In recent days we've heard much about controversies surrounding Quebec City's 400th anniversary celebrations. We've been told that the Queen isn't coming to the party -- and neither is the Pope. A New Year's fireworks show apparently lacked spark, and now some Canadian communities -- namely Saint John and St. John's -- are contesting Quebec's claim that it's the oldest city in Canada.
Lost amid the rhetoric is a discussion about why Canadians should even care that Quebec has hit the Big 4-0-0.
Four centuries ago, Samuel de Champlain travelled up the St. Lawrence River to found a colony and forge alliances with local aboriginals. This act would ultimately lead to the creation of the country we now know as Canada.
Why should Quebec's history matter to Canadians? In coming days, a special edition of The Beaver focusing on Quebec City's 400th anniversary will help answer that question. Published for the first time in our 88-year history in both English and French, the double-sized issue will show how four centuries of triumph and tragedy shaped the cradle of French North America.
Whether it's our exploration of the mysteries surrounding Champlain's life; a vivid retelling of the Battle of Quebec; a tale about the 300th anniversary, which was a decidedly British-flavoured affair; or a recounting of the riot that marred Queen Elizabeth's 1964 visit to Quebec City, it's important to remember: Quebec's stories are also Canada's stories, offering us insight into national issues that continue to challenge us today.
Quebec's 400th birthday is a milestone of which all Canadians can and should take pride. Bonne fete, Quebec!
Mark Reid, editor, The Beaver, Winnipeg.