The Art and Architecture of Quebec City

Stone buildings with colorful roofs and shutters in downtown Quebec City.

My family took our first trip to Canada this summer, where we spent time in Quebec City, Quebec, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Quebec City was our first stop, where we spent four nights at the Hotel Port Royal in the city’s historic center. Quebec City was unlike any other place I’ve traveled.

A silver cupola on a brick structure in Quebec City.
The architecture in Quebec City featured interesting mixes of materials.

The unique architecture was one of the first things I noticed as we explored Quebec City, one of the oldest cities in North America. The buildings featured interesting juxtapositions of materials, such as granite exteriors with shiny metal roofs, and diverse architectural styles from different eras and regions of the world.

The narrow cobblestone streets gave the city an old-world European feel, but the Art Deco, new French, British, and Romantic architectural influences added an eclectic contemporary flair.

During one of our visits to the streets of Old Quebec, an extroverted artist spontaneously whisked us into a woodworking shop and gave us a tour. The tour was a new guerilla marketing approach artists used to recover business lost during the COVID-19 shutdown. The shop had to downsize half of its talented woodworking staff during the pandemic.

A brochure of Quebec bus tours offered by Unitours.
The Unitours double-decker bus tour of Quebec was a fantastic way to see the highlights of the city.

One of my favorite things was taking a two-day double-decker bus tour of the city, which provided an excellent overview of the area’s history and showcased the city’s commitment to public art. The tour also provided transportation to several cultural resources and gave me the opportunity to practice composing shots from a moving vehicle in damp, dreary weather.

The best stop on the tour was the Museum of Civilization, which offered a fascinating mix of art, science, culture, and activism exhibits. We spent most of our time in the Inspiring Nature, Inspired Technology exhibit on the power of nature, and the Our Time on Earth exhibit about climate change concerns. 

The exterior of the Musee de la Civilization in Quebec City.
The Musee De La Civilisation exhibits helped me remember to look to nature for inspiration when I’m feeling stuck.

I appreciated Our Time on Earth’s solutions-focused approach to the climate change crisis – it highlighted the stark realities of the changes while offering hope and challenging me to think deeply. The Inspiring Nature, Inspired Technology showcased all of the ways nature has inspired technological innovations.

The Musee National des Beaux-Arts Du Quebec was another fascinating stop. The art museum, which featured stunning architecture of its own, reminded me that creating art takes patience.

One of the motion picture exhibits featured an artist who painstakingly took a series of self-portraits in the same spot in her kitchen every few minutes over three days. It helped put waiting a few minutes for the colors to change during sunset in perspective!

Even though our stay in Quebec was brief, the city’s art and architecture left a lasting impression on me as an artist. The unique combinations of materials, thought-provoking exhibits, unexpected public art displays, and melting pot of artistic styles reminded me to take more risks with my own art.

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