Canada is considered a bilingual country with French and English both being the official languages, but you won’t hear French across the country like you do in Québec. The language that embodies the history of Canada’s founding and the culture of European settlers from France is still genuinely represented in the largest province (by area) of the country.
Québec, “la belle province,” really feels like a country within a country with its old sections of two major cities, a unique cultural identity, and French Québecois dialect. The history of peoples that settled in the land happened in 4 phases with Native Americans being the first, followed by the French from France, then British and ending with the Canadian Confederation in 1867 to mark its inhabitants Canadian.
Historical Preservation in Buildings and Land
If you want to share a living history experience with your family, then Québec is the place to visit. Famous landmarks, architectural marvels and old time scenery will fill your day whether you spend your time in the major cities or tour the countryside and small towns. There’s so much to mention of historical value in Québec so read through our short list here and take in more of the learning experiences on the Québec Cité site.
- Old Montreal – A neighbourhood of cobblestone streets, European charm and eye-catching shops
- Old Québec – Older than Old Montreal and honoured as a world heritage treasure by UNESCO, it’s a collection of history in the largest walled city north of Mexico.
- Château Frontenac – There’s a reason it’s the most photographed hotel in the world.
- The Canadian Museum of History – Overlooking our nation’s capital, this is one of the oldest museums in the country established back in 1856.
- Plains of Abraham – A giant urban park (also called Battlefields Park) marking the famous Battle of Québec in 1759 when the French lost the city to the British.
- Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral-Basilica – At the heart of Old Québec, this place of worship was the first church to be made of stone in the city and is also valued for the exceptional architecture and historical significance.
- Île d’Orléans – A preserved area recalling 18th century rural Québec with over 600 historic buildings including centuries-old villages, heritage homes, farms, and churches
Indulge in the Famous Food of Québec
Québec may just be the foodie capital of Canada with fine delicacies and common-place combinations that treat your taste buds and take your sense of smell on a delightful trip. All parts of Québec will offer you food and drink imprinted with Québecois tradition, but you can also make many of these dishes that characterize the province and the people.
- Bagels – Sounds common but Montreal bagels have gained a reputation that may surpass the New York bagel fame. There’s an art to making them Montreal style. Find out how on the Food Network.
- Poutine – Yes, this is a dish that is associated with all of Canada and commonly found in any restaurant and fast-food joint across the country, but Poutine roots are unarguably Québecois. There’s even a somewhat controversial origin story that places the first poutine in rural Québec.
- Tire sur la Niege – Québec is the largest producer of maple syrup, and the French are also credited for discovering and defining the process of maple syrup harvesting. Check out The Facts and Fondness of Maple Syrup to learn more about Tire sur la Niege or as we say in English, Taffy on the Snow or Maple Taffy, including a sugar bush walkthrough video ending with a serving of this sweet simple treat.
- Pets de Soeur – This French-Canadian pastry is filled with brown sugar and butter that is baked as rolls. Think Cinnamon Rolls but as a tender pastry not a fluffy dough.
- Tourtière – This Québecois traditional Christmas dish is common in restaurants, homes and festivals across Québec. Learn some of the history and ingredients that have made the distinct meat pie a cultural favourite of the province.
- Grands-Peres a L’erable (maple syrup dumplings) – Highlighting the love and abundance of maple syrup, this simple dessert is similar to any dumpling recipe but with the sweet maple taste taking centre stage! Enjoy this dessert at home with this recipe from Ricardo.
Family Entertainment Attractions
Family fun can be found in various ways throughout Québec which includes summer and winter entertainment and amusement! Here’s the top two that will surely make your visit list, but you can see many more destinations at the Bonjour Québec website linked below.
- Village Vacances Valcartier – The summer season offers water wonders in the largest theme park in Eastern Canada with an outdoor waterpark AND year-round indoor waterpark. From January to March, you have the privilege to enter The Ice Hotel that boasts the largest winter playground – and you can even get a room with an ice sculpted bed.
- Aquarium du Québec – With about 10,000 specimens and 300 species, this full day trip will be family time to cherish. The aquarium grounds are also filled with activity and scenic spots.
Random Facts About Québec
- Québec’s name comes from an Algonquin word for “where the river narrows.”
- Several historic battles were fought in the 17th and 18th centuries between the French, British, Americans and native peoples. You can still see cannon balls lodged in trees and buildings in Old Québec.
- Québec is Canada's second-most populated province, after Ontario.
- The Greater Montreal Area, which includes the Island of Montreal, is where about half of the population of Québec residents live.
- Québec is a leader in the aerospace, software, and multimedia industries.
Québec Unit Study Resources
It’s good to know some of the unique Québecois French words and phrases, which is different then French used in other parts of the world. Get to know the French native to Québec in Vidalingua’s article 65 Canadian French Words and Phrases.
Whether you’re planning a vacation to Québec or wanting to learn about “la belle province,” the BonjourQuébec website will guide you in your quest.
Get more Québec facts and worksheets for your kids from KidsKonnect.
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our Front Door page that has content on our monthly theme and links to all our content sections.