The Province of Quebec

Physical Background

QUEBEC is the largest province in Canada, and is surpassed' only by Ontario in population and economic development. Its shores were discovered more than four centuries ago and have been settled for nearly 350 years. The St. Lawrence is still the main gateway to a large section of North America.

Position and Extent

Quebec extends from the international boundary at the 45th parallel of north latitude, to Cape Chidley on Hudson Strait at about 62° N., a distance of almost 1,200 miles. It thus spans several climatic and vegetation zones, from the deciduous forest to the Arctic tundra. Its greatest eastwest distance is over 1,600 miles, from the 57th meridian, at the Strait of Belle Isle, to the Ontario boundary at 79°33′ west longitude. Quebec thus has two time zones. The North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gaspé Peninsula fall in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, four hours later than Greenwich Mean time, while the rest of the province has Eastern Standard Time which is one hour later.

The area of the province is 594,860 square miles, 15.5% of the area of Canada. It is a land of great diversity, 71,000 square miles being occupied by fresh water lakes and l60,000 square miles by treeless tundra, waste land and unproductive forest. An area of approximately 70,000 square miles is occupied by agricultural settlement and somewhat less than 300,000 square miles by productive forest, half of which is still untouched.


Quebec has the advantage of a lengthy shoreline. The uninviting coast from Cape Chidley to the southern part of James Bay is 2,550 miles long. The north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the estuary have a shoreline of 1,160 miles from Blanc Sablon to Quebec while it is nearly the same distance along the south shore and around the Gaspé Peninsula to the New Brunswick border at the head of Bale de Chaleur. The seaway is prolonged inland by the navigable waters of the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. The largest cities of Quebec are located on the waterway and settlement has extended from its shores.

The province of Quebec falls naturally into three distinct but very unequal physiographic regions: (a) the Canadian Shield, sometimes called the Laurentian Plateau; (b) the St. Lawrence Lowland; (c) the Appalachian Highlands.

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