The name Québec originated from the Algonquin word kébec, which means “where the river narrows”. This referred to the place where the Saint Lawrence River narrows to a cliff lined gap in the area around the city.
The province of Québec is actually the only one that has French as its sole (official) provincial language. Located in east-central Canada, the province shares its borders with the province of Ontario, Hudson Bay and James Bay to its west. Ungava Bay and Hudson Strait to its north, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to its east, and is surrounded by many US states to its south. It also shares maritime borders with Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and Nova Scotia.
For many years, the question of independence for the province was an ongoing debatable issue. Finally, in 2006, a (sort of) solution was reached when the House of Commons of Canada passed a symbolic motion that recognised the “Québécois as a nation within a united Canada.” Time to find the old O’ Level French cheat sheets, methinks.
The province of Québec has a plethora of natural resources, adding to the general wealth created from its expansive IT, biotechnological and pharmaceutical industrial accomplishments. Located opposite Québec City, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, is the city of Lévis, where you can see proof of some of the above.
If you take the ferry from Québec City across to Lévis, 15 minutes away, you will be even more impressed.
Lévis, in the suburban borough of Desjardins, is the biggest industrial centre of the Chaudière-Appalaches region, which lies in the Saint-Romuald sector. Located here are the large Ultramar refinery, the Davie Québec Inc. shipyard and also the Frito-Lay potato chip plant, which is part of the multinational PepsiCo partnership. (Healthy combination, n’est ce pas?).
The town was very active through many military actions, and has a park that has some interesting attractions, as well as one remaining fort.
The building of a series of three forts in Lévis to protect Québec City from an American attack began in 1865, although Fort No. 1 is now the last British witness of this line of defence. The site is well preserved, with tunnels, underground fortification structures (also known as caponiers), and mysterious tunnels, together with casemates housing a detailed and informative exhibition explaining all about Canadian history including Fort No. 1 and its construction. The top of the ramparts offers a wonderful view of the St. Lawrence River.
The park located in front of Fort No. 1 was at one time a Canadian Air force base, later dedicated to the advancement of peace, with the aid of UNESCO. The original look out tower is still there, together with a mounted CF-101 Voodoo interceptor aircraft from the cold war. Other portions of the park represent the other two services.
Travel directions: take the ferry from Québec City, drive east down Saint-Joseph Street, turn right on Mgr Ignace-Bourget Street, right again on Champagnat Street, and then drive along Chemin du Gouvernement. Full address is: 41, Chemin du Gouvernement, Lévis. Tel: 418-835-5182