Why Quebec Is Predominately French Today

Valorie Delp
Map of Quebec

Looking at Québec's history will provide at least one clue to the question as to why Québec is predominately French today.

French Forefathers

Why is Québec predominately French today? Well, because her forefathers, the very first Europeans to explore the land, were also French. While there were First Nations peoples already living in the area, a few wars and other things that could've made Québec English speaking, her roots are that of France and this can be seen in her founding fathers.

Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier was the first French explorer to claim Canada on behalf of France. He mapped the Gulf of St. Lawrence and attempted to start the first settlement there. However, due to hostile winter conditions (for which they were ill prepared), disease and natives that were aggressive and unfriendly, the settlement was eventually abandoned.

Despite not being able to establish a permanent settlement (which never really was his goal in the first place), Cartier left his mark on Canada as a land that was proclaimed for France. Whether or not the natives concurred, in France's mind, the coast along the St. Lawrence river was now a French colony.

Samuel Champlain

If Jacques Cartier was unsuccessful in establishing a permanent colony, Champlain was a great success. He founded modern day Québec City and stayed there to administrate it for the rest of his life. In Québec history, he is considered to have fully established the new colony and dedicated to his life to its betterment. It's worthy to note as well, that it was Champlain that was instrumental in establishing Québec as a popular fur trading post and thus bringing the first economic development to the land.

How the Americans Helped Québec Stay French

While it can be said that Québec's roots are certainly French it was perhaps French and Indian War, along with the Seven Year's War that helped Québec stay French.

The French and Indian War

It is odd that the French and Indian war actually had to do much more about relations between the French and the British. In the battle on the Plains of Abraham, (part of the French and Indian war) it was the English that finally won and took control of Québec City. While it might seem odd that the English winning a battle could actually secure Québec's future as French, that is exactly what happened.

Treaty of 1763

It was the Treaty of 1763 that ended the French and Indian War. Since this war had ended, and the Brits had won the battle in Québec, France had to sign all of "New France" over to Britian.

The Québec Act

Ironically, although Britain had won the Québecois territories, they were none to eager to colonize there. They were afraid, due to the close proximity and already well formed alliance that the Americans would now help the inhabitants of New France rebel against British rule. Rather than engage in another costly war, Britian put into effect, the Québec Act which officially recognized:

  • French law in New France
  • Roman Catholicism as the official religion
  • French as the official language.

Ironically, while the Québec act was appeasing to the inhabitants of Québec, it was among the list of Intolerable Acts among the colonists who thought that they should have part of the fur trading post.

Why Is Québec Predominately French

Like all countries, there are a variety of events that all served to shape the identify of Québec. Pointing to any single factor would be too simple. Rather it's the combination of factors that led to Québec staying as a French colony.

Why Quebec Is Predominately French Today