Do You Know What’s Hiding Under Québec City’s Many Stairs?
We know at Natural Resources Canada, and we have been working hard for several decades to find the answers for you to questions like this.
Québec City, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has many stairways that allow passage between Lower Town and Upper Town. Most people don’t know this, but by climbing the stairs, pedestrians are doing much more than going from Lower Town to Upper Town. They are in fact moving from the St. Lawrence Platform into the Appalachian Orogen, two distinct geological regions. You can cross over from one geological region to another just by walking along the Logan Fault on streets like Arago, Pente-Douce or even the Versant-Nord Boulevard, just to name a few. Astounding, isn’t it?
At Natural Resources Canada, we find this kind of information fascinating. Whether they work in the forestry sector, in mines and metals, in topography or in geology, all NRCan employees show the same curiosity and passion to discover the hidden treasures of our natural resources and find solutions to preserve and enhance these treasures.
You probably don’t know this, but there are many people right here in Québec City who work with natural resources. For example, the Laurentian Forestry Centre, part of the Canadian Forest Service, is located on the Université Laval campus. The work carried out at the Centre is done in close co-operation with industry partners. Its many projects include forest pest management and the acquisition of knowledge for better forest practices.
The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), one of the Government of Canada’s oldest institutions, is located in Lower Town. Its founder and first director, Sir William Logan, showed such an interest in the fault line separating Québec City’s Lower Town and Upper Town that it now bears his name.
GSC researchers today continue Sir Logan’s legacy by creating inventories and maps and by exploring our underground riches. In short, NRCan employees are doing everything they can to ensure that the people of Québec City do not go through what Jacques Cartier did. When Canada’s first French explorer proudly returned to France with what he thought were gold and diamonds from the New World, he found out that the gold was pyrite (more commonly known as fool’s gold) and the diamonds were quartz crystals. This is where the French expression faux comme les diamants du Canada (“as phony as Canadian diamonds”) came from.
The 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City is an ideal time to discover how this magnificent city was born and developed, thanks to its exceptional natural resources. Natural Resources Canada is proud to accompany you on this journey.
What has been done
- Natural Resources Canada’s has created a series of topographic images and animation to celebrate Québec City 400th anniversary. They were developed by NRCAN Centre for Topographic Information in Sherbrooke. View the images and animation and get more information on the subject.
- Participation in the Gold in the Americas exhibit at the Musée de la civilisation, from April 28, 2008 to January 25, 2009: sample loans, scientific expertise and financial support.
- Production of the Québec Fortified City: Geological and Historical Heritage Fieldtrip Guidebook. This guidebook helps you discover Vieux-Québec, focusing on its geological and historical attractions (tour approximately three hours). Produced in co-operation with Parks Canada, the guidebook is distributed at various service points at the agency.
Copies of the guidebook may be obtained by e-mailing
- What type of wood is Québec City made of? offered an evening of public conferences on the history of Québec City’s forests. The conferences took place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13, at the Musée de la civilisation. Three guest speakers gave presentations, including well-known historian Réjean Lemoine.
- Women in Science, a public meeting to take place on September 10, 2008, at Université Laval. This event will feature women in science from the years past to the present time who have left their mark in Québec City and have contributed to the city’s national and international reputation. This event is open to the public.