Quebec

Origin of the Name

Map of Quebec

The name "Quebec" comes from the Algonquin word for "narrow passage" or "strait" and was first used to describe the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River near what is now Québec City. Quebec has had several names throughout its history: Canada, New France, Lower Canada and Canada East.

Population (2006) - 7,651,500
Area: Land - 1,356,790 km2
         Fresh Water - 183,890 km2
         Total - 1,650,680 km2
Capital: Québec City
Date of entry into Confederation: July 1, 1867









History

The Aboriginal peoples who inhabited present day Quebec before Europeans arrived were mostly members of the Algonquian and Iroquoian linguistic groups, who greatly influenced the early history of the Province. The Inuit inhabited northern Quebec, as they continue to do today.

Quebec was one of the first areas of Canada to be explored and settled by Europeans.

Jacques Cartier landed at Gaspé in 1534 and claimed the land that would be known as Canada for the King of France. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Québec City. A few years later, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded Ville-Marie (1642), which would become Montréal in the late 18th century.

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 marked the defeat of the French troops at the hands of the British army. With the signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French King ceded New France to the British Crown. This led to a large wave of immigration of English, Irish and Scottish settlers.

The Quebec Act of 1774 allowed the free practice of the Catholic faith, the use of the French language and the establishment of French civil law in Quebec. The Constitutional Act of 1791 created two provinces: Upper Canada (Ontario), which was mostly Anglophone, and Lower Canada (Quebec), with a Francophone majority. The Constitution Act of 1867 united Canada's provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a federation.

The Province of Quebec was redefined in 1898 when its northern boundaries were recognized following a judicial decision rendered in 1884. Quebec's territory was then extended in 1912 to include the District of Ungava, formerly part of the Northwest Territories. In 1927, the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council was asked to decide a boundary dispute between Canada and Newfoundland over the exact border between Labrador and Quebec.

Quebec is the largest province in Canada. It is three times the size of France and seven times larger than Great Britain. A million lakes and rivers dot the landscape, and one of the longest navigable waterways in the world, the St. Lawrence River, stretches over 1200 km of the province's territory. Quebec extends over several vegetation zones: the boreal forest to the south, the taiga in the central area and the tundra in the more northern regions.

Created in 1792, the Parliament of Quebec is one of the world's oldest parliaments. The Quebec political system was inspired by the British model, whereas the Province's legal system is based on the co-existence of French-origin private law (codified law), originally based in part on the Napoleonic Code, and the public law of English origin (common law).

Coat of Arms

The Quebec coat of arms was granted by Queen Victoria in 1868, and revised by Order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council in 1939.

The shield features three gold fleurs-de-lis on a blue field, a reminder of Royal France, which once ruled Quebec. (The original coat of arms, granted by Queen Victoria, had two blue fleurs-de-lis on a gold background.) A sprig of three green maple leaves, representative of Canada's numerous maple trees, is displayed in the lower portion. The gold lion in the shield's centre represents the British Crown that granted the shield.







Motto

JE ME SOUVIENS (I remember)


Flag


The Quebec flag was adopted by Order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council in 1948 and confirmed by the province's legislature in 1950. The flag's proportions are three by length and two by width.

Quebec's flag is generally known as the "fleurdelisé". The white cross on a blue field recalls an ancient French military banner, and the four fleurs-de-lis are symbolic of France.

Legend has it that the use of the fleur-de-lis as an emblem of French royalty dates back to the year 496, when Clovis, the first Christian king of France, was baptized by St. Remigius and is said to have adopted the flower as his personal emblem.













Floral Emblem

The Act respecting the flag and emblems of Quebec, adopted in November 1999, made the blue flag (Iris versicolor Linné) as the new floral emblem of Quebec. The blue flag is an indigenous spring flower that grows on over half of Quebec's territory, from the St. Lawrence Valley to the shores of James Bay. From 1963 to 1999, the white garden lily was the floral emblem of Quebec.













Other Provincial Symbols

Tree:
Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Bird:
Snowy Owl

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