Old Quebec is full of history and culture. We’ve taken the guess work out of where to go with 5 Cultural Hot Spots in Québec City!
It is difficult not to trip over history and culture almost everywhere you turn in Old Québec, the picturesque district of Québec City inside the old city walls. It’s also difficult not to stumble over scads of field-tripping middle schoolers, but that’s another story. If it’s your children underfoot on a visit to QC, you’ll want to hit up these spots in and around Vieux-Québec. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but if you are staying in the Old City, here are five cool, very walkable, cultural hot spots in Québec City you won’t want to miss!
Museum of Civilization: A rainy morning found us at the Musée de la Civilisation exploring the many exhibits. During the spring of 2017, the exhibits included “This is Our Story” with First Nations and Inuit art and artefacts, “People of Québec” celebrating the long history of the Belle Province, and several other galleries highlighting the history of the inhabitants of Québec and their place in the contemporary world. Exhibits that were a bit more interactive and possibly of more interest to the younger set included “Like Cats and Dogs” a fun, interactive exhibit that teaches visitors about ethology, the science of animal behaviour.
“Mad about Brains” unravelling some of the mysteries of the brain, was tailored for older kids, and my personal favourite “Observe. More than Meets the Eye” a maze full of illusions and mind twisting spaces. Preschoolers would love the “Once Upon a Time” costume workshop. Running until October 22, 2017 but not yet opened during my visit was “Hergé in Québec City” based on the life and imagination of the cartoonist responsible for Tintin, which looks like it would be fascinating, with a guided family tour available throughout the day.
Plains of Abraham You learned about the site of the historic battle in Social Studies, and a visit to Québec City means you can stand in the field where the armies of Wolfe and Montcalm fought, lethally wounding both leaders. And that is where the extent of my remembrances of history classes past begins and ends. I know I’m not the only one in the same boat as I overheard a conversation between three stylish women that ended “Well, I don’t know. Something important happened. Don’t you have Google?” Luckily tours of the plain are held regularly throughout the summer, either walking or on a bus with costumed interpreters to bring history to life. It’s very much worth your while to invest in…especially if your memory of the events (like mine) is a little, umm, lacking.
Aux Anciens Canadiens Finding myself without a lunch date I wandered into a quaint restaurant that, having been built in 1675, is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Québec City. With its steeply pitched red roof (the better to keep snow and ice from piling up during bitter Québecois winters) Aux Anciens Canadiens is a much photographed piece of history, but also a great place to eat. The server, dressed in period costume brought me a glass of wine as soon as I was seated (I must have had the look!) and chatted brightly about the history of the cozy spot that was once one of the largest private homes in town. There is a set menu with some local goodies on it (hello maple syrup pie!) and a kids menu available too. When my history comes with food, I’m a happy camper!
Rue de Tresor: Of course “culture” isn’t synonymous with “old” and there is plenty of contemporary stuff to enjoy with your family in Québec City. One of my favourites was the Rue de Tresor (Treasure Street) across Place d’Armes from the Chateau Frontenac. It is a small alleyway filled with paintings, many that are streetscapes of Old Québec. It was started in the 1960s, and I imagine a small painting would make a treasured keepsake for a kid who gets to choose their own piece of art to bring home.
Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site: The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac dominates the skyline in old Quebec, the castle-styled edifice perched on top of the hill makes it a formidable landmark. At one time though, long before the railroad barons built the hotel, the dominant structure on that spot would have been the home of the Governor of Québec. Buried beneath the Dufferin Terrace are the ruins of the forts and a progression of chateaux that were the home to subsequent heads of government. The Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site site is a part of Parks Canada, which means in 2017 admission is free. During the summer months a guided tour is offered for the bargain price of $3.90, or you can do a self-guided tour at your own pace. You can also indulge your own archaeology interests by participating in an excavation, where you get the chance to hunt for pieces of the past.
Have you been to Quebec City lately? What was your favourite of the many Cultural Hot Spots in Québec City? We’d love to hear your thoughts!