Quebec, Canada (Province) - Encyclopedia

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QUEBEC, a province of the Dominion of Canada, bounded S. by New Brunswick and the United States, W. by Ontario, N. by the district of Ungava, and E. by the gulf of St Lawrence and the strip of eastern Labrador which belongs to Newfoundland. If Ungava be considered as added to the province of Quebec, Hudson Strait is the northern boundary. The province includes the island of Anticosti, the Bird Islands and the Magdalen Islands, in the gulf of St Lawrence. The western boundary, separating Quebec from Ontario, extends through Point au Baudet on the river St Lawrence to Point Fortune on the Ottawa river, from which place the boundary follows the Ottawa to Lake Temiscaming. From the north end of this latter lake it runs due north to Hudson Bay. The province of Quebec thus extends from Blanc Sablon, a fishing harbour at the western end of the Strait of Belle Isle (which separates Canada from Newfoundland) in 59° 7' W. to Lake Temiscaming in 79° 40' W., a distance of about 1350 miles. The area of the province is 351,873 sq. m. The general direction of the province is north-east and south-west, following the course of its chief physical feature, the river St Lawrence. Speaking generally, it may be said that the province of Quebec comprises the hydrographical basin of the river St Lawrence as far west as the intersection of the parallel of 45° N. with the latter. The St Lawrence flows near the southern edge of its basin, only some 50,000 sq. m. of the area of the province lying south of the river. The province of Quebec falls into three main physiographical divisions, viz.: (1) the Laurentian Highlands, (2) the Valley of the St Lawrence, and (3) the Notre Dame Mountains and the rolling country lying to the south-east of this range.

(I) The Laurentian Highlands are sometimes referred to as the "Laurentian Mountains," as they appear to constitute a mountain range when viewed from the gulf or the river St Lawrence. This portion of the province, however, is really a plateau having an elevation of moo to 2000 ft. above sea level, but this plateau north of latitude 55° falls away to lower levels toward Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait. Along the extreme eastern border of these Laurentian Highlands on the coast of Labrador, however, the country rises to much greater altitudes, forming an extremely rugged district which attains in places an elevation of 6000 ft. above sea-level. This plateau forms what is known as the Laurentian peneplain and is hummocky in character, the surface, however, being but slightly accentuated and the sky line seen from the higher points in the area being nearly level. It is densely wooded and everywhere abounds in lakes, great and small, lying either in basins etched in the rock surface by glacial action or else bounded by the irregularly distributed drift which more or less completely covers the surface of the underlying rocks. From these lakes issue very numerous streams tributary to the larger rivers. These lakes and rivers form so continuous a series of waterways that a traveller who knows their courses, and the portages connecting them, can traverse this immense tract of country in any direction by canoe. These streams also, cascading down from the elevated surface of the plateau to sea-level, afford immense water power, which is used to an increasing extent as the methods of long-distance electrical transmission of power become more and more perfect. These waters are, moreover, clear and pure, and the country is one in which malaria and similar diseases are unknown. Some of the rivers draining the Laurentian country run in very deep, highwalled valleys or fjords cut in the solid rock; a number of which, comparable in character although perhaps not in depth to those of Norway and Greenland, pass outward from the central portion of the peneplain north, east and south. As an example of such fjords in the province of Quebec, those occupied by the waters of the Hamilton, Mingan and Saguenay rivers may be cited as well as that, now partially silted up, which is occupied by Lake Temiscaming and the Mattawa river. The walls of solid gneiss between which the Saguenay flows are in places from 1500 to 1800 ft. in height, while the waters of the river in places reach a depth of 1400 ft.

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44 A Longitude West 68 ° of Greenwich supplies of the Dominion, supplies which with a little husbanding on the part of the government could be made to afford a bountiful supply of timber for all future generations. The country also contains valuable mineral deposits, and is the great home of the fur-bearing animals of the Dominion. While, however, along the southern border it supports a considerable agricultural population, the Laurentian country cannot be considered as one which in respect to its agricultural capabilities can ever take rank with the southern portions of eastern Canada or with the great plains and British Columbia which lie to the west.

(2) That portion of the lowlands of the St Lawrence valley which belongs to the province of Quebec forms a wedge-shaped area extending along the river from a short distance below the city of Quebec to the western border of the province. It is throughout a practically level plain of very fertile land, on which are situated the chief towns and cities of the province, and on it also are settled the majority of the rural population. These lowlands are bounded on the north by the Laurentian plateau, and on the south by the Notre Dame Mountains, which physical features gradually converge, the latter mountains reaching the shore of the river St Lawrence a short distance to the east of the city of Quebec. The plain in this way gradually narrows on going to the north-east, and is finally closed off in that direction. It was a portion of this plain that was first occupied by the early French settlers. Much of its surface, as has been said, is absolutely level, and it nowhere exceeds an elevation of a few hundred feet. Its uniform expanse, however, is broken by a line of eight isolated hills composed of rocks of igneous origin, being a series of eroded remnants of ancient volcanoes which now rise abruptly from the plain and constitute the most striking features of the landscape. They are known as the Monteregian Hills and rise to elevations of 560 ft. to 1600 ft. above sealevel. From the summit of Mount.Royal, at the foot of which lies the city of Montreal, all the other Monteregian Hills are plainly visible, and the margin of the Laurentian Highlands may be seen bounding the horizon some 30 m. to the north, while southward the Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks in the state of New York, are distinctly visible on a clear day.

(3) The Notre Dame Mountains and the Eastern Townships. The Appalachian Mountain range, passing out of the state of Vermont, where it is known as the Green Mountains, crosses into the province of Quebec between Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, and becoming lower and less rugged continues in a north-easterly direction to a point about 30 m. south of the city of Quebec. Thence it pursues its course, following the general trend of the river St Lawrence at a varying distance from its southern margin, and reaches the latter river near Metis. From the border to this point the range is known as the Notre Dame Mountains. The highest peak in the Notre Dame Mountains is Sutton Mountain-3moo ft. Continuing on to the north-east it develops into the high land of the Gaspe Peninsula, of which the most elevated portion constitutes the Shickshock Mountains, the higher summits of which rise to elevations of 3000 to 4000 ft. above sea-level. The whole central area of the Gaspe Peninsula is a forest-clad wilderness.

To the south-east of the Notre Dame Mountains is an undulating country known as the "Eastern Townships." These hills, as mentioned above, are lower and less rugged than the Green Mountains, the general elevation of the country being from 500 to 1000 ft. above sea-level. There are a number of large and fine lakes in this district, among which may be mentioned lakes Metapedia, Temiscouata, Memphremagog, Aylmer, St Francis and Megantic.

In the belt of the Notre Dame Mountains the country is not in the strict sense of the term a mountainous one, but rather a rolling country containing much good farming and pasture land, while the Eastern Townships is a fine agricultural country, embracing some of the best farming and grazing land in the Dominion. This latter district was originally settled by Loyalists from the United States at the time of the revolt of the colonies, but is now being gradually occupied by French Canadians from the more northern portions of the province, the younger generation of Englishspeaking Canadians preferring to take up land and settle in Ontario or the western provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The whole country is exceptionally well watered and abounds in numerous large rivers, bays and lakes. The principal river is the St Lawrence, which flows through the entire length of the province. A short distance above Montreal it receives from the north-west the Ottawa, a large and beautiful river over 600 m. in length with many tributaries, among which the most important are the Gatineau, the Lievre, the North, the Rouge and the Kinojevis. The St Lawrence is navigable for large ocean steamships as far as Montreal, beyond which place navigation is interrupted by rapids. The St Maurice rises in Lake Oskelaneo, flowing into the St Lawrence at Three Rivers, and is over 400 m. long. It has many tributaries, and drains an area of 21,000 sq. m. Twenty-four miles above Three Rivers on the St Maurice are the falls of Shawinigan, 150 ft. high, from which a large amount of electrical power is obtained, a portion of which is used in the production of aluminium, while several thousand horse-power are transmitted to the city of Montreal. The Batiscan river enters the St Lawrence at Batiscan. The Jacques Cartier, the Ste Anne and the Montmorency are northern tributaries of the St Lawrence. The Montmorency is famous for its falls, situated about 8 m. from Quebec city, and 250 ft. high. These beautiful falls, however, have in recent years been greatly reduced in volume, the water being largely employed for the development of electricity, and also for the supply of power to a large cotton-mill in the vicinity. Near these falls is Haldimand House, once the residence of the duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria. The Saguenay rises in Lake St John and discharges into the St Lawrence at Tadousac after a course of Too m. On the south side of the St Lawrence is the Richelieu river, which rises in Lake Champlain and enters the St Lawrence at Sorel on Lake St Peter. Champlain sailed up this river in 1609. Other important streams are the St Francis, rising in Lake Memphremagog; the Chaudiere, rising in Lake Megantic, with its beautiful falls 125 ft. high about io m. above Quebec; the Chateauguay, Yamaska, Etchemin, du Loup, Assomption and Becancour. Among the largest lakes in the province are Lake St John, which has an area of 360 sq. m.; Lake Temiscaming, having an area of 126 sq. m.; Lake Matapedia, Lake Megantic and Lake Memphremagog.

The largest islands in the province of Quebec are: Anticosti, now used as a game preserve; Bonaventure, an important fishing station to the east of Gaspe; and the Magdalen Islands, situated in the gulf of St Lawrence about 50 m. north of Prince Edward Island.

Geology and Minerals. - Beginning with the oldest rocks, the more northern part of the province of Quebec is underlain by the Laurentian system of Sir William Logan. This includes a great series of very highly altered sediments, largely limestones, known as the Grenville series, which is penetrated by great intrusions of anorthosite, &c., and is invaded by and rests upon enormous bathyliths of granite, which are sometimes referred to as the "Fundamental Gneiss." The Grenville series is best developed along the southern margin of the Laurentian Highlands between Three Rivers and the Georgian Bay. Two of the great anorthosite intrusions occur on the margin of the Laurentian country to the north of Montreal and about Lake St John. The Laurentian system is succeeded to the south by the Potsdam sandstone, probably equivalent to the Upper Cambrian of Britain. On this rests a dolomitic limestone - the Calciferous formation - and on this the great and highly fossiliferous limestones known as the Chazy and Trenton formations. These limestones afford the best building stone of the province, while the Potsdam sandstone is also frequently employed for building purposes. Above the Trenton is the Utica shale, rich in graptolites and trilobites. This is succeeded by the Hudson River group composed largely of sandstones and calcareous beds. These constitute the complete Ordovician succession. Upper Silurian and Devonian beds, the latter holding fossil plants and fishes, occur in the south-east portion of the province, while on the shore of Chaleur Bay these are succeeded by the lowest beds of the Carboniferous. No coal occurs in the province of Quebec. In the region of the Notre Dame Mountains and the Eastern Townships there are great intercalations of ancient volcanic rocks and many important mineral deposits. Among these may be mentioned gold, copper, asbestos and chromic iron ore; also serpentine, marble and roofing slates. The asbestos deposits are the most extensive and most productive in the world, the chief centre of asbestos mining being at Thetford Mines. A large part of the country, more especially on the lower levels, is covered with Pleistocene deposits of the so-called Glacial age. Till or boulder clay is usually at the base of these deposits. On this rests a finer stratified blue clay, in some places rich in fossil shells and known as the Leda clay. It affords a good material for the manufacture of bricks and tiles. Above the Leda clay are sands and gravels known as the Saxicava sand. This is also stratified and frequently contains an abundance of fossils. These stratified clays and sands are due to a re-sorting of the boulder clay by the action of water, and imply a submergence at the close of the Glacial period with a subsequent elevation. In certain alluvial deposits in the vicinity of the St Maurice river there occur deposits of bog iron ore which have been worked for many years.








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The climate of Quebec is variable. In the winter the cold is generally steady and the atmosphere clear and bracing. About Montreal snow lies on the ground from the end of November until the following April, affording good sleighing for four months in the year. The inhabitants enjoy with zest and spirit all the outdoor sports common in the country, such as skating, curling, tobogganing, snowshoeing, ski-ing and sliding. The snowfall is heavy, and though the winds are often sharp they are not often raw or damp, nor is there any fog. The summer is warm and pleasant. The extreme heat is indicated at 90° F. The finest season of the year is the autumn, which lasts about six or eight weeks. The following is a table of temperatures as recorded by the meteorological stations at certain points in the province Table showing Normal Temperature, Precipitation eec., at various Stations in the Province of Quebec. The normal percentage of bright sunshine at Montreal is 41 am at Quebec 39, a higher average than northern Europe. (F. D. A.) Area and Population. - The boundaries of Quebec have been more than once enlarged since 1867. By the extension given to them in 1898, the province has an area of 351,873 sq. m., of which 341,756 sq. m. are land and 10,117 sq. m. are water. This estimate includes the islands of Orleans, Anticosti, and the Magdalen group, but not the gulf of St Lawrence or the territorial seas. In 1901 the population was 1,648,898, 992,667 being classed as rural and 656,231 as urban. Since 1891 the rural population has increased but little, but there has been a growth of about 11% in the population of the towns and cities. No province has taken so small a share in the development of the West. True to his ancestral instincts, the French-Canadian remains close to the place of his birth. If he emigrates, it is to the neighbouring cities of New England or to the eastern districts of the province of Ontario. On the other hand, in the rural parts of the province, the French are driving out the Englishspeaking settlers, especially in the south-western counties, settled by Loyalists at the close of the War of American Independence, and known as the Eastern Townships. Nearly 98% of the population are Canadian-born. Of these over 80% are of French descent; of the remainder about 7% are English, 7% Irish and 4% Scots. Save to the city of Montreal there is little immigration; but so prolific are the French that the population of the province increases as fast as that of the rest of the Dominion, in which to the natural increase is added a large immigration. The census gives the number of the average family as 5.36, but families with twelve and eighteen children are not uncommon. The English-speaking population is almost wholly confined to the towns, especially Montreal, in which city it controls the chief shipping and commercial interests. Of the original inhabitants about 8000 Indians remain, chiefly on reserves in the neighbourhood of Montreal and Quebec. Though quite peaceful, they are on the whole less civilized than those of eastern and southern Ontario. The capital is Quebec, with a population of about 70,000, which increases but slowly. The largest city is Montreal, the commercial and shipping centre of the Dominion, at the head of ocean steamship navigation, with a population of about 350,000. Other cities are Hull (practically a suburb of Ottawa; pop. in 1901, 13,993); Sherbrooke (11,765); Three Rivers (9981); Levis (7783).

The French, Irish and Indians are almost entirely of the Roman Catholic faith; a majority of the English are Anglican, with some Methodists; the Scots are Presbyterian. The Roman Catholic Church enjoys extensive rights and privileges, and nowhere in the world is devotion to that faith more widespread or more unquestioning.


As in all the provinces, the executive power is nominally vested in a lieutenant-governor, appointed for five years by the federal government, and assisted by an executive council (or cabinet) who have seats in, and are responsible to,. the local legislature. In reality the lieutenant-governor is a. figure-head, and power is in the hands of the legislature, which. consists of two houses, a Legislative Council, appointed nominally by the lieutenant-governor, really by the premier, and an Assembly, chosen by what is practically manhood suffrage. Either French or English may be used in addressing either house. The municipalities have large powers of local government, which are used with more or less efficiency, the predatory tendencies of the ward-politician being sometimes apparent, though of late years an improvement has been effected. The finances of the province are drawn from the same sources as those of Ontario (q.v.). Their administration has not been so economical as in the sister province, and there is a net provincial debt of over £4,000,000.


In primary education Quebec is still behind the other provinces, but great progress has been made since Federation; illiteracy is decreasing, and 80% of the population over five years of age can read and write. The Council of Public Instruction is divided into two committees of equal number, a Catholic and a Protestant, and all ratepayers are allowed to state whether they prefer their taxes to go to the Protestant or to the Catholic school. Both religious bodies have combined to carry out this system with very little friction or proselytizing. The Catholic schools are controlled by the clergy, the episcopate forming, ex officio, one-half of the Catholic section of the council. In the cities of Quebec and Montreal the schools are efficient and the teachers well paid; but in the rural districts the schools, especially those of the Catholics, are often inadequate, the buildings being poor, and the teachers. receiving a mere pittance, in some cases less than £20 per annum. Over 95% of the teachers in the primary schools are women. The great majority of the schools are controlled by the council, but there are also a number of independent schools, primary and secondary, ' usually under religious control; of these the so-called "Colleges Classiques," supported by the Catholic Church, are the most important. The chief universities are McGill (undenominational), at Montreal (founded 1820), and Laval (Roman Catholic) (founded 1852), with its headquarters at Quebec, and with a large branch at Montreal. (See Montreal and Quebec City). There is also a small Anglican university, that of Bishop's College, Lennoxville (founded 1853), in Connexion with which is Bishop's College school, on the model of the public schools of England. To McGill is affiliated a well-equipped Agricultural College established at Ste Anne de Bellevue by Sir William Macdonald (b. 1832), at a cost of over £2,000,000; and to Laval an Agricultural School at Oka, founded in 1893 by the Trappist Fathers. There are numerous normal and model schools, the most important being that of Ste Anne de Bellevue in connexion with Macdonald College.


The French Canadian is a thrifty though somewhat unprogressive farmer, and loves the land with an even greater attachment than do the peasants of old France. Till recently his agriculture was of a very domestic character. He grew enough wheat to grind into flour, and enough oats to feed his horses; raised sheep whose wool his wife spun into rough cloth in the winter evenings; and even grew his own tobacco. Now his horizon is widening, and his imports and exports are increasing. The general climatic conditions are much the same as in Ontario, and the crops are similar. All the chief cereals are successfully cultivated, oats being the chief crop. The wise care of both federal and provincial governments has fostered the dairy farming of the province. In 1906 over £4,200,000 of cheese was produced, and over £5,200,000 of butter. Most of the butter is made in well-equipped creameries, in the number of which Quebec exceeds any other province; in exports of cheese she equals Ontario. In the production of fruit she ranks second to Ontario, Nova Scotia coming third. Perhaps the most typical Canadian industry, the making of syrup and sugar from the sap of the maple tree as it rises in the spring, centres in this province. Over two-thirds of the tobacco grown in the Dominion is raised in Quebec, about 10,000 acres being under cultivation. At first of a coarse character, it is improving in quality. The total annual value of the agricultural produce of the province is about £18,000,000, about half that of Ontario. Several agricultural and dairy schools are supported or assisted by the provincial government, and much good is being done by the Agricultural College at Ste Anne de Bellevue.

The province still possesses large areas of crown land, which is sold at a nominal price to bona fide settlers. In the northern part of the province new and fertile areas have been opened up by the Grand Trunk Pacific railway.


Next to agriculture in importance are the various industries which depend on the products of the forest. Over 150,000 sq. m. of forest land are still uncleared, chiefly in the northern part of the province, though the best timber is said to grow south of the watershed. In the north, pine, spruce, and fir predominate, and, farther south, the maple; spruce, lime (linden, bass-wood,.

Tilia Americana) and poplar, are used extensively in the making of paper pulp. The annual value of the wood cut in the province is about £4,000,000, rather less than that of Ontario, and not quite two-fifths that of the whole Dominion. An export duty is levied on all pulp wood exported.

Fur and Fish

The value of the annual catch of fish is estimated at X450,000, most of which consists of the product of the cod and herring fisheries in the gulf of St Lawrence. From Isle Verte eastward almost all the settlers along the coast depend largely on the produce of this industry. It is carried on mainly in small boats, which put out in the morning and return at nightfall, few large vessels being employed. Throughout the province are numerous trout-streams, and many of the northern lakes are well supplied with trout, bass and pike. In Lake St John is caught the celebrated winninish, a land-locked salmon growing to the size of six or eight pounds, and well known to anglers. Moose, deer, bear and other animals provide excellent shooting in the Laurentian mountains, and in the wooded districts of the north.


In manufactures Quebec ranks second among the provinces, Ontario coming first. The largest Canadian manufacturing town is Montreal, where most of the industries are controlled by the English-speaking minority. No other part of the Dominion is so rich in water power, which is provided to a limitless extent by the falls of the rivers Montmorenci, St Maurice (Shawinigan Falls), Ste Anne, the rapids on the St Lawrence and the Richelieu, and many others. Tanning, and the making of paper pulp and of furniture, prosper on account of the great forests of the province. The French-Canadian workman is hardy and intelligent, and Quebec may yet become the manufacturing centre of the Dominion, though as yet higher wages are paid in the American cities across the border, and thousands of French-speaking workmen are employed in the factories of Lowell and other American border towns.


The rivers were long the chief roads, by water in summer, over the ice in winter; but though the St Lawrence is still the main artery of the province, the bulk of travel and of transport is now done by rail. The first railway in Canada was built in 1830 to carry stone from the wharves to aid in the construction of the citadel of Quebec. The first passenger railway was built in 1836, between Laprairie on the St Lawrence river and St John's on the Richelieu. There is now good railway communication between all the chief points, and branch lines are opening up new areas to settlement. While a few main roads are kept in good condition, those in the country parts are very indifferent.


The various departments of the provincial government publish annual reports on a great variety of subjects. The annual Canada Year Book, published by the Federal Government, gives much information in a tabular form. Interesting articles are contained in J. Castell Hopkins, Canada; an Encyclopaedia (Toronto, 1898-1900). The legal enactments in which the municipal system is embodied are found in the Revised Statutes of the province (Acts 4178-4640). On education and religion A. Siegfried, Le Canada; les deux races (1905; translated into English under the title of The Race Question in Canada, 1906), is well-informed and impartial. (W. L. G.)

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