March 26th – 28th, 2012
What a wonderful place Quebec City is. As you walk around the old town streets it is hard to believe you are in North America! The city on the Saint Lawrence River was founded in 1608 (the first French explorers actually built a fort there in 1535) and looks like it is straight out of France with most buildings being very European in appearance and this is topped off by everyone speaking French and everything being written in French too!
Quebec City was part of the French empire and was the capital of New France. The city was used as the main base for French attacks against New England during the French and Indian Wars which were colonial wars that spanned 74 years (1688 – 1697, 1702 – 1713, 1744 – 1748 and 1754 – 1763 the latter was the colonial equivalent of the Seven Years War in Europe which involved all the European great powers of that time). Many battles were fought between the French and the British culminating in the loss of Quebec City to the British in 1759 following the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (now a park in the city). Eventually France surrendered New France to the British in 1763.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) the city of Quebec was attacked by revolutionaries to try to free it but the British forces defeated them. When America and the British went to war again in the War of 1812 the city was not attacked but in 1820 the British built the Citadel of Quebec a fortress that turned the city into a virtual “Gibraltar of North America“. There were no further American attacks but the British remained in Quebec until 1871. The Citadel still exists today and is still and active military base for the Canadians (you can take an interesting guided tour). In addition there are fortress walls bristling with old cannons surrounding the old town which are the last remaining in North America outside of Mexico (the old town and fortress walls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985).
Today Quebec City is the seat of parliament for the province of Quebec and has many interesting museums, churches and historic places to visit. There is plenty of great food to eat there too! The city skyline is dominated by the massive and impressive Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel (opened in 1893 it has over 600 guest rooms).
I find it interesting that despite such a long period of British rule the French Canadians still keep so much of their traditions and language. I visited the parliament building and sat in during a session and I can assure you all political discussions were in French!
The weather during my visit was pretty crazy. The first day it was kind of sunny but freezing! The temperature was -7 celsius (around 19F) on the day I arrived with a really cold wind, the second was sunny and warmer, if you call 3 celsius warmer (37F)! The last day I have no idea what temperature it was but it was cold and snowed all day! Even so I found this a very unique experience as I got to see the buildings in very different conditions which made for interesting photos and the cold didn’t bother me too much as I was busy exploring this fantastic city all day!