What if you could fly over Quebec like a bird? As you travelled from south to north, you would discover a highly diverse territory extending from the Appalachian Mountains in the southeast to the plateau of the Canadian Shield –which makes up the largest part of the territory—to the north. The St. Lawrence Lowlands would be somewhere in between.

The further north you go, the more arid the soil becomes. As you leave behind the coniferous and deciduous trees of the mixed forest, you travel over the boreal forest, which is made up entirely of conifers. Finally, you reach the tundra, where only lichen manages to grow. This wide change in vegetation is due to a change in climate.

In Quebec, the further north you go, the colder it gets. The southernmost portion of the province has a humid continental climate with hot, humid summers. This explains why the majority of Quebec’s population lived in the south along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. However, more and more people were settling in more northern regions like Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Abitibi.

Now imagine that you’ve headed back south and are now flying over the St. Lawrence. This mighty river gave Quebec a strategic location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. As a result, the river was a heavily used route for commercial ships that travelled back and forth between Europe and North America. Montreal, the economic metropolis of the province, was located at the southern tip of Quebec, close to other major urban centres in Ontario and the United States.

The entire territory was rich in natural resources. In Quebec, there were many mature forests that were used to produce timber and paper. There were also thousands of rivers that were used for travelling or generating electricity. Mines were also being operated in certain regions where copper, iron and asbestos, among other things, were exploited. North or south, no matter where you lived, there was always a resource to be exploited.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social