Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Province of Quebec



[This article was written in the 1930's and published, largely unrevised, in 1948. For the full citation see the end of the text. Parts in brackets [...] and images were added by Claude Bélanger.]

Quebec, the most easterly of the provinces of Canada [this was true before the entrance of Newfoundland into Confederation in 1949], is bounded on the north by Ungava Bay and Hudson straits, on the west by Hudson Bay, James Bay, the Ottawa river, and the province of Ontario, on the south by the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and on the east by the Labrador coast and the gulf of St. Lawrence :


In 1912 the area of Quebec was exactly doubled, and extended to 703,653 square miles through the annexation of the territory of Ungava; but fifteen years later, in 1927, a decision of the Privy Council gave back to the colony of Newfoundland 102,000 of the 351,780 square miles thus added, leaving an actual present area of 594,534 square miles, which leaves Quebec still the largest of the Canadian provinces. The combined area of France , Germany , and Spain exceeds only by 2,600 square miles that of Quebec .




The history of Quebec dates as far back as the discovery of Canada itself. It was indeed on her soil that Jacques Cartier, the envoy of the king of France , landed for the first time in 1534. She did not, however, really begin to exist until 1608, when Samuel de Champlain, who had already established a first settlement in Acadia, planted the fleur-de-lis on the rock of Stadacona, and definitely chose Quebec as the seat of what was to be New France for more than a century and a half.


The new colony, which ultimately grew into the present Canada, had very humble beginnings, and for a long time its existence was extremely precarious. Twenty years after its foundation, in 1629, when it was captured by the English under Sir David Kirke, but two families were yet permanently settled, with a shifting population of monks, officials and fur-traders. Restored to the French in 1632 by the Treaty of St. Germain, New France resumed courageously its career. Further penetration of the country was instantly begun, and in the course of a few years Three Rivers [1634] and Montreal [1642] were successively established. So heavy, however, was the toll of lives levied at that time by continuous incursions of Indians that more than once the fate of the colony appeared to be sealed. Relief came at last in 1665 with the timely arrival of the regiment of Carignan. The Indians were kept at bay at least temporarily, and the colonists were for the first time allowed to breathe. A period followed of the most fruitful activity. Under the inspiration of Colbert, then minister of Louis XIV, France had at last decided to inaugurate a real policy of colonization, and the economic direction of the country had been fortunately entrusted to Jean Talon, a man of superior ability known in Canadian history as "the Great Intendant". Settlers, began to pour in in greater numbers, marriageable girls were sent to insure the creation of families, commerce was regulated, thought was even given to manufacturing industry, but perhaps the most important move of the new intendant was the distribution of the territory into vast seigniories which were destined to expand colonization, and on which a good proportion of the Carignan soldiers effectively settled. Thanks to the powerful impetus thus given, the population increased more than five times in the twenty years which followed. In the meantime, it is true, too many of the young men, attracted by the advantages of fur-trading, or simply by the lure of the wild, deserted the fields and chose to roam through the forest with the Indians, but the evils of that plague were largely redeemed by services of another kind. The great feats of discovery which so early opened the continent of North America would have never been accomplished without the help of the sturdy coureurs-des-bois who accompanied Joliet, La Salle, and Iberville in their search of the Mississippi, and later La Vérendrye in his quest of the Western Sea.


Towards the end of the seventeenth century, New France was at last internally at peace, the Indians having been sufficiently overpowered or having become friendly as a whole, and the colony could have grown much more rapidly had the home government shown the same interest in its welfare as at the time of Colbert. Progress was considerably hampered by continuous petty quarrels between governors and intendants, whose powers were not well defined; and, as a result of a narrow policy, only a slight encouragement was given to local industry. Besides, the influx of settlers had practically ceased, and the population was left to its natural increase, which was, it is true, wonderfully rapid.


Meanwhile the British settlements were thriving in New England and Virginia, and, as was inevitable, there was soon created between them and New France a certain rivalry which periodically broke out into warring conflicts. In retaliation for the numerous and bloody incursions made with the help of Indians on New England towns, the English twice planned to subdue New France, but without success, firstly in 1690, when Sir William Phips  was repulsed by Frontenac, and secondly in 1711, when Quebec was saved by the wreck of Sir Hovenden Walker's fleet.


As time went on, however, what were only at the beginning frictions occasioned by rivalry in trade gradually developed into a graver conflict, an open contest for territorial supremacy. While English possessions were still confined to the Atlantic seaboard, France, by a continuous advance, had taken hold of the whole centre of the continent from the regions adjoining Hudson Bay to the gulf of Mexico, and New France herself had extended her domain proper to the very heart of what are now the United States . Time had come to decide which of the two rivals would become the ultimate master of a country the immense possibilities of which were more than ever apparent. The tension finally came to a break in 1755, and a war was waged which lasted five long years. After various successes which at first elated their hopes, the French gradually lost ground until at the end of 1759 they were cornered in the St. Lawrence valley. Insufficiently aided by the mother country and disheartened by the brazen thefts of Bigot and company, which brought upon the people untold miseries, their courage had to yield finally before the proverbial British tenacity. The real turning-point of the contest, however, was the battle of the Plains, in which, on September 13, 1759, Wolfe, the victor, and Montcalm, the vanquished, fell clothed in the same shroud of glory. A French victory soon followed, that of Ste. Foy, but it was only a last glowing spark, and could not change the course of events, the colony being already doomed by the capture of Quebec . The capitulation of Montreal in September, 1760, put an end to the contest, but it was only three years later, by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, that New France ceased to exist as such, and was officially transferred, under the name of Canada, from the French to the British crown.


The transition of a population, of 60,000 to a new allegiance was naturally fraught with difficulties. On the one hand, the French, or "new subjects" (as, they were called), complained, though not too highly at the beginning, that their ancient laws and religious privileges had been done away with; and, on the other hand, the English merchants or "old subjects", though still few in number, claimed more and more of the upper hand and insisted noisily on their growing demands. After years of wrangle, the British House of Commons, moved by a spirit of conciliation, but perhaps stimulated at the end by the troubles which were then bubbling in the American colonies, voted a new constitution called the Quebec Act of 1774, which, among other provisions, restored the ancient civil laws of the majority and conceded a greater liberty for the exercise of their religion. The invasion of the country in the following year by the American rebels put to a victorious test the fidelity of the French Canadians. Resisting a tendency quite natural and all kinds of other inducements, they followed the guidance of their clergy and remained loyal to the Crown, with the exception of small dissenting groups.


After the repelling of the invader, political dissensions were not long in flaming anew between the two rival sections of the community, and in 1791 it was found necessary to frame a second constitution, which like the former one was diversely appreciated. By the new Act the colony was divided into two distinct provinces, namely Lower Canada (or otherwise Quebec ), and Upper Canada (later called Ontario ). Each of the two provinces was at the same time endowed with a legislature consisting of two branches, a Legislative Council and a Legislative Assembly. In Lower Canada particularly, the legislature provided a new field in which were emphasized the differences already existing. The elected representatives of the majority could not go hand in hand with the appointed Council, and each in turn took up the cudgels. There were also innumerable occasions of quarrel between the governors and the representatives of the people. When the Assembly, after having uselessly claimed during many sessions the absolute control of public expenditure, finally refused in 1826 and later to vote the subsidies required by the administration, the situation became acute. After the adoption of the Ninety-Two Resolutions [see this text in French], especially, in 1834, feelings rose still higher. Papineau and the other reformist leaders went on the stump and aired the grievances of the people throughout the province. This agitation finally culminated in the two rebellions of 1837 and 1838, which were, however, rapidly quashed, like the two coincident ones in Upper Canada.


One of the first steps of the imperial parliament, after the rebellion, was to sanction the legislative union of Upper and Lower Canada , as advised by Lord Durham in his famous Report. The new measure conceded an equal representation to two provinces of unequal population and burdened one province with a large part of the other's debts, but it had at least one good point, that of establishing at last the long-expected responsible government. In the end, indeed, Lower Canada did not fare too badly under the new régime, and even managed to prosper. With the exception of a few flurries like the burning of Parliament House in Montreal in 1849, there was no longer any sign of internal trouble.


Lower Canada was one of the first [four] provinces to enter the pact of Confederation in 1867. It became thereby autonomous once more as to its essential rights, and regained at the same time the ancient official title of " province of Quebec".


Traditional village scene of Quebec with the Church spire dominating

and the houses clustered around it. From a painting by J. Johnstone reproduced

in the Canadian Magazine, Vol. 61 (1923): p. 289.




Fourteen-fifteenths of the province form part of the vast Precambrian or Canadian Shield, which is considered the most ancient geological formation in the universe. The mountains may be classified in three groups, the Laurentians which skirt the St. Lawrence from Labrador to a point not far from the city of Quebec and then recede, leaving a widening lowland between them and the river as far as the Ottawa river; the Appalachians, a continuation of the chain of the same name in the United States, which run in Canada from the frontier in the neighbourhood of lake Champlain to the city of Quebec, and thence to the gulf, down the St. Lawrence valley and through the Gaspé peninsula; and lastly the Monteregians, situated in the western portion of the St. Lawrence lowlands. In the Laurentians, along the gulf and the river St. Lawrence, the elevations vary from less than 1,000 to over 3,000 feet. Some peaks of the Appalachians rise to 3,000 feet in the Eastern townships, and even to 4,000 in the Gaspé peninsula. The Monteregians are considerably lower, their highest elevation slightly exceeding 1,700 feet.


The province is abundantly watered. Its liquid area, not including tidal waters, comprises 71,000 square miles, compared with 49,300 in Ontario , the nearest rival. The main artery is the river St. Lawrence, which brings transatlantic vessels to the harbour of Montreal, nearly 1,000 miles from the ocean, during seven and a half months of the year. Among the most important tributaries of the St. Lawrence must be mentioned the Ottawa, the St. Maurice, the Richelieu, and the Saguenay. With the exception of the Richelieu, the importance of which is only local, these rivers are navigable only in part, but they have been long used for the floating of timber. There are besides in the province of Quebec numerous lakes of all dimensions, the largest being Mistassini lake, with an area of 840 square miles.


The province extends from the 45th parallel of latitude to 62° 40' north, and its temperature is therefore of necessity varied. In the upper regions, winters are very long and extremely severe, but in the settled part the seasons do not offer very striking contrasts. While the winters are still cold, the summers are warm and sunny. In general, the climate is considered healthy and favourable to most kinds of culture.





The province of Quebec holds the second rank in the Confederation as to population. According to the latest official census, the total number of its inhabitants was 3,331,882 in 1941, compared to 3,787,655 in Ontario, but a recent estimate of the Bureau of Statistics advances the figure for Quebec to 3,561,000 in 1945 [For current population statistics, see this table].


An immense majority are of French origin, though Canadian-born, the total being 2,695,032, against 636,850 of all other origins, British or foreign. And all of these, while speaking the two official languages of the country, English and French, with the exception of a negligible minority, claim French as their mother tongue. In many of the rural districts, the population might nearly be said exclusively French-Canadian. The habitant is constantly gaining ground even in the Eastern Townships, which were expressly set apart for the settlement of the United Empire Loyalists more than a hundred years ago. There remains in that region only one riding in which the two elements are about equally balanced. In all the others, which were overwhelmingly English-speaking not many years ago, the French have attained to-day a supremacy of number which is unquestionable.


Though it has shown a certain tendency to decrease in the last decade, the birth-rate of Quebec is still the highest in the Confederation, 29.2 per 1,000 inhabitants [For more current figures, see this page]. [Painting of the village scene is by J. Johnstone; reproduced in the Canadian Magazine, Vol. 61 (1923): p. 289]


Another noticeable fact in the province of Quebec is the great numerical strength of Roman Catholics, who number 2,894,621 against 437,261 of all other denominations combined.


Cities and Towns


Montreal, the largest city of the province, is also the largest of Canada [this is not the case any more]. According to the latest available official census, it has a population of 903,007, but these figures are for the city proper, and do not include Verdun, Outremont, and Westmount, three important cities immediately contiguous but municipally distinct. Montreal claims to-day a population of over a million, exclusive of the aforesaid adjoining towns. Though coming far behind the metropolis, Quebec, the capital of the province, is still in numerical importance the sixth city of Canada, with its population of over 150,000. Leaving aside Verdun, whose 67,000 inhabitants virtually form part of Montreal, the next city in importance is Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers), a centre of the pulp industry, whose population exceeds 40,000. Other cities worthy of mention are Sherbrooke (35,965), Hull (32,947), Shawinigan (20,325), Lachine (20,051), St. Hyacinthe (17,798), Valleyfield (17,052), and Chicoutimi (16,040) [for current statistics of the urban areas, consult this page].




It is estimated that out of the 335,057,760 acres of land which cover the province of Quebec, only 43,745,000, not even an eighth, are suited for agricultural purposes. The reason is that the major part of the land, about 62 per cent, is in too high latitudes to permit the economic production of cereals. However, with approximately 6,000,000 acres under actual cultivation at the present time, the province still retains the third rank in Canadian farm production. In 1934, at a time when low prices were still prevailing, the total value of its field crops was placed at $98,309,000. The principal crops are oats, which in 1944 yielded 45,000,000 bushels, valued at $28,470,000, and hay and clover, which yielded in the same year 5,701,000 tons, valued at $88,708,000. Farmers sow very little wheat, not because the soil itself is not as well suited for it as any other, but because it is less profitable owing to other conditions.


The dairying industry is well established in all the settled parts of the province, nearly every parish having its cheese factory and creamery. Quebec produces approximately 30 per cent of all the creamery butter and about 20 per cent of all the factory cheese produced in Canada , 298,777,262 pounds of the first, and 182,649,749 of the second, (1944).


The making of maple sugar is also an industry of considerable size. In 1944 Quebec produced 2,034,000 pounds of maple sugar and 2,339,000 gallons of maple syrup, respectively 90 per cent. and 70 per cent of the total production of Canada, which is by itself half the world's supply. The central area of the sugar industry in Quebec is in the Eastern Townships. Other items of importance are honey production, market-gardening, and tobacco-growing. Primitive methods of farming have been rapidly disappearing, especially in late years, thanks to the policy of the government. The placing in every county of farm demonstrators trained in agricultural colleges has been especially helpful in that respect. Recently the total value of the agricultural wealth in the province of Quebec was estimated at $965,583,000.


Fisheries and Game


Quebec in 1944 ranked fourth among the provinces of Canada in value of fish caught. The value of production of its commercial fisheries, which was exceeded only by British Columbia and two of the Maritime provinces, amounted in that year to $5,361,972. Sea fisheries, which were formerly controlled by the Dominion government, reverted to the province in 1922. They are by far the most important part of the industry. Cod, herring, mackerel, lobster, salmon, and smelts are, the principal kinds caught in the salt water of the gulf and of Chaleur Bay. The total market value of cod alone exceeded $2,000,000 in 1944.


Game fish is found in abundance in the numerous streams and lakes of the province. The Gaspé peninsula offers to the angler some of the finest salmon rivers in Canada, and lake St. John is renowned as the home of the best ouananiche.


Quebec is also one of the best big game territories on the continent. Moose, cariboo, deer, and bear are still plentiful in its immense forested lands. The northern regions particularly possess an abundance of fur-bearing animals, whose marketable pelts were valued in 1944 to $6,167,605.


Fish and game in the province of Quebec have not only a commercial importance; they are also an indirect source of revenue in attracting from the outside hosts of tourists and sportsmen, who spend lavishly and add to the local wealth. So far, Quebec is the only province in the Dominion which leases exclusive fishing and hunting rights over large tracts of forest, lake, or river territory [this practice has been discontinued since].


Forest Industry


The forest domain of the province of Quebec, New Quebec not included, is approximately estimated at 165,000,000 acres. It is divided into private forests, which are located principally in the central St. Lawrence valley, and consist of farms sold to settlers by the government, or, of old seigniories alienated under the French régime, or of lands conceded to railways, into lots under ticket of lease which become private property after issue of letters patent, and finally into crown lands.


The territory of the Crown itself is divided into forests leased to different parties for a fixed period (about 49,000,000 acres); into township reserves destined to supply the adjoining villages (787,000 acres); into domanial forests reserved for future requirements of the industry (1,882,000 acres); and lastly into unleased timber limits (about 98,000,000 acres). The unleased forests are in absolute possession of the government, and free from all encumbrance. Chiefly situated in the northern part of the province, in the basins of the St. Lawrence and of Hudson Bay , they are known to be rich in merchantable timber, but they have not yet been worked. An inventory is being made of these forests, so that they may be utilized as needs require. The forests of Quebec are estimated to be worth more than $1,000,000,000. According to recent figures prepared by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, they contain 64,603,000,000 cubic feet of softwoods and hardwoods.


In 1944 there were 1,010,361,000 feet board measure of lumber cut in the province, and the total value of the products of the sawmills was placed at $50,099,695


But the largest by far among the Canadian industries which draw from the forest their raw material is the pulp-and-paper industry; and. in this particular domain Quebec holds unquestionably the first rank. In 1934, 2,382,437 cords of wood, mostly spruce (68.1 per cent.) were utilized in the manufactures of pulp in Quebec, and the total production, valued at $36,837,402, was 1,813,096 tons against 1,823,239 in all the other provinces. High as they are, these figures show a considerable decrease when compared with those of 1929. In that year out of 114 pulp-and-paper mills in Canada , 50 were operated in Quebec , and the capital invested in them amounted to $295,505,402, over 50 per cent. of that in the whole Dominion. The production for 1944 reached a total of 2,767,081 tons with an aggregate value of $105,042,991.


Quebec stands first not only in pulpwood manufactured, but also in pulpwood consumed. In 1944 it produced 53 per cent. of the total paper production in Canada , namely 2,152,956 tons, valued at $134,617,241. A strong factor in the development of the industry has been the legislative enactment of the Quebec government in 1910 under which all pulpwood cut on crown lands must be manufactured within the Canadian boundary.


On account of its enormous supply of pulpwood still available, of its practically inexhaustible water-power resources, and of its geographical position, unequalled in Canada for trade with Europe and the United States, Quebec bids fair to continue to lead in the production of pulp-and-paper.


Abundant measures are taken by the administration to protect the forests by an extensive system of fire prevention, to prevent the depletion by the establishment of forest reserves in large areas and of nurseries which provide material for distribution or the reclaiming of waste lands by tree planting, and finally by the establishment of various schools of forest researches, of forest rangers, and even of paper-making.




From the fifth rank which she held in the Canadian mineral industry in 1927, the province of Quebec has passed to the second in 1944, the total output of her mines and quarries for that year being valued at $88,751,614. Until recently the great bulk of minerals produced in the province was of the non-metallic order, such as asbestos, mica, magnesite, and practically all the building materials, granite, lime-stone, marble, etc. To-day more than half of the production is from metals, principally gold and copper. The value of gold production in Quebec has jumped from $172,214 in 1927 to $7,914,556 in 1935, and to $28,751,184 in 1944. During the same period, the value of copper produced has increased from $407,146 to $12,966,620. This phenomenal increase is due to the discovery of important gold quartz veins of considerable extent and of vast deposits of solid sulphides carrying gold and copper in the Timiskaming and Abitibi districts which are the continuation of the highly mineralized rocks of eastern Ontario .


We have yet a very incomplete idea of the mineral potentialities of the province of Quebec, less than 40,000 of her 600,000 square miles having been prospected so far, but geologists are more and more of the opinion that Quebec 's mineral resources will before long exceed its agricultural resources. The immense region which lies in the north, in the Ungava district, is reputed totally Precambrian, and, when exploited, it should yield an immense quantity of minerals of all kinds.


Among minerals of the non-metallic class, asbestos holds the first place in Quebec . The important asbestos deposits situated in what is known as the "Serpentine Belt" produced in 1944, 419,265 tons valued at $20,619,516, which is about 80 per cent. of the total consumption of the world. It is so far the principal mineral wealth of the Appalachian region, but it is firmly believed by many that the Eastern Townships themselves have not yet told all their story in respect of mining.




The manufacturing industry in Quebec has marked a considerable progress in the present century. Measures taken by the government for the manufacturing of a considerable part of the raw material within the territory of the province, the abundance of water-power and also the general conditions of labour, which are favourable, have induced each year the investment of a larger amount of capital, mostly from the neighbouring United States. This capital, which amounted to $142,403,407 in 1901, had increased to $2,230,620,386 in 1943. As to the total value of manufactured products it increased from $158,287,994 in 1901 to $1,155,201,014 in 1929. In 1944 the gross value of products was $2,929,685,183.


Pulp-and-paper making is the principal manufacturing industry of the province, the gross value of its products having amounted in 1944 to $186,918,517. Next in importance are the power plants, the textiles, the smelters, the tobacco factories, the clothing mills, the petroleum refineries, and the leather factories.


Montreal , or more correctly Greater Montreal, remains the largest manufacturing centre, sharing over 3,000 of the 9,372 industrial establishments of the province, and a similar proportion of the total capital invested, but the move towards decentralization is yearly increasing. Outside of Montreal , the city of Quebec still has the lead as to value of output, but it is closely followed by Three Rivers, the principal seat of the pulp-and-paper industry. The most important of the other manufacturing towns are Drummondville with its celanese factory; Valleyfield and Magog, with their cotton mills, Shawinigan Falls, Grand'Mère, La Tuque, and East Angus with their pulp mills, Hull, Sherbrooke, St. Hyacinthe, and St.-Johns [St. Jean] with their varied industries, and finally Arvida with its huge aluminium plant.




Of all the Canadian provinces Quebec is the richest in waterpower, both potential and developed. To the north of the St. Lawrence, practically the whole territory, including that draining towards Hudson Bay and the North Atlantic, is part of the great Laurentian plateau , whose extensive lake and stream system are favourable to the widespread location of waterpower sites both great and small. To the south, the topography is somewhat different, but there are still rivers like the Richelieu, the St. François, and the Chaudière with considerable waterpower resources.


As far as they are known, the total available power resources of the province of Quebec aggregate 13,064,000 horsepower at ordinary six months' flow, and 8,459,000 at ordinary minimum flow, that is to say continuously available 24 hours per day throughout the year. Of this total 5,848,572 horse-power was already utilized in 1945; and this represents about 50 per cent. of the turbine installation in the whole of Canada .


The outstanding power rivers of the province are the St. Lawrence, which has between two and two-and-a-half million horse-power available between the Ontario boundary and Montreal; the Ottawa river and its Quebec tributaries with from 1,000,000 to 1,600,000 horse-power, the St. Maurice river and its tributaries with upwards of 1,000,000 horse-power, and the Saguenay and its tributaries with from 1,260,000 to 1,530,000 horse-power. Of these, the St. Maurice river is at present the largest source of power, 602,500 horse-power being already installed on different sites.


To ensure an equal flow of water in the principal rivers serving power stations and manufactures, the government has built four large storage dams, the principal of which is the Gouin dam, with a capacity of 160,000 million cubic feet, in the headwaters of the river St. Maurice .


There were in 1943 in the province of Quebec 101 central electric stations, which, with a capital investment of $817,443,304, supplied power to innumerable industries and generated not less than 23,477,824,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The production of power through the harnessing of falls and rivers is unquestionably the chief factor in the industrial development of the province of Quebec ; it has given impetus to manufactures in many small centres and spread the general use of electricity for commercial, municipal, and domestic purposes.




The education system of the province of Quebec is dual, Catholic and Protestant [The confessional educational system is now replaced by one base on language]. There is no minister of education [this was the case until 1964; see the collection of documents on the attempt to create a Ministry of Education in 1897], but the department of education is represented in the legislature by the provincial secretary. The nonpolitical head of the department is the superintendent, who is assisted by a French and by an English secretary; the latter of whom is also styled director of Protestant education. All matters concerning taxation, erection of municipalities, election of commissioners and trustees, and civil management of school affairs generally, are regulated by the legislature through the Education Act, but the real power in matters of education is vested in a Superior Council of Public Instruction, of which the superintendent is president ex-officio. The Superior Council is made of two committees, one Catholic and one Protestant, which sit separately. The Catholic committee is composed of all the archbishops and bishops of the province and of as many laymen appointed by the government, while the Protestant committee, equal to the former in number, is wholly appointed. Each committee manages independently the educational affairs of the section of the population belonging to its religious denomination. They make all regulations concerning the organization of schools under their control, the government of normal schools, the approval of textbooks, etc., and these regulations have force of law when approved by order-in-council.


The province itself is divided into school municipalities, the limits of which generally coincide with those of the parish, and which are administered by five commissioners elected every three years by the tax-payers. In most of the rural districts, the majority is French and Catholic, but any minority, Protestant or Catholic, has the right of dissenting and of establishing a commission of its own, three in number, governing its own schools. The direct administration of the schools, the appointment of teachers and the levying of taxes according to legislative regulations are under the control of the school commissioners. In important cities or towns, there may be special laws governing the school boards, but in every case Protestants and Catholics attend independently to the education of their own.


There are three grades of schools in the province: schools for primary education, for secondary education, and for superior education. Since 1929 the Catholic primary schools have been divided into five categories: infant; primary, elementary, primary complementary, primary superior, and domestic sciences schools. The Protestant retain the division into elementary, intermediate, and high schools.


While the Protestant committee controls primary education and to some extent secondary education, through the high schools, the Catholic committee controls only the five categories of primary schools and the normal schools intended for the training of primary teachers.


Secondary education is dispensed to the Catholic young men through 21 classical colleges affiliated to one or the other university of the same denomination and to the Catholic young girls through superior teaching convents sometimes also affiliated. These institutions are independent of the control of the Council of Education, but may receive grants from the government on certain conditions.


Of the four universities existing in the province, McGill University in Montreal is non-sectarian, Laval University of Quebec and the University of Montreal are Catholic, and Bishop's College of Lennoxville is Anglican.


There is no compulsory education in the province of Quebec [at the time of publication of this article, in 1948, this was already incorrect as compulsory education was introduced in 1943; see the text on Adélard Godbout for further details] but school attendance favourably compares with that found elsewhere. During the last quarter of a century the school population has steadily grown out of proportion to the growth of the general population. Another indication of progress is that while the total cost of education was $34,591,963 in 1933, it had amounted in 1944 to $52,070,465.




The government consists of a lieutenant-governor appointed by the Dominion government, a Legislative Council appointed for life by the provincial government [this council was abolished in 1968], and a Legislative Assembly [now called the National Assembly] elected for [a maximum of] five years. Quebec is the only province in the Dominion which has retained a Legislative Council. While the membership of the Legislative Council is fixed at 24, that of the Legislative Assembly may vary according to circumstances; it is at present 90 [now 125]. The Executive Council is composed as follows: the premier [called Premier Ministre in French], who may or may not administer a special department, a provincial treasurer, an attorney-general, a provincial secretary, a minister of lands and forests, a minister of colonization, a minister of fisheries, a minister of agriculture, a minister of public works, a minister of roads, a minister of labour, and lastly a minister of municipal affairs and commerce. A certain number of other ministers may also have a seat in the provincial cabinet, but without a portfolio.


In the Dominion parliament, Quebec is represented by 65 [now 75 members] members elected to the House of Commons and 24 members appointed for life to the Senate. By virtue of the Canadian constitution itself, Quebec is the pivotal province in the matter of representation. Its quota of 65 members in the House of Commons is unchangeable, while to each of the other provinces is assigned a number of representatives bearing the same proportion to the number of its population ascertained by the preceding census as the number 65 bears to the number of the population of Quebec [on this issue see the following text].


The total ordinary revenues of the province which were of $4,563,432 in 1901 had increased to $96,455,703 in 1945. The net funded debt for the same year was $328,362,569.




The arms of the province of Quebec are as follows: Or, on a fesse gules, a lion passant guardant or; in chief two fleurs de lis azure and in base three maple leaves slipped vert. To these arms, conceded by royal mandate in 1868, was added in 1883 the oftquoted motto: Je me souviens [I remember] .




Among the numerous books which may be consulted on the province of Quebec and her people, the following may be mentioned: I. Lebrun, Tableau statistique et politique des deux Canadas (Paris, 1832); Robert Christie, A history of the late province of Lower Canada (6 vols., Montreal, 1848-55); S. Drapeau, Études sur les développements de la colonization du Bas-Canada (Québec 1863); E. de Nevers, L'avenir du peuple canadien français (Paris, 1896); A. Siegfried, Le Canada, les deux races (Paris, 1906) ; E. Salone, La colonisation de la Nouvelle France (Paris, 1906); L. Arnould, Nos amis les canadiens (Paris, 1912) ; J. C. Hopkins, French Canada (Philadelphia, 1913) ; A. Shortt and A. G. Doughty (eds.), Canada and its provinces (Toronto, 1914, vols. xv-xvi);   F. X. Garneau, Histoire du Canada (6th edition, 2 vols., Paris, 1913-30) ; L. Hémon, Maria Chapdelaine (Montreal, 1916); Sir Thos. Chapais, Cours d'his­toire du Canada (8 vols., Quebec, 1919-34); L. Groulx, La naissance d'une race (Montreal, 1919) ; L. Groulx, Lend emains de conquête (Montreal, 1920); I. Caron, La. colonisation de la province de Québec: Débuts du régime anglais (1760-1791) (Québec, 1923) ; A. Rivard, Chez nous (Quebec, 1924), translated by W. H. Blake (New York, 1924); J. C. Bracq, Evolution of French Canada (New York, 1924); F. O. Call, The spell of the province of Quebec (New York, 1926) ; I. Caron, La colonisation de la province de Québec: Les Cantons de l'Est (1791­-1815); (Quebec, 1927); G. Bouchard, Other days, other ways (Montreal, 1928) ; G. Vattier, Esquisse historique de la colonisation de la province de Québec (1608-1925) (Paris, 1928); G. Vattier, Essai sur la mentalité canadienne fran­ çaise (Paris, 1928) ; W. Wood (ed.), Storied province of Quebec (5 vols., Toronto, 1931); J. C. Sutherland, The province of Quebec (Toronto, 1931); B. Davies, Romantic Quebec (New York, 1932); W. Bovey, Canadien, a study of the French Canadians (London, 1933); G. Langlois, Histoire de la population canadienne française (Montreal, 1932); A. L. Burt, The old province of Quebec (Toronto, 1935); Raoul Blanchard, L'est du Canada français (2 vols., Montreal, 1935); Raoul Blanchard, La région du fleuve St Laurent entre Québec et Montreal ( Grenoble, 1936); and C N. Boissonnneault, Histoire politique de la province de Québec (Quebec, 1936).


Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., "Quebec", in The Encyclopedia of Canada, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 401p., pp. 192-202. The article was written by Aegidius Fauteux.

© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College