The National Assembly
This is the building where the Québec legislature, the National Assembly, also known as l’Assemblée Nationale, meets. The site is once a cricket field for troops from the Citadelle in the early 1800’s.
The National Assembly was constructed in 1876. The architect is Eugène Taché, also creates the provincial motto: “Je Me Souviens” (I remember). You see it prominently displayed on the Quebec license plates.
During construction, accounts are kept down to the last penny. The building cost $1,669,249.16.
The tower and exterior walls are made of stone from the same quarry as the Citadelle. At the roofline, on either side of the tower, are four allegorical figures. Poetry & History on the left; Religion & La Patrie on the right. These figures represent the most honoured values in Québec.
Notable Premiers in Quebec History
Robert Bourassa and Maurice Duplessis are two more iconic figures in Quebec’s political history, each leaving their distinct marks on the province. Maurice “The Boss” Duplessis, who served as Premier from 1936 to 1939 and then from 1944 to 1959, is often remembered for his conservative and authoritarian style of governance. Under his leadership, Quebec experienced a period of social and political conservatism. With his strong ties to the Catholic Church and a focus on rural development. Duplessis’s regime was marked by his tight control over the government, resulting in both support and criticism for his policies.
Robert Bourassa, on the other hand, emerged as a key figure during more modern times. He served as Premier in two distinct periods, from 1970 to 1976 and then from 1985 to 1994. Bourassa is credited with initiating significant economic and social reforms during his tenures, including important language laws to promote and protect the French language in Quebec. He also played a pivotal role in negotiating the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, which solidified Quebec’s distinct identity within the framework of a united Canada. Bourassa’s pragmatic and conciliatory approach helped bridge the gap between federal and provincial interests, contributing to a more cooperative relationship between Quebec and the federal government.
Levesque and Lesage
One notable premier is René Lévesque, a charismatic and influential figure who served as the 23rd Premier of Quebec from 1976 to 1985. Lévesque was a key proponent of the Quebec sovereignty movement, advocating for the province’s independence from Canada. His leadership culminated in the 1980 and 1995 referendums on Quebec sovereignty, both of which had far-reaching implications for Canadian federalism. Lévesque’s passionate pursuit of a distinct Quebec identity and his dedication to social and economic reforms left an indelible mark on the province’s political consciousness.
Another significant premier in Quebec’s history is Jean Lesage, who held office from 1960 to 1966. Lesage is often associated with the Quiet Revolution, a period of rapid secularization, modernization, and social change in Quebec. His administration introduced a series of progressive policies aimed at transforming Quebec’s society and economy. This includes the nationalization of hydroelectric resources and the expansion of social services. Lesage’s vision for a more equitable and forward-looking Quebec laid the groundwork for subsequent generations of leaders to continue shaping the province’s path. His legacy remains a testament to the transformative power of political leadership during times of significant societal transition.
On the facade are also statues of heroes of historical significance to Quebec.
- Frontenac stands proudly as he did the day he refused to surrender the city to the British Admiral Phipps.
- James Wolfe gazes over the walls of the town he won but never entered alive.
- Montcalm holds the hilt of his sword in his left hand.
- Jean Talon the great Intendant, looks out over the thriving town he developed.
When Taché designs the building, he sought some means of commemorating the native population, the first inhabitants of Québec. It was decided to incorporate this theme into the fountain in front of the building. – The Native statues are the work of the Québec sculptor Louis Hébert. One group of four figures, entitled La Halte dans la forêt (the stop in the forest) shows a young hunter fitting an arrow to his bow under the watchful eye of his family. A solitary figure, known as Le Pecheur a la nigogue (the fisherman with the spear), is shown poised with a lance, ready to spear a fish. These statues were put into place in the 1890’s.
Make sure to make this part of your visit of Quebec City.