Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink the area is known for. Today, we visit La Belle Provence, otherwise known as Quebec. Please note, this article will not be written bilingually:
Motto: “I remember” – Remember what?
Food: There are a number of Monteal-style dishes, including bagels, smoked meat, hot dogs, melons, and even a steak seasoning. Aside from that, a popular Quebecois dish is Tourtière, comprised of minced meat (pork, veal, beef, etc.), combined with potatoes in a pie format. The meal is traditionally served as part of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. The name for the dish comes from the device it’s made in.
Drink: While my and Mrs. Sip’s favourite Quebec-based brewery is Unibroue, Molson Brewery deserves mention here for providing most Canadians with their first beer experience. Molson was founded in Montreal all the way back in 1786 and still has some of its operations on the site of the original brewery. Molson merged with Coors in 2005, becoming Molson Coors.
Site to See: A hard category to narrow down, some top sites include the Notre-Dame Basilica (stunning church in Montreal), Château Frontenac (historic hotel in Quebec City) and Mont-Tremblant (ski resort/village). The areas of Old Quebec and Old Montreal are also worth exploring, both combining historic and modern elements for total packages all can enjoy.
Street: Chemin du Roy, which is French for King’s Highway/King’s Road, connects Quebec City and Montreal, along the St. Lawrence River. When the 280 km (170 mile) long route was originally completed in 1737, it was the longest road in North America, outside of Mexico. The street is easily recognized by the Chemin du Roy markers, complete with crown logo, placed along the route.
TV Show: My favourite show set in Quebec is Just For Laughs, which airs stand-up comedy sets recorded at the annual comedy festival of the same name. The festival was founded in 1983 and has launched the careers of many comedians, as it’s seen as one of the greatest opportunities for an aspiring comic to advance their career and land TV and movie projects. The performers at each festival are a who’s who of comedy elite.
Movie: The Score, starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando (in his final film), is set in Montreal. The movie is about a safe cracker who takes one last job, looking for a big score going into retirement. Other notable films set in Quebec include the Les Boys franchise and Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which has dialogue in both English and French, becoming Canada’s first bilingual feature movie.
Book/Author: The Hockey Sweater, by Roch Carrier, is a Quebec institution. The children’s book tells the tale of a young boy who’s obsessed with the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, but receives a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater by mistake, causing issues for the lad. The book was adapted into a memorable animated short one year after its release. A line from the book appeared on $5 bills printed between 2001 to 2013.
Fictional Character: A number of comic superheroes have Quebec roots, including Fleur de Lys, Northguard, Northstar and Aurora. Twin brother and sister, Northstar and Aurora, are members of the X-Men universe and were originally part of an all-Canadian group called Alpha Flight. Northstar is notable for being one of the first openly gay superheroes, whose wedding was the first same-sex marriage in mainstream comics.
Fictional City: The village of Three Pines is the setting of a series of 18 mystery novels by author Louise Penny. Three Pines is based on various small towns around Quebec. The books have been adapted into a TV series, which will begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video on December 2, 2022, with Alfred Molina starring as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The first book in the series, Still Life, was also turned into a TV movie in 2013.
Actor/Actress: William Shatner, known for his starring role as Captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek, was born in Montreal. Shatner, aged 91, is still going strong 70 years after his acting career began. Shatner has done it all, too, acting in films and TV series, along with releasing multiple music projects and publishing a host of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Shatner has Walk of Fame stars in both the U.S. and Canada.
Song: Gens du pays, which translates to People of my Country, is an unofficial national anthem for the people of Quebec, especially those who support the sovereign/separatist movement. It was written by poet and musician Gilles Vigneault and first performed on June 24, 1975. The folk classic tune is also used to celebrate birthdays, with some of the lyrics altered for the occasion.
Band/Musician: Celine Dion, best known for her smash hit My Heart Will Go On (from the movie Titanic), was born in Charlemagne. Dion’s other chart toppers include The Power of Love, Think Twice, Because You Loved Me, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, and I’m Your Angel. Her 2003-2007 Las Vegas stay was the highest-grossing concert residency ever, followed by her Taking Chances World Tour being among the most successful concert tours of all-time.
People: Comedian Norm Macdonald was born in Quebec City in 1959. McDonald rose to fame on Saturday Night Live, where he served as anchor of the Weekend Update news segment. After leaving Saturday Night Live, Macdonald starred in the movie Dirty Work and TV series The Norm Show. Sadly, Macdonald passed away on September 14, 2021, following along battle with cancer that few knew he was waging.
Animal: Aisaqvak is a polar bear at Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien. In 2009, Aisaqvak gave birth to twin cubs, Ganuk (male) and Taiga (female), the first time twin polar bears were born in a Canadian zoo. In 2018, Aisaqvak had another cub, Kinuk (male). Ganuk and Taiga both ended up at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Ontario, where Taiga died in 2020. Both Aisaqvak and Kinuk remain at Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien.
Invention: There’s a lot to choose from here, including the modern baby bottle, Wonder-Bra, peanut butter, snowmobile (Ski-Doo), modern telephone, Trivial Pursuit, and hockey, among others. It should be noted that Ski-Doo creator Joseph Bombardier later founded Bombardier, which went on to make advancements and create vehicles in the fields of aviation, railway systems and public transportation.
Crime: Quebec has quite the criminal history from mass shootings, such as the École Polytechnique Massacre or the Quebec City mosque shooting, to serial killers, including The Monster of Pont-Rouge (Léopold Dion), The Vampire Rapist (Wayne Boden), The Killer Handyman (William Fyfe) and The Mad Bumper (Yves Trudeau). There was also the Quebec Biker War, which lasted from 1994 to 2002, resulting in the deaths of 162 bikers and civilians.
Sports Team: There’s the beloved Montreal Canadiens… and then there’s everything else. Following the Canadiens is like a religion in the province to most of their fans. Other teams include the Montreal Alouettes (CFL) and Montreal Impact FC (MLS), while the Quebec Nordiques (NHL) and Montreal Expos (MLB) both been relocated to American cities. Big sports events hosted by Quebec include the Canadian Grand Prix and Rogers Cup (aka Canadian Open) tennis championship.
Athlete: So many great hockey players come from Quebec, including legends such as Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, and many more. Outside the rink, the province has been represented by Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve in car racing, Myriam Bédard in biathalon, Arturo Gatti in boxing and Georges St-Pierre in mixed martial arts.
Famous Home: Habitat 67, built for Expo 1967, is a housing complex in Montreal, known for its unique design of having the 146 apartments form three open air pyramids. The design was formulated by architecture student Moshe Safdie, as part of his thesis project. The structure appeared on a 2017 Canada Post stamp, recognizing the 50th anniversary of Expo 1967 and may become a Lego famous buildings release.
Urban Legend: The Château Frontenac hotel, opened in December 1893, is a National Historic Site. With attractions that old, typically come tales of hauntings and the Château Frontenac is no different, said to be visited by at least two ghosts. The first, is Louis de Baude de Frontenac, who is said to inhabit the hotel’s second floor. The second, is a woman dressed in a white nightgown, who has been reported to get into bed with guests.
Museum: The Canadian Railway Museum, also known as Exporail, can be found in Saint-Constant, near Montreal. Established in 1961, the museum houses a number of locomotives, highlighted by the train which pulled King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their 1939 trek across Canada. Visitors can also hop aboard the heritage streetcar or heritage railway, which operate on the site.
Firsts: The first organized ice hockey game to ever be played took place in Montreal, at the Victoria Skating Rink, on March 3, 1875. It pitted two teams of nine players on each side against each other. The players used a wooden disc, rather than a puck, and goals were scored by putting the block between two flags spaced eight feet apart, rather than a net. A whopping 40 people attended this important moment in the history of the sport.
Company: While I really want to put Pornhub here, I’ll have to give the category to Cirque du Soleil, given the worldwide, all-ages popularity of the performance company. Founded by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix in 1984, Cirque du Soleil now has multiple touring productions, as well as permanent shows across the world. In Las Vegas alone, visitors have their pick of six different shows produced by the company.
Events: Quebec has waged a long battle for sovereignty, including two failed referendums (in 1980 and 1995) seeking separation from the rest of Canada. One of the most notable incidents of the separation movement was the October Crisis, when members of the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped and murdered Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. The event caused Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act for the first time ever in Canada during peacetime.
Miscellaneous: Quebec hosts a myriad of interesting festivals, including the Just for Laughs Festival, Quebec Winter Carnival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Festival d’été de Québec, Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival. The province also celebrates a number of unique holidays and traditions, such as St-Jean-Baptiste Day, National Patriots’ Day, Moving Day, Construction Holiday, Réveillon, Temps des Sucres and Noël des Campeurs.
- 3 oz Red Wine
- 1 oz Whiskey
- Splash of Maple Syrup
- Garnish with a Cinnamon Stick
This drink has a long history. It was once said to be made by mixing caribou blood and whiskey, with the plasma later replaced by red wine. The concoction can be enjoyed hot or cold and is popular at various events around the province. Today, the beverage comes pre-mixed and bottled for consumers.