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Useful Notes / Quebec

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The people of Quebec are having a lot of stress
Even Gilles Vigneault has changed his name to Gilles Vign-yes
— Bowser And Blue, intro to Faute du Federal

Quebec (Québec in French, mind the accent - the name comes from an Algonquin word referring to the location near Quebec City as "where the [Saint Laurence] river narrows") is the largest province of Canada in area, and second only to Nunavut in all of Canadian territorial units. It is also the Country's only officially French-speaking province. As a result, its distinct culture, not to mention its sovereignty movement, have set it apart from the rest (read: the primarily English-speaking areas) of Canada. In 2006, the Canadian Parliament declared Quebec as a "nation within a united Canada".

Its capital is Quebec City and the largest city is Montreal. Also noted are Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi, Trois-Rivières, and Gatineau, bordering Ottawa. Quebec borders the province of Ontario to the west and both Newfoundland and Labrador as well as New Brunswick to the east. It also shares an international boundary with the US states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The territory now encompassing Quebec was first inhabited by Inuit and Native American peoples such as the Huron. Jacques Cartier in the 1500s later reached the area in Quebec and helped set up a colony called Stadacona. The settlement failed; however, the French did not give up. Later, French merchants set up shop in the Saint Lawrence Valley and became fur traders.

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City to make it the base of French power in North America. With alliance between Huron and Algonquin tribes, the French secured the territory. In exchange of furs, the French gave the First Nations their alcohol, guns, and clothing, and also tried to convert them to Catholicism with various degree of success. Later, the French kings introduced the seigneural system where settlers from the French Empire, primarily Normans and Bretons, will till a part of land for their landlords, called the seigneurs. These settlers, whose descendants came to be known as Canadiens, will later also expand to what is today Ontario, Manitoba, and even territories along the Great Lakes Mississippi River and in the United States.

New France was a pawn in the Seven Years' War between the French and British. The French are losing almost on the start, with a lower population base than those of the British Thirteen Colonies, but they held on until 1760, when the British defeated the French in the Plains of Abraham outside of Quebec City, placing New France under military occupation until it formally became a British possession in 1763 as part of the peace treaty between France and Great Britain.

The British at first tried to assimilate the Canadiens that inhabited the land they just got, but later gave up on this and implemented the Quebec Act of 1774. This was one of the grievances that erupted into The American Revolution. They claimed that the British were favoring the French-speaking Canadians over the English-speaking American colonists. Religion was one cause, too; the Canadiens in Quebec are mostly Catholic while the Americans are mainly Protestant. Quebec remained loyal to Britain during that war, the British troops there resisting attempts by American generals to conquer Quebec, with the British settlers being determined to stay loyal to the crown, and the Canadiens basically operating on a mentality of "the British may be English-speaking Protestant oppressors but dammit, they're OUR English-speaking Protestant oppressors!"

However, the Quebec Act did provide the survival of French law, culture, and language in Quebec, as its territory was shrunk into what is now southern Quebec and Labrador. Eventually, the lands west of the Ottawa River were given to mainly English-speaking settlers, many of them American Loyalists, and thus became Ontario, or Upper Canada (because it was upstream along the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence system). Quebec was thus designated Lower Canada.

In 1837, the provinces in Lower and Upper Canada exploded in rebellion. The Patriotes movement, largely led by Francophones like Louis-Joseph Papineau and Anglophone Robert Nelson, almost swept Canada. While it failed, it did make a deep imprint in Quebec history. The result is that Quebec, now called Canada East as it was merged in 1840 into the Province of Canada, was to be given self-government. Quebec then became one of the founding provinces of Canada in 1867, and tried to accommodate to the English-speaking provinces while maintaining its francophone identity.

When the Confederation of Canada took place from 1864-1867, the Franco-Canadian participants in the discussions were adamant that Confederation be a federal system, one that ensured that their province had the political tools it needed to maintain its Francophone identity. This went against the wishes of most of the English-speaking participants, who wanted a "legislative union" that would simply combine all of the British North American colonies into one larger entity with no internal borders. In the end, part of the eventual compromise was that Canada would become a federal state with very specific powers for the provinces, while the federal government would be paramount in all other areas.

As time went on, Montreal became Canada's largest city (it has since been overtaken by Toronto) and its center of industry. However, many French-speakers resented the economic power of the Anglophone, both Canadian and American, ruling class. Furthermore, the decision by Ottawa to send troops for The Second Boer War had further angered Quebecers. Resistance to the draft was common in Quebec during the two world wars. Despite this, many Quebecers distinguished themselves in combat.

During 1944, Maurice Duplessis took power as premier of Quebec. He tried to champion Quebec nationalism and conservatism in all areas. He also created Hydro-Québec, one of Canada's largest electric companies today. Many other intellectuals, among them a lawyer named Pierre Elliot Trudeau, opposed Duplessis. They later sowed the seeds of the so-called Quiet Revolution, where responsibility for education was transferred from church to state, state intervention in the Quebec economy, secularization, modernization and liberalization of Quebec public life, and so on. In this period, the concept of Quebecois identity was formed.

There are some who thought rebellion and secession under a Communist state was the only option to preserve Quebec identity, and the Front de libération du Québec tried to do just that, targeting Anglophone institutions and what they saw as pro-Ottawa Francophones. This led to the October Crisis in 1970 where FLQ terrorists kidnapped a British trade commissioner and a Quebec government official. The latter one was later killed; the British diplomat was freed by the Canadian government in exchange for the FLQ members involved to leave for Cuba. Trudeau—by this point Prime Minister and a vehement federalist (opponent of secession)—later invoked the controversial War Measures Act and arrested suspected militant Quebec separatists. The violence of the FLQ later cost them popular support, while the arbitrary imprisonment of activists, journalists and even poets under the War Measures Act is still remembered.

On the other hand, the Parti Québécois (non-violent Quebec separatists) gained popularity under René Lévesque and won a victory in the 1976 provincial election. They passed the Charter of the French Language (also known as "Bill 101") to make French the province's only official language and impose some restrictions on the use of English in schools and workplaces. They also held a referendum on whether to make Quebec "sovereign" (read: independent) in 1980, only for it to be defeated by a landslide. Attempts by the Quebec government to gain more provincial rights and leverage resulted in the new 1982 Canadian constitution, which was not ratified in Quebec. In 1987, the Meech Lake Accord was held by Canadian premiers to try to patch up differences, but failed utterly in the early 1990s. Later, the Parti Québécois held a second sovereignty referendum in 1995. This time, the "no" side only won by a slim margin. The premier of Quebec blamed it on "money and ethnic votes" that exacerbated the matter. Since then, actual support for sovereignty has declined, while at the same time the vast majority of inhabitants of the province consider themselves more Quebecer than Canadian. Quebec is trying to find its place in Canadian and world society, becoming a leader in information technology, energy, aerospace, and Maple Syrup (no, seriously, Quebec accounts for nearly 75% of the world's production).

One element of Quebec society that many people in the rest of Canada tend to overlook is that the Quebecers, except for usually Anglo-Quebecers and Indigenous people living within Quebec's borders, are much more likely to emphasize Canada as The Federation than other Canadians. While most other Canadians tend to see themselves as simply "Canadians", a lot of Quebecers, and most francophones, see themselves as a distinct nation with very particular concerns about identity that is participating in a greater polity note . It is difficult to properly convey Quebec culture to outsiders because in most English-speaking nations language is primarily a mean to communicate and is very rarely a political issue, while in Quebec language is fundamental to the ethnic identity. This is why there is some friction between both English- and French-Canadians, even though the majority of both sides act in good faith, it is difficult to properly understand the mindset of "the other", in effect, to put yourself in their shoes. Intrusions into what are seen as Quebec's rightful jurisdictions are considered very Serious Business and potential threats to Quebec's francophone identity (then again, most provinces would object to the federal government intruding on matters that the constitution identifies as being provincial powers). Note that, due to some controversies, Quebec nationalism has been accused of being based on the "pure laine" (pure wool) ethnicity. note  Long story short, this basically refers to Quebecers that are either exclusively or overwhelminglynote  ethnicalaly French Canadian and have French as a (sole) mother tongue. The term "pure laine" is increasingly controversial and taboo, even with people who would fit the "description". However, in practice, it is a cultural nationalism that includes space for the Quebec's anglophone community and new immigrants regardless of skin colour. In a way, Quebec nationalism often isn't that different from its Canadian counterpart, despite a Vocal Minority that would say otherwise, emphasizing common values rather than ethnicity.

     Religion and religious hatred 
Religion in Quebec has a complex history. The first French settlers brought their Catholic faith with them, and Catholic priests, missionaries, nuns and monks were a significant part of the early colony, establishing schools and hospitals and converting the Native population.


Famous Quebec Figures

  • John Abbott, 3rd Prime Minister of Canada, and the first to have been native-born (his two predecessors having been born in Scotland).
  • Elie Abel, journalist and academic (moved to the U.S.).
  • Denys Arcand, film director and screenwriter.
  • Cecile Auclert, actress (moved to France)
  • Melissa Auf der Maur, musician, member of bands like Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins.
  • Nanette Bordeaux, actress known for her work in The Three Stooges shorts (moved to the U.S.).
  • Martin Brodeur, hockey player.
  • Louis Kevin Celestin aka "KAYTRANDA", record producer and DJ.
  • Jean Chrétien, 20th Prime Minister of Canada.
  • Leonard Cohen, singer, songwriter and poet.
  • Louis Cyr, strongman.
  • Richard Darbois, voice actor and actor.
  • Caroline Dhavernas, actress.
  • Céline Dion, singer.
  • Xavier Dolan, film director, screenwriter and voice actor.
  • Roméo Antonius Dallaire, former Lieutenant General, war hero, retired senator, and author of Shake Hands with the Devil.
  • Roy Dupuis, actor.
  • Marc Garneau, astronaut, engineer and politician.
  • Garou (real name Pierre Garand), singer.
  • Corey Hart, singer.
  • Claude Jutra, actor and film director.
  • France Joli, disco singer (had a worldwide hit at 16 with "Come to Me" (1979)).
  • Jon Lajoie, comedian, musician, singer, rapper, actor, and Internet celebrity.
  • Alexis Lapointe aka "Alexis le trotteur", athlete and folk legend.
  • Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier, 6th Prime Minister of Canada, and the first French-Canadian to serve in that office.
  • Mario Lemieux, hockey player.
  • Jean Lesage, politician whose 1960 election as premier of Québec is generally considered to mark the start of the Quiet Revolution.
  • Robert MacNeil, journalist and news anchor (moved to the U.S., where he became known working for NBC and PBS).
  • Léo Major, World War II hero.
  • Nancy Martinez, dance singer known for her 1986 hit, "For Tonight".
  • Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada.
  • Alanis Obomsawin, filmmaker known for her documentaries focusing on Indigenous Canadians.
  • Serge Robert aka "Mononc' Serge", musician and satirist.
  • Julie Payette, engineer, astronaut and former Governor General of Canada.
  • Louise Penny, author best known for a series centered on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and set mainly in the Eastern Townships and Montreal.
  • François Pérusse, humorist.
  • Ginette Reno, singer, songwriter and actress.
  • Maurice Richard, hockey player, AKA "The Rocket".
  • Mordecai Richler, author.
  • Patrick Roy, hockey player.
  • William Shatner, actor.
  • Louis St-Laurent, 12th Prime Minister of Canada.
  • Georges St-Pierre, martial artist, athlete and actor.
  • Manuel Tadros, singer-songwriter, actor and voice actor. Father of Xavier Dolan.
  • Mary Travers aka "La Bolduc", folk singer. (Not to be confused with Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, who was from Louisville, Kentucky.)
  • Pierre Trudeau, Canada's 15th Prime Minister and Justin's father.
  • Justin Trudeau, Canada's 23rd Prime Minister.
  • Jean-Marc Vallée, director, writer, producer, and editor.
  • Gino Vannelli, singer/songwriter.
  • Denis Villeneuve, film director.
  • Gilles Villeneuve, race car driver.
  • Jacques Villeneuve, race car driver (and son of Gilles).

Francophone Canadian Films

Series Set in Quebec

Animation Set in Quebec

Video Games Set in Quebec

Miscellaneous Portrayals involving Quebec

  • In Scandinavia and the World, Quebec is shown as Canada's weird relative (the exact relation being unclear, but it should be noted Canada and Quebec look like twins). So far, Quebec made a boat out of a giant pumpkin and somehow got high off tea.
  • In "Dan Vs. Canada", a part of the episode involves visiting Quebec, with Dan teaming up with Quebecers against Canada.
  • Les 2 Minutes du Peuple note  is a creation of the Quebecer François Pérusse and is a juggernaut of Francophone comedy (both in his native Quebec and in French-speaking Europe). Many of his 2 minutes sketches airing on the radio are set in Quebec or involve Quebec in some way (or France, for its European version).