In 1759, on a field outside the walled city of Quebec, the future of Canada was decided. At the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the forces of England decisively defeated those of France, and Quebec City fell under the British crown. Today, the battlefield has become an urban park, and a venue for summertime concerts.
Located just north of Quebec City, the Chute-Montmorency provides a perfect half-day excursion. This waterfall has a height of 83 meters, taller than Niagara. And by following an exciting trail which includes a suspension bridge and a gondola, you're able to admire it from every conceivable angle.
Protected by its original fortifications, Old Quebec has survived the centuries in a state of picture-perfect preservation. In 1985, UNESCO declared the entire historic district to be a World Heritage Site. This section of town is the main reason Quebec is able to lure so many visitors, and it certainly doesn't disappoint.
Built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific railway company, the Château Frontenac dominates the skyline of Quebec City. A towering structure with over 600 rooms and an unforgettable profile that reigns over the walls of the Old Town, this is thought to be the world's most photographed hotel. I wouldn't doubt it. The Frontenac so large and central that it will be part of the backdrop in nearly every picture you'll take of Quebec City.
It doesn't matter which angle you're admiring it from, Quebec City is stunning. We had a chance to see two of the best views of the city: from the water, during a short ferry trip across the St. Lawrence River, and from the sky, in the 31st-floor observatory of the city's tallest building.
Only two cities in North America have preserved their original fortifications. One is Campeche, Mexico, which we visited while living in the Yucatán. And now that we've been to Quebec City, our exploration of North America's Fortified Cities is complete. We went on a walk around Old Quebec's ancient walls, ending up at the Citadel, which was built by the British between 1820 and 1850.
Montreal might be Quebec's largest and most important city, but it's not the capital of the province. That would be Quebec City, three hours to the north along the St. Lawrence River. The only city in Canada or the USA which has retained its original fortifications, Quebec City makes for a perfect getaway from Montreal.
Housed in the former French Pavilion from the 1967 World Expo, Montreal's state-run casino opened in 1993, and has become one of the most popular spots in the city. This is the largest casino in Canada, and is as memorable for its unique architecture as for its rollicking atmosphere. We were invited to check it out on a Saturday night.
Mont Royal is a lot larger than we expected. Sure, we figured that the hill which provides the city its name would be big, but we didn't know this hill would be roughly the same size as the city itself. So it came as a shock to learn that the northern side of Mont Royal is nothing but cemeteries... half the mountain, dedicated to the dead.
Montreal was founded in 1642, which means that in 2017, the city is celebrating its 375th birthday. That's a long stretch of history, and people can't be expected to remember everything that's happened. To help jog our memories, Montreal has created a multimedia exhibition called Cité Memoire (Memory City), transforming the old town into a living tribute to the past.