Canada boasts a rich French heritage, and no one can truly understand the country without exploring its French influence.
Canada is a bilingual country with English and French parts. The French part of Canada is the large province of Quebec, as well as New Brunswick (that's mixed). The French identity in Quebec is so strong that it almost voted for independence from the rest of Canada in the 1995 referendum (49.42% for and 50.58% against).
Canada is a country with a lot to offer, and its French parts offer a very different experience from much of the rest of Canada. See how Canada celebrates its diversity and its storied history. French influence can also be found in parts of the United States – notably parts of northern Maine and the Cajuns in Louisiana.
The origin of French culture in Canada dates back to the French colony of New France. The history of French colonization started in 1534 with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier and ended when the British won the struggle for domination of North America in 1763.
At its peak in 1712, New France was made up of five colonies, Canada (the largest colony that included Quebec and Montreal), Acadie, Plaisance, Louisiane, and Hudson Bay. Throughout its history, it was in constant competition with the English colonies for expansion.
After the British took over, many of the French settlers in Acadia and other colonies left or were deported in the Great Upheaval. But the French colony centered on Quebec persisted and retains its distinct French heritage today. Cut off from France; the former French colony developed in relative isolation giving rise to a dialect and tradition distinct from that of France.
Today the only vestige of the French presence in North America are the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
Related: Fortress Of Louisbourg: One Of The Oldest Settlements In Canada With An Impressive History
The divide between English and French Canada today is stark. Go to Quebec City, and one may feel like one is in a completely different country. Quebec is the second largest of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada (and the largest by land area). It is easy to reach as it borders the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.
Quebec Province Profile:
The two main cities of the province of Quebec are the larger city of Montreal (it is, in many ways, a bilingual city where almost everyone speaks English) and Quebec City – the capital of the province. Quebec City is often described as being more quintessentially French in character.
While it is nice to be able to speak at least some French in Quebec, visitors will be able to get by with English just fine (especially in Montreal).
Related: Montreal Vs. Québec City: Which One Is Right For You?
"(Quebec City) is awash with traditional musical experiences that allow visitors to soak up French Canada’s distinct vibe."
Quebec Cite
There are several attractions in Quebec City and the surrounding region showcasing Francophone culture. One of the best ways to delve into the French heritage of the region is by celebrating the distinct version of the French language. Some of the places to learn about French are:
Another way is to plan one's visit to attend some of the many festivals. Join locals in the many festivals and events throughout the year. A couple of the festivals to consider include the New France Festival and the Festival Quebec en toutes lettres.
Dine out in restaurants in Quebec and see how the food is different from the rest of Canada (and America to the south).
Go full hog and go for full French immersion. Sign up for some French immersion courses with unforgettable cultural experiences. For more ideas and information about Quebec festivals, immersion courses, and more, refer to Quebec Cite.
Quebec City is also worth visiting for its old colonial architecture (it is UNESCO listed) and is the only city in North America north of Mexico to still have its old defensive walls.
Aaron is a first-hand traveler who has visited more than 80 countries around the world. He is passionate about traveling and opening up the world for other intrepid explorers. He can be reached on Instagram at aaronspray


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