History - Québec
Places in Québec: Beauport, Charlesbourg, L'Ancienne-Lorette, Lac Beauport, Laval, Limoilou, Loretteville, Sillery, Ste-Foy, Stoneham, Valcartier, Québec
The name Quebec, which comes from the Mi'kmaq word Gepèèg meaning "strait," originally meant the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River off what is currently Quebec City.
The first European explorer of what is now Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in the Gaspé in 1534 and sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1535.
Quebec City was founded near the site of Stadacona, a village populated by Iroquoians when Jacques Cartier explored Canada. However, the village was no longer there when Samuel de Champlain established the Habitation de Quebec in 1608.
After 1627, King Louis XIII of France introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics, ensuring that welfare and education was kept firmly in the hands of the church. New France became a royal province in 1663 under King Louis XIV of France and the intendant Jean Talon.
Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris (1763) when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France, which was viewed as a vast, frozen wasteland of little importance to the French colonial empire. By the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, Canada (part of New France) was renamed the Province of Quebec.
In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act that helped ensure the survival of the French language and French culture in the region. The Act allowed Quebec to maintain the French civil law as its judicial system and sanctioned the freedom of religious choice, allowing the Roman Catholic Church to remain.
Quebec retained its seigneurial system and civil law code after France's giving of the territory to England. Owing to an influx of Loyalist refugees from the US Revolutionary War, the Constitutional Act of 1791 saw the colony divided in two at the Ottawa River (a small portion west of the Ottawa/St. Lawrence River confluence, which had the westernmost seigneuries, was retained in Lower Canada); the western part became Upper Canada and changed to the British legal system. The eastern part was named Lower Canada.
Like there counterparts in Upper Canada, in 1837, English and French speaking residents of Lower Canada, led by Robert Nelson, formed an armed resistance group to seek an end to British colonial rule. Their actions resulted in the Lower Canada Rebellion. An unprepared British Army had to raise a local militia force and the rebel forces were soon defeated after having scored a victory in Saint-Denis, south of Montreal.
After this clash, Lord Durham was asked to write a report on this incident and gave the opinion, in laguage traditional of the day, that the French population were "without history and culture of any kind" and were "to be assimilated". However, the British Parliament did not agree with Durham's opinion and maintained all the rights accorded the colony's French-speaking citizens under the 1774 Quebec Act.
After the unsuccessful rebellion, the British government merged the Canadas into one Province of Canada in 1841. However, the union proved contentious. In conjunction with the new Canadian Confederation, in 1867 the Province of Canada was returned to its two original parts, as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Through approval by all citizens in a plebicite, the two colonial provinces joined with the other British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to create the nation of Canada.
The conservative government of Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale dominated Quebec politics from 1944 to 1960 with the support of the Catholic church. Pierre Trudeau and other intellectuals and liberals formed an intellectual opposition to Duplessis' repressive regime setting the groundwork for the Quiet Revolution under Jean Lesage's Liberals. The Quiet Revolution was a period of dramatic social and political change that saw the decline of the Roman Catholic Church's influence, the nationalization of Hydro-Québec and the emergence of a separatist movement under former Lesage minister René Lévesque.
The slogan on the current Quebec license plate, first introduced in 1978 is "Je me souviens" which translated into English means "I remember".
During the 1960s, a terrorist group known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, robberies and attacks on government offices. Their activities culminated in events referred to as the October Crisis when James Cross, the British trade commissioner to Canada, was kidnapped along with Pierre Laporte, a provincial minister and Vice-Premier, who was murdered a few days later. In response, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared martial law using the War Measures Act. A Federal government inquiry later revealed that under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's demand, some Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) agents infiltrated the group and pushed them towards terrorist actions in order to gain evidence of the group's willingness to commit terrorist acts.
In 1977, the newly elected Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque introduced the Charter of the French Language. Often known as Bill 101, it defined French as the only official language of Quebec and is to this day still controversial and widely misunderstood inside and outside Quebec by the English speaking population.
Lévesque put sovereignty-association before the voters in the 1980 Quebec referendum. Sixty percent of the Quebec electorate voted against it.
On October 30, 1995, in a second referendum the vote for Quebec independence was rejected by a slim majority (50.6% NO to 49.4% YES).