ARCHIVED - 2. Overview of the English-speaking community of Québec City

WarningThe Standard on Web Usability replaces this content. This content is archived because Common Look and Feel 2.0 Standards have been rescinded.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Page 4 of 7

2.1 Population

2.1.1 History

The site where modern Québec City now stands was originally an Indian village called Stadacona. Seventy years after Jacques Cartier failed to establish a settlement in 1541, Samuel de Champlain led the expedition in 1608 that set up a colony where Québec City is today. Samuel de Champlain is now known as the Father of New France, and is being commemorated within Québec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.

Québec City has been home to English-speaking residents since its earliest days as a fur trading post, but the English-speaking community became permanently established with the arrival of British forces in 1759.9 Today, the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph carries on the tradition of its forebearer, the Quebec Gazette, founded in 1764 and North America’s oldest newspaper. Québec City became the capital of British North America for most of the years leading up to Confederation, and was a major port of entry for immigrants from Europe. English-speaking people could be found in every walk of life: as colonial administrators, merchants involved in transcontinental trade, soldiers housed at the garrison and poor (mostly Irish) immigrants working as longshoremen in the shipyards. All played an important role in the development of the city.

In 1818, the first major wave of immigrants from England, Ireland, and Scotland started arriving, peaking at 96,000 in 1847. Many established themselves in Québec City. In 1861, the Irish population of Québec City was one third of the total population, amounting to 59,990 persons, and 51% of Québec City’s population was English speaking. Only 10 years later, however, this percentage had dropped by almost a third as English speakers started leaving Quebec for other parts of Canada and the United States. The population gradually dwindled as Montréal replaced Québec City as a centre of commerce and industry. In 1921, only 10% of the population was English speaking; in 1971, the percentage was down to 6%, and English speakers now represent 1.9% of the total population in the Québec metropolitan area.

2.1.2 Demographics10

The demographic profile was drawn from the Québec City census measurement area.

According to the 2006 census, the population whose first official language spoken (FOLS) is English is 9,780, representing 1.9% of the total population of the Québec City area. The FOLS English-speaking population represents just over 1% of the Quebec total for those whose FOLS is English.

Just under 19% of the Québec City area’s FOLS English-language population is over the age of 65, compared with 15% of the total population of the region. The English-speaking population below the age of 15 represents some 9% of the total population, compared with 14.6% of the overall Québec City area population. These figures indicate that the English-speaking population of the area has a somewhat higher degree of dependency (ratio of seniors to youth) than the overall population of the area.

Origins and migration
Within the Québec City English-speaking population some 14.3% were born outside of Canada in contrast to the region as a whole, where the figure is about 4.2%. Hence the English-speaking population, of the Québec City area is far more diverse than the overall population and nearly one in 10 immigrants in the Québec City area report that their first official language is English. Between 2001 and 2006 the English-speaking population of Québec City had a net loss of over 600 persons (over 6% of the group) on the basis of migration in and out of the area.

The English-speaking community of Québec City has encountered considerable language shift, as a significant number of persons whose language first learned and still understood is English declare that they speak French most often in their homes. Indeed, in 2006, a slight majority of Québec City English-speakers, as defined by mother tongue, report speaking mostly French in their homes. The shifts have, to a limited degree, been offset by Francophones reporting that they speak English in their homes. However, it is clear that language shifts have a profound impact on the community’s sense of identity.

Socio-economic condition
According to the 2001 census, on the basis of income, the English-speaking population of the Québec City area compares favourably with the overall population of the area.

2.1.3 Summary

Generally, the English-speaking community of Québec City has been witnessing a slow but steady decline in population that is marked by three predominant demographic features (compared to the overall population of the region): there is a higher proportion of seniors, a lower proportion of youth and an increasing level of language shift that signals a certain element of integration, if not assimilation, within the majority French-speaking population.

2.2 Community resources

As members of a centuries-old community, Englishspeaking Québec City residents have developed considerable community resources. The community hosts a varied and active cultural life encompassing theatre, visual arts, music, heritage attractions and museums, news media, sports, educational institutions and more.

Arts and culture

  • Dance – Friday Night Traditional Dances, Shannon Irish Dancers
  • Writing – Quebec Writer’s Circle
  • Books – Ste-Foy Book Group
  • Music – Quebec Celtic Festival, 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band
  • Theatre – Quebec Art Company


  • Central Québec School Board (3 high schools, 6 elementary schools, 1 adult education/vocational training centre, 1 community learning centre)
  • Champlain Regional College (CEGEP) – St. Lawrence campus
  • English Second Language Teachers Network
  • Quebec City Reading Council


  • Television – Global Quebec
  • Radio – CBC, Québec Tourism Radio
  • Print – Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph

Health and social services

  • Jeffery Hale Hospital
  • Jeffery Hale Community Services
  • Holland Resources Development Corporation
  • Fraser Recovery Program
  • Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous

Social and religious group

  • Quebec City Women’s Club
  • Rise n’ Shine It’s Breakfast Time
  • The Lunch Bunch
  • Ste-Foy Book Club
  • American Colony of Quebec
  • Numerous places of worship including Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Presbyterian and United churches, as well as a Baha’i centre and synagogue
  • Betty’s Quilters
  • Knitters’ Club (CWL)
  • Saint Brigid’s Guild


  • FORT Program (back-to-work training and orientation)


  • Scouts Canada (St. Vincent)
  • Girl Guides of Canada


  • A college and three high schools offer interscholastic sport programs in hockey.


  • 78th Fraser Highlanders
  • Irish Heritage Quebec
  • Literary and Historical Society of Quebec
  • Morrin Centre
  • Quebec City Guild of Change-Ringers
  • Quebec Seamen’s Institute


  • Voice of English-speaking Québec
  • Community Economic Development and Employability Committee (CeDeC)
  • Valcartier Family Centre


  • Jeffery Hale Community Services for Seniors
  • Stoneham Fifty Plus Club
  • St. Brigid’s Home
  • Shannon Senior Citizens
  • Valcartier Golden Age Group

2.3 Best practices by target sector

For the purposes of this study, English-speaking Québec City participants chose four priority sectors to examine in terms of vitality. This section presents highlights of initiatives considered best practices or success stories in terms of fostering community vitality.

2.3.1 Youth

Youth coordinator
The Voice of English-speaking Québec is the regional association that represents the interests of the community at large and engages in a wide variety of community development activities. Following a study on the situation and needs of youth in the community, the organization hired a youth coordinator to support a youth advisory committee and promote the bilingual attributes of English-speaking youth to prospective employers.

Mentoring project
The St. Lawrence Campus of the English-language Champlain College CEGEP offers an internship program with mentoring and co-op placement for students in the Business Administration program. One of the key elements is its promotion of students’ bilingualism. Many businesses benefit by having skilled workers, where such labour is short in supply, and students benefit by gaining valuable work experience.

2.3.2 Health and social services

Jeffery Hale Community Services
Founded in 1865 as a hospital, the facility now promotes the well-being of the English-speaking population of the greater Québec City region. The “Jeff” is a non-profit centre offering a variety of health and social services for all ages. It also provides health services and referrals to residents of English-speaking communities in the eastern part of Quebec, and supports community development activities such as volunteer support. In addition, the “Jeff” rents office space to a number of English-speaking community organizations.

Valcartier Family Centre
Valcartier is home to one of eastern Canada’s largest military bases, bringing a large number of English-speaking military personnel and their families to the area just north of Québec City. Recognizing the distinctive nature of military life, the Valcartier Family Centre’s mission is to improve the quality of life of military members. It offers information and referral, emergency childcare, employment assistance (FORT Program), counselling services, volunteering initiatives, support for reservists’ families and youth programs. French and English second-language training is also available. The critical mass of the military base allows the centre to offer high-quality community services to the local English-speaking population as well.

Fraser Recovery Program
Founded in 1996, the Fraser Recovery Program has a very specific mandate: to keep Québec City youth sober, in school and at home. The non-profit organization provides individual assessments and counselling, twice-weekly support meetings and a 24-hour help line for member support. A camping program is also available weekends, holidays and during the summer months.

2.3.3 Arts and culture

Morrin Centre
The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec was the first learned society in the country and is presently restoring its heritage site, which will house the Morrin Centre, a cultural portal designed to educate the public about the historic contribution and present-day culture of the English-speaking community in Québec City. Originally designed as a jail in 1808, the building was transformed to house the Society and Morrin College, the city’s first English-language institute of higher education, which opened in 1868 (and which closed in the early 20th century.) In 1989, the City of Québec acquired the building to restore this heritage monument, and in 2000 the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec took on the management of the cultural centre project.

Québec City Celtic Festival
Started in 2006 through the newly renovated Morrin Centre, the Québec City Celtic Festival offers a wide range of activities to the public to promote the Breton, Scottish and Irish roots of the community. Workshops, shows, parades, conferences and information booths increase the visibility of the English-speaking community and offer a showcase for their heritage and contribution to the building of the provincial capital.

2.3.4 Leadership and visibility

Holland Resources Development Corporation
After the Ladies Protestant Home closed in 1991, a consortium of seven community organizations was formed to give structure and leadership in community development and to help manage the community’s institutions. The corporation successfully adapted community services after the conversion of the Jeffery Hale Hospital into a long-term care facility from its previous role as the only English-language hospital serving Québec City and eastern Quebec. The Holland Corporation did so by securing financial resources from the regional health agency to form and operate the Holland Centre, which is now Jeffery Hale Community  Services, and to manage Saint Brigid’s seniors’ facility. The organization continues its leadership role in the development and management of key social services for the English-speaking community.


9 Blair, Louisa, The Anglos. The Hidden Face of Quebec City, Volume I: 1608-1850, Volume II: Since 1850, Québec City: Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec and les editions Sylvain Harvey. (Translation: Blair, Louisa, Les Anglos. La face cachée de Québec, Tome I : 1608-1850, Tome II : Since 1850, Québec: Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec et les éditions Sylvain Harvey.)

10 Since not all data from the 2006 Census were available at the date of publication, data in this section are from the 2006 Census unless otherwise specified.

Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page