In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Quebec and the Atlantic World, 1760–1867

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Primary Sources Available Online
  • Historiographical Interpretations of Quebec in the Atlantic World
  • The Conquest
  • The Rebellions of 1837–1838
  • Quebec and France
  • Immigration
  • Emigration
  • Social Practices and Identities
  • Ideologies and Political Ideas
  • Education
  • Science and Medicine

Atlantic History Quebec and the Atlantic World, 1760–1867
Donald Fyson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 August 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0219


Although it has an extensive Atlantic seaboard and is centered around the major riverine route from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, the Canadian province of Quebec is rarely considered within an Atlantic context. In a similar fashion, the prolific historiography concerning Quebec, like that of Canada as a whole, has most often been oriented inward toward the continent, rather than outward toward the ocean. Furthermore, Quebec historiography has often been focused almost entirely on Quebec itself, conceived of as a nation with its own history, quite apart from (though of course constantly in dialogue with) the rest of North America. In this perspective, the Atlantic perspective recedes even further into the background. There are some exceptions, especially for the period before the British conquest of Canada in 1759–1760, with scholars increasingly placing the French colony within the context of the French Atlantic. However, for the period after the Conquest, such explicit contextualization is rare. This bibliography thus emphasizes works that explicitly or implicitly consider post-Conquest Quebec’s place within the broader Atlantic world, either through connections or through comparison. As such, this is not a bibliography of Quebec history as a whole, and many key works of Quebec historiography are not included here. Chronologically, the article covers the period from the Conquest up to Canadian Confederation in 1867. Geographically, it covers the territory that formed Lower Canada in the mid-19th century, which was essentially the southern part of today's Canadian province of Quebec. It thus omits discussions concerning the Great Lakes basin, the Labrador coast, and the north of Quebec. For the sake of simplicity, the term “Quebec” is used throughout, even though the colony had a succession of different names (Canada, Province of Quebec, Lower Canada, and Province of Canada). Given the broad nature of the mandate, it is impossible to give any general summary of the individual historiographical debates, which are treated in the sections below. However, one overarching theme closely connected to Quebec’s Atlantic context is the relationship between the pre-Conquest Canadien population (French Catholics, later know as French Canadians), the new, largely British immigrant population, and the British Empire, which played out in politics, in economic relations, in society, and in culture and identity. This danse à trois remains fundamental to historiographical debate in Quebec; it is also a dance that has largely excluded minority groups such as Indigenous peoples and blacks, although recent work has been making progress in this regard.

General Overviews

Readers should begin with one of the good recent overviews of pre-Confederation Quebec history, notably Dickinson and Young 2008, Gossage and Little 2012, and Harris 2008. Naylor 2006 provides a broad but controversial global economic perspective. Neatby 1966 and Ouellet 1980 were companion volumes in the Canadian Centenary series but take very different approaches: Neatby focuses on politics and imperial relations while Ouellet concentrates on economic factors as the basis for society and politics. Both need to be treated with caution, although Neatby has stood the test of time better than Ouellet. Vallières, et al. 2008, while only dealing with Quebec City and its region, provides much useful analysis of transatlantic trade, immigration, and cultural links between Quebec and Britain and France.

  • Dickinson, John, and Brian Young. A Short History of Quebec. 4th ed. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008.

    Innovative overview of Quebec history. Emphasizes social and economic developments rather than politics. Adopts 1815 as a turning point, rather than 1760 or 1867, thus setting aside traditional Quebec chronologies and firmly situating the colony within the broader sweep of Western history. First published in 1988.

  • Gossage, Peter, and J. I. Little. An Illustrated History of Quebec: Tradition and Modernity. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Latest survey of Quebec history in English. Chapters 3–8 concern 1760–1867. Developments in Quebec are frequently traced back to broader transnational influences and situated within the imperial context.

  • Harris, Cole. The Reluctant Land: Society, Space, and Environment in Canada Before Confederation. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008.

    Survey by one of Canada’s foremost historical geographers. The chapter on Lower Canada provides an excellent overview of broad social and economic developments, including rural settlement, immigration, urbanization, and industrialization. Argues that the history of British North America as a whole was shaped by imperialism, commercial capital, and agricultural settlement.

  • Naylor, R. T. Canada in the European Age, 1453–1919. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006.

    Pioneering survey of Canadian economic history, placed firmly in a global context. Chapters 10–25 concern British North America. Many of the interpretations are now questionable in light of more recent research and should be treated with caution. First published in 1987, but written a decade earlier.

  • Neatby, Hilda. Quebec: The Revolutionary Age, 1760–1791. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1966.

    Classic survey of post-Conquest Quebec in English. Contains much on Quebec politics, broadly situated within the imperial context.

  • Ouellet, Fernand. Lower Canada 1791–1840: Social Change and Nationalism. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1980.

    Covers economy, society, and politics from Ouellet’s controversial perspective (see Quebec and the Atlantic Economy). The emphasis is on the conservatism of Canadien responses to global changes in ideologies and economies. First published in French in 1976.

  • Vallières, Marc, Yvon Desloges, Fernand Harvey, Andrée Héroux, Réginald Auger, and Sophie-Laurence Lamontagne. Histoire de Québec et de sa région. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2008.

    Multivolume history of Quebec City, Quebec’s most important link with the Atlantic world. Provides a great deal of detailed quantitative information. A brief summary is available in English as Marc Vallières, Quebec City (Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2011).

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