Quebec City – A Fortress and A Harbor

Today’s post is 1600 words, 27 photos, an 8 minute read. Enjoy!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the third of four installments about our time in Quebec City. If you missed the first two posts, click here and here.

This week I’ll take you to a fortress on a hill, a museum in lower town, and look at the city from the harbor.

The Citadelle de Québec

The Citadelle of Quebec sits on a promontory overlooking the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saint-Charles Rivers. The promontory served as deterrent to invaders as the cliffs were thought to be nearly insurmountable. Only the exposed west side of the fort was fortified. This site was first occupied by the French military in 1608 and is considered one of the oldest military installations in Canada.

The current Citadelle was constructed in the mid-1800s by the British as an uneven star-shaped citadel. Within the walls are 24 buildings made of limestone rock.

The Citadelle is a working military base, home to the Royal 22nd Regiment, the largest in the Canadian Army and made up mostly of French speaking soldiers. The 22nd has been part of British forces beginning from the time of the War of 1812 with the United States and Spain. This unit served with valor in France during World War I, in Italy during World War II, and in Korea in the early 1950s. Since then members of this unit have served in the Gulf War and Afghanistan.

Below is a photo of the tower of  Chateau Frontenac from the Citadelle. 

Our Road Scholar tour met up with our guide for the tour of the residence of the Gouverneur Général of Canada (I will use the Americanized version of this title). Brandon is a student at the University of British Columbia and has applied for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford in England. For the summer, he served as a tour guide at the Citadelle.

The Governor General of Canada is the designated representative of the monarch, currently King Charles III. The King is the head of state in Canada and fourteen other members of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand. The Governor General performs constitutional and ceremonial duties.

The current Governor General of Canada is Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, a career civil servant, former ambassador to Denmark, and radio broadcaster. She is of Inuk heritage and is the first Indigenous person selected as Governor General. Her portrait is below.

The residence is quite elegant and filled with history and works of art from around Canada.

Below Brandon shows us the flag as a symbol to mark the presence of the Governor General.

Below is a painting of the meeting at the 1943 meeting at the  Citadelle of the President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill, and the Canadian Prime Minister William Mackenzie King. It is said that the groundwork for Operation Overlord (D-Day) was one of the outcomes of this meeting.

This is a photograph taken at the First Quebec Conference with the Chateau Frontenac in the background.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the Citadelle, formally the residence of the Crown, in 1964 and 1987. Her reception in Quebec was cool, Quebecers aren’t fond of the monarchy, they wanted a republic type of government.

Below is one of the artworks found in the residence. I liked that someone made a garden vegetable a piece of art!

The Citadelle also is home to a museum of the Royal 22nd Regiment. Below is a reference to one of the battles the regiment fought in WWI.

We exited where we entered. The military guards watched us pass through this narrow gate, probably checking to make sure we didn’t abscond with the royal silver!

The tour of the Citadelle is well worth the time. I learned a lot about Canada, its governing structure, and military history. Plus the Citadelle is adjacent to the Plains of Abraham, a historic battlefield where the British surprised and defeated the French in 1759 taking Quebec City for the Crown. We didn’t get a chance to visit the museum and extensive park, maybe next time.

The Musée de la Civilisation

There was a light drizzle occurring as we passed near the Musée de la Civilisation near the St. Lawrence River in Lower Old Town. This museum is one of the most popular in Quebec City with permanent and temporary exhibits on culture, humanities, history with a focus on children and indigenous peoples of Quebec.

The entrance is airy and modern. From the second level, visitors can look down on a replica of sunken vessel conveying the importance of water to both the indigenous peoples and the explorers and colonists.

The exhibits about the First Nations was well-done, informative, and sad, all-in-one. The resilience of the people is amazing and finally receiving due recognition.

My favorite exhibit in the Museum of Civilization was the room dedicated to Réne Lévesque. On one of our Road Scholar walkabouts, we came upon a statue of Lévesque, our guide related to us how important a figure he was in Quebec’s political landscape. Lévesque was the Premier of Quebec for nearly ten years. Prior to that he was the leader of the Parti Québécois and a member of the National Assembly of Quebec. Once a news report and broadcaster, he was known for his work to make French the language of education, business, communication, and government. He laid the ground work for the referendum on Quebec’s sovereignty in 1980. Although it failed, he vowed to try again. His government nationalized the hydro-electric industry in Quebec to give customers low and reliable electric rates. By all accounts, he was quite the fellow. I enjoyed the exhibit and learned a lot about the man who made instrumental changes in Quebec.

The Harbor

The Port du Québec is the last major deep water port on the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. This makes Quebec City a major international trade hub with millions of metric tons of goods shipped. In addition, over 100,000 visitors arrive in Quebec City by way of cruise ships. There was no one in sight as we walked by the Seven Seas Navigator, a luxury vessel based out of Miami with room for nearly 500 guests.

Nearby, the sign pointing to the Café du Monde was a surprise to see. This location is an actual cafe with a menu not just coffee and beignets like the one in New Orleans. It was closed. I’ll put this on the list for next time!

The G3 grain export terminal, featured in the photo below, opened in 2021. It ships Canadian grain to overseas markets in Europe, Central America, and the Middle East.

The Port of Quebec marina has space for over 400 larger pleasure boats. In order to enter or depart from the marina, boats have to go through a lock system. Watching the boats in the photo below transverse the lock provided several minutes of entertainment value for me and my Traveling Partner. 

The real reason we wanted to walk to the harbor is that my Traveling Partner’s great-grandfather and his family arrived in North America from Ukraine in the early 1900s at the Port of Quebec. Somehow, these illiterate peasant farmers made their way to Liverpool, England and crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the steam ship, SS Tunisia. From what we can gather, the family of four spent a few days in Quebec City then boarded a train bound for the U.S. border at Vermont. From there, they made their way west where they met up with family members in western North Dakota.

We wanted to see what they saw over 123 years ago. Granted the tower on the Chateau Frontenac was not yet built, they would have seen the hotel as they looked up the hill from the harbor. They likely stayed in Lower Old Town where the majority of the laborers lived and worked. Besides that, the train station was nearby. We stared at this scene for a few minutes trying to imagine what was going through their minds at their first glimpse of North America. We walked back towards Lower Old Town with good feelings of a personal mission accomplished.


For our trip to Canada, we drove our car. The challenge in Quebec City was finding a place to park our car that wouldn’t require a bank loan to pay the bill. Fortunately, we have a friend with a vacation condo in Lower Quebec City. She arranged for us to park our car in the space reserved for her condo. Right next door to the parking lot was her friend’s art gallery, Galerie D’Art – Loft de Creation. When we checked to make sure our car was still there and not towed away, we stopped to visit with Giséle Boulianne. She showed us around her studio and gallery. Her work is so colorful and full of energy. We enjoyed meeting her and thankful she kept an eye on our car!

Several times during our stay in Quebec City, we passed this mural. I can safely say that we stopped every time and saw something new. This mural was painted on the side of a three-story building in 1999 by twelve Quebec artists. The mural illustrates the history of the city from the time of Cartier, Champlain, Joliet, and Bishop Laval to the present day. There always seemed to be a group of tourists looking at the mural and it’s a thing to have your photo taken as if you are part of the mural. This a definitely a got-to-see site in Quebec City.

Well folks, that does for this week. Stay tuned next week for the last installment from Quebec City.

Until then, happy travels!


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