Quebec City, Quebec is the oldest city in North America. There were an estimated one million immigrants from Europe during the years 1815-1860. Many of the first immigrants were Irish. In 1861 40% of the residents spoke English. Quebec is now a bilingual city. Businesses require their employees to speak both French and English. That was a relief. My command of French only includes the words for, thank you, please, and good morning.
St John’s Gate divides the city into two parts. Old Quebec is where the tourists stay at the hotels, visit the museums, and eat. The steps are steep, the sky is gray, and there is a chill in the air. I am in Quebec City for the second time. The first time was with my husband, this time is to attend a conference WITS, Women in Travel Summit. A meeting of 500 women who write travel blogs, travel articles, books, and travel all over the world. This is serious business. Being a Digital Nomad is a career. Ninety percent of the women are 20-35 years old. This is their career. This is my hobby.
I arrived three days early to explore the city. I walked up and down the streets. Crossed under the bridge and found people going to work, pushing baby buggies, and grocery shopping. A completely different world than in Old Quebec.
Marie Rollet Hotel
I open the big red wooden door and am greeted immediately with a steep flight of stairs. It’s a good thing I travel lightly. I lug my carry on up the first flight of stairs and then another flight of stairs. The room is small, and the bathroom is tiny. There is a round glass table with one comfy chair, the TV takes over 1/2 of the wall. My view is of airconditioners outside. No problem. I don’t plan on spending much time inside. All I need is a clean bathroom, shower and comfortable bed. The hotel is an old victorian style house. Marie Rollet and her husband were the first settlers who arrived in Quebec in 1649. They came from Paris. Her husband served in the positions of apothecary and farmer. They were greeted with starvation, sickness, and threats of Indian attacks. Many of the Natives were baptized and she became their godmother.
In 1632 Quebec was returned to the French after three years of English occupation. Marie stayed in Quebec after her husband passed away. They were the only French family that stayed during the occupation of the English. The first marriage solemnized in Canada was her daughter’s.
La Maison Smith
The house of Maison Smith was inhabited by French pioneers on the island of Orleans in 1796. The island of Orleans is about thirty minutes from Quebec City. It is known as the garden of Quebec City. It grows all of the fruits and vegetables and raises the chicken, and lamb used in the homes and restaurants of Quebec City. There is no place to farm or grow vegetables in the crowded city. Before the French pioneers showed up, the First Nations owned the land where Quebec City stands for thousands of years. In 1608 it became the property of the New France Colonies. The house of Maison Smith was destroyed by a fire in 1865 and later rebuilt with stones. The coffee shop also operates in Old Quebec. I grabbed a cup of coffee and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip muffin two mornings in a row.
Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens
Meat pies made with wild meat and fresh bison, meatball ragout, salt pork, baked beans, grillades, and beef stew. All naturally cooked. The restaurant built in1675-76 and originally owned by the nuns of the Ursuline Convent. They weren’t able to financially support it so they granted it to Francois Jacquet. It is one of the oldest and largest buildings in upper town and the province of Quebec. The restaurant has an upstairs and downstairs. It is not a big restuarant. It has a very friendly and comfortable feeling. I had dinner in this restaurant and it was very tasty. The only regret is that I should have stayed longer. I met two friends and they were both in a hurry to go to the airport or another event. I ate in less than forty minutes. Please take your time when you eat here.
J.A. Moisan Epicier (Grocery Store)
Cake in a mug, fifty different kinds of tea and coffee, cookies, candy, and chocolate. Everything you need to start your day off. J.A. Moisan was a French businessman who knew he wanted to succeed at a time when most businesses were reserved for those who spoke English. He established the store in 1871 and sold gourmet foods. He raised his children in an apartment above the store and became the owner in 1885. Quebec city experienced multiple fires in 1876 and 1881. Many of the original buildings were destroyed. His store was saved both times. He was able to attract clients from all social classes and offered rare products that were not available in other stores. The store welcomes you with a very warm atmosphere. It gives you a sense of how life was so long ago. J.A. Moisan was just another Frenchman navigating his way among the English so prominent in the city.
Fresco Wall Art in Quebec City
Boys playing hockey in the street, a mother pushing her baby,two nuns standing on the corner chatting, lovers embracing above the gate, and some very important looking men standing on the street. These murals are a must see. The murals were completed between 1999 and 2008). They have become part of telling the history of Quebec City and the people who lived there. There are a total of eleven. I was only able to find three which are located in old Quebec. Commission de la Capitale Nationale, an organization responsible for developing and promoting the capital commissioned six murals for the city’s 400th-anniversary celebrations by the. Old dilapidated walls now have a new face. A historical face.