Quebec was founded July 3, 1608, by explorer Samuel de Champlain, who established the city as a permanent settlement in the area that would become known as New France. Quebec is regarded as the first non-Spanish European city in North America.
While trade and exploration motivated Champlain, Catholic missionaries were keen to evangelize the Native population and serve the pastoral needs of French settlers. In 1658, Msgr. François de Laval was appointed the first bishop of New France. Today, his memory is kept alive by Quebec City’s Laval University. Established originally as a seminary, Laval was the first French-language university in North America. In 1986, the Knights of Columbus established the $1 million Bishop de Laval Fund, the annual proceeds of which are given to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for its programs.
Delegates and guests to this year’s Supreme Convention will be able to tour many of the region’s religious and historic landmarks. An organizing committee of nearly 100 Quebec Knights and volunteers has put together an extensive program that incorporates faith, history, entertainment and a sampling of the local culture.
Supreme Director Yves Duceppe, a member of Sainte Marie Council 3258 in Montreal, is chairman of the organizing committee. He brings his experience as a member of the 1997 Supreme Convention organizing committee to his role as chairman of the 2008 event.
“I’ve been fortunate to have many of the volunteers from the 1997 convention come back to assist us again this time,” Duceppe said.
The convention program takes full advantage of Quebec City’s Old World charms. In addition to unique shops and restaurants, the area boasts the visual splendor of the St. Lawrence River and the striking Chateau Frontenac Hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1893. Although French is the predominant language of Quebec, many Québécois, especially in Quebec City, are fluent in English.
Quebec City is also home to several historic churches that Duceppe believes will be a draw for K of C visitors. The convention program also includes day trips to the Shrine and Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Canadian Catholics. Located just 19 miles east of Quebec City, it attracts up to half a million visitors each year.
In keeping with the celebration of the religious heritage of New France, the convention program also includes opportunities to visit area museums marking the work of Augustinian and Ursuline nuns, whose efforts in the 17th century played a key role in the spread of Catholicism throughout Quebec and the rest of Canada.