There likely was not much question is Samuel de Champlain’s mind where he would build a settlement as he sailed up the Saint Lawrence River in 1608. At a spot where the channel narrowed a bit stood a magnificent cliff, facing upstream - a place where a fort could be erected to ward off any incursions beyond.
He hadn’t counted on the winters, however, and 20 of the 28 men in Champlain’s first “l’Habitation” perished. But the New World’s fur trade held so much promise the French settlers kept coming. The Company of One Hundred Associates was chartered to exploit the natural resources around Quebec for profit. By the time the businessmen’s organization dissolved in 1663 there was a full-fledged town of over 500 residents.
The government and the military and the Jesuits, who had early on established a college in Quebec, tended to live on top of the cliff. Below, down by the river, were the houses of the merchants, tradesmen and seamen. The first stairs to link the Upper Town and the Lower Town were constructed in 1635; today Quebec City proudly claims some 30 personality-filled stairways.
Quebec’s imposing geography proved its mettle in 1711 during the Queen Anne’s War with England as the British Royal Navy was unable to lay siege to the city. A half-century later, the Seven Years’ War proved to be a different story. It took three months of bombing before the armies clashed in climactic fighting on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The British attackers withstood an initial charge by the defenders and it was all over in 15 minutes, although both sides lost their commanding generals.
It didn’t seem to matter much to the Quebec colonists which country across the Atlantic was dishing out the law. The British Parliament passed the Quebec Act in 1774 that allowed “les Canadiens” to openly practice Catholicism and speak French. When the American colonies to the south revolted against the British a year later, those Canadiens took a pass on joining in. Today 96% of Quebec City’s population of more than 600,000 speak French as their primary language.
The Quebec City site was blessed not only with natural defenses but a deep water harbour and by the early 1800s this was the third busiest port in North America. Lumber was the main export, along with tens of thousands of beaver pelts. The city started building up during that time and by the 1870s it became obvious that the impressive Citadele constructed atop of Cape Diamond was no longer needed. But Governor General Lord Dufferin blocked the destruction of the defenses and instead ordered them incorporated into the Quebec streetscape.
That kind of preservation thinking pervades Old Quebec where nearly half of all the buildings in the Historic District were built before 1850. We will set out to explore this unique cityscape and we will begin where Quebec once defied intruders but now welcomes visitors from around the world...
1 Rue des Carrières Street
This prominent site, commanding a sweeping view of the Saint Lawrence River, was first built on in 1784 with a castle to serve as the seat of the Quebec colonial government. Château Haldimand then served as the residence for the British governors of Lower Canada and Quebec. It was torn down in the 1890s for this grand hotel, commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railroad brought in American architect Bruce Price who drew up plans for a Chateauesque building that served as the model for similar railway hotels across the country. The first guests arrived in 1893 and over the years the hotel has expanded under turrets and steeply pitched roofs to include over 600 rooms on 18 floors. The magnificent Victorian structure is considered to be one of the most photographed hotels in the world, perched as it is on a bluff 177 feet above the river. The Château Frontenac takes its name from Louis Henri de Buade, Count of Frontenac, who was a New France colonial governor for almost twenty years in the 17th century.
WALK ONTO THE BOARDWALK THAT PARALLELS THE SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER IN FRONT OF THE CHATEAU FRONTENAC.
Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Lord Dufferin, was the third Governor General of Canada and he directed the construction of this strolling terrace in 1878 before he headed off to take charge of India. Soak in as many wonderful vistas as is your want. You can even walk to the end into the Quebec Citadel, the star-shaped fortress of 37 acres that was raised in stone to protect the city, and onto the Plains of Abraham. Several cannons captured by the British from the Russians during the Crimean War adorn the boardwalk.
WHEN YOU ARE READY TO LEAVE THE TERRASSE DUFFERIN, BOARD THE FUNICULAIRE OPPOSITE THE HOTEL AND RIDE THE CONVEYANCE DOWN TO LOWER TOWN. ‘
Using a 45-degree angle the incline railway conquers 194 feet of elevation between Upper Town and Lower Town. The funicular opened in 1879, using a water ballast system for power. Electricity arrived for the two passenger cars in 1907.
THE FUNICULAIRE ARRIVES IN...
Louis Jolliet House
24 Rue du Petit Champlain
Louis Jolliet was born in a settlement outside Quebec City in 1645 and prepared for a life in the priesthood. Instead he set out in canoes with Jacques Marquette to become the first explorers of the upper Mississippi River. Claude Baillif, one of the most respected builders in New France, constructed this house for the explorer in 1683; a subterranean passage enabled Jolliet to access the sea. The Canadian explorer was last seen in the North American wilderness in 1700.
TURN RIGHT ON RUE DU PETIT CHAMPLAIN.
39 Rue du Petit Champlain
The Rue du Petit Champlain is a contender for “North America’s oldest commercial street.” These days the narrow passage is suitable only for pedestrians whose attentions are snared by shops and dining nooks. This house was raised in 1689 and the Demers family stayed until 1764, surviving a bombardment by the English fleet in 1759. Duck inside to see original fireplaces and ceiling beams.
CONTINUE TO A STAIRCASE ON YOUR LEFT AND WALK DOWN TO RUE DE MARCHE CHAMPLAIN. TURN LEFT AND ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE CURVE IS...
50 Rue de Marche Champlain
The core of this building was constructed in 1752 for wealthy merchant Jean-Baptiste Chevalier. The house was auctioned in 1763 to Jean-Louis Fremont, a master mariner. A century later Fremont’s grandson John Charles would become one of the premier explorers of the American West. In 1807 Englishman George Pozer bought the property and turned it into a popular inn called the London Coffee House and so it remained into the 1900s. Today this is a museum devoted to early Quebec life; two older buildings in the complex have roots in the 1600s.
TURN LEFT ON NOTRE DAME STREET AND CONTINUE TWO BLOCKS TO PLACE ROYALE.
Indigenous people had been meeting on this site for 3000 years when Samuel de Champlain arrived on July 3, 1608 and built a small wooden house. This became a public square and marketplace for the new Quebec. A later stone building was constructed for Champlain in 1623 to use as a home and storehouse, located where a circle of gray slate stones is laid out in the cobblestones. In the 1680s King Louis XIV became interested in having “places royales” established across his French empire. And so a bust of the Sun King appeared in the square. The citizenry found it to be more of a hindrance to commerce (the square having been laid out as a marketplace in 1673 by Governor Frontenac) than an honorific and shuffled it off to a less conspicuous location. The current bust is a gift from France in 1931.
32 Rue Sous le-Fort
Construction began in 1687 on this small Roman Catholic church on the site of Champlain’s first wooden house. The victories over the British through the years earned the sanctuary its name until the church was destroyed in 1759. François Baillairgé was born that very year and he would go on to study art and architecture in Paris and direct a remodeling of the facade and interior of the church which was completed in 1816. The oldest stone church in Quebec, it became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992.
FACING THE NOTRE DAME-DES-VICTORIES, TURN TO THE RIGHT. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROW OF STONE BUILDINGS IS...
Musée de la place Royale
27 Rue Notre Dame
French-born Francois Hazeur was one of the wealthiest merchants of New France who owned several buildings in Lower Town and his house here was said to be the finest in all Quebec. Hazeur was especially active in the fur trade, sending many canoes into the Western wilderness. His ventures in fishing and lumbering were not so successful, however, and he died insolvent in 1708. A fire in 1990 destroyed all of this historic house from 1684 save for the facade which was retained for the rebuild which became an interpretation center.
CONTINUING TO MOVE CLOCKWISE, THE BUILDING ON THE CORNER FACING NOTRE DAME DES-VICTORIES IS...
Lambert Dumont House
1 Place Royale
This handsome house is the handiwork of Claude Baillif who built it on the ruins of a store for the Company of One Hundred Associates that was raised in 1647. Baillif’s client was Eustache Lambert, a vintner. The building boasted a mammoth vaulted basement to hold the various casks from that season’s vintage. The corner building did work as an inn during the 1900s and a regular signer of the guest book was U.S. President Howard Taft who built a “summer White House” in La Malbaie on the Saint Lawrence River. The rest of the houses on this side of the square retain their original 1700s appearance.
AND ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE SQUARE IS...
5 Place Royale
By royal charter of Louis XIII in 1639 a wealthy widow named Madame de la Peltrie, Mary of the Incarnation, took up the religious order of the Ursulines and sailed to New France with two companions to set up a monastery. This land for the first monastery was donated by the Company of One Hundred Associates. By the time Mary died in 1672 there were convents in Lower Town and Upper Town. The Ursulines eventually settled in Upper Town and the Augustinians moved into this house that had been built in 1754 by Marie-Anne Barbel as part of her extensive real estate interests. Barbel had established an earthenware factory after her husband died in 1745 that was the equal of French imports with its fine lead and copper glazes.
EXIT THE PLACE ROYALE HEADING DOWNHILL ON RUE DE LA PLACE, NEXT TO THE BARBEL HOUSE. TURN LEFT ON RUE SAINT PIERRE.
Parc de l’UNESCO
41 Rue Saint-Pierre
This small park is a reminder that the Historic District of Old Quebec has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, one of only eight sites in Canada so honored.
Merchants Bank of Canada
53 Rue Saint-Pierre
In the 1800s Quebec, thanks to a lust for Canadian timber, was the fifth largest port in the world. Most of the city’s money men lined up along Rue Saint-Pierre. At its busiest the street boasted eight banks, a score of insurance companies, a stock exchange and a slew of brokers, lawyers and finance offices. Rue Saint Pierre was the “Wall Street of Canada.” The architecture by this time had shifted to more english influences than French as you start to see with this former Merchants Bank of Canada building erected in 1868. The Italiante-flavoured bank was started by Montreal steamship magnate Hugh Allan in 1864 and grew to over 300 branches before being absorbed by the Bank of Montreal in 1922.
Union Bank of Lower Canada
54 Rue Saint-Pierre
This Italianate-flavored building with rounded facade and corner entrance was designed by Montreal architects John Williams Hopkins and Daniel B. Wily. They reconfigured a shipping company headquarters that the bank leased here when it opened its first branch in 1865. The original building was three stories high but two sympathetic stories were added in 1897. The bank’s head office relocated to Winnipeg in 1912 and after a series of mergers the last deposits were taken here in 1979.
House de la Chesnaye
northwest corner of Rue Saint-Pierre and Cote de la Montagne
Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye was the richest man in New France and the colony’s leading landholder. He made his fortune in fur trading, doing so well that he decided to take on the mighty Hudson Bay Company in his later years before he died at the age of 70 in 1702. In the 1660s he began constructing an elaborate residence and warehouse on this block, around a generous courtyard. In 1730 the property was divided in two and began serving a variety of purposes as commercial brick buildings replaced the House de la Chesnaye. In 1808 Francois-Xavier Methot bought the south end and started a hardware business that became Chinic Hardware Company Limited in 1887. By the 1920s Chinic had expanded to encompass the entirety of the original house. It remained in operation until 1984.
National Bank of Canada
71 Rue Saint-Pierre
A group of Francophile businessmen founded the bank in 1859 to provide for their own financial schemes. Three years later a fire sent the bank to this location. This majestic Neoclassical home is now a well-regarded guest house.
Quebec Assurance Building
79 Rue Saint-Pierre
The Quebec Fire Assurance Company was founded in 1819 as the city’s first insurance company. After setting up shop here it was followed to Rue Saint-Pierre by such heavy hitters as the State Fire Assurance Company of London, the British America Assurance Company and the Colonial Life Assurance Company. This Neo-Colonial building is also now housing travelers.
83 Rue Saint-Pierre
The Staveley family dominated the architecture of 19th century Quebec like no other. The Staveley clan originated with Leiscester, England engineer and architect Christopher Staveley. His son Edward sailed to North America in the 1830s to work on canal and railway building in Maryland. In 1844 he came to Quebec and began taking on architectural work. Edward led his son Harry into the trade and Harry Stavely became the go-to architect in Quebec during the Victorian age. He designed this building, with Italian Renaissance overtones, for the Montreal Telegraph Company in 1855 during a brief partnership with Gerald George Dunlevie. Two of Harry’s sons also became architects with Harry Lorn practicing in Montreal and Edward Black coming into the family firm in Quebec.
Estebe House/Museum of Civilization
80 Rue Saint-Pierre
Guillaume Estèbe sailed to New France in the 1720s, using his contacts as the son of a French merchant to ease his way. In 1737 Estebe built a house on Rue Saint-Pierre as he became immersed in colonial politics. He sold the place in 1750 and constructed this house in 1752, which he sold five years later. He became very wealthy finagling the king’s books before returning to France in the 1760s and eventually becoming lost to history. His house is now part of the sprawling Museum of Civilization that was designed by Canada’s leading contemporary architect, Moshe Afdie.
105 Rue Saint-Pierre at the southeast corner of Rue de la Barrciade
The Bank of Montreal got underway in 1817 which sounded the battle cry for the merchants of Quebec who got their first bank started in 1818; four years later the Quebec Bank was incorporated. This ornate vault with slender Ionic columns holding up a portico of Corinthian capitals is one of Edward Staveley’s designs, finished in 1862. It too is now under the watchful eye of the Museum of Civilization.
105 Rue Saint-Pierres at southwest corner of Rue de la Barricade
Unlike many banks which elected to modernize over the years the look of this building has changed little since its financial service days for the Molson family of brewing and steamship fame. Rather than build its own structure the Molson family took deposits from this 18th century house.
Bank of Montreal
111 Rue Saint-Pierre Street at northwest corner of Rue de la Barricade
Louis Auguste Amos and Alfred Athur Cox were greatly admired bank architects for from 1892 until 1910 when Cox took off for Vancouver. The pair gave birth to this Beaux Arts banking temple in 1906 for the Bank of Montreal. Dominion Bank acquired the property, with its Ionic colonnade, in 1927 and after a merger with the Bank of Toronto in 1955 its days as a bank were numbered.
Bank of Montreal
116 Rue Saint-Pierre Street at northeast corner of Rue de la Barricade
Canada’s first bank hit the ground running - within one month of its founding in 1817 the Bank of Montreal had a significant branch operating in Quebec. By the middle of the century the country’s largest financial institution had permanent agencies in New York City and Chicago. In 1859 it was the third largest bank in North America. For most of its time in Quebec the bank has had a presence on this of Rue Saint-Pierre. The Montreal firm of Harold Lawson and Harold Little was retained to create this two-story street ornament in 1927. For the classical design Deschambault stone from Stanstead was selected, along with heavy bronze corner entrance doors. Look up to see a marvelous carving of the bank’s coat of arms.
Imperial Bank of Canada
113 Rue Saint-Pierre Street
This Beaux Arts confection came along in 1913, as you can see by the emblem on the facade. The other date, 1875, marks the transformation of the Imperial Bank, a Toronto concern, into the Imperial Bank of Canada.
L’hôtel Le Germain Québec
126 Rue Saint-Pierre Street
The Dominion Fish and Fruit Company ushered in the skyscraper age in Quebec with this ten-storey office tower in 1912. Rene P. Lemay drew up the exuberant Edwardian design for the building. The office building next door once housed the Quebec Stock Exchange; it dates from 1901. The two buildings became a hotel in 1997.
Canadian Bank of Commerce
139 Rue Saint-Pierre
When he was 44 years old in 1910 Scottish architect Victor Daniel Horsburgh was lured from Edinburgh to Toronto to become the chief architect for the expanding properties of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Horsburgh’s exhaustive study of European medieval and Renaissance buildings had not resulted in many commissions in Scotland but he built a reputation as a brilliant draughtsman. A Silver Medal won in a Royal Institute of British Architects essay contest in 1907 kickstarted his moribund design career, however. The Canadian Bank of Commerce had started in 1867 and come to Quebec in 1906. For this branch Horsbaugh drew inspiration from the rounded Tivoli facade of the celebrated Bank of England in London. It was executed in 1914 using columns and pilasters carved from Stanstead granite and limestone quarried from Saint Marc-des-Carrieres. The bank abandoned the property in 1980 and it now does office duty.
FAO Square intersection of Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre and Sault-au-Matelot streets
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was founded in Quebec City on October 16, 1945 and operated at this ent of Rue Saint-Paul. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization in 1995 a bronze sculpture by artists Carmelo Arnoldin, Richard Purdy and François Hébert was installed to represent the carrying of food from all the continents. La Vivrière, in the shape of a ship’s figurehead is placed on a undulating stone carving by landscape architect André Plante to evoke the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. The wavy stones of the plaza are a reminder that in the earliest days of settlement the waterway came all the way up to this street before filling.
TURN LEFT AND WALK DOWN THE RUE DU SAULT-AU-MATELOT.
Passage des chiens
79-83 Rue du Sault-au-Matelot
The Rue du Sault-au-Matelot takes its name from the waterfalls in the area that tumbled off the cliff. In 1696 the passageway occupied the foot of the cliff and was known for the dogs that frequented its route.
Battle of Quebec
intersection of Rue de la Barricade and Rue du Sault-au-Matelot
Early in the American Revolution the rebelling colonies aimed their sights on the British defenses in Quebec. General Richard Montgomery led the incursion in the first major battle for the Continental Army forces, arriving in the fortified city on December 31, 1775. The city was garrisoned only by a ragtag assortment of British Army regulars and militia under the command of General Guy Carleton. The Americans led by Benedict Arnold advanced along this narrow street and removed barricades until they came under heavy fire at this position and were unable to return fire up the steep cliff. In the battle Montgomery was killed, Arnold wounded by a musket ball to the ankle and 400 men were taken prisoner - a devastating setback for the Americans.
TURN RIGHT ON COTE DE LA MONTAGNE. ON YOUR LEFT WILL BE...
Parc de la Cetiere
Rue du Notre Dame and Cote de la Montagne
Quebec was late in being fortified, with a wooden palisade and 11 small square stone redoubts not coming until 1690. These foundations are part of two houses belonging to Jean Soulard and Guillaume Gaillard that offer a glimpse into what Quebec life was like during that time. The plot next to the Cote de la Montagne belonged to Florent de la Cetiere, a sometime judge, sometime upholsterer and tavern owner.
BEYOND THAT IS THE...
Fresco of Quebecers
Cote de la Montagne
Old City is sprinkled with frescoes, life-size historical paintings on the side of buildings. Of the giant trompe-l’oeil works this one on the side of the Mountain is one of the most famous. A close study of the five-storey work will reveal 15 historical figures and a dozen authors hanging out in the windows and on balconies.
RETURN TO COTE DE LA MONTAGNE AND TURN LEFT TO BEGIN THE WINDING CLIMB BACK UP TO UPPER TOWN. ON YOUR LEFT, ABOUT HALWAY UP, WILL BE THE...
Cote de la Montagne
L’Escalier Casse-Cou, the “Breakneck Steps,” earned their name honestly when the first link between Upper Town and Lower Town was laid out in the 17th century. A vast improvement from Charles Baillairge, the city engineer, came along in 1893 with Quebec’s first iron stairway.
AT THE TOP, ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
Montmorency Park National Historic Site
northeast corner of Cote de la Montagne and Rue Port Dauphin
A bit of everything has happened on this site. It began as a religious refuge, occupied by the Recollet Fathers in 1616. The first Episcopal Palace was raised here in the late 17th century. Its value as a strategic military site is attested by the cannons that line the edge of the cliff. In the 1790s when British Parliament cleaved the colony into a Lower Canada and an Upper Canada the new provincial government took up residence in the Episcopal Palace. When the two provinces unified into United Canada the Parliament rotated among Kingston, Montreal, Toronto and Quebec. A grand Parliament building was erected here for the government when it was Quebec’s turn. That building burned in 1883 and in 1898 the grounds became a city park, named for Henri II, Duke of Montmorency, who was the first bishop of Quebec.
STRAIGHT AHEAD IS...
The Seminary of Quebec
1 Rue des Remparts
François de Laval was 36 years old when he was summoned by Pope Alexander VII to be the first Roman Catholic bishop of New France. The Father of the Canadian Church founded the seminary in 1663. An array of buildings began to be built around a common courtyard to accommodate the students and disciples. North America’s first Francophone university, Université Laval, was founded here in 1852. The school moved on in the middle of the 20th century but the School of Architecture is still here. Architecture styles from three centuries can be seen on the grounds where priests still live and study and tours are offered. Atop the elegant Camille-Roy Building always fly the flag of the coat of arms of the founder.
TURN LEFT ON RUE PORT DAUPHIN.
Old Post Office
3 Rue de Buade
Architect Pierre Gauvreau designed a post office worthy of a major city in 1873 in the then-popular French Second Empire style. Most of that work disappeared forty years later when the cut limestone building was dressed up in Beaux Arts style with columns and a cupola. In 1984 the L-shaped building was officially renamed to honour former Prime Minister Louis St.-Laurent but the new title hasn’t caught on in popular use. Out front is a bronze statue of Bishop François de Laval, executed by Louis-Phillipe Hebert and installed in 1908.
TURN RIGHT ON RUE DE BUADE.
Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph Building
27 Rue de Buade
James Carrel, then 25 years old, put out the first edition of The Daily Telegraph on November 9, 1875 to espouse his liberal views. He found enough success to build this five-storey headquarters in 1903 on plans from architect Georges-Emile Tanguay. After a fire in 1907 Tanguay rebuilt with fireproof materials and gave the headquarters a domed corner turret to complement that of the Notre Dame cathedral across the street. In 1925 the Telegraph merged with the Morning Chronicle, which can trace its lineage back to 1764 as North America’s oldest surviving newspaper. The new Chronicle-Telegraph operated from these premises until 1949. It continues to publish every Wednesday as the only English language newspaper in town.
31 Rue de Buade
This eatery claims to be Quebec’s oldest, dating back to 1919. The building goes back to 1860.
Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec
16 Rue de Buade
The Quebec parish is the oldest in the United States and Canada and the seat of the Archdicoese has been on this site since 1647. This is the third house of worship to stand here, the previous two being destroyed by fire. After the original church was destroyed in the Seven Years War in 1759 Jean Baillairge, a local carpenter, won a design competition to rebuild the sanctuary. He oversaw construction that made his name in Quebec architecture circles. Baillairge was followed into the trade by his son Francois and grandson Thomas who continued to work on the church, including a classical pedimented entrance. After a 1922 fire, the building was restored by Maxime Roisin and Raoul Chenevert.
NEXT DOOR IS...
Musée de l’Amérique francophone
2 Côte de la Fabrique
Using buildings from the Seminary of Quebec this museum is devoted to the lineage of French culture in North America. The collection was started by the seminary in 1806, which gives it claim to being the oldest museum in Canada. It began with objects used in science classes and now there are some 110,000 items detailing the French experience in the new world. The original Seminar Museum Building with a rounded facade was constructed in 1838 on plans drawn by Thomas Baillairge.
WALK ACROSS PLACE DE L’HOTEL-DE-VILLE TO...
Quebec City Hall
2 Rue des Jardins
The city government of Quebec did not start getting serious about meeting space until 1842 when it stopped convening in temporary locales and settled into the former home of British Army Major General William Dunn. In 1895 a new building was commissioned from architect Georges-Emile Tanguay who integrated classical and medieval influences into his Chatequesque design. Raoul Chenevert added sympathetic wings in 1929.
TURN LEFT ON RUE DES JARDINS.
11 Rue des Jardins
This heritage house has its footprint firmly in the 18th century, having been built for German butcher Antoine Vanfelson around 1780. After leaving the Vanfelson family the house became a tenant property. One renter was believed to have been famed gold and silversmith Laurent Amiot who elevated his craft into the realm of art. After 1895 the house was occupied by the Legare family for several generations until being classified as a historic property.
TURN RIGHT ON RUE SAINTE-ANNE.
57 Rue Sainte-Anne
The Clarendon is the oldest continually operating hotel in Quebec. The first guests checked into a four-storey house on the corner that was the creation of Charles Baillairge, the fourth generation of architects and builders in the city. In addition to his contribution to foot travel with the Breakneck Stairs he helped with the creation of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Over the years the building expanded and became the Clarendon Hotel in 1894. The eye-catching Art Deco annex came along in 1927 courtesy of Raoul Chenevert.
65 Rue Sainte-Anne
William Price hailed from Wales and was in Quebec in time to fight during the War of 1812. He began a grocer but in 1820 started a timber export business which became one of Canada’s most prosperous. In 1924 John Herbert and Arthur Clifford Price inherited Price Brothers Limited and set out to build a new headquarters. When nothing struck their fancy on Rue Saint-Pierre in the financial district they then set their sights near City Hall. Despite protests, the Price boys got the go-ahead for their 16-floor skyscraper from a city eager to demonstrate its progressiveness. Canada’s leading architectural firm, Ross and Macdonald of Montreal, used the city’s first steel frame to erect the grey limestone tower. The Art Deco style with setbacks gives way to more classical themes as it approaches the steepled copper roof. The Price brothers had little joy in their new building after it was completed in 1931 - the Great Depression cost them both their company and the tallest building in the Old Quebec historical district. In 2001, it became the location of an official residence for the Premier of Quebec, which occupies two of the upper floors.
Jean-Baptiste-De La Salle Building
10 Rue Pierre Olivier Chauveau at southwest corner of Rue Sainte-Anne
This monumental five-storey building that stretches down the elevations of both Rue Pierre Olivier Chauveau and Rue Sainte-Anne began life as the Brothers of the Christian Commercial Academy in 1916. Since 1960 it has been the home of Quebec Ministries of Transport, Revenue and Municipal Affairs.
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
106 Rue Sainte-Anne
As soon as the British drove the French from Quebec at the Plains of Abraham in 1759 Chaplain Robert MacPherson and the 78th Fraser Highlanders set up a Presbyterian congregation. King George III granted this land in 1802 and on November 30, 1810 a church building was dedicated. It was St. Andrew’s Day, hence the congregation name. A Protestant school was added to the compact property in 1829.
CONTINUE ON RUE SAINTE-ANNE AS IT BEARS LEFT.
44 Chaussée Des Ecossais at Rue Sainte-Anne
In New France this land was the Royal Redoubt, used for military barracks. After the British conquest in 1759 it was a storehouse and the city’s main prison. The original buildings came down in 1808 to be replaced by this handsome Palladian-style structure built of cut stone. Francois Baillairge drew up the plans. The prison was meant to reflect the ideas of reformer John Howard but almost from the beginning it was overcrowded. The detention center closed in 1867 and became the home of Morrin College, founded by Scotsman Dr. Joseph Morrin as the first English language institute of higher learning in Quebec. At that time the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, founded in 1824, moved its collection into this building and it has been a library ever since.
TURN LEFT ON RUE SAINTE-URSULE.
James Thompson House
47 Rue Sainte-Ursule
James Thompson was born in Scotland in 1732 and lived 98 years before dying in Quebec. He worked in the service of King George III and built this house in 1793. Thompson family descendants lived here until 1957.
TURN LEFT ON RUE SAINT-LOUIS.
Charles Baillairge House
72 Rue Saint-Louis
Charles Baillairge, whose family sculpted the Quebec streetscape for over a century, was given this property in 1887 by the city when he was serving as Quebec engineer. He set about designing a new three-story residence with a mansard roof where he lived until his death in 1906.
57-63 Rue Saint-Louis
These buildings stand as testament to the consistent streetscape maintained during the transfer of power from the French to the British in Quebec. The core of the block (59-61) were erected during the French regime at the beginning of the 18th century. The extensions on either end are from the early 1800s under British rule. In 1811 the entire property became a residence for British army officers.
The Jacquet House
34 Rue Saint-Louis
The Jacquet House was one of the largest houses in Upper Town during its day, which was 1675-1676. Francois Jacquet was a prominent citizen who got the land from the nuns of the Ursuline Convent next door. The house boasted thick stone walls and solid joinery which accounts for its longevity as one of Quebec’s oldest houses. Novelist Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé of Les Anciens Canadiens fame lived here from 1815 until 1824. Since 1966 the crimson-roofed property, now consisting of two buildings, has been the home of the internationally renowned restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens.
Duke of Kent’s House
25 Rue Saint-Louis
The bones of this house stretch all the way back to 1648 when the governor of New France lived here. The Articles of Capitulation of Quebec were signed here in 1759 by Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Roch de Ramezay as it was one of the few structures in the city not leveled by the British bombardment. The house has undergone extensive renovations since then but the exterior looks much like it did in 1819. Prince Edward Duke of Kent and future father of Queen Victoria stayed here for a few years in the 1790s and his fame outpoints another resident, Bishop Jacob Mountain, first Anglican bishop of Quebec, so his name gets top billing.
12 Rue Saint-Louis
It does not take much imagination to peg this imposing structure as the one-time Quebec City Courthouse. The dispensing of justice on this site began long before its construction between 1883 and 1887, however. As early as 1651 the seigneurial tribunal of The Company of One Hundred Associates called to order in a building here. The first city courthouse rose on this spot in 1799. Jean-Baptiste Derome, chief architect of the Department of Public Works of the Province of Quebec, gave this ornate building its French Second Empire style, symmetrically arranged around a corner clocktower.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE CHATEAU FRONTENAC.