Why Military History Buffs Need to Visit Quebec City

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Bienvenue à Quebec! Canada's oldest city is also its most charming. With winding cobbled streets, centuries-old stone houses and a lively sense of joie de vivre filling the air, Quebec City is a wonderful place to explore. But, as our guide Xavier explains today, there’s much more to Quebec than charm: some of North America’s most important battles were fought here, and those with an interest in military history will be well-served by a visit.

Old Quebec is well known to be a romantic destination, a quaint European city in North America with a fascinating history. But there's also something important that travellers see, but don’t always understand: the fortifications all around and the canons everywhere. Most visitors don’t know that military history is of major importance for Quebec City, and that Quebec City played a huge role in North American history and even the American Revolutionary War.

The idea to design a tour about Quebec’s military history came to me one summer when I greeted a visiting retired American admiral. We went to the terrace of Lévis, the best spot to have a panoramic view of Old Quebec and its surroundings. We were there to understand better why the French settled down here, why the French tried to keep it, why the British tried to conquer it and later the Americans. To see the landscape, and to talk about all those battles and sieges, the generals, the soldiers, the tragic stories, the bravery and the fate.

And from the terrace at Lévis, the admiral smiled and said: “Oh, yes: I see it! I see exactly what I learnt in the Naval Academy.” Every American admiral learnt about the siege of Quebec City in 1759, Wolfe and Saunders against Montcalm.

After this enriching encounter, I started to work on a new tour: Battles of Quebec City and its Fortifications.

Military history in Quebec City is rich and complex. There's not only the incredible battle of the Plains of Abraham and the siege of 1759. Most importantly, there are still many remains from the French and British military presence: redoubt, fortifications, citadel, canons, mortars, batteries… Quebec City has the largest defensive network in all of North America.

My military tour is one of my favourite to give: customers have a real passion and strong interest about the topic. You can see that in their eyes. They have many questions. Sometimes they have already read a lot: this gives me the opportunity to go straight to the details, the explanations, while calling back the overall context and the strategic and operational issues.

As you can understand, it's still a private, customized tour: I adapt the itinerary depending on the pace of the customers, the knowledge they have and their questions, but the idea remains to focus on military history and military architecture only. (As long as there's no requests to have explanations about something else, of course.)

I guided a family with young kids fascinated by military history, an enthusiast of miniature battles, an author writing a book about a famous American General from the American Revolutionary War, British people working in Wolfe's house, and so many other unforgettable travellers. The people who booked my military tour are all different, but they all share a deep interest in military history.

Those people usually don't travel alone and I'm very proud to say the friends or family who accompanied these passionate customers enjoyed the tour too. Because it's not a rough recitation of dates, names or regiment's numbers: it's a story and a fascinating one at that.

Whether you have a specialized interest in military history, or a more general interest in the history and culture of French Canada, consider getting in touch with Xavier before your visit, and enjoy a superb custom tour of Quebec City.
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