Quebec History

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History of Quebec (New France)[edit | edit source]

New France about 1750.
  • At the time of first European contact and later colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and Inuit nations controlled what is now Quebec.
  • In 1534, Breton explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of France. It was the first province of New France.
  • Initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure. French fishing fleets, however, continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, making alliances with First Nations that would become important once France began to occupy the land.
  • Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City (Habitation de Québec), built as a permanent fur trading outpost, where he would forge a trading, and ultimately a military alliance, with the Algonquin and Huron nations.
  • Coureurs des bois, voyageurs and Catholic missionaries established fur trading forts on the Great Lakes (Étienne Brûlé 1615), Hudson Bay (Radisson and Groseilliers 1659–60), Ohio River and Mississippi River (La Salle 1682), as well as the Saskatchewan River and Missouri River (de la Verendrye 1734–1738).
  • After 1627, King Louis XIII of France allowed the Company of New France to introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics (eventually overturned).
  • New France became a Royal Province in 1663. The population grew slowly under French rule, as growth was largely achieved through natural births, rather than by immigration.
  • To encourage population growth and to redress the severe imbalance between single men and women, King Louis XIV sponsored the passage of approximately 800 young French women (known as les filles du roi) to the colony.
  • At the end of the seven-year in 1763, French and Indian War, France ceded its North American possessions to Great Britain and renamed Canada as the Province of Quebec.
  • At the end of the American Revolution, 10,000 Loyalists arrived at Quebec in 1784. The swelling numbers of English encouraged them to make greater demands for recognition with the colonial government. Loyalists soon petitioned the government to be allowed to use the British legal system they were used to in the American colonies. The creation of Upper (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) in 1791 allowed most Loyalists to live under British laws and institutions, while the French-speaking population of Lower Canada could maintain their familiar French civil law and the Catholic religion. [1]

Chronological History of Quebec[edit | edit source]

The following important events affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1534: Jacques Cartier landed on the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the region for France. 
  • 1535: Cartier visited the Indian villages of Stadacona (now the city of Québec) and Hochelaga (now Montréal).
  • 1608: Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Québec.
  • 1609: Champlain attacked the Iroquois near Lake Champlain. The resulting enmity lasted a century.
  • 1617: Louis Hébert and his family, the first settlers at the city of Quebec, arrived.
  • 1642: Montreal was founded by Sieur de Maissonneuve.
  • 1663: King Louis XIV made New France a royal colony. 
  • 1686: Struggles intensified between France and Great Britain over the control of North America.
  • 1713: The Treaty of Utrecht separated New France from the former French colonies of Acadia (Nova Scotia) and Newfoundland. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were ceded to the British.
  • 1759: The British captured the city of Québec.
  • 1763: New France was turned over to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris.
  • 1774: The Québec Act created the early Province of Québec, which included most of the territories in New France. This act also guaranteed civil and religious rights to French Canadians in the province.
  • 1791: The Constitutional Act divided the Province of Québec into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Québec).
  • 1825: The Lachine Canal was opened.
  • 1836: The first railway in Canada was opened between La Prairie and St. Johns.
  • 1837: The two-year Patriot Rebellion began.
  • 1841: Upper Canada became Canada West. Lower Canada became Canada East. The Act of Union joined Canada East and Canada West under one government called the Province of Canada.
  • 1849: Riots broke out in Montreal over the enactment of the Rebellion Losses Bill. The Parliament Buildings were destroyed by fire.
  • 1862: Asbestos was discovered near the present-day town of Abestos.
  • 1864: Delegates from United Canada and the Maritimes met at Quebec to discuss Confederation.
  • 1867: Canada East was renamed Québec and became one of the four original provinces of the Dominion of Canada.
  • 1876: The Intercolonial Railway from Quebec to Halifax was completed.
  • 1911: The gold-copper mine was opened at Noranda.
  • 1912: Provincial boundaries were extended to the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.
  • 1927: The Labrador region (from the Atlantic Ocean to the watershed line) was given to Newfoundland.

Canada History includes chapters on Québec history. Articles on Québec history are included in many encyclopedias. A good overview of the history of French Canadians is:

  • Wade, Mason Hugh. The French Canadians, 1760–1967. Revised Edition. Two Volumes. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Macmillan, 1968. (Family History Library book 971 H2wa.) A French translation of an earlier edition of the book is:
  • Wade, Mason Hugh. Les Canadiens français de 1760 à nos jours (The French Canadians, 1760 to the Present), L'Encyclopedie du Canada français, Volumes 3–4 [Montréal, Québec, Canada]: Le Cercle du Livre de France, 1963. (Family History Library book 971 H2w.)

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are some of the most valuable sources for family history research. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search.

Histories of provinces, towns, counties, districts, or other municipalities often have accounts of families. Many of the district, county, and town histories written in English include sections or volumes of biographical information. These may give information on half of the families in the area. A county history is also the best source of information about a county's origin.

Bibliographies of histories for the province of Québec are in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

Websites[edit | edit source]

[; Eastern Townships Research Centre - Archives - For photos and genealogical research



Pioneers of the Eastern Townships ($) An online book containing official and reliable information respecting the formation of settlements, with incidents in their early history, and details of adventures, perils and deliverances. Searchable online edition of this book published in 1863. A physical copy of the book is available at Global Genealogy.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Quebec", in Wikiedia,, accessed 16 October 2020.