he was (1815–37) speaker.
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. Although the rebellion was crushed, the disturbances in Upper and Lower Canada caused the British to send the Earl of Durham (see Durham, John George Lambton, 1st earl ofDurham, John George Lambton, 1st earl of
, 1792–1840, British statesman. A stormy liberal career in Parliament (1813–32), which earned him the nickname Radical Jack, culminated in the important role he
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) to study conditions in the British North American colonies. His report led ultimately to internal self-government and the creation of the Canadian confederation. Upper and Lower Canada were reunited in 1841, and Quebec became known as Canada East. Responsible (elected) government was granted in 1849.

Confederation and the French-English Question

With the formation of the confederation of Canada in 1867, Canada East became the province of Quebec. Provisions for the preservation of its special, traditional institutions were specifically written into the Canadian constitution. English and French were made the official languages of both Quebec and the Canadian parliament, and a dual school system was established within Quebec. However, in 1974 French was made the sole official language of the province, and all non-English-speaking children were required to attend French-language schools. But the coexistence of majority-French and minority-English cultures within the province and the reverse situation within Canada as a whole have remained sources of tension. Attempts in Manitoba and Ontario at the beginning of the 20th cent. to curtail or abolish separate Catholic schools increased the French Canadians' feeling of isolation. In 1917 they vehemently opposed conscription for World War I.

Twentieth-Century Economic and Political Developments

During the 20th cent. great economic growth in Quebec was coupled with increased determination to maintain and broaden provincial rights. The boundary between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador was only finalized in 1927, when Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada; although the boundary was accepted by Canada, Quebec has never officially recognized it. In the 1960s separatist groups, advocating an independent Quebec, gained attention. In 1970 separatist terrorists kidnapped a British diplomat, James R. Cross, and the Quebec Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte. Cross was later released, but Laporte was found murdered.

In 1976 the Parti QuébécoisParti Québécois
(PQ), provincial political party committed to the independence of Quebec. Founded in 1968, it soon became a force in provincial elections. In 1976, led by René Lévesque, it captured control of the provincial assembly.
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 (PQ), a party of French-Canadian nationalists formed in 1970, won control of the provincial parliament under René LévesqueLévesque, René
, 1922–87, Canadian political leader and Quebec separatist. After a career in journalism and television, he served in the Quebec National Assembly (1961–67) as a member of the Liberal party.
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. The new government initiated a series of language and cultural reforms whereby the use of English was discouraged; this caused an out-migration of English-speakers and their companies, mainly to Ontario. During the 1980s, however, Montreal attracted many high-technology and financial services companies.

In 1980, Lévesque's plan for an independent Quebec, called sovereignty-association, was rejected in a provincial referendum by 60% of the voters. The PQ was returned to power in 1981, however, and in 1982 the provincial government refused to accept the new Canadian constitution. From 1985 to 1994, the Liberal party, led by Robert BourassaBourassa, Robert,
1933–96, Canadian political leader. He received a law degree from the Univ. of Montreal (1957) and later studied at Oxford and Harvard. He was elected to the Quebec Legislative Assembly in 1966.
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 and Daniel Johnson, controlled the assembly. In 1987 there appeared to be progress on the issue of Quebec separatism, when the Meech Lake AccordMeech Lake Accord,
set of constitutional reforms designed to induce Quebec to accept the Canada Act. The Accord's five basic points, proposed by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, include a guarantee of Quebec's special status as a "distinct society" and a commitment to Canada's
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 was signed, but the accord collapsed in 1990. A package of constitutional reforms was subsequently drafted by the Canadian government and presented to voters in a national referendum in Oct., 1992, but it was defeated.

In 1994 the PQ, now led by Jacques Parizeau, regained control of the provincial government. A referendum on independence was narrowly defeated in Oct., 1995. Parizeau announced his resignation and was replaced in 1996 by Lucien BouchardBouchard, Lucien
, 1938–, French-Canadian separatist leader, b. Quebec. A lawyer and a political ally of Brian Mulroney, Bouchard served under him as Canada's ambassador to France (1985–88) and environment minister (1989–90).
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, who had led the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa. Quebec was recognized by Parliament as a "distinct society" because of its language and culture and was granted a veto over constitutional amendments. Separatists said the changes were symbolic and vowed to continue their struggle. They suffered two blows in 1998, however, when Canada's Supreme Court ruled that Quebec could not legally secede on its own and the PQ's majority shrank in provincial elections.

In 1999 polls showed that support for secession had shrunk to about 40% of Quebec voters; in the Oct., 2000, national elections the Bloc Québécois received fewer votes than the Liberals for the first time since 1980. A federal law designed to make it harder for Quebec to secede was passed in July, 2000; it required that a clear majority support a clearly worded proposition and that borders, the seceding province's responsibility for a share of the national debt, and other issues be resolved by negotiations. In 2001, Bouchard resigned; he was succeeded as premier by the new PQ party leader, Bernard Landry.

The Liberals, led by Jean CharestCharest, Jean
, 1958–, Canadian politician. A lawyer and member of the Progressive Conservative party, he was a member of parliament from Quebec from 1984. From 1986 to 1993 Charest served in cabinet positions—as minister of state for youth (1986–90) and
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, decisively defeated the PQ in the Apr., 2003, elections, and Charest became premier. In the Mar., 2007, provincial elections, the Liberals lost seats but secured a plurality and formed a minority government. Charest called for new elections in Dec., 2008, and succeeded in securing a legislative majority. In 2012, the Liberals narrowly lost to the PQ, which secured a plurality and formed a minority government headed by Pauline MaroisMarois, Pauline
, 1949–, Canadian politician, b. Quebec. A social worker and Parti Québécois (PQ) member, she was first elected to the Quebec National Assembly in 1981, and served in ministerial positions under Premier Lévesque.
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, the province's first woman premier. Two years later, however, the Liberals returned to power when the possibility of secession again became prominent, and Philippe Couillard became premier. In Oct., 2018, in the first significant shift in Quebec's politics since the PQ won in 1976, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), a Quebec nationalist center-right party rejecting independence, won a majority, and François LegaultLegault, François,
1957–, Canadian business executive and politician. An accountant by training, he cofounded and led the budget airline Air Transat (1986–97).
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 became premier.

Quebec sends 24 senators and 75 representatives to the national parliament.


See C. C. Nish, ed., Quebec in the Duplessis Era, 1935–1959 (1970); F. Grenier, ed., Quebec (1972); W. D. Coleman, The Independence Movement in Quebec, 1945–80 (1984); A. Greer, Peasant, Lord and Merchant: Rural Society in Three Quebec Parishes, 1740–1840 (1985); R. Handler, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec (1988); H. Guidon, Quebec Society (1988).


Fr. Québec, city (1991 pop. 167,517), provincial capital, S Que., Canada, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Charles rivers. The population is largely French speaking, and the town is at the ideological core of French Canada. Quebec is an important port and is an industrial, cultural, service, and tourist center. Part of the city is built on the waterfront and is called Lower Town; that part called Upper Town is on Cape Diamond, a bluff rising c.300 ft (91 m) above the St. Lawrence. Winding, narrow streets link the two sections of the city. The chief industries are shipbuilding and tourism, and the manufacture of pulp, paper, newsprint, leather products, textiles, clothing, machinery, and foods and beverages. The site of Quebec was visited by Cartier in 1535, and in 1608 Champlain established a French colony in the present Lower Town; this was captured (1629) by the English, who held it until 1632. In 1663, Quebec was made the capital of New France and became the center of the fur trade. The city was unsuccessfully attacked by the English in 1690 and 1711. Finally in 1759 English forces under Wolfe defeated the French under Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham (see Abraham, Plains ofAbraham, Plains of,
fairly level field adjoining the upper part of the city of Quebec, Canada. There, in 1759, the English under Gen. James Wolfe defeated the French under Gen. Louis Montcalm.
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) and captured Quebec. During the American Revolution, Americans under Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold failed (1775–76) to capture the city, although Arnold briefly held the Lower Town. Quebec became the capital of Lower Canada in 1791. After the union (1841) of Upper and Lower Canada, it was twice the capital of the United Provinces of Canada (1851–55 and 1859–65). The Quebec ConferenceQuebec Conference,
name of two meetings held in Quebec, Canada, in World War II. The first meeting (Aug., 1943) was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Prime Minister W. L.
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 was held in the city in 1864. Historic old Quebec, much of which is preserved, was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. There are many notable old structures, including the Ursuline Convent (1639); the Basilica of Notre Dame (1647); Quebec Seminary (1663); and parts of the fortifications enclosing Old Quebec. The surrounding area also has many notable sights, such as Montmorency Falls, the Île d'Orléans, and the shrine of Ste Anne de Beaupré. Laval Univ. is a center for the city's largely francophone culture.


See M. de la Roche, Quebec, Historic Seaport (1944); W. P. Percival, The Lure of Quebec (rev. ed. 1965); M. Gaumond, Place Royale: Its Houses and Their Occupants (tr. 1971); D. T. Ruddel, Quebec City, Seventeen Sixty-Five to Eighteen Thirty-Two (1988).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a province in eastern Canada. Area, 1,540,000 sq km; population, 6,000,000 (1971). The population is made up primarily of French-Canadians. Most of the provice is located on the Labrador Peninsula. To the south are the Appalachian Mountains (maximum elevation, 1,311 m) and the lowlands of the St. Lawrence River. The average January temperature ranges from -24°C in the north to - 10°C in the south, and the July temperature, from 11°C in the north to 21°C in the south. The northern part of the province lies in the tundra belt, and the central and southern parts, in the forest belt. The administrative center is the city of Quebec.

Of Canada’s provinces, Quebec is second in the level of economic development, first in the production of aluminum, and first in the capacity of electric power stations, which account for more than one-third of the country’s electric capacity. The mining industry, which produces approximately one-sixth of the value of the country’s output, is well developed. (In mining, Quebec ranks third among Canada’s provinces.) Iron ore (at Schefferville and Gagnon, for example), asbestos (90 percent of the country’s output), copper, polymetals, gold, silver, and nickel are mined. In 1970, the province produced 76 billion kilowatt-hours of electric power, primarily at hydroelectric power stations (Shawinigan, Shipshaw, Bersimis, Beauharnois, Manicouagan, and Outardes).

Quebec’s manufacturing industry, which is concentrated in the south, accounts for about one-third of the value of Canada’s industrial output. The cellulose-paper and aluminum industries (Arvida, which produces one-third of Canada’s total output) are very important. The petroleum-refining, machine-building, textile, garment, fur, leather footwear, and food-processing industries are well developed.

Dairy farming is the most important branch of agriculture. Poultry farming has been developed. Fodder grasses, silage corn, oats, and potatoes are grown. Fishing is also important. The largest industrial center and port is Montreal.

The territory of the present-day province of Quebec was originally inhabited by Indian tribes and, in the north, by Eskimo tribes. For a long time the name “Quebec” referred only to the French settlement (now Quebec) that was founded in 1608 on the St. Lawrence River. The settlement became the center of the French colony in North America, which became a British possession as a result of the Seven Years’ War of 1756–63 and received the name “Quebec” in 1774. Quebec was divided into two provinces (colonies) in 1791: Lower Canada (south of the present-day province of Quebec) and Upper Canada (south of the present-day province of Ontario).

In 1837 uprisings against British rule broke out in two provinces. Upper and Lower Canada were united in 1841 into the province of Canada, which was again divided into two provinces—Quebec and Ontario—when the Dominion of Canada was created in 1867. The northern boundaries of Quebec province were extended in 1898 and 1912. In the 20th century (particularly after World War II), the movement of the French-Canadian population for complete equality of rights with the English-Canadians grew more intense. At the same time, the separatist movement became more active.



a city in eastern Canada; administrative center of the province of Quebec. Population, 170,000 (1971; with suburbs, 476,300). Most of the inhabitants are French-Canadians.

A large port near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, Quebec is accessible to ocean vessels. Lumber, paper, grain, and asbestos are exported. The city is also an important railroad junction. The principal branches of industry are sawmilling, paper, and shipbuilding. The leather footwear, textile, and food-processing industries are also well developed. Laval University, a Catholic school, is located in the city. Among Quebec’s museums are the Provincial Museum and the museum at Laval University. Quebec is a tourist center.

In the old Lower Town there are narrow, crooked streets and northern French-style stone houses characteristic of the 17th through the early 19th century. The wide streets, parks, and sumptuous edifices of the Upper Town were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Among Quebec’s main tourist attractions are its 17th- and 18th-century buildings and churches, the city walls (1820–31), the provincial parliament buildings (1878–92), the hotel Chateau Frontenac (1889–1923), and an 11-km cantilever bridge across the St. Lawrence (1907–17).


Traquair, K. The Old Architecture of Quebec. Toronto, 1947.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Canada’s French-speaking province has often attempted to attain independence from rest of country. [Canadian Hist.: NCE, 2555]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a province of E Canada: the largest Canadian province; a French colony from 1608 to 1763, when it passed to Britain; lying mostly on the Canadian Shield, it has vast areas of forest and extensive tundra and is populated mostly in the plain around the St Lawrence River. Capital: Quebec. Pop.: 7 542 760 (2004 est.). Area: 1 540 680 sq. km (594 860 sq. miles)
2. a port in E Canada, capital of the province of Quebec, situated on the St Lawrence River: founded in 1608 by Champlain; scene of the battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759), by which the British won Canada from the French. Pop.: 169 076 (2001)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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