This article is about the Canadian province. For the similar historical entity, see Province of Quebec (1763-1791). For the city, see Quebec City. For other uses, see Quebec (disambiguation) and Québécois (disambiguation).
Quebec (pronounced [kʰwəˈbɛk] or [kʰəˈbɛk]) or, in French, Québec (pronounced [kebɛk]), is a province in Canada.
Affectionately known as la belle province ("the beautiful province"), Quebec is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay. To the north are the Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, to the east the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the south the United States (the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). It also shares maritime borders with the Territory of Nunavut and the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is the second most populated province, and most of its inhabitants live along or close to the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. The central and north portion of the province is sparsely populated and inhabited by the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Quebec operates North America's largest and most extensive civil service.
The official language of Quebec is French; it is the sole Canadian province whose population is mainly French Canadian, and where English is not an official language at the provincial level.
Quebec, then called Canada, formed part of the colonial empire of New France until the Seven Years' War, when it was conquered by Great Britain; the 1763 Treaty of Paris formally transferred the colony to British possession. After the Constitutional Act of 1791, it became known as Lower Canada (with Ontario being Upper Canada, the names derived from elevation, not latitude). In 1840, Quebec became Eastern Canada after the British Parliament unified Upper and Lower Canada on the recommendation of Lord Durham. Quebec was one of the first 4 provinces to join the Canadian Confederation in 1867.
While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, Quebec has renewed itself to function effectively in the knowledge economy: information and communication technologies, aerospace, biotechnology, and health industries.
In 1870, Canada purchased Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company and over the next few decades the Parliament of Canada transferred portions of this territory to Quebec that would more than triple the size of the province. In 1898, the Canadian Parliament passed the first Quebec Boundary Extension Act that expanded the provincial boundaries northward to include the lands of the aboriginal Cree. This was followed by the addition of the District of Ungava through the Quebec Boundaries Extension Act of 1912 that added the northernmost lands of the aboriginal Inuit to create the modern Province of Quebec.
Provincial boundary expansions
As a result of the boundary expansions, the province currently occupies a vast territory (nearly three times the size of France), most of which is very sparsely populated. More than 90 percent of Quebec's area lies within the Canadian Shield and includes the greater part of the Labrador Peninsula. The most populated region is the St. Lawrence River valley in the south, where the capital, Quebec City, and the largest city, Montreal, are situated. North of Montreal are the Laurentians, a mountain range, and to the east are the Appalachian Mountains which extend into the Eastern Townships and Gaspésie regions. Quebec's highest mountain is Mont D'Iberville, which is located on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador in the northeastern part of the province. The Gaspé Peninsula juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the east.
The northern region of Nunavik is subarctic or arctic and is mostly inhabited by Inuit. A major hydro-electric project is found on the La Grande and Eastmain rivers in the James Bay region (the La Grande Complex) and on the Manicouagan River, north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Quebec has three main climate regions. Southern and western Quebec, including most of the major population centres, have a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfb) with warm, humid summers and long, cold winters. The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada which move eastward and from the southern and central United States that move northward. Due to the influence of both storm systems from the core of North America and the Atlantic Ocean, precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with most areas receiving more than 1,000 mm (40 inches) of precipitation, including over 300 cm (120 inches) of snow in many areas. Severe summer weather (such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) are far less common than in southern Ontario, although they occasionally occur.
Most of central Quebec has a subarctic climate (Koppen Dfc). Winters here are long and among the coldest in eastern Canada, while summers are warm but very short due to the higher latitude and the greater influence of Arctic air masses. Precipitation is also somewhat less than farther south, except at some of the higher elevations.
The northern regions of Quebec have an arctic climate (Koppen ET), with very cold winters and short, much cooler summers. The primary influences here are the Arctic Ocean currents (such as the Labrador Current) and continental air masses from the High Arctic.