Skip links

Where the river narrows

Before the arrival of the first Europeans, Quebec City, then known as “Stadaconé”, was a busy trading hub for Amerindians. With the arrival of Samuel de Champlain and the first French settlers in 1608, Quebec City became the capital of New France.

The location is a great example of the interrelations between landscape, geography, history and urbanism.  The word “Quebec” is of Algonquin origin and means “where the river narrows” or “narrow passage”, referring to the geography of the area and the Saint Lawrence River. As can be observed on the image, the Saint Lawrence River considerably tightens, making Quebec City’s location ideal for navigation and trade. From a military perspective, the area also offered great protection for the new settlement. Since it was located on top of the hill, Fort Saint-Louis, where now stands the iconic Chateau Frontenac, had a pristine view over the Saint Lawrence River and the soldiers could see ships coming in from Europe or elsewhere and control navigation and commerce in the area.

Question for students!

Which items would the French settlers trade with the local Amerindians?