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Quebec City History

Understanding Québec City’s history sheds light on the region’s current national pride. It also puts into context the political strife between the French (traditionally Catholic) and English (traditionally Protestant) during the 1970s and 1980s, when the province’s political sovereignty movement wanted to separate from Canada. At risk of oversimplifying, suffice to say that these days, tensions have calmed considerably (if not completely) and most citizens of both Québec City and Montréal are happily bilingual. Still, beloved Québec has been the subject of battles and bloodshed since the 16th century. Officially founded in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, Québec City is among North America’s oldest cities. The Iroquois tribe had established a thriving village there, known as Stadacona, when French explorer Jacques Cartier first rolled through in 1534, but failed to colonize. By the time Champlain set up shop on the shores, the Iroquois settlement had vanished. In 1663, King Louis XIV of France made the colony of Québec City the capital of New France and its main port. However, the French ceded control of New France to the British in 1763 with the notoriously bloody battle of the Plains of Abraham (the site is now a public park). By the mid-18th century when the English and French fought repeatedly over it, Québec had more than 8,000 inhabitants and a growing rural population surrounding the fortified town. In 1867, Québec City was named capital of the Canadian province of Québec.
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