Quebec's culture is renowned as North America's stronghold of francophone living. There are over six million people in Quebec (out of a total of roughly seven million) whose everyday language is French. Quebecers have cultural activities which, on the whole, are fairly different from that of the 350 million English-speaking citizens of Canada and the United States who "surround" them, not only geographically but also economically and politically. Great efforts have been made to preserve its unique qualities as it is often inundated with American influences. There have also been efforts to export its Quebecois flavour to English-Canadian culture, commonly known in Quebec as The Rest of Canada. Distinguishing features of Quebec culture are, historically speaking, its religious influence (specifically Roman Catholic), its rural roots, a love of winter and the sense of isolation as an island of French in a sea of North American English.

Table of contents
1 Creative Arts
2 Media
3 Institutions
4 Customs and Traditions
5 Food
6 Sports and Hobbies
7 Events
8 Foreign Influences
9 Regional Cultures
10 Inuit and First Nations

Creative Arts

Visual Arts

Main article: Visual arts of Quebec

A mostly rural society for a very long time, Quebec is home to many traditions of craft art. One of the most famous is the making of stained glass windows.


Main article: Architecture of Quebec


Main article: Literature of Quebec

The literature of Quebec begins under the French regime with the many poems written by the early Canadiens of New France. The first attested use of the term Canadien to designate the descendants of French settlers in Canada is in a song composed in 1756 in honor of Governor Vaudreuil after the victory of Fort Chouaguen.


Anonyme - Les Raftsmen
Anonyme - Chanson à la canadienne


The oldest classic novel of Quebec literature is Les Anciens Canadiens by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé published in 1863.

Comic strips

Main article: Comic strips of Quebec

More than the simple comic books sold in North America, les BDs (Bandes Dessinees, pronounced "bey-dey"), as they are called in French, combine both graphic design and literature. Though the majority of those produce are aimed at children, they are generally considered more dignified entertainment and there are many notable exception aimed at an older reading audience.


Main article: Cinema of Quebec

List of Quebec film directors


Main article: Theatre of Quebec


Main article: Dance of Quebec


Main article: Circus of Quebec

Le Cirque du Soleil is a circus troupe renowned for its very artistic productions with rich musical scores. Some of the most well-known productions are Varekai, Dralion, Alegria and O, which is performed on a water platform. It is one of the world's few circuses without animal performers.


Main article: Music of Quebec

Being a modern cosmopolitain society, all types of music can be found in Quebec today. What is specific to Quebec though are traditional songs, a unique variety of celtic music, legions of excellent jazz musicians, a culture of classical music, and a love of foreign rythms that can be observed every Sunday on the Mont Royal in Montreal.



The major newspapers in Quebec are La Presse, Le journal de Montréal, Le Soleil de Québec and The Gazette (Montreal). There are also several free papers including "alternative weeklies" and daily micro-presses available in cafes and the Montreal metro.

Television & Radio

The number one TV station in Quebec is TVA, a little ahead of Radio-Canada according to recent statistics. Quebec has a wide range of specialized French language TV channels as well as most major North American broadcasts. These Quebec Television channels produce a good proportion of their content locally.


Quebecers gave themselves various cultural institutions throughout their history. A good number of the current ones were established fairly recently in a period of Quebec's history known as the Quiet Revolution.


List of Quebec museums


Several notable universities in Quebec include the Université de Montréal, McGill University, the Université Laval and the Université du Québec network. There are also several noted performance schools.

Customs and Traditions


Humour has long been a distinguishing feature of Canadian culture but it is especially revered as a part of Quebecois life. It stretches beyond the normal realms of creative arts and extends itself into daily life. It is even welcomed in places where humour is not normally found.

For instance, a long time before the independentist Parti Québécois came to power or the equally independence minded Bloc Québécois started to send representatives to the House of Commons in Ottawa, many citizens of Québec decided to express their dissatisfaction at federal elections by forming, in 1963, the Rhinoceros Party of Canada, which fielded completely silly candidates all over the place. They gave some color to many otherwise drab elections for more than two decades.


The Catholic church dominated Quebec life for over a century until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960's scaled back its influence on the social and cultural life of Quebec. One notable remnant of this entrenched presence is that Quebec francophone curses and expletives are nearly entirely composed of religious references and vocabulary. They originated in the early 19th century, one of the oldest being sacrament (sacrement) which can be thought of as a Quebecois "goddamn it".

Poisson d'Avril

Le poisson d'avril (April Fools) is an old French tradition dating back to 1564. In Quebec, it was taken very seriously by the whole society.


Main article: Cuisine of Quebec

As in European countries like Italy or France, where cooking is considered one of the fine arts, fine eating is a passion among the well-to-do of Quebec society. While Montreal has the greatest concentration of haute cuisine restaurants in Canada, even small communities proudly boast of famous inns where the chef has an international reputation.

Though there are scores of fast food establishments all over the province, the pace of a meal is much slower here than elsewhere in North America. Even simple fare is usually savored in a leisurly manner and in the company of friends or family. The idea here is that preparing a good meal must never be hurried and to consume it at speed is a sacrilege.


On a more down to earth level, poutine is noted as a distinctly Quebecois food. Consisting of french fries coverered with cheese curds and hot gravy, this concoction is well-loved among the populace and is now beginning to be found outside of Quebec, in the rest of Canada and even in some parts of Northeastern USA.

Cabane à sucre

Cabane à sucre (aka: Sugaring-off, Sugar Shack) is another culinary tradition consisting of having a breakfast of eggs, beans, ham, bacon (among other things) all of which are then covered in maple syrup. This is typically done during the months of collecting syrup from maple trees and is a spring favourite across Quebec. Associated activites are a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the woods and tire, maple syrup dribbled over snow and eaten as a treat.

Sports and Hobbies

Sporting activities are increasingly popular in Quebec. As Quebec is snow-bound for several months of the year, it is no surprise that many winter activities have taken root and, in a few cases, even originated here.

Hockey is the sport of choice in Quebec. It lives in the hearts and minds of Quebeckers thanks to the rich legacy of the Montreal Canadiens. There are many junior hockey teams and you would be hard-pressed to find even the smallest community without a rink available for organized play.

Cross-country skiing is very easily accessible due to the abundance of snow and an unending supply of open fields. With the Laurentian Mountains close at hand, the best downhill skiing in Canada east of the Rockies is to be found in Quebec as well.

The snowmobile, invented in Quebec by Armand Bombardier in ??, is a growing hobby, though its repuatation has been marred by several deaths each year due to its unregulated use.

Another popular diversion is ice-fishing. Rivers freeze over quickly come wintertime and as soon as the ice is solid enough to walk upon, one can find dozens of tiny homemade shacks dotting the frozen surface.

Quebec is home to many professional sports teams and events, the majority of which call Montreal home.


Le Carnaval de Québec is held every winter in Quebec City and is famous for its world-class ice sculpture competition, sledding at the feet of Chateau Frontenac and its mascot, Le Bonhomme Carnaval. Not as bawdy as the Brazilian version, though arising from the same Chrisitan tradition of partying before Lent, it is genrally a celebration of winter. Recently, there has even been a hotel made entirely of ice available for lodging.

During the summer season, Montreal is kept busy by a wide variety of festivals, which has given the city its reputation for being one of the festival capitals of North America.

The Montreal Jazz Fest, or Festival International du Jazz, is held annually in Montreal during the summer season and attracts artists from around the world and is typically attended by hundreds of thousands of people who are attracted by the electric atmosphere. The city's downtown core is closed to traffic for two weeks as outdoor shows are free to the public on many stages.

The Fireworks Festival is an annual fireworks competition held at La Ronde, an amusement park built on the artificial island used for Expo 67. The competition gives place to a weekly fireworks show accompanied with music. Given its proximity to La Ronde, the Jacques Cartier Bridge is closed down to automobile circulation and is flooded by thousands of pedestrian spectators for the duration of the show.

The Just for Laughs Festival, or Festival Juste pour rire, a comedy festival, again highlights Quebec's love of humour. Gala events are held nightly for several days and an atmoshpere similar to the Jazz Fest is seen on the streets of Montreal.

The Francofolies is a festival celebrating the diversity of francophone music. Many exterior shows are given for free.

See List of Quebec festivals.

Foreign Influences

Quebec's cultural roots not only take their water from the St. Lawrence river, they also tap into the rich cultures of France, Great Britain, and the United States.


Despite a common language, French, Quebecers see the Culture of France as foreign in essentially the same way that Americans see British or Australian culture. However, since the 1960s, the cultural ties between France and Quebec have increased significantly and the exchange between the two has resulted in some cross-pollination.

The intellectual elites of French Quebec are divided on this matter. One branch looks to Paris, France for all things cultural, and the other considers New York City as the cultural capital of the universe. The mass of the population tends to favor local talent or adopts a surprisingly cosmopolitan attitude, listening to Brazilian rythms and going to Asia as well as Florida, Mexico and Cuba for vacations.

Great Britain

The influence of British culture on Quebec slowly began after the British Conquest of New France in 1760. At first, the establishment of a British administration did not truly affect the life of the inhabitants of what was then called le Canada. The British population was in fact very low for a long period of time until around 1783 when Loyalists began colonizing the Eastern Townships. The arrival of many immigrants from Great Britain later will of course greatly affect the cultural life of Francophone Quebecers.

At the peak of British colonization of Quebec in the late 19th century, about 25% of Quebecers are Anglophones and Montreal, the metropolis of all of Canada, is a predominently English-speaking city.

The first traces of British culture on Quebecers occured in the beginning of the 19th century when the population adopted the table manners of the English in replacement for the one used in New France. The fork to the left, the knife and spoon to the right and early diner at 5-6 PM. Before that, the Canadiens of New France used the French customs of the time, everyone having a pocket kife ready to use when it was time to eat.


Irish immigration had a huge impact on Quebecers as listening to Quebec's traditional music will reveal. The immigrants from Ireland being mostly Catholic, the two populations will inter-marry to a much greater extent than with any other ethnic group. Today, a lot of Quebecers have an Irish ancestor somewhere in their genealogy tree. The Irish brought the celebration of St-Patrick's day in Montreal. Quebec's most praised poet, Emile Nelligan, is born of a Quebec francophone mother and an anglophone Irish father.

United States

American influences on Quebec culture go back to the first era of prosperity experienced by the American people after their independence. American culture and values began to pour into Quebec starting with the Industrial Revolution and continues to this day thanks to open border between the two entities.

Though the same phenomenon has occurred with the other Canadian provinces, Quebec, being mostly Francophone and (formerly) Catholic, the contact of the two cultures has produced significantly different results. It has often taken the form of a conflict between the "old way" of living and the "new way" coming from the outside.


Movies and television have long been welcomed in Quebec and remain among the more popular forms of entertainment. However, due to the language barrier, most of the cultural flooding seen in most English-speaking areas has not occurred to the same extent. Dubbed US productions still enjoy great success. In fact, dubbed productions have known a great boom in popularity over the last ten years.

One regulation adopted under the Charter of the French Language stipulates that movie distributors are to release the French dubbed version of any major movie at the same time as the original English. The distributors had steadfastly opposed this measure, but once it took effect they found that their total sales of tickets for any given movie jumped dramatically. They had not realised before then that many Quebecers capable of reading advertising or critics in English, to some extent, were not fluent enough to really enjoy a movie in the original English. They also invested less money on the marketing of the dubbed versions, months later. By releasing both versions at the same time all of the population, regardless of language or relative degrees of fluency in English, was subject to the same bombardment of publicity and movie reviews at the same time.

New York

Montreal is the metropolis of Quebec. Though Toronto dominates Canada's cultural landscape, or perhaps because, Montreal (and by extension Quebec) seems to follow New York City more closely. It is only slightly further away than Toronto and New York's more global influence appears to be more appealing to Quebeckers. For those who can afford the higher prices, New York is the number one place to go shopping, enjoy theatre and pick up new trends. A difficulty in English is no barrier to a group of Quebeckers which invariably has at least one person with enough skill in deciphering the New York accent to enjoy the Big Apple.

Regional Cultures

Saguenay Lac-St-Jean

A region known for its blueberries, its tourtière, its soupe aux gourganes and other specialties, the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean is also the birth place of many of Quebec's public figures such as former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard, signer Mario Pelchat and olympic athlete Marc Gagnon. The accent of this region is one of the most distinctive and peculiar ones found in Quebec, although natives of the regions would reply that in fact it is the people of Montreal who have an accent, not them!


The Gaspésie region is Quebec's little sample of the east coast maritimes. The people of la Gaspésie have a wonderful accent very close to that of their Acadian cousins living in New-Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The culture of the Gaspésie region is very much centered around the sea. The area is famous for its shrimps of Matane and the breathtaking scenery of its sea coast, the Percé Rock, and Chic-Chocs Appalachian mountains.

Inuit and First Nations

There are 11 aboriginal peoples living on the territory of Quebec. Their influence on Quebec culture has been and continues to be significant. They are the ones who taught the first French settlers how to survive Quebec's winters and to adapt to their new country. Later, the French engaged in trade with a great number of tribes inside and outside Quebec.

There are many words in Quebec French that come from aboriginal languages, such as manitou (wizard) and mocassin (soft leather shoes) as well as many places, rivers and lakes that have a native name.

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