Le Québec, terre de travail accueillante
Travail. Un programme incite les PME à embaucher et à former des immigrés qualifiés.
Par Emmanuelle LANGLOIS
QUOTIDIEN : lundi 24 septembre 2007
Québec (Canada) de notre correspondante
Terre d’immigration, le Québec accueille chaque année près de 45 000 immigrants dont la venue est censée mettre un frein au vieillissement de la population, à la pénurie de main d’œuvre et à la dénatalité. Plus de la moitié d’entre eux sont sélectionnés en raison de leur niveau d’études, de leur expérience professionnelle et de leur connaissance des langues officielles : le français et l’anglais. Dès leur arrivé sur le sol québécois, ces nouveaux arrivants doivent partir à la recherche d’un emploi. Un processus qui se révèle souvent long et délicat : le taux de non-emploi des immigrants atteint 12,7 %, contre 7,4 % pour les personnes nées au Canada. Pour contrecarrer cette réalité, le ministère de l’Immigration et des communautés culturelles et celui de l’Emploi et de la solidarité sociale développent des programmes destinés à faciliter l’intégration : cours de langue, programmes d’accueil et d’insertion professionnelle…
Adaptation. L’arme la plus efficace est le Programme d’intégration professionnelle des personnes immigrantes, baptisé Priime. «Les immigrants sont confrontés à la non-reconnaissance de leurs acquis et de leurs compétences, confie Serge Durand, d’Emploi-Québec. Ce qui mène à une déqualification de cette population. Avec le Priime nous favorisons l’obtention d’une première expérience professionnelle au Québec, clé de voûte d’un début de carrière.» Lancé en 2005, le Priime s’adresse aux PME. En prenant en charge 50 % du salaire d’un immigrant pendant six mois, il favorise le recrutement de personnes qui vivent leur première expérience de travail dans leur domaine de compétences. Le Priime paye également pendant trois mois le salaire d’un employé «accompagnateur», chargé d’aider à l’intégration, et subventionne les formations destinées à faciliter l’adaptation du nouvel engagé au contexte de travail nord-américain. Financé grâce aux intérêts générés par le Programme des immigrants investisseurs - lors de leur arrivée sur le sol québécois, ils effectuent un dépôt de garantie d’au moins 250 000 dollars canadiens (177 000 euros) destiné à prouver leur capacité à créer des emplois -, le Priime a reçu une subvention de 5 millions de dollars (3,5 millions d’euros) entre 2006 et 2007, laquelle a permis l’embauche de 900 immigrants.
«Il ne faut pas se leurrer, sans cette politique incitative, ces PME n’auraient pas opté pour l’embauche d’immigrés», soutient Babakar-Pierre Touré, directeur général du Service d’orientation et d’intégration des immigrants au travail (Soiit). Reste que près de 100 % des participants obtiennent un emploi fixe une fois le temps du Priime écoulé. Michel Ganache, directeur général de Momentum Technologies, firme de consultants en informatique de la région de Québec, en sait quelque chose. Depuis sa création en 2003, son entreprise a embauché 21 immigrants. «Nous avons tenté l’expérience du Priime en 2005 avec deux Mexicains et elle s’est révélée très concluante, tant auprès de notre clientèle qu’au sein de l’entreprise», explique-t-il. Les 7 000 dollars (4 900 euros) qu’il reçoit lorsqu’il offre un poste de six mois à un nouvel arrivant sont à ses yeux l’équivalent d’une prime de risque. «Je prends le risque d’accueillir une personne dont il est difficile de valider la réalité du curriculum vitæ alors le gouvernement me donne un coup de pouce, analyse-t-il. Et, au final, je suis gagnant puisque ce sont des personnes qui ont plusieurs années d’expérience dans leur pays et qui ne nécessitent qu’une mise à niveau et une familiarisation avec le marché québécois.»
«Diversité.» Désormais, 11 communautés - Brésiliens, Péruviens, Béninois, Ghanéens, Algériens, etc. - se côtoient dans les locaux de Momentum à la grande satisfaction du directeur. «Il y a aussi des investissements et une adaptation de notre part puisqu’il faut réussir la cohabitation. Il faut tenir compte de cette diversité lorsque nous organisons des activités sociales ou des sorties familiales et cela amène un défi supplémentaire positif.» Directeurs des ventes, comptables, ingénieurs, analystes et programmeurs informatiques, personnel administratif sont autant de postes qui ont été pourvus au cours de la dernière année. Il n’existe a priori pas de limite au Priime : tous les immigrants sont éligibles. «Le marché du travail fluctue et il est certain que les postes dans les secteurs en pénurie sont plus faciles à trouver, précise toutefois Babakar-Pierre Touré. Actuellement, plus que d’ingénieurs, le Québec est à la recherche de techniciens, de plombiers et de bouchers.»
Un paddock rénové à Montréal
Journal de Montréal
Le paddock du circuit Gilles- Villeneuve ne devrait plus être la risée du circuit de la formule 1 car, selon ce qu'a appris le Journal de Montréal, une subvention de 1,25 million de dollars du gouver nement fédéral serait accordée afin qu'on procède à sa réfection.
L'an der nier, Ber nie Ecclestone, le grand manitou du cirque de la formule 1, avait critiqué les installations du Grand Prix de Montréal.
Durant la semaine du Grand Prix, des employés de l'écurie Honda avaient été jusqu'à affirmer que les installations montréalaises étaient «une honte».
Les écuries avaient même dû faire la vaisselle avec l'eau provenant du bassin olympique.
Les organisateurs du Grand Prix ont donc fait une demande de subvention de deux millions de dollars au gouver nement fédéral en novembre afin de remédier à la situation.
La somme de 1,25 million serait débloquée prochainement, et l'annonce de l'octroi de la subvention pourrait être faite au cours des prochaines semaines.
Quelques détails à régler
L'entente ne serait pas encore finalisée, mais il resterait quelques détails à fignoler afin d'officialiser le tout.
Le ministre des Travaux publics, Michael Fortier, aurait fait une priorité de ce dossier. On n'a toutefois pas voulu confirmer la nouvelle du côté de son bureau.
Il a été impossible de joindre un membre de l'organisation du Grand Prix hier.
Cette nouvelle tombe sans doute à point pour le Grand Prix de Montréal car, la semaine dernière, Bernie Ecclestone, un Britannique, a menacé de retirer le Grand Prix d'Angleterre en raison de la désuétude des installations.
Le Grand Prix des États-Unis a, quant à lui, déjà été rayé du calendrier de la formule 1 en 2008.
Le gouvernement provincial pourrait également annoncer sa participation à ce projet.
Cette année, le Grand Prix du Canada aura lieu du 6 au 8 juin.
These Chefs Believe in Sticking Close to Home
Source: New York Time
MONTREAL is not just a good eating town, but an opinionated one, too, with deep roots and a culture all its own. There’s always a debate about where to get the best rotisserie chicken or the most authentic poutine, that classic Québécois belly buster of French fries, gravy and squeaky cheese curds. Or whether to go to St.-Viateur Bagel Shop or Fairmount Bagel Bakery for sesame bagels that are baked in wood-burning ovens and put New York City’s fluffy bread bombs to shame.
The epicurean partisanship fight extends to the city’s two venerable food markets, Marché Jean-Talon and Marché Atwater. Even when winter has wilted the local supply of fruits and vegetables, the markets are bursting with stinky cheeses, apple cider and all manner of charcuterie: plump links of black blood sausage; fowl and furred game rendered into terrines and galantines; piles of confit frosted in white fat like the snow that blankets the city for a good part of the year.
Not that Montreal lacks for proper, sit-down restaurants. L’Express, the reigning bistro king of this officially Francophone city, is as close to Paris as one gets while on the wrong continent. Toqué, run by the chef Norman Laprise, is the city’s standard bearer for haute cuisine.
But over the last few years, there has been a surge in quirky restaurants that are extensions of their chefs’ personal tastes and dedication to Montreal’s regional ingredients. At these restaurants, no part of the pig escapes the kitchen knife, whether it’s the ears (sliced and fried in a salad with frisée) or feet (braised, stuffed and roasted). And foie gras abounds, never far from marrowbones, sweetbreads and steaks so big they’d make a cowboy blush.
All are dressed down and welcoming: perfect places to come in from the cold.
AU PIED DE COCHON
These days, you can’t mention food in Montreal without touching on the chef Martin Picard’s unrepentantly Québécois restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon (536 Rue Duluth Est; 514-281-1114; http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca).
P.D.C., as the locals call it, was a pizzeria before Mr. Picard got his meaty mitts on it, and a blazing fire in a wood-burning oven greets guests at the door. Beyond it, the restaurant is long and narrow, bright but not too bright, with a mirror running down one side and an open kitchen on the other. The bare wooden tables are crowded with boisterous eaters of every age and description. And the chef — look for the unshaven man with a shock of untamed black hair — frequently works both sides of the bar, talking and drinking with customers and cooks.
Mr. Picard put his restaurant on the gastronomic map when he put foie gras on poutine back in 2004, just after the restaurant opened. Many dishes at P.D.C. are conceived with that same wicked sense of humor — who puts foie gras on French fries? — and carry an unspoken threat of a cholesterol-triggered overdose. There’s a even a whole section of the menu dedicated to the fatty livers: foie on a burger, foie on a pizza and, most compellingly, the Plogue à Champlain — a dizzying combination of buckwheat pancakes, bacon, foie gras and maple syrup.
But Mr. Picard doesn’t need to rely on fattened blond duck livers to make a dish worth seeking out: My meal started off with a simple plate of leeks — which crowded the local markets when I visited — poached and dressed with a bright vinaigrette. The salt cod fritters (another Montreal staple) were as greaseless and light as could be.
But nobody goes to P.D.C. to diet. The restaurant’s namesake dish is a pig’s foot the size of grown man’s forearm that is poached, stuffed and roasted in the wood oven; a lobe of seared foie gras is laid over it sidesaddle before it goes out to a table.
Entrees are reliably heavy and frequently come with some kind of surprise, like the dark brown fritters that accompanied a pot au feu for two (or was it four?)
The fritters, which were speared on skewers, were crisp and brown. But it wasn’t until I bit into one that I realized what they were: testicles. Lamb’s testicles. And they were good.
Dinner, with drinks and tip, about 80 Canadian dollars a person (the Canadian and U.S. dollars are nearly at par).
On my next visit to Montreal, I will put back another couple of dozen oysters at Joe Beef (2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest; 514-935-6504; http://www.joebeef.ca), a bistro of sorts that opened in the Petit-Bourgogne neighborhood in 2006.
Shucked on the night I was there by John Bil, the restaurant’s champion oyster shucker (he captured the Canadian shucking crown three times), we slurped small, sweet oysters from Prince Edward Island and fat Moonstone oysters from Rhode Island, each shell brimming with oyster liquor like a bathtub with the faucet left on.
Named after a 19th-century saloonkeeper, the restaurant has the coziness of a neighborhood pub: a chalkboard menu (that changes daily) covers one wall, wainscoting wraps the room, the light is flatteringly low.
The chef Frédéric Morin’s menu has a classic bistro slant, though he’s tweaked each dish to make it his own. He eschews lardons and instead tops his frisée salad with strips of pig’s ears cut into matchstick strips and fried to shattering crispness. Pucks of silky foie gras au torchon are served with buttery brioche toast and pears poached in cinnamon-infused red wine.
Entrees change nightly, but there are two menu stalwarts: pasta with lobster, and a massive côte de boeuf for the table. The lobster in the former was slightly overcooked the night I tried it, though it wasn’t hard to grasp the appeal of such a decadent cream-and-butter dish.
The steak, served with marrowbones and potatoes, embodied the full-flavored, mineral promise of grass-fed steak.
Dinner, with drinks and tip, about 110 Canadian dollars a person.
Joe Beef has a new neighbor. Mr. Morin spent last fall covered in sawdust, building his second restaurant, Liverpool House (2501 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest; 514-313-6049; http://www.liverpoolhouse.ca), just a few doors down from his first.
Liverpool House is split into a barroom and a laid-back dining room. The woodwork and wainscoting are painted a warm white. The rest is decorated with an eclectic mix of paintings — oversized modern canvases and tiny impressionistic works — and odd, pig-themed tchotchkes like the porcelain porcine head, affixed to the wall at eye level like an extra diner at my table.
Liverpool House is ostensibly Italian, though the restaurant’s cuisine owes more to Mr. Morin’s imagination and whatever is in season. One night, the bar plates were undeniably Italian: perfect sausage-stuffed arancini, a ball of buffalo milk burrata cheese (mozzarella’s creamy cousin) and a plate of salumi cured in the restaurant’s basement.
But when I returned two nights later, the menu had been hijacked. I ate poached skate with black trumpet mushrooms in a buttery sauce, the mild ropes of fish an unobtrusive stage to show off those tender, earthy mushrooms. Hard-boiled eggs topped with crab meat sounded like a dreary canapé from the 1950s; instead it was a showcase for a snowdrift of sweet crab meat, piled on a pedestal of egg white anointed with house-made mayonnaise.
The rest of the meal continued in the same manner: technically assured cooking that typifies the simplicity of the Italian kitchen (like the vitello tonnato), or lets the hand of the nearby market push it toward riskier directions (like a grilled veal chop served with roasted root vegetables and a sauce fortified with foie gras and sweetbreads).
Is Liverpool House Italian? French? Or Québécois? Whatever it is, it’s an excellent place to eat.
Dinner, with drinks and tip, about 100 Canadian dollars each.
Another spot that trades the sanctimonious trappings of fine dining for a looser atmosphere is Garde Manger (408 Rue St.-François-Xavier; 514-678-5044). It is one of the few restaurants with real charm in Vieux Montreal, the oldest part of the city.
Tucked into a small building on a side street, the restaurant has dark brick walls and a wildly oversized chandelier that looks as if it could have been pilfered from a merry-go-round at Versailles. The roaring fireplace offers a warm refuge from the blustering winds off the nearby St. Lawrence River.
Early in the evening, the loud soundtrack leans toward Neil Young and the Grateful Dead, and the crowd is older, the men in dapper suits and ties. After 9 p.m., the soundtrack shifts to clubbier music and a younger crowd sets in and doesn’t mind standing two deep at the bar.
One Montrealer commented to me that Garde Manger is a “bar that happens to serve some food early in the evening.” But at 10 p.m. on the night I was there, every table in the restaurant was full.
The restaurant is rightly regarded for its seafood platters, which take a place of prominence on many tables. The largest is 120 Canadian dollars and comes in a giant wooden trough that contains enough raw shellfish to feed a romp of otters. A less expensive option, at 70 dollars, is still impressive: a dozen each of oysters and clams, plus Alaskan crab legs and a half-dozen poached shrimp.
And though the kitchen, overseen by the chef Chuck Hughes, offers an appealing and ever-changing blackboard menu with its own signature poutine (with lobster and lobster gravy), I would not pass on the opportunity to order the steak frites again. It’s rare to find a restaurant that takes as much care with such a simple dish: the steak (bavette, or what we call flank steak south of the border) is seasoned with an assured hand and charred to a textbook medium rare; the fries were crisp and fresh and tasted like potatoes.
Though we had to shout over the gunshots ringing out in the chorus of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” my dining companions and I were impressed that a place as rollicking as Garde Manger chooses to pay attention to what’s coming out of the kitchen.
36 Hours in Montreal
MAKE no mistake: visiting Montreal is not like going to Paris. True, the brooding facades and crooked streets of Old Montreal feel distinctly European, and yes, the locals take their French seriously. But don’t confuse this cosmopolitan Canadian port city for a fusty, Old World wannabe. Freshened up by a wave of trendy new hotels, shops and restaurants, Montreal sings its own tune — and it sounds more like Arcade Fire, the homegrown indie band, than La Marseillaise. With the city’s debilitating 1990’s recession behind it—and the specter of Québécois secession all but forgotten — a lively patchwork of gleaming skyscrapers, bohemian enclaves and high-gloss hideaways now outshines the city’s gritty industrial past. Given the weak American dollar (off about 9 percent against the Canadian dollar over the last two years), Montreal is not the bargain it used to be. But it’s still cheaper than Paris. And a lot closer.
1) DODGING MIMES
Start in Old Montreal, and ignore the Wish-You-Were-Here postcards, skyline refrigerator magnets and street performers that clog the eastern end of Rue Saint-Paul, the area’s main drag. Instead, focus on the gas-lamped streets lined with rustic limestone buildings: this is the Montreal of romance. While you’re exploring, do a little shopping at Appartement 51 (51, rue Saint-Paul Ouest, 514-223-7648; http://www.apt51.com), a boudoirlike boutique filled with jewelry, stylish parlor furniture and crocodile bags, and Reborn (231, rue Saint-Paul Ouest, 514-499-8549; http://www.reborn.ws), another new shop that sells très chic labels like Bless, Preen and Alexandre Herchcovitch.
2) FIELD AND STREAM
The food is just one excuse to find out why everyone is talking about Le Club Chasse et Pêche (423, rue Saint-Claude; 514-861-1112; http://www.leclubchasseetpeche.com). Behind this young boîte’s unmarked door — save for an enigmatic coat of arms — the fashion flock joins forces with local tycoons and ladies in pearl necklaces in a cavernous interior that might be described as a Gothic-minimalist hunting lodge. Just as tantalizing are the Kurobata risotto appetizer (15 Canadian, or about $13 with $1 equaling 1.16 Canadian dollars) and lobster tail with sweetbreads (30 Canadian dollars).
3) ARCHITECTURE ON WHEELS
Time to work off last night’s dinner. Head to the Old Port and rent a bicycle at Montreal on Wheels (27, rue de la Commune Est, 877-866-0633; http://www.caroulemontreal.com; 7.50 Canadian dollars an hour). Follow the waterfront to the Lachine Canal, a former industrial corridor transformed into a well-manicured park. One of the last great world’s fairs was Montreal’s Expo 67. Hold onto your handlebars because you’re about to whiz past its most spectacular icons: Habitat 67 (2600, avenue Pierre-Dupuy; 514-866-5971; http://www.habitat67.com) and the Biosphère (160, chemin Tour-de-l’Isle, Île Sainte-Hélène; 514-283-5000; http://www.biosphere.ec.gc.ca). Habitat, designed by the architect Moshe Safdie, was an exhilarating experiment in modular housing: it looks like an enormous pile of building blocks. Across the Concorde Bridge, on the Île Sainte-Hélène, is the equally sensational Biosphere. Built as the American Pavilion for Expo 67, it houses a museum of hydrology, though the star attraction is the geodesic dome. Allow two to three hours for the entire excursion.
4) A MILE OF HIPSTERS
Follow the hipsters to the Mile-End neighborhood, and bite into a Montreal bagel — it’s a less doughy, but equally delicious, cousin to its New York counterpart. One of the best, with lox and cream cheese (4.79 Canadian dollars), can be found at Fairmount Bagel (74, rue Fairmount Ouest; 514-272-0667; http://www.fairmountbagel.com). This hole-in-the-wall has been churning them out from its wood-burning oven since 1919, an act of baking that becomes almost performance art when practiced by the quick-wristed chefs. Nearby, discover the well-heeled boutiques and restaurants of the Avenue Laurier, and then turn north onto the Boulevard Saint-Laurent, where the vibe becomes a bit more on the edge. In recent years, Mile-End has become a hotbed for Montreal’s young creative types, and the vanguard shops have followed. Make sure to visit Commissaires (5226, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-274-4888), a gallery of experimental furniture and design, and browse the deconstructed frocks of the local it-boy Denis Gagnon (5392A, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-272-1719; http://www.denisgagnon.ca). Most stores close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
5) FORGET PARIS
Who needs the Left Bank when you can have L’Express (3927, rue Saint-Denis; 514-845-5333). With crimson walls and checkerboard floors, this bistro-style institution in the fashionable Plateau neighborhood is a longstanding favorite among, well, pretty much everyone. One bite of the steak frites (20.75 Canadian dollars) or croque monsieur (9.10 Canadian dollars), and you’ll be a convert.
6) POPCORN AND HEGEL
Hollywood loves to film in Montreal, but you won’t find any Tinseltown blockbusters at the Ex-Centris theater (3536, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-847-2206; http://www.ex-centris.com; admission is 10 Canadian dollars), a futuristic temple to independent film where the ticket agents appear on video screens as disembodied heads (think Max Headroom). If you feel like talking Hegel, join the bespectacled cineastes who pontificate in the dimly lighted cafe.
7) IS THAT CELINE DION?
Ready to rock out? Continue north to Casa del Popolo (4873, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-284-0122; http://www.casadelpopolo.com), a vegetarian cafe that moonlights as an epicenter of Montreal’s thriving indie music scene. (Come earlier to hear the bands play, or just hang out afterwards at the bar.) Or, if you’re feeling lazy, Ex-Centris shares the block with several stomping grounds for the designer-label crowd. Start out at Globe (3455, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-284-3823; http://www.restaurantglobe.com) or Buonanotte (3518, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-848-0644; http://www.buonanotte.com), where scantily clad waitresses squeeze past dinner plates autographed by George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrity patrons. Many Montrealers dismiss these venues as overheated feeding grounds for fashion victims and their star-gawking friends. But, heck, you’re on vacation.
8) PAIN COUTURE
Nurse your hangover at Café Holt (1300, rue Sherbrooke Ouest; 514-282-3750), but don’t forget your sunglasses. Set within the venerable Holt Renfrew department store, its interior is bright and airy with glass walls. Order the bread pudding served warm with peaches and chocolate (8 Canadian dollars), or the poached eggs and smoked salmon (16 Canadian dollars) — both using bread flown in from the Poilâne bakery of Paris.
9) MUSéE OR MUSEUM?
Ah yes, culture. A block from Café Holt, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal (1379-80, rue Sherbrooke Ouest; 514-285-2000; http://www.mmfa.qc.ca; admission is free for the permanent collection, 15 Canadian dollars for special exhibitions) has a strong collection of modern design, Old Masters and contemporary Canadian artists, including Jeff Wall and Ken Lum. A 10-minute walk away is the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1920, rue Baile; 514-939-7026; http://www.cca.qc.ca; admission is 10 Canadian dollars). This pre-eminent institution, which holds regular exhibitions on architecture and urbanism, was founded by Phyllis Lambert, the Seagram heiress best known for landing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe the commission to design the Seagram Building in New York City. Housed in a 19th-century mansion with a modern stone addition, it’s a striking contrast of old and new—much like Montreal itself.
From New York, travel time to Montreal is about one hour by air, seven hours by car. Round-trip fares from LaGuardia Airport this month start at about $153 on United. The Montreal-Trudeau International Airport is just a 20 minute cab ride from downtown. Taxis within the city center generally run from 7 Canadian dollars (about $6 at with $1 equaling 1.16 Canadian dollars) to 15 Canadian dollars, but the subway is also excellent.
Stay in grand style at the 61-room Hôtel Le Saint-James (355, rue Saint-Jacques; 514-841-3111; http://www.hotellestjames.com) in Old Montreal. It’s only four years old, but you wouldn’t know it. Occupying a former bank building from 1870, it’s dripping in heavy curtains, dark-paneled walls and gilt chandeliers. Enjoy afternoon tea or predinner cocktails in the elegant atrium. Rooms start at 400 Canadian dollars.
It’s not the city’s newest boutique property, but the Hôtel Gault in Old Montreal (449, rue Sainte-Hélène; 866-904-1616; http://www.hotelgault.com) is arguably the most sophisticated, with hushed concrete walls and off-white floors, lightly dusted with mid-20th-century furniture. The 30 rooms are similarly spartan and spacious. Rates start at 199 Canadian dollars; 235 Canadian dollars in summer.
Le Petit Prince in downtown Montreal (1384, avenue Overdale; 877-938-9750; http://www.montrealbandb.com) is a bed-and-breakfast that excels on both counts. Its six color-themed rooms are souped-up with Wi-Fi, flatscreen televisions, boat-size whirlpool tubs and, in some cases, a terrace. The young staff is attentive and makes a mean breakfast. Rates start at 150 to 250 Canadian dollars.
High & Low | Quebec City’s Old Town
An Old-World Feel on the St. Lawrence
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By BETHANY LYTTLE
Published: July 18, 2008
QUEBEC CITY celebrates its 400th anniversary this year. Founded in 1608 as Kebec (Algonquin for “place where the river narrows”) by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City was the first permanent French settlement in North America.
Today, the charms of Quebec City make it one of the most visited cities in Canada, and increasingly a destination for Americans and Western Canadians who wish to own, in the form of real estate, a piece of its history.
Perched on the St. Lawrence River, the walled town conjures up images of Europe, its terraced setting filled with narrow cobblestone streets, many of them steep, and a stirring display of restored architecture.
Jeannette Casavant, a real estate broker, has been selling real estate in Quebec City for 22 years. “Values have increased more than 25 percent in less than 10 years,” she said. “And although the United States has experienced suffering in its real estate market, we have not felt that nor seen it here.”
Ms. Casavant said that in recent years there has been a shift in the trend of buying second homes outside the city. Instead, those who are thinking about retirement, but also a significant population of younger families with children, are choosing to buy pieds-à-terre and historic houses in the Old Town.
Extensive government-backed preservation and restoration of the city’s oldest apartment buildings and houses mean that buyers can own a centuries-old dwelling, complete with modern conveniences, and experience the enchanting European-style life without traveling overseas. And Old Town’s central location means there is no need to own a car.
With outstanding views of the St. Lawrence River, ramparts on which to walk and enjoy the water, and plentiful outdoor cafes, there is a lot to attract a second-home owner.
“People come up here to study French and end up wanting to own a property here,” Ms. Casavant said.
Typical prices in Old Town range from 200,000 Canadian dollars, about the same in U.S. dollars, for a condominium to about 2 million Canadian dollars. And one of the area’s coveted single-family houses might be more expensive.
“Since 9/11, we have seen a marked increase in American buyers,” Ms. Casavant said. “They want security, and Quebec is secure in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that real estate should continue to increase.
“There is no more land left in the city to build,” she added, “and the government is very strict about historic architecture. Nothing here is going to be knocked down and replaced with a condominium high-rise.”
This 5,277-square-foot house was built in 1807. It is within walking distance of Le Chateau Frontenac, a Quebec City landmark and one of the nation’s premier hotels. It is also near all of Old Town’s amenities, including its many terrace cafes, and the newly constructed Promenade Samuel de Champlain, which provides access to the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The house, which includes an attached stable that has been turned into a garage, has been fully restored. It has had only three owners in its history. The property shares its original stone-walled yard with an Ursuline convent and has views of the convent’s French gardens from its upper levels. The restored interior includes marble fireplaces, hardwood floors and arched doorways, as well as deep windows and hand-carved woodwork. There are seven bathrooms and three balconies and a terrace on the upper level. Taxes: 9,727 Canadian dollars. Listing agent: Cyrille Girard, Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec, Quebec City, (418) 264-2809; http://www.cyrillegirard.com.
This two-story, 1,076-square-foot condominium is in an 1850s building on a quiet, narrow street close to the St. Lawrence River and the shops, cafes and restaurants of Quebec City’s Old Town. It was fully restored and renovated about 10 years ago. On the upper floor is the dining room, kitchen, a living room and a half-bathroom. From this level, there is an entrance to a small garden area in the back. On the lower floor are two bedrooms and a full bathroom. There is an exposed fieldstone wall, original to the building, in the open dining and living area, and there is a wood-burning fireplace. There are hardwood floors throughout except in the bathrooms, where the floors are ceramic. The building has only one other condominium unit. Taxes: 1,600 Canadian dollars, about the same in United States dollars. Listing agent: Danielle Themens, Themens Real Estate, (418) 353-3456; http://www.daniellethemens.com.