1535 : Jacques Cartier discovers the beauty of Québec, then called Stadaconé, and its river.
In Algonquin, “kébec” means “where the river narrows.”
1608 : Samuel de Champlain builds a fortified trading post in Québec, which marks the founding of the city.
Beginning in the 17th century, marine pilots need to be trained to navigate the St. Lawrence in order to protect ships and their cargo.
1738 : Québec’s abundance of natural resources (wood, flax, hemp) spurs the construction of naval dockyards.
1805 : Marine traffic and port activities are on the rise. The Trinity House of Quebec is founded to regulate the burgeoning port sector and oversee navigation.
1821 : The wood trade takes off and is central to Québec’s port activities. Nearly 600 ships leave the Port of Québec each year for Great Britain.
The Port of Québec becomes the economic hub between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It even grows into the third largest port in the Americas, after New York and New Orleans.
1829 : Port activities begin in the Anse au Foulon sector, also known as Wolfe’s Cove.
1800-1850 : About 30,000 British and Irish immigrants pass through the immigration shed at the Louise docks each year.
1858 : The Québec Harbour Commission (QHC) is created to further improve marine facilities.
1875 : The Government dissolves the Trinity House of Quebec, whose property and power are then vested in the QHC.
With preferential tariffs for wood being abolished, markets being moved to Montréal and inadequate infrastructure, the mid-19th century saw a downturn in the Port of Québec’s economic activities.
1850-1900 : The Pointe-à-Carcy wharf is built, and the Louise Basin opens. Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria, inaugurates the sector by laying down the cornerstone to the docks that now bear her name.
1879 : The train reaches the North Shore, allowing for more efficient transportation of transferred goods. The Port of Québec successfully begins to export mine, grain and forest products.
1900 : Imports exceed exports. Imported goods include manufactured textile, iron and steel products.
1909 : A major fire razes a grain shed in the Pointe-à-Carcy sector. The QHC will later construct its new offices at this location.
1914 : During the First World War, the Port of Québec serves as an embarkation point for soldiers and food supplies being sent to troops.
1920 : With new grain elevators and silos, the Port’s main function is now grain export.
1927 : New deep-water docks are built at Anse au Foulon. These docks can receive even the largest transatlantic ships, which have been unable to berth at the Louise Basin.
1930 : RMS Empress of Britain, the new passenger ship, berths at the Port of Québec—a memorable moment in the city’s port history.
1929-1933 : The world economic crisis of the Great Depression puts the Port of Québec in financial distress.
1936 : Following the recommendations of the Gibb report, in which the Port of Québec’s financial deficit is addressed, the Government of Canada dissolves the QHC and creates the National Harbours Board.
The term “Québec Harbour” was replaced with “Port of Québec,” a term that refers to the port’s geographic sector and not its administration.
1953 : Following the creation of the National Harbours Board, changes are made to port infrastructure, and terminals are added. These enable the Port of Québec to diversify its revenue and correct some of the deficiencies identified in the 1930s Gibb report.
1960 : Bolstered by considerable growth from the introduction of winter navigation, and in the spirit of the major port projects around the world, the Port of Québec begins construction on five deep-water docks (15 metres) on the Beauport Flats.
Wharf construction in the Beauport sector creates the Beauport Bay beach, which gives water-sport enthusiasts direct access to the St. Lawrence River.
1967 : Expo 67 is held in Montréal. Ship traffic increases, with visits by the renowned SS France and SS Michelangelo. This doubles the number of passengers landing in Québec.
1972 : The Port of Québec sets a new tonnage record, with traffic up 41% from the previous year.
1980 : The Port of Québec’s commercial activities are hurt by decreased grain production across Canada, higher grain prices and the increased use of western Canadian ports.
1983 : The Government of Canada replaces the National Harbours Board with the Canada Ports Corporation (Ports Canada). With the administrative change, the Port of Québec becomes the Québec Port Corporation.
Now more independent in its decision making, the Port of Québec begins a new phase of development by modernizing its infrastructure and diversifying its commercial activities.
1984 : This year marks the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s arrival in Quebec. Celebrations include the inauguration of the largest transatlantic sailing race, which runs between Québec and Saint-Malo, Cartier’s hometown.
1985 : The historic district of Québec, including its port, is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1986 : The Port expands its commercial ventures to diversity its markets and position itself as the port of entry into the Great Lakes market.
1987 : This year is witness to huge commercial successes:
18.3 million tonnes of merchandise (∆50% compared to 2011)
Increased draft to accommodate larger ships (15.65 metres)
Largest cargo handled by a single vessel (140,000 tonnes of crude oil)
1989 : The Port of Québec Marina facilities are improved, leading to a 34% jump in tourism.
1990 : Ships are rerouted to the Port of Québec because of the conflict in the Persian Gulf. The Port receives 51,000 passengers arriving in such great ships as the SS Rotterdam, MS Sea Princess and MS Crystal Harmony.
1991 : Québec officially launches its cruise industry, which will see significant growth in the next years.
In response to the decline in grain products, there is heavy diversification in traffic, terminals and revenue in the 1990s.
1998 : The Government of Canada creates the Canada Marine Act (CMA). The Canada Ports Corporation is replaced by independently managed and autonomous Canada Port Authorities (CPAs). The Québec Port Corporation becomes a federal organization called the Québec Port Authority (QPA).
2000 : The QPA adopts a new corporate vision and invests even more into Québec’s cruise industry. The Port of Québec is able to attract the biggest cruise lines, such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.
2001 : To develop Québec’s cruise industry potential, the QPA takes control of all Pointe-à-Carcy properties, which had previously been administered by Public Works Canada. Over $32 million is invested in the construction of wharves and a cruise terminal.
2002 : The Ross Gaudreault Cruise Terminal is unveiled, along with Espaces Dalhousie, a dedicated events venue. The SS Rotterdam is the first ship to berth at the Pointe-à-Carcy terminal.
2004 : The Port of Québec receives a special new visitor, the impressive Queen Mary 2. Nearly 3,000 cruise ship passengers step out into the capital city.
2008 : The Government of Canada marks the city of Québec’s 400th anniversary by funding the redevelopment of three riverside sites, the Bassin Brown, Pointe-à-Carcy and Beauport Bay—an important legacy that gives everyone direct access to the St. Lawrence. With that legacy, the Port of Québec now dedicates 20% of its territory to recreational tourism. The year 2008 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Québec Port Authority’s incorporation.
2012 : The Port of Québec breaks all records. On October 5, 2012, 25,000 cruise ship passengers visit Québec in less than 48 hours. Dry and liquid bulk also reaches an all-time high of 33.1 million tonnes.
The Port of Québec shows incredible development potential. The Port Authority’s entrepreneurship, its esteemed partners and its strategic vision of sustainable development mean the best is yet to come!