Good Old Quebec City


After living for so many years in this country, I was glad that my trip to Quebec City, capital of the province of Quebec, finally happened this Easter long weekend. My GPS told me that my 800km one way trip would take some 9 hours but I made it in a little more than 8 leisurely hours including pit stops and pee breaks. I knew that I was in Quebec territory when highways turned into autoroutes, road signs and billboard ads became rather cryptic and the familiar 3 letters of your favorite chicken house turns into this . The so called Charter of the French Language law was passed by the province of Quebec National Assembly in August 1977. The province made it mandatory “to make of French the language of Government and the Law, as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business”. Since 1977, you need to travel at your own risk in Quebec highways and throughfares. Heck, I had a hard time plugging in French street names on my GPS let alone the voice prompter of my GPS not knowing how to speak French street names correctly. The message is crystal clear. It is their place and you better learn their language – take it or leave it.

I am normally satisfied with self help tour brochures but for lack of  time I opted to take the bus tour of old Quebec City along with my wife and daughter. I was glad I did because I had a crash course on Quebec’s illustrious history and appreciated the reason for the centuries old squabble between the French and the Anglos in this country. I now understand the separatist spirit of the Quebecers which up to this day and age remains tamed but precariously alive. French explorer Samuel Champlain arrived in 1608 to establish a colony for mother France on a plateau along the St Lawrence River to be later called Quebec. The name “Quebec”, which comes from the aboriginal Algonquin word kepék meaning “(it) narrows”, originally referred to the area around the Quebec City where the Saint Lawrence River narrows to a cliff-lined gap (wikipedia).


As the tour guide went around the old fortress city giving us a brief history lesson, I also learned that the British eventually captured Quebec City in 1759 and jointly ruled Quebec for centuries. In last year’s year long fete celebrating 400 years of the founding of Quebec, many Quebecers weren’t too keen on the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, where some 4,000 invading British troops overwhelmed the French defenders. Sentiments die hard, even for centuries. Even until today, the French-Anglo rift although much subdued still exists. Die hard separatists prefer to fly its blue fleur-de-lis flag over the Canadian flag.  Two national referendums on Quebec autonomy were conducted and both resulted in favor of the sovereignists. The last one held in 1995 resulted in a 48%-52% narrow split in favor of remaining in Canada.

The tour bus guide without a hint of reservation tells his passengers in heavily accented English – ” the cities of Toronto, New York, Chicago or even Montreal can be called cosmopolitan, but Quebec City is not. We are unicultural”.  He simply meant that Quebec City is where it all started and its people struggled mightily hard to preserve its language , traditions and culture until this day. In this place there is no compulsion to speak English. Although English units are being taught in school, you can be unilingual French all your life and enjoy its music, movies and arts and advance in your chosen profession without fear of any setback. Quebec City is an amalgamation of the old and new world yet you get the feeling that you are in Europe and not North America. The Quebec countryside with its farm houses and narrow streets is charming and pretty but unmistakably North American though, if not Atlantic Canadian, not quite the same as the rural setting I saw in Southern France. The province of Quebec is truly a distinct society, proud of its rich culture and heritage, it’s people progressive and hardworking. I wish it remains in Canada forever. Que Dieu vous bénisse – Quebec !


youre-firedPeople are truly strange for while there are lots among us who are what we call logical and broad minded, there are those that operate like robots and blindly follow instructions with military-like precision. Such is the case of an overzealous hospital manager who barged into the operating room to fire a nurse who was assisting in a surgery operation. I could only think of two reasons why this dork couldn’t wait to satiate his sadism, either he had an ax to grind with the staff or he himself was getting fired if he didn’t get rid of the 90 employees he was supposed to fire by the end of that very day. This goof was probably chasing people around giving them the pink slips on the spot. I could imagine this guy knocking on toilet stalls saying – “ looks like that’s you in there Dick. Well, I’m letting you know your fired and I’m sticking your pink slip right on the stall door”. Unbelievable.

40 Responses

  1. Is it true that Quebec’s ‘national’ hero is considered a bandit in some other places? I was told this story this afternoon from someone whose son lives in Quebec.

    Anyway, that ‘firing’ incident is ridiculous. What was the manager thinking?

    I thought that probably won’t happen here in the Philippines, where people hate confrontations and so they would think of ways to soften the blow in a neutral place.

    • Barry – not quite sure who the hero your friend might be referring to. There’s quite a few of them actually 🙂

      Looked like the manager was over excited with the thought of firing the nurse eh? 😯

  2. The old city looks very European and very pretty too. Nice photos.

    The guy who fired the nurse couldn’t wait ? Crazy !

    • Irrealis – I was surprised that the city was actually bigger than I thought. It is very pretty and the government took care of it well over the years. That’s my new digital SLR 🙂

      I’m still curious to know how the manager told the nurse that she was fired, in front of everybody. Shame on him 😦

  3. Your photos show how beautifully European this city really is. I have been wanting to see it forever. Are the locals friendly?

    • Ewok – it is very European, lots of landmarks I wasn’t able to shoot. I wanted to do the walking tour of the old city but it was kinda hard when you have a 7 year old to tag along. I found the people quite friendly – perhaps they knew I was a tourist but overall the city supports tourism a lot so being friendly and accomodating is essential.

  4. Those buildings, houses, and alleyways look perfectly preserved, no? Unless reminded, one would think he or she is in a city somewhere in Europe… 😀

    BTW, did you get to visit Celine Dion’s hometown? hehehe

    • Sngl – the landmarks have been preserved and restored in an excellent shape. The old city is one of a kind in entire North America. In fact Montreal is a pretty city too with lots of old landmarks in the old section of the city. We stayed out of the city – about 5 mins away to get a sense of its surroundings. I have more pics to post – next time 🙂

      Nope, Celine’s hometown is in the suburbs of Montreal 🙂 It’s 3 more hours driving from Montreal to QC.

  5. QC is so similar to Vancouver, I mean their downtown buildings and they’re cleaner than most US cities.
    Nice Pics.

    Would have been “a walk in the park” if the manager was also fired on the same day, hehe…Cheers!

    • TrueBlue – to be honest, Vancouver is my favorite city. It is a lovely city where you feel the mountain and the sea close by. But Montreal and Quebec City are a blend of modern and European architecture and they have their own unique charm. Toronto is just like any US city – wide, large, busy, ever expanding – perhaps because it sits close to the US border.

      That would be a possiblity too – he would be next once the rank and file dismissals were done 😉

  6. I would love to go to Quebec one day… we like their French accent which is completely different from the usual French sounds.

    • Sidney – it’ll be nice if you could visit. I guess it is comparable to the American English, totally different accent than the British accent wouldn’t it ?

      I also notice that the travel agency office in my hotel had posters of tour packages to Paris and Viet Nam… both French speaking countries 😉

  7. thank you for that wonderful trip. other than speaking french, i think i would definitely enjoy staying there. your photos really showed the beauty of the place.

    • Lawstude – definitely a great place to go for a photo blogger like yourself 😉 The people who engage in tourism fortunately speak English or should I say, are willing to speak English esp if they know you are a tourist . Not knowing French isn’t such a drag esp when you’re lugging a camera 🙂

  8. i mean with the exception of speaking french. coz the only french i know were fries and kiss.

  9. that’s a very beautiful place. the structure is really awesome.

    “you need to travel at your own risk in Quebec highways and throughfares”>>> yikes. risky but worth the sight.

    • Dong – I missed the Ice Hotel which closed down or “melted” by the end of March. I would love to return just to see it. People actually rent rooms in the hotel constructed with blocks of ice !

      Traveling at your own risk – what I meant is it could be a drag when you can’t read French and you see signs on the road like detours, construction, etc.. :)Fortunately I have a GPS so when I miss a street my GPS voice assistant blurts out loudly ” calculating route” and suggests a route to bring me back on track 😉

  10. Going to Quebec must’ve been like going to another country. The buldings look amazing! I’d love to have maple slush—the heat in Pinas is unbearable.

    • Kat – it does feel like going to another country when you are in the heart of the city. For one, 800kms takes you to many countries in Europe for such a distance 🙂 Canada is such a huge place. The weather was typical spring – about 8-10 deg C so you notice people wearing jackets. The city also rocks in summer 🙂

  11. Being a tourist is quite different than if you live with these people. I can tell you that.

    I wish the fired nurse sues this nitwit manager for embarrasing her in front of everybody. What a jerk.

    • Natez1 – ugh, I don’t know about living with them. Perhaps the preservation of their identity can cause friction with those who are non French 😯

      I think the nurse may have a case but knowing how expensive it is to pay lawyers nowadays she will have second thoughts.

  12. “It is their place and you better learn their language – take it or leave it.” – Hahaha. Man, the travel was long. But I bet you enjoyed the sightseeing while on the road. Your photos are beautiful and I enjoyed reading through the bits of history. Thank you for sharing. That’s another reason to love blogging, sharing information and learning from blogger pals, too. =)

    • Witsandnuts – most cars here are equipped with cruise control so you can fix your speed and don’t have to step on the gas for hours. Likewise my van has a built in DVD with wireless headsets so my wife and my kid can sit at the back and watch their movie while I listen to my music or the radio without disturbing them. All I need to do is be awake so I have to have coffee every now and then 🙂

      It’s my pleasure . I learned something from this trip too 🙂

  13. I had the chance to visit the old section of Montreal last year and in 2007. I love it. It’s like a trip back to old Europe. I’d love to visit Quebec City someday too. I find the people in Quebec very friendly and courteous. I won’t mind coming back for a visit. Lovely pictures and thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Panaderos – thanks bro. Montreal is a lovely city and it has preserved its historic landmarks as well. My company has offices in Montreal and I had been to the place many times and made many friends. Next time you visit Montreal, drive to quebec City – it’s only 3 hours away 🙂

  14. it looks like a really nice city… sana maka visit din ako diyan in the near future 🙂

    • Jeff – it’s one of a kind in North America. Yep, you’re young and the world is open for you pal. I’m sure you will visit it one day 🙂

  15. wow.very nice pics.hope to be in Quebec someday. :p

  16. I love Quebec City. One of my favourite Canadian cities, I love it more than Montreal.
    I haven’t been back in years and have been really eager to go back. It’s just beautiful there – cobble stoned streets, century old houses, European culture, and people are really friendly (I guess they’re used to Anglo-tourists, business as usual). I’m proud for those people who keep true to their Quebecoin traditions and culture, I just don’t know why they want to seperate with the rest of the country. Canada needs Quebec and Quebec needs Canada.

    • Ashmantravels – same here. I loved the fact that it sites on a plateau , which seems ideal for a fortress city. The separatist spirit was fueled by politicians who desired more control and that pretty much happens everywhere in the world it seems. The original Quebec settlers called themselves Canadiens or Habitants and if you hear the Montreal Canadians hockey players being called ‘The Habs”, it originated from the early colony years. I hope Quebec stays in Canada 🙂

      Hey, thanks for dropping by.

  17. nakakainggit ka naman bw gusto ko din magtour! waaaaaaa!

  18. oo nga noh.. if you take the tour laging may history unlike if you explore it on your own

    kawawa naman yung patient in surgery

    • Tin-tin,

      Yep, it is always good to have a crash course in history when you subscribe to a guided tour.

      No naman siguro. I bet the fired nurse was allowed to finish the operation 😉

  19. The manager regretted her actions, according to the article so I guess that counts for something.

    Interesting history on Quebec. I didn’t know its name was Algonquin. Sounds like an interesting place to visit. 😀

    • Wil – just goes to show that the manager was poorly trained and ignorant of the important protocols of terminating staff.

      Differently an interesting place to visit, picturesque and rich in history. It’s driveable from NYC. Most people visit Montreal and make a side trip to Quebec City 🙂

  20. Nice pics once again.

    Heard from my French teacher that people in Quebec have a terrible French accent. I don’t know how true it is, though, since I’ve never been in Quebec.

    That was a weird way to fire somebody.

    • Jayred – that’s what they say. I guess is akin to the British saying that Americans and Canadians sound funny 🙂

  21. […] Good Old Quebec City […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: