Quebec City - Introduction to Upper Town

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October 30th 2014
Published: October 30th 2014
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Founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, Quebec City is located on the north shore of the St Lawrence River east of Montreal. It is one of the oldest cities north of Mexico, and the only one surrounded by defensive walls ... nearly 3 miles (5 km) of them. From a tiny settlement four centuries ago, it has grown to a city of about 500,000 within a metropolitan area of about 770,000, and is one of North America’s most popular tourist destinations. It is the capital of Quebec Province, Canada’s largest, which itself is large enough to contain five European countries. For detailed information, go to:

General Orientation:

The City is built on and around a rocky promontory, Cape Diamond, on two levels, known as Upper Town and Lower Town. The map shows, lightly shaded in blue, most of the central historic areas of Upper Town, both those near and those inside the walls. This first blog deals only with the area that is located outside the walls. Most visitors arrive on the south shore of the St Lawrence River, and cross one of two bridges. The original Quebec Bridge was built from 1907-1919. With a span of 1800 ft (548 m), it is the longest centre-span cantilever bridge in the world. The adjacent Pierre Laporte bridge, which opened in 1970, has a main span of 2190 ft (667 m) and is Canada’s longest main span suspension bridge. From the bridges travelers follow Grande Allée past the Plains of Abraham and the provincial Legislature right to the walls surrounding the most picturesque portion of Upper Town.

There are many important historical artifacts in and around the Plains. Perhaps the most interesting is the Musée National des Beaux-Arts, whose many displays cover the entire history of fine arts in Quebec from the earliest days of New France right up to the present.

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham 1759:

In September 1759 3,000 – 4,000 of British General James Wolfe’s troops scaled 180 ft Cape Diamond undetected, dragging a cannon under cover of darkness: they surprised and defeated the Marquis de Montcalm in 20 minutes. Wolfe was killed on the battlefield at age 32, and Montcalm died of his wounds the next day.

More than half a century ago I lived in Quebec City for three years. Since then I have visited many times. I assure you that it is next to impossible to do justice to this beautiful and historically fascinating place. This is just the first of several blogs that will at least attempt to do so. To enlarge any picture, just click on it.

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