The British Library Homepage
home Home  >   Online Gallery  >  Online exhibitions  >   Features  >   Quebec 400

Quebec 400

Discovery Nouvelle France Siege and war Lower Canada Tercentenary Early 1900s decorative thumbnail images

Celebrating the foundation of the city of Quebec, 1608

In 2008 Quebec City celebrated the 400th anniversary of its foundation.

This web feature marks the occasion. Dr Dorian Hayes, curator of Canadian and Caribbean Collections at the British Library, has put together a selection of treasures illustrating the city's eventful history, drawn from the British Library's collections of maps, manuscripts and printed books.
Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City. copyright Francis Vachon/Christie
Chateau Frontenac (foreground), and the Image Mill, Quebec City, 2008, by Robert Lepage / Ex Machina (photograph reproduced by kind permission of Christie / Francis Vachon)

The 2008 celebrations saw the ultimate hi-tech re-staging of the very human-scale pageants that took place in the city on the occasion of the Tercentenary in 1908.

A programme of spectacular events commemorated the 400th anniversary throughout 2008. They ranged from exhibitions, street theatre, tableaux, public lectures and conferences, to performances by world-famous artists such as Cirque du Soleil, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion.

Perhaps the most innovative event saw theatre director and Quebec resident Robert Lepage project a grand 'animated mosaic' depicting the city's evolution over 400 years on the largest outdoor screen ever devised (above image, bottom right).

Lepage's production company Ex Machina operates out of the iconic Caserne Dalhousie building, on the site of the city's first stock exchange in Lower Town. It operated there from 1828, but was moved to Montreal in the early 20th century (reflecting that city's new provincial dominance). Thereafter, the building became home to the Lower Town's "Firehouse #5".

It is in this guise that the building appears on the Goad Fire Insurance Plan made in 1910. It can be identified as 'Fire Station No. 5', located near Custom House Square, on the right-hand side of St André Street, off Dalhousie Street. More on the building

The six sections in this feature include 30 rare images illustrating Quebec's history. You can view every one in a high-resolution zoomable version.

logo of Quebec Ministry of CultureThis feature was created with the kind assistance of the Government of Québec

Introduction: Quebec 2008
Discovery of Canada and Quebec
La Nouvelle France 1608–1763
Siege of Quebec and Seven Years War 1756–63
Lower Canada
Tercentenary 1908
Early 1900s

Intro: 2008
La Nouvelle France
Siege and war
Lower Canada
Early 1900s
Accessibility Terms of use
Copyright The British Library Board