History of Quebec, from the first European contact in the 16th century until the present day. Before European contact, the natives were a mixture of farmers and hunter-gatherers who traded with each other. The Europeans first came to the region for cod, then the fur trade started in the 1630s. Due to epidemics, 1650 marked the turning point where European strength exceeded native strength, and the natives played only a marginal role in Quebec’s history onwards.
The economy in the 1600s initially centered around bringing furs from the interior for export, but gradually transitioned to an agricultural economy by 1700. The French set up a seigneurial system along the St. Lawrence river, with Quebec City being the only large town. After the best farmland beside the St. Lawrence got taken, poorer families expanded into more marginal territory. The French were defeated by the British in the seven years war (~1760), after which the whole territory was under British control. While the British allowed the French settlers to keep their language and culture, this was the beginning of the anglophone-francophone tension that continues to the present day.
The 1800s was when Quebec started to industrialize: the economy transitioned from agriculture to industry, people moved into cities, and the seigneurial system was replaced with a capitalist one. Montreal became the center of commerce, while Quebec City fell in importance as it was not connected by railroads to the rest of the continent. Francophones tended to be the working class and poorer than the anglophones, who had better connections and formed most of the ruling class. This caused a lot of resentment and several rebellions which were ultimately unsuccessful.
In the 20th century, the church fell in power as people became secularized, and women gained more freedoms. Quality of life improved and the current political parties were established in the post-war period. A number of factors led to the francophones feeling threatened: declining birth rates amid increasing immigration (mostly to the Montreal area and choosing to speak English instead of French), poor economic prospects for francophones — these factors led to the Quiet Revolution. The province then had two referendums to secede from the rest of Canada, and both failed by a narrow margin.
The writing style is very dry and academic, so it was a struggle to finish this 370-page book. The chapters are in chronological order, each covering about a 50-year period and describing the demographics, various sectors of the economy, the church, political parties, education, courts, status of women, natives, etc. We get to read about all these things in 1760, then again in 1810, again in 1850, then again in 1890, etc, so it quickly got quite tedious and repetitive.
The authors did not try to weave together a compelling narrative, so it felt like an endless procession of minor figures, locations, statistics, and events in chronological order. I guess this is what history looks like when you get into the nitty-gritty details: occasional notable events buried in a mountain of mundane details.