Prior to European arrival and subsequent colonization, Algonquian, Iroquoian and Inuit groups inhabited this massive slice of land now called Quebec.
In 1534, the French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, came ashore on the Gaspe Peninsula, and claimed this land for France.
Early settlements were unsuccessful, yet very productive fishing results motivated French fishing fleets to repeatedly sail across the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1603, Samuel de Champlain, a French navigator and cartographer sailed down the St. Lawrence River. During his follow-up visit in 1608, a fort was built at modern day Quebec City, and the French colonization of North America began.
We'll return to the story of the Province of Quebec in a few paragraphs, but first...
In the years that followed, Catholic missionaries, fur traders and military forces arrived, and eventually the French built dozens of forts across (New France) for protection from unrelenting Native Americans, and from the expanding influence of Britain in the Americas.
Conflict between France, Britain and their individual Native American allies was inevitable, and the French and Indian War, part of the larger conflict known as the Seven Years' War was the result.
The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, ended the Seven Years' War, a war that involved most major European powers. That agreement awarded nearly all of France's North American possessions (New France) to Britain, and they became the dominant colonial power.
Later that year, by British Royal Proclamation, Canada (a large part of New France) was renamed the Province of Quebec...and here's the rest of the story of the Province of Quebec, albeit a very brief rendition.
French Canadians who did not choose to leave Quebec became British subjects, and they were required to swear an oath to the King of England, and reject their Catholic religion. Well, the French people of Quebec proved to be quite a handful for the British.
To make things even worse, the American Revolutionary War was in its early stages, a war that would divide the loyalties of many European colonists.
In 1775, an historic battle took place. In an effort to seize control of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec City from the British, American Continental Army forces attacked the English fortification at Quebec City. It was a military disaster, and the invasion failed.
This was the first defeat suffered by the Continental Army, and it was a turning point for the British as they would remain in control of Canada even after their surrender to America's thirteen colonies.
After the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783, some 50,000 loyalists to the British Crown (Tories) immigrated into French-speaking Canada from the new upstart country of America.
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