Canada just doesn’t have the architectural allure of Europe’s oldest cities. Or so I naively thought.
Late last year, Sean Pollock and I had the privilege to travel through the forested foothills of Lac-beauport, Quebec (as seen here). As the trip winded down, we decided to make a quick stop in Quebec City to remind ourselves of the joys of every grade 8’s grad trip. What we found was much more than just a twelve year old’s excuse to skip school, but an architectural journey through what felt like the 1600s.
Designated a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO, Old Quebec is filled with history. As Canada’s oldest colonized region, this walled city has the charm of any European heavyweight while still maintaining its small-town character.
The real standout is the Petit-Champlain district. The flower pots and hanging vines outside buildings provide a perfect backdrop for the dormer windows, colorful gabled roofs, and cobbled stone streets. It was here in 1608 that Samuel de Champlain, “Father of the New France”, chose to erect his Abitation, which served as a fort, storehouse, trading post, and first permanent French settlement in North America. Also situated in the district is Place Royale, home to Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America, built in 1688.
Much like when travelling through Europe, be prepared to give your quads and calves a work out. The city is filled with steep hills and stairs. One of the well-known stairs in the area is actually called the Escalier Casse-Cou which roughly translates to the Breakneck Stairs. So, try not to slip.
All-in-all Old Quebec was quite the aesthetically pleasing historical adventure and I will be back for more than just a couple hours next time.