Quebec Studies

The Impact of the Quiet Revolution: The Business Environment of Smaller Cities and Regions of Quebec 1960-2000

Quebec Studies (2002), 34, (1), 19–30.

Abstract

19 The Impact of the Quiet Revolution: The Business Environment of Smaller Cities and Regions of Quebec 1960-2000 Joseph Le May Ramapo College of New Jersey The Province of Quebec has changed significantly in the economic, social, and political areas since the advent of the Quiet Revolution. This paper is an analysis of the fundamental changes that have occurred in the Quebec busi­ ness environment since the early sixties. This research looks in particular at changes in the business environment found in the smaller cities/ regions of Quebec in order to understand more fully what is happening in the larger society.1 Six separate research studies on these cities/regions form the basis of this analysis (see Works Cited).2 We looked at Trois-Rivières, St.-Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Sherbrooke, the Beauce Valley, and the HullGatineau region adjacent to Ottawa.3 A variety of changes have transformed the business community of the large cities and the smaller towns and region of Quebec. However, the tra­ ditional industries of agriculture, lumber, pulp and paper, and minerals have continued to be vital to the economy, albeit on a decreasing scale. High tech industries, including small and medium-sized firms as well as large multinational enterprises now producing both goods and services under the direction of French-speaking management teams, have become an impor­ tant part of the business milieu. The psychological climate has moved from uncertainty and anxiety to one of greater self-confidence reinforced by suc­ cessful accomplishments. As an example, the changes that occurred in the Lac St.- Jean region have been profound. Prior to the sixties unless one could speak and under­ stand English on the job in communities such as Alma and Chicoutimi, which were 99% francophone, one could not work in the local aluminum and paper plants. Since then the mainly English-speaking country club has changed to 100% French-speaking. Local management is francophone. The neighborhood Anglican church has now become a museum. The changes in the business world are substantial and they are more than cosmetic. The Quebec economic environment must be understood from a historic, lin­ guistic, cultural, and political base if one is to fully comprehend the last forty years of the business sector. This overview, based on research in six Quebec cities/regions, is nec­ essarily limited in scope. Quebec City is not included, but with its govern­ ment center and its research resources, it possesses a number of similarities to these communities. Montreal is also similar in many ways but due to its large size and its central role in the provincial economy, it has a number of complex economic/business components not dealt with here. Québec Studies, Volume 34, Fall 2002/Winter 2003

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Author details

May, Joseph