The Port of Quebec rests where the St. Lawrence and Saint Charles rivers meet about 240 kilometers northeast of Montreal in Quebec Province, Canada, and about 375 kilometer north of Portland, Maine, in the United States. The capital of Quebec Province, the Port of Quebec economy is largely based on government and services, but it is also an important port for the nation of Canada. In 2006, over 491 thousand people lived in the city, and more than 715 thousand lived in the Port of Quebec metropolitan area.
With government and services as the largest employers in the city, the Port of Quebec economy also depends on tourism, commerce, manufacturing, shipbuilding, and transportation. Manufactured goods produced in the Port of Quebec include processed foods, pulp and paper, chemicals, wood and metal products, electronics, and printed materials. The Port of Quebec enjoys a healthy economy, with a significantly lower unemployment rate than its province or Canada. The Port of Quebec is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North America, the historic city center was recognized as a UNESCOWorld Heritage site in 1985.
Before Europeans arrived in the region, the St. Lawrence Iroquois people had established a settlement they called Stadacona at the future site of the Port of Quebec. This village name was the genesis of the name for the nation of Canada. Historians believe that the Port of Quebec is one of the first settlements in the Americas that was established as a settlement rather than as a commercial or trading post.
In 1535, Frenchman and explorer Jacques Cartier constructed a fort on the future Port of Quebec site for a winter refuge before he returned to France. He returned in 1541 to establish a permanent settlement but was forced to abandon the new village in 1542 by a combination of harsh winter conditions and hostile natives.
In 1608, Samuel de Champlain arrived at the long-abandoned Iroquois village of Stadacona, recognizing the area's potential for a permanent colony. Over the course of the century, the Port of Quebec became an important fur trading center. By the second half of the 1600s, France sent Jean Talon to administer the new colony and expand trade.
The Port of Quebec colony grew. When new shipyards were built, the Port of Quebec became a major trade center between Europe and the new French colony. At the time, lumber was a major export product and a mainstay of the local economy.
British forces captured the Port of Quebec in 1759, holding it for four years until 1763. During the Seven Years' War, the British defeated the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. By 1763, France surrender its colony of New France to Britain.
At the beginning of British rule, the Port of Quebec was already a unique city with a population of about eight thousand. Surrounded by forests, pastures, and villages, the city contained a mix of monumental architecture and forts, muddy streets, mansions, and shacks. Though it was an urban capital, but it held on to its rural history. At the Port of Quebec's two markets, farmers traded their goods and firewood for French imports.
In 1775, troops attempted to overrun the British garrison during the American Revolution, and their defeat ended hopes that the Port of Quebec would become part of the new United States. In fact, the battle's outcome effectively split the former British colonies into two political units. After the battle, the British reinforced their defenses for the Port of Quebec by strengthening the walls, adding an artillery battery, and building a series of Martello towers outside the city walls. While the Port of Quebec was not attacked as expected during the War of 1812, British troops continued to use the citadel as a garrison until 1871.
During the 1800s, the Port of Quebec began to develop into a modern city. In 1832, the city was incorporated, and it received its official charter in 1840. Trinity House was founded in 1805 to dredge the river to make it navigable to larger vessels. In 1858, a corporation was created to develop port facilities. In the second half of the 1800s, the Port of Quebec's Estuary Sector, the Bassin Louise, silos at Bunge, and railways were added to the port.
The Province of Canada was created in 1840, and the Port of Quebec shared the role of capital with Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Kingston. In 1867, Ottawa was chosen as the permanent capital of the Province. In 1864, the Port of Quebec was the site of the Quebec Conference where the colonies discussed the possibility of creating a Canadian Confederation.
The Port of Quebec was important to the Allied efforts during World War II, as two conferences were held there. In 1943, Winston Churchill (for the United Kingdom), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (for the United States), T.V. Soong (for China), and William Lyon Mackenzie King (for Canada) met to talked about their combined strategies at the First Quebec Conference. At the Second Quebec Conference in 1944, Churchill and Roosevelt met in the Port of Quebec to talk about their plans for the D-Day Landings.
During the 20th Century, the Port of Quebec added facilities and capacity. The Anse au Foulon Sector was opened in 1935. The Beauport Sector was finished in the 1970s. When the Port of Quebec diversified the cargo it handled, it became a vital transshipment point on the St. Lawrence Seaway and River.
In 2001, the Summit of the Americas was held in the Port of Quebec where participants talked about the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). In 2002, New Quebec City was formed when 11 surrounding municipalities were incorporated into the Port of Quebec. In 2005, more than 11 thousand athletes and 14 thousand companions met to participate in the World Police and Fire Games, a biennial world sporting event for active and retired law enforcement and fire fighting professionals.