The old city is not very large, and there should be enough day for a surface inspection. Against the background of European cities, it would not be very noticeable, but for North America the square kilometer of a rather integral ensemble of the 18th and 19th centuries is a completely unique thing. Cities of this time are also in the USA (for example, Newport), but the architecture there is completely different. Quebec, despite the fact that most of the center was built or rebuilt under the British, retains clear features of French influence, and the presence of the fortress wall and the St. Lawrence River – the second most powerful North American watercourse – makes it unique.
The city was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608 on the site of the Algonka village that existed here. De Champlain was the commander of the French expedition, which explored the coast of French Canada, drew up maps, and also climbed up the St. Lawrence River. The name of the city comes from the Algonk language and means “narrowing of the river.” The expedition built a wooden fortress here, and the place as a whole turned out to be quite successful – Quebec actually stands at the beginning of the river estuary, in a place where the entire channel is easily visible. In 1620, de Champlain was appointed the first governor of New France – French possessions in North America (he formally received this title only in 1632, and before him the governor was the famous Cardinal Richelieu, who had never been to Canada), established the capital in Quebec and managed colonies until his death in 1635. In 1625, Quebec for five years was captured by English militants under the command of the Kirk brothers. After the restoration of the French administration in 1632, the construction of the city began on a regular plan. Most of the inhabitants, about two-thirds, were here temporarily in the 17th century: they came from France for several years, and then left back. Quebec was regularly in danger due to hostilities: in the 1660s during the so-called Beaver Wars, the Iroquois regularly attacked it, in 1690 the British besieged, in 1711 the British fleet was also unable to take the city. All this led to the growth and modification of city fortifications. From 1620 to 1759, Quebec was not only the administrative, but also the economic, commercial and cultural center of New France.
In 1759, during the Seven Years War, British troops besieged Quebec and held a siege for three months. The siege ended in a battle on the Plains of Abraham, which lasted 15 minutes and ended in a complete victory for the British army. The city came under British rule, which was formalized in 1763, when France refused claims to Canada. Since 1774, legislation has been in force according to which Catholic and French-speaking Quebec retained religious and linguistic freedom, so the city has changed little, and its center now much more resembles France than England. Moreover, Quebec even retained its capital status for some time – first the Quebec colony, which included all parts of modern Canada, then populated by Europeans, and then, after dividing it into two provinces, Lower and Upper Canada – the capital of Lower Canada. During the American Revolutionary War, Quebec joined the British side, and in 1775 and 1776 it was besieged by the revolutionary army of the future USA, but could not take the city. In the XIX century, the city became a large industrial center.
From 1841 to 1867, the united province of Canada did not have a permanent capital, and several cities, including Quebec, performed metropolitan functions in turn. In 1867, finally, the dominion of Canada was formed – a virtually independent state, with its capital in Ottawa. Quebec became the capital of the province of the same name – at that time one of the four in Canada. Although Quebec has lagged behind Montreal in terms of population and economic development, it is still a significant cultural and industrial center. In addition, he managed to preserve the historical center, which is a rarity for North America, and in 1985 the center of Quebec was inscribed on the World Heritage List, which cemented the importance of Quebec as the country’s largest tourist center.
Tourist interest is the Old Town – a relatively small area, in the southeast limited by the St. Lawrence River, and in the north separated from the Saint-Charles River by the port industrial zone. From the west, it is bounded by a city wall. The old city is naturally divided into Upper and Lower. Outside, there is a typical American downtown with skyscrapers of varying degrees of aesthetics, and even further – suburbs with detached brick or wooden houses.