Quebec City celebrates its history and culture

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Cardinal of Richelieu, the first Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec, was followed along the parade route by beautiful ladies wearing elegant gowns.

Quebec City welcomed residents and visitors to celebrate its unique culture and history at the 21st annual Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France (FNF).

On August 9, the first family of New France – Louis Hébert and his wife Marie Rollet – launched the festivities, which ran until August 13. A market, activities and events were held throughout the lower town of the Old City. Hébert and Rollet came to Quebec City from Paris in 1617. 

“The FNF permits us to relive a time, 400 years in the past, which forged us into who we are today,” said Benoït Bernier, president of the FNF. “During five days, visitors live according the rhythm of life of New France and learn about local products and hear our story told by passionate individuals.” 
 
The Compagnons de la Nouvelle-France demonstrated their military skills in front of cheering crowds. Photo Cassandra Kerwin 

“Festivals are part of our DNA in Quebec,” said Julie Boulet, Minister of Tourism and MNA of Mauricie. “We have extraordinary events. Huge numbers of visitors and people come at each of them. They are innovative and distinctive, like this one. We welcome over 200,000 people to participate in the FNF, half of which are tourists.”

“This festival offers us (the opportunity) to go back into time and to observe the way of life of the first French colonists,” said Joël Lightbound, MP of Louis-Hébert and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health,. “The Federal Government is happy to contribute to this festival, which anchors us in our roots and illustrates how the meeting of different cultures forges our plurality and our identity.”

“This is an important event because it reminds us of the harsh realities of the colonists,” stated Geneviève Hamelin, municipal councillor for Maizerets-Lairet, president of the City Council, and of the Commission d’urbanisme et de conservation de Québec. “The numerous activities allow us to learn about blacksmiths, broom makers, farmers, artists, artisans and families.”

On the opening evening, Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet, along with Msg. François de Laval, Louis XIV, soldiers, Native Americans, musicians and many others dressed in elegant or simple costumes paraded, down Grande Allée into the Old City to the Séminaire de Québec. Cheering crowds gathered along the 1.5-km parade route. 

Over the weekend, families, locals and tourists learned about family history, about local foods at the farmers’ market or tried samples of different dishes in Place de Paris and the Batterie Royale. Throughout the Lower Town, men, women and children dressed in regal suits and gowns made from the finest materials, or wore simple peasant clothing made from linen. 

While some people competed in the corn-on-the-cob-eating contest or in the wheelbarrow race in the Place de Paris, others enjoyed lectures about different historical aspects of New France at the Musée de la Civilisation. Luckily, the beautiful weather held out throughout most of festival, except for Saturday night, when torrents of rain fell on Quebec City. The Grands Feux Loto-Québec fireworks were almost drowned out by the thunder and lightning.