We have been skiing for two months and did only a small part of the province. Quebec is the largest province in Canada, the majority of which is uninhabited. It is 41 times the size of the Netherlands, 51 times the size of Belgium and 3 times the size of France.
In 1977, a law was passed in Quebec, Law 101, the charter of the French language. This law defined French as the only official language in the province of Quebec. By this law, education, communication, trade and the economy must be in French. A percentage of all music on the radio is in French and all commercial communications must be in French. For example, Starbucks is called Café Starbucks and Kentucky Fried Chicken is Poulet Frit du Kentucky. Even names of villages were changed in different places. In the English-speaking village of Harrington Harbour, they wanted to change the name to Port Harrington, which was just avoided by the English-speaking residents.
Quebec was almost an independent country. In 1995, a referendum was held to separate Quebec from Canada. The referendum was not officially legally valid and was only held in Quebec. The no camp won the referendum by 0.4%, which is still seen as a major fraud by the yes camp. Today, the separation question is less strong, but you shouldn’t call a Quebec resident a Canadian. Everywhere in Quebec you can see the blue flag with a white French lily, the official symbol of Quebec. The Canadian flag is only visible on a government building, a rarity. In 2006, a symbolic motion was adopted that recognises Quebec as a "nation within unified Canada."
Two other official Quebec symbols are the Snowy Owl and the Golden Birch. The timber industry is an important part of Quebec's economy, although the declining paper industry has had a major impact on many paper mills. Besides wood, there are many other natural resources and there are thirty large mines in the province, mainly gold, iron, zinc.
The most famous person from Quebec is Celine Dion. Most of us know her from the Titanic soundtrack 'my heart will go on', but she was already very famous before this. In 1988 she won the Eurovision Song Contest that she participated on behalf of Zwirserland and she held the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Even now she still is extremely popular in Quebec and far beyond.
More than 10% of Quebec's surface area is made up of water. There are more than half a million lakes and 4,500 rivers in the entire province. Due to this, canoeing is one of the most popular summer activities.
The inhabitants of Quebec do not only canoe in the summer, but also in the winter. Originally, ice canoeing was a practical way to move across the ice of the Saint-Lawrence River. Today it is a sport with an official competition and the most famous event takes place during the Quebec Carnival in February. A team of five athletes race with a canoe over ice and through the cold water. They have screws under the shoes to get a grip on the ice.
Another reason to come to Quebec is the beautiful nature. Quebec has its own Big Five: the grey wolf, blue whale, snowy owl, black bear and the moose. In the summer months there is a great chance to see whales and moose. Bears are a bit more difficult and you have to be very lucky for a wolf or a snowy owl.
Quebec City, known by tourists and travellers as Quebec, is one of the most beautiful cities in North America, looking suspiciously like several European cities. The American and Canadian houses are mostly built of wood, but in Quebec, especially in the Old Town, most houses are built of stone. That feels very familiar to a European. Moreover, it is the only walled city in North America north of Mexico.
In winter, most of Canada is covered by a thick layer of snow. In Quebec City, there is an average layer of snow on the ground for 140 days a year. During the peak of winter there is a pack of more than half a meter of snow. The first snow falls in October and November, while the last snow fall in April. There are even special traffic lights in the street that starts to flash after a snowstorm. It's the sign for the citizens to move their cars because the massive snow clearing operation starts.
Canada's most popular winter sport is ice hockey. Montreal is often referred to as the home town of ice hockey, and the Montreal Canadiens are still the most successful and popular hockey team in Canada.
To move across all that snow, the Quebecer uses a different vehicle. In 1935, Joseph Bombardier, born in the province of Quebec, was the first to design a snowmobile as we know it today. Later, he released the model name Ski-doo with his company, which is nowadays the common name in Quebec to name a snowmobile.
All license plates in Quebec have the text 'Je me souviens', the official motto of Quebec. It literally means "I remember", but more extensively they want to say that they will never forget their culture and traditions.
At the end of winter, production of the liquid gold, maple syrup, starts in Quebec. For the production of maple syrup, water is drawn from the sugar maples. These are large maples as we know them in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the sugar type does only exist in North America. The maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada, represented on the national flag. The drained sugar water is boiled into a sweet syrup that they eat on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal and use in the preparation of many dishes. Forty liters of sugar water are required to produce one liter of syrup. The province of Quebec produces almost 90% of all maple syrup in the world.
Culinary you can eat very well in Quebec, probably linked to French culinary cuisine. Yet the most famous dish from Quebec is anything but culinary. Poutine is a mix of fries with white chewy cheese and plenty of sauce. The dish was invented in the 1960s and is a real fast food meal. Another typical Quebec dish is butter pie.
Another unknown country is Paraguay. Can you point it out on a map? We have 15 interesting facts about Paraguay to learn about the country and to impress your friends.