The flag of Québec The province of Québec: 1867-today

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Second Era: from the Quiet Revolution until today

1960 : The election of Jean Lesage, leader of the Parti Libéral du Québec, at the head of the province, answers to a great need for change and renewal. It is the start of an incredible movement historians have dubbed the "Quiet Revolution". Reelected in 1962 with the slogan "Maître chez nous" (masters in our home), the government take control of the school system (until then held by the church). Natural resources minister, René Lévesque, buys and nationalizes all electricity companies of the province and creates "Hydro-Québec". This marks the birth of modern Québec.

Québécois finally take control of their own economy, as more and more of them start businesses and companies.
Jean Lesage
Jean Lesage

September 1960 : Marcel Chaput and André d'Allemagne found the «Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale» (Union for National Independence - R.I.N.). In 1964, Pierre Bourgault becomes the new chief of the R.I.N.

1961: Claire Kirkland-Casgrain is the first woman elected to the Québec Assemblée nationale.

1962: Canada becomes the third nation in space with the launch of the satellite Alouette I.

1962: Champlain bridge, between Montréal and its South shore, opens. The cost: 30 million dollars. Crossing the bridge becomes free in 1990.

Jean Drapeau
Jean Drapeau
1962: The mayor of Montréal, Jean Drapeau (the man who will also be behind the great projects of Expo 67 and the 76 Olympics) instigates the construction of the Métro (subway). The project will be complete in 1966.

1963: The first bombs of the Front de Libération du Québec detonate in Montréal.

1964: Signing of Québec's first international agreement in Paris. The same year, during an official visit by the queen of England, the police violently intervenes during a separatist demonstration.

1964: The ministry of education is created.

1965: Canadian Prime minister Lester Pearson recruits three reknown Québec personalities for his government: Jean Marchand, Gérard Pelletier and Pierre Elliott Trudeau (nicknamed the «three doves»).

1965: The report of the Laurendeau-Dunton royal commission recommends to declare French an official language in the parliaments of Canada, Ontario and New Brunswick, in the federal tribunals and in government administration of Canada.

1966 : Québec's situation, as just a province among ten, becomes more and more insufficient and absurd as time passes. Daniel Johnson, leader of the Union Nationale, is elected prime minister under the slogan « Égalité ou indépendance » (Equality or independance).

1967: René Lévesque quits the Parti libéral and founds the Sovereignty-Association movement.

1967 : During an official visit to Québec and after being greeted with all honors by a huge crowd, the President of France, le général Charles de Gaulle, declares from the balcony of the Montréal town hall; « Vive le Québec libre ! » (Long live free Québec!). As all remain surprised by this declaration, the crowd cheers and applauds loudly. De Gaulle cancels his visit to Ottawa and leaves directly for Paris.

Charles de Gaulle
Vive le Québec libre!
1967: Reknown author Saul Bellow, of Québécois origin, is awarded the Nobel Prize of literature «for combining human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture.» He was born in Lachine in 1915.

1967: The Montréal Universal Exposition "EXPO 67" welcomes millions of visitors from across the world, as Montréal becomes the center of the planet for the duration of the summer.

Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Sixties : Immigrants from Asia (especially Viet-Nam), fleeing misery and a country ravaged by war, come to find a better life in Québec.

1968 : Pierre-Elliott Trudeau is the third Québécois to be elected canadian prime minister. At the beginning of his career, Trudeau reaches never seen before levels of popularity, the crowds adore him, it is «Trudeau-mania».

1968: «Lundi de la Matraque» (Monday of the truncheons). 290 people are arrested during the Saint-Jean-Baptiste parade.

1968: The Parti québécois is born, a party dedicated to Québec independance.

1968: Doctor Pierre Grondin realizes the first heart transplant in the country.

1969: The Trudeau government finally makes French Canada's second official language.

1969: Montréal is granted a concession by the National Baseball League: the Expos!

1969: First civil mariage of Québec history. Viviane DeBaene and Bernard Deslages are united by a State civil servant.

1970 : The October crisis explodes. A group of terrorists calling themselves the "Front de Libération du Québec", send a manifest to the medias that is read live on television. They kidnap the Québécois employment minister Pierre Laporte. He is executed by them and found in the trunk of a car soon after. An employee of the British consulate is also kidnapped, but will not be physically harmed. Québec prime minister Robert Bourassa panics and asks for Ottawa's help in solving the crisis. Ottawa overeacts in a most spectacular fashion by declaring the "War measures act". The army occupies Montréal, and numerous innocent citizens are arrested and thrown in jail without mandate, in the middle of the night. Some are submitted to psychological tortures in attempts to reveal non-existent FLQ connections. l'armée
The army in Montréal!

1971: Robert Bourassa makes public his big hydro-electric project in James Bay. That same year, the Québec government refuses to sign the Victoria constitutional accord.

1972: A bomb explodes at the Cuban consulate of Montréal and launches a spying operation, probably organised by the CIA and the RCMP.

1973: Doctor Henry Morgentaler is acquitted in Montréal of performing illegal abortions.

1973: The RCMP illegally steals the list of members from the offices of the Parti québécois. We later learn in 1992 that the operation was made following a request by canadian Prime minister Trudeau.

1974: The Bourassa government adopts the Bill 22, thus making French the official language of work and government.

1976 : Montréal hosts the summer Olympics. For the occasion, the imposing and impressive Stade Olympique is built. Incorporating the tallest inclined tower in the world, the building becomes the architectural symbol of Montréal. The prodigious young gymnast from Romania, Nadia Comaneci, obtains seven perfect scores of 10 for her performance, a first in the history of the Olympics.

1976 : With René Lévesque as their leader, the Parti Québécois, is elected at the head of the province, with the clear mandate to hold a referendum on the question of sovereignty. In 1977, the new Québec government votes the controversial Bill 101 which makes French the official language of Québec and takes concrete measures to protect and promote it. Regrouped under the banner of «Alliance Québec», an Ottawa-funded group of English-speaking Québécois will oppose the Bill and will succeed through the years in invalidating several sections with Supreme Court rulings.

René Lévesque
René Lévesque
1978: The Sun Life insurance company acknowledges that it moved its Montréal head office to Toronto because of language laws and «political instability».

1978: Gilles Villeneuve wins his first Grand Prix at the Montréal Grand Prix, on the circuit that now bears his name.

1980: Québécois skater Gaétan Boucher establishes a new record at the 1000 meters. Subsequently, he wins two gold medals and one bronze at the Olympic games.

1980 : As promised, Lévesque holds his referendum on sovereignty. The sovereignists mostly use a calm and moderate approach (specifying that the vote is not for sovereignty itself, but for a mandate to negociate it), while Trudeau's federalists will pull no punches, multiplying menaces and threats (you won't be able to afford gas, you won't be able to afford food, you'll lose your pensions, etc...), creating fear in the population. Trudeau will finally promise a great reform of Canada. In the end, 60% of Québécois choose to vote NO.

1981 : Trudeau's so-called reform is not what all had hoped for. All the provincial premiers are invited to negociate a new deal and sign it. But in the middle of the night, without saying a word to Lévesque, the premiers meet in secret to sign a new deal. Lévesque learns of this event the next morning and furious, leaves Ottawa. Historians have baptised this tragic night the « Nuit des longs couteaux » (night of the long knives). To this day, Québec has never signed this new version of the constitution.

1981 : The Caisses Populaires Desjardins innovates by making available the first automatic bank machine to its clients.

1982: Without the consent of Québec, Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II sign the new Canadian constitution. From now on, all provincial legislation becomes submitted to this new constitution, which constitutes a major loss of powers for provinces compared to the 1867 constitution. Québec claims for special powers in immigration and social programs are totally ignored.

1982: Anglophone community groups in Montréal found Alliance Québec to «defend minority rights (read English speaker's rights) in the province». The first president of the Alliance offers to finance lawsuits against laws that prohibit the use of English on commercial signs. The war on Bill 101 has begun.

1984: Brian Mulroney becomes Prime minister of Canada and promises to reintegrate Québec in the «Canadian family» in honor and enthusiasm. The Québec government accepts what René Lévesque calls «the nice risk» and new federal-provincial discussions.

1984: Sylvie Bernier is the first Québec female athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

1984: Marc Garneau becomes the first Québécois and in fact the first Canadian in space.

Eighties : Québec greets new immigrants from all corners of the globe, from the Middle-East, Haïti, Eastern Europe and Asia. Most of them will choose to establish themsleves in the Greater Montréal area.

1987: On July 14, torrential rains litterally flood the Montréal region. A man drowns in his car on the Décarie highway.

1988: The Supreme Court of Canada declares illegal the mandatory use of French in commercial signs.

Marc Garneau
Marc Garneau
1988: A powerful earthquake reaches 6,0 on the Richter scale. The epicenter is in the Laurentides fauna reserve.

1989: An armed madman kills fourteen women students at the Polytechnique school of Montréal. This horrible tragedy leads to the adoption of harsher laws to control firearms in Canada.

1989: A powerful solar flare causes a general electric power failure on the entire territory of Québec for a whole nine hours. This phenomenon received world-wide coverage.

Brian Mulroney
Brian Mulroney
1990 : Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, negociates a new accord to repair the damage that was done in 1981. Even if the Meech Lake Accord offers very little gains to Québec, Manitoba and Newfoundland premiers choose to sabotage it at the last minute. Click here to know more on this political crisis.

1990: Lucien Bouchard founds the Bloc québécois, the first sovereignist party at the federal level.

1990: La Crise d'Oka. The Mohawks from the Oka and Kahnawake reserves take up arms and blockade the Mercier bridge between Montréal and the South Shore. Robert Bourassa finalle abandons negociations and ask for the intervention of the Canadian army, which put an end to a 78-days long siege. A police officer is killed.

1991: Québec Liberal Party adopts the Allaire Report recommending greater autonomy for the province. That same year, the Bélanger-Campeau Commission condemns the constitutional status quo as «unacceptable». The report recommends that a new referndum on sovereignty be held.

1991: On May 15th, Yves Laforest plants the québécois flag on the summit of Mount Everest. He is the first Québécois on the roof of the world.

1992: For the first time in recorded history, Bernard Voyer succeeds at crossing Ellesmere Island, the northernmost land on Earth. Seven years later, he also reach the summit of Mount Everest.

1992 : Bourassa transforms his referendum on sovereignty into a referendum on the new Charlottetown Accord, a deal made in haste to replace Meech. This new deal, even less generous towards Québec, is rejected by all. Québécois vote NO because too little, and English-Canadians vote NO because judged too generous. Once more, the two people are at odds. Robert Bourassa
Robert Bourassa

1993: Jean Chrétien becomes the new Prime minister of Canada. Québec votes for the new federal sovereignist party, the Bloc québécois. This party, with Lucien Bouchard as its leader, becomes the official opposition in Ottawa.

1995: The Parti Québécois is brought back to power and holds a second referendum on sovereignty. The result: NO with a microscopic majority of 50,6%. Such a close vote means that no one wins. Despite his promises of reform and recognition, canadian prime minister Chrétien still refuses to recognise Québec in any meaningful way. Twice now, Québec has chosen to give Canada another chance, to no avail. The dead end is complete once more, and one can only wonder where it will lead this time. It was later revealed that, just before the referendum, Ottawa secretly set up illegal operations and a huge «Citizenship Operation».

1997: Jacques Villeneuve, son of Gilles, becomes Formula 1 world champion.

1998: A severe ice storm cuts power to more than 3 million Québec residents, killing two dozen people and causing more than 1.1 billion dollars in damage.

1998: The nomination de David Levine, an ex-member of the parti québécois, as the new director of the Ottawa hospital causes a scandal.

Julie Payette
Julie Payette
1998: In March, the first person to be appointed First Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations is Madame Louise Fréchette, born in Montréal. She thus becomes the direct and closest assistant of the Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan.

1999: Julie Payette is the first Québécoise woman in space.

2001: 34 international chiefs of states gather in Québec for the Summit of the Americas, while oponents of globalization gather at the police barricades. The federal government refuses to allow the Québec government permission to be present at the summit.

2002: Roger Thibault and Leo Wouters, two homosexuals reknown for their fight against homophobia, are married in Montréal, a first in Québec and Canada. They are the first to benefit from the new Québec law that allows the civil union of same-sex couples.

2003: Québécois massively oppose the anglo-american war in Iraq. Pacifist marches attract record numbers of participants. In February, in freezing temperatures, 150 000 people walk the Montréal streets in protest. On March 15th, only a few days before the beginning of hostilities, an enormous crowd of 200 000 people participate to a great walk for peace in Montréal. pour la paix à Montréal. Similar marches are organised in other Québec cities. One week later, just before a Montréal / New York hockey match at the Centre Bell, boo the American national anthem in protest.

Manifestation du 15 mars à Montréal
Photo Robert Skinner, La Presse
2004: A huge scandal seriously damages the credibility of the federal government.

And history goes on...

Je me souviens.

History of Québécois French

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