Québec City Facts

Important Facts About the Capital of Québec Province

Canada, Quebec, Quebec City, Parliament Building, dusk, elevated view

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Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Québec City is the capital city of Canada's Québec province. Known for its classical architecture and a distinctive European feel, like most of the province, Québec City (Ville de Québec) is the second most populous city in the province after Montreal and the eleventh most populous city in Canada. The Historic District of Old Québec's fortified city walls are the only ones of their kind left standing in northern North America, and in 1985, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Québec City's Early History

Québec City was the first city in Canada to be established with the goal of becoming a permanent settlement rather than a commercial outpost such as St. John's, Newfoundland, or Labrador and Port Royal, Nova Scotia. In 1535 the French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort where he remained in residence for a year. He returned in 1541 to build a permanent settlement, however, it was abandoned in 1542.

On July 3, 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Québec City, and by 1665, there were over 500 residents. In 1759, Québec City was taken over by the British who controlled it until 1760, at which time, France was able to regain control. However, in 1763, France ceded New France—which included Québec City—to Great Britain.

The Battle of Québec took place during the American Revolution as part of an effort to liberate the city from British control but the Revolutionary troops were defeated. This resulted in the splitting off of British North America. Instead of Canada joining the Continental Congress to become a part of the United States, it remained under British authority.

Around this same time, the United States began to annex Canadian territory. The land grab precipitated the construction of the Citadel of Québec which was begun in 1820 to help stave off the American incursion.

In 1840, the Province of Canada was formed and the city served as its capital for several years. In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottowa to be the capital of Canada in edging out Québec City, which then became the capital of the province of Québec.

Population, Economy, and Culture

Today, Québec City is one of Canada's largest cities. As of 2016, it had a population of 531,902, with 800,296 concentrated in its metropolitan center. Most of the city is French-speaking. Native English speakers represent only 1.5 percent of the city's population. The city is divided into 34 districts and six boroughs. In 2002, several nearby towns were annexed to accommodate growth.

Most of the city's economy is based on transportation, tourism, the service sector, and defense. Québec City's main industrial products are pulp and paper, food, metal and wood items, chemicals, and electronics. As the capital of the province, the provincial government is one of the city's biggest employers.

Québec City is one of the most visited places in Canada. Tourist flock to its various festivals, the most popular being the Winter Carnival. The city also boasts a host of historic sites, including Citadel of Québec, as well as and numerous museums.

Geographic Features and Climate

Québec City is located along Canada's St. Lawrence River near the confluence with the St. Charles River. Due to its location along these waterways, most of the area is flat and low-lying. However, the Laurentian Mountains north of the city offer increased elevation.

The city's climate is generally characterized as humid continental but as it borders several climate regions, the overall climate of Québec City is considered variable. Summers are warm and humid, while winters are extremely frigid and often windy. The average high temperature in July is 77°F (25°C), while the average January low is 0.3°F (-17.6°C). Average yearly snowfall is about 124 inches (316 centimeters)—one of the highest amounts in Canada.