Courtesy Reuters

Quebec in Revolt

For over 150 years after the fall of Quebec to the British in 1759, the Province of Quebec was a poor, agrarian, patriarchal, clerical society. It wanted little more from the English Canadians than to be let alone to slumber peacefully and to preserve its language and (like Ireland) its Roman Catholic religion. But little by little, and particularly since World War II, the industrialization and prosperity of the United States and of the rest of Canada have brought great changes. Less than half of the people of Quebec now live on farms; the growth of its cities has been enormous (Montreal now has more than a million people); and its rich natural resources-minerals, timber and hydroelectric power-have been rapidly developed.

By the early 1950s, as a result, Quebec had a small but brilliant and dynamic élite, which was determined that Quebec should become a modern society by breaking the hold of its traditionalist clergy, its corrupt and demagogic politicians, and of the American and English Canadian capital which controlled more than 75 percent of Quebec's natural resources and industries. This new élite was also determined not to become assimilated into English-speaking North America but to retain and modernize French Canadian culture-the French language, literature and arts whose character and fame France's postwar revival had taught them even more to cherish. Since 1952 when television came to Quebec, the élite has used this medium to spread their ideas and programs to the masses of the population. In addition the recent tendencies toward liberalization in the Roman Catholic Church, in which Cardinal Léger of Montreal is a leader, have also helped their efforts.

Quebec has experienced waves of French Canadian nationalism before, but they were always worn down by the overwhelming force of their traditionalist opponents and by the lack of full endorsement by the Quebec Roman Catholic clergy. The late Prime Minister Maurice Duplessis preached a demagogic nationalism but always deferred to the United States and English Canadian investors who controlled Quebec's economy; and

Loading, please wait...

Browse Related Articles on {{search_model.selectedTerm.name}}

{{indexVM.results.hits.total | number}} Articles Found

  • {{bucket.key_as_string}}

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue