Quebec

Exploring the Past in Quebec

Archaeology and History Sites in Quebec

Centre d’interprétation du site archéologique Droulers-Tsiionhiakwatha Saint-Anicet

The Centre focuses its attention to the cultural heritage of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Archaeological excavation has revealed several longhouses and structures that existed on this site, located along the banks of the La Guerre River, between 1300 and 1534. The site was abandoned after this point but today various reconstructions help bring this prehistoric settlement to life. Workshops include the opportunity to spend the night in an Iroquois longhouse.

Fort Chambly

French colonists built Fort Saint Louis, now known as Fort Chambly and part of Quebec’s La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, in 1665 to defend New France from Iroquois attacks. After the Iroquois burned it down in 1702, a stone replacement was erected. The increasingly dilapidated fort underwent repairs in the 1880s, at which point it was recognised as being of historic importance. The government have classified the fort as a National Historic Site since 1920.

Fortifications of Quebec

The Old City of Quebec contains the only surviving example of fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico. They were originally built by French colonists during the 17th century, but after the British captured the city in 1759 they oversaw the wall’s expansion. As well as being a National Historic Site of Canada since 1948, Old Quebec, including its city walls, have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

Hochelaga Rock

Hochelaga Rock at the entrance to McGill University marks the spot in Montreal that was once an Iroquois village. The site was home to a community of St. Lawrence Iroquoians during the 16th century. In 1535, the settlement was visited by the Breton explorer Jacques Cartier, from which most of our information about the settlement comes. On the historic register since 1920, a stone marker was placed to mark the village in 1925.

LeBer-LeMoyne House

The oldest complete structure in Montreal, the LeBer-LeMoyne House is an important example of French Colonial architecture. Excavation has revealed evidence of older indigenous activity at the site, while the house itself appeared between 1669 and 1671, when it was used as a fur trading post. In the mid-20th century the house became a heritage attraction. The government has classified the house as a National Historic Site of Canada since 2002, and now a part of Musée de Lachine.

L’Îlot des palais

Located in Quebec City, L’Îlot des palais represents the palaces, prisons, and other attendant buildings that belonged to the Intendant of New France. Structures grew up on this site from the 17th century; among the earliest was a brewery, although a palace had replaced it by the end of the century. Many archaeological finds from the site are now on display in the vaulted cellars established in the 18th century.

Maison Nivard-De Saint-Dizier

Located along the banks of the St Lawrence River, the Maison Nivard-De Saint-Dizier stands on foundations that date from 1710. The surviving structure represents an important reminder of the architectural styles prevalent in the early years of the New France colony. Archaeological excavation of the site from 2005 to 2017 also revealed evidence for human activity at this location stretching back into prehistory. Displays in the house reflect this lengthy heritage.

Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

The Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse near Rimouski is the second tallest structure in eastern Canada. Built in 1909, it has a distinctive shape including eight concrete buttresses supporting the central tower. Since the 1970s it has served as a visitor’s heritage attraction and is now part of the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père, alongside the HMCS Onondaga and the HMCS Ojibwa. The lighthouse has been a National Historic Site of Canada since 1974.

Pointe-du-Buisson

A National Historic Site of Canada, Pointe-du-Buisson comprises a wooded plateau along the Saint Lawrence River in Beauharnois. Various sites of archaeological and historic importance are located in this plateau, representing 5000 years of human activity. Since the 1970s, archaeological excavation has revealed much about the various activities taking place in this area. The Hans J. Hofmann Hall also includes a collection of palaeontological artefacts from the Pointe-du-Buisson. Various temporary exhibitions are also hosted here.

The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site

The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site is a 17th century site built as part of the fur trade that then played a major role in Canada’s economy. Still standing is the stone warehouse dating from 1803, established by the Northwest Company, one of two major fur-trading companies then active. Since 1985 this warehouse has featured a range of displays about the heritage of the building.

Popular Sightseeing and Walking Tours in Quebec City

Museums in Quebec

Canadian Museum of History

Formerly known as the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau devotes its attentions to the broad and varied heritage of Canada. Exhibits cover 20,00 years of human habitation in the northern parts of North America, all encompassed in a special building designed by the architect Douglas Cardinal. Displays feature not only the heritage of Canada’s indigenous peoples but also its European and other settlers. The museum is also home to the Canadian Children’s Museum.

Centre D’Interprétation Archéo-Topo

The Centre D’Interprétation Archéo-Topo in Les Bergeronnes is devoted to the heritage of this local area. Its displays feature a wealth of archaeological artefacts recovered in the vicinity, as well as a range of animal taxidermy reflecting the ecology of this part of eastern Quebec. Most labels are only in French although English language leaflets are available. The museum also houses a restaurant and gift shop.

Centre d’histoire de Montréal

Located in Old Montreal, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal devotes its attentions to the heritage of this city. It occupies an old redbrick structure completed in 1904 and which operated as the city’s central fire station until 1972. The museum opened here the following decade, part of a broader scheme to revitalise the old city after the closure of many industries. Temporary exhibits supplement the main display collection.

Écomusée du Fier Monde

Located in Montreal, the Écomusée du fier monde focuses on the impact that the Industrial Revolution had on this area and on its working-class inhabitants. The museum occupies the Bain Genereux, a former public bath built in the 1920s to an art deco design. It engages in grassroots activities with outreach projects soliciting the involvement of local communities. It is for this reason that it calls itself an ‘ecomuseum’, a term deriving from 1970s France.

Mokotakan

Mokotakan in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc is an open-air museum devoted to the cultural heritage of Quebec’s indigenous nations. A range of different structures have been brought together, reflecting the various architectural styles used by the province’s First Nations communities: the Abenaki, Algonquin, Atikamekw, Cree, Wendat, Innu, Inuit, Maliseet, Micmac, Mohawk, and Naskapis. As well as these buildings, Mokotakan also features various dioramas displaying animal taxidermy to teach visitors more about the wildlife of the region.

Montreal Holocaust Museum

The Montreal Holocaust Museum is the first museum in Canada to dedicate attention specifically to the attempted genocide of Europe’s Jewish communities by Nazi Germany during the 1940s. The Association of Survivors of Nazi Oppression founded the museum in 1979, with most of its displays comprising of artefacts donated by Holocaust survivors and their descendants living in Canada. The centre has also conducted an extensive collection of oral histories from Holocaust survivors.

Musée canadien de l’Arme et du Bronze

The Musée canadien de l’Arme et du Bronze in Granby showcases a range of historic weapons, bronze artworks, postage stamps, and coins. Opened in the late 1990s, it was the creation of Pierre Gravel and focuses particular attention on the rich heritage and uses of firearms. The beautiful, ornate presentation of the artefacts has also attracted attention to this small museum, a must-see attraction for those visiting Granby.

Musée de la civilisation

Located in the Old Quebec area of Quebec City, the Musée de la civilisation brings together a range of historical artefacts, most of them pertaining to the heritage of Quebec itself, including both its indigenous and European-Canadian communities. Opened in 1988, the museum occupies a purpose-built structure designed by the architect Moshe Safdie. Various temporary exhibitions covering both Quebec and other parts of the world supplement the permanent display collection.

Musée de l’Amérique francophone

As its name suggests, the Musée de l’Amérique Francophone in Quebec City is devoted to the history of French America – those areas where French colonists settled and where French continues to be spoken as a major language. The building represents the oldest museum in Canada, having been established by the Séminaire de Québec in 1806. Reflecting these ecclesiastical origins, the building also hosts an elaborate museum chapel that was deconsecrated in 1992.

Pointe-à-Callière Museum

Situated on the very birthplace of Montréal, Pointe-à-Callière is Montréal’s museum of archaeology and history. A new museum (opened in 1992), but the site bears testimony to over one thousand years of human activity, beginning when indigenous peoples made camp here between the Little Saint-Pierre River and the St. Lawrence River. Some of the archaeology that was exposed during construction work for the building has been left in situ, and this now forms part of the museums permanent display on the history of the city.

Village Québécois d’Antan

The Village Québécois d’Antan in Drummondville is an open-air museum that showcases Quebecois life as it would have been during the 19th century. 70 buildings dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries have been brought here from around Quebec, preserving them for posterity. Reenactors dressed in period costume help to immerse visitors in the past. Special events take place at the village throughout the year, including a summer camp for children.

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