Historic District of Quebec (1985)

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Canada 1908. Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain

Québec was founded by the French explorer Champlain in the early 17th century. It is the only North American city to have preserved its ramparts, together with the numerous bastions, gates and defensive works which still surround Old Québec. The Upper Town, built on the cliff, has remained the religious and administrative centre, with its churches, convents and other monuments like the Dauphine Redoubt, the Citadel and Château Frontenac. Together with the Lower Town and its ancient districts, it forms an urban ensemble which is one of the best examples of a fortified colonial city. 

  • Canada 1908. Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain (the latter on the right). 

In the summer of 1908 Canadians honoured the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Quebec in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and colonizer. In March, 1908 the government proposed to issue a series of postage stamps to commemorate the occasion. In view of the marked departure from the precedent in subject matter for the proposed stamp design, the Department sought the permission of King Edward VII to use portraits of non-royal persons and historical subjects on stamps of permanent validity. His Majesty consented, and the stamp were released on 13th July, 1908 for sale to the public throughout the Dominion by the time the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary) reached Quebec. Portraits of Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain, from paintings dated about 1839, in the Hotel de Ville at St. Malo, France. Jacques Cartier was born in 1494 at St. Malo in Brittany. On his first voyage to the New World he erected a cross at Gaspé. In May, 1535 he set out on his second voyage; on September 15, he reached Stadacona, an Indian village where Quebec now stands. His subsequent explorations penetrated the St. Lawrence River as far as the island of Montreal. He died at St. Malo in 1557. 

Samuel de Champlain was born about 1567 at Brouage on the west coast of France. In 1603 he joined in an expedition to the St. Lawrence and erected his "Abitation" at Stadacona, the Indian village of Cartier's time. There he founded the first white settlement. In 1609 he travelled down the Richelieu River to the lake subsequently known by his name. He died on Christmas Day, 1635, in Quebec. 

In the summer of 1908 Canadians honoured the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Quebec in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and colonizer. "L'Abitation de Québec," adopted from a reproduction of the original sketch by Samuel de Champlain, from the Paris quarto of 1613. 

The stronghold, with a deep moat for protection from Indians, contained a storehouse and two houses with galleries. The site was near the marketplace of the Lower Town, Quebec. The archaic French is from Champlain's writing in one of his manuscripts. 

  • Canada 1908. L'Abitation de Québecq. 

Canada 1908. L'Abitatioin de Québecq.

The name Quebec was applied first to the region of the modern city and the word is of undoubted Algonquin origin. Early spellings: Quebecq (Levasseur, 1601); Kébec (Lescarbot, 1609); Quebec (Champlain, 1613). Champlain wrote of the location in 1632: "It ... is a strait of the river, so called by the Indians" - a reference to the Algonquin word for "narrow passage" or "strait" to indicate the narrowing of the river at Cape Diamond. The term is common to the Algonquin, Cree, and Micmac languages and signifies the same in each dialect. 

Canada 1929. View of the Citadel at Quebec. Canada 1935. The Samuel de Champlain Monument in Quebec. Canada 1929. Quebec Cantilever Bridge.

During World War II (1939-1945), Québec was the site of two conferences of Allied leaders, in 1943 and 1944. However, it was only after 1960 that Québec recaptured its early dynamism. That year marked the beginning of the Quiet Revolution, a period of rapid modernization associated with French Canadian nationalism. The size and scope of the provincial government expanded dramatically during this period, and the city benefited from its position as the provincial capital.

Suburban growth led to the creation of the Québec Urban Community in 1970. Also in that year, a second bridge, the Laporte Bridge, was completed across the St. Lawrence. At 668 m (2,190 ft), it is the longest suspension bridge in Canada. Place Québec, an extensive modern hotel and convention center, was completed opposite the parliament buildings in 1974 and was followed by other tourist facilities. Such developments have made the city a popular tourist destination and convention site.

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Canada (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Canada for further information about such sites. 

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Revised 03 aug 2006  
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