dufferin terrace

Romantic Quebec: Dufferin Terrace

Dufferin Terrace is like the Time Square of Quebec City, you just can’t miss it. It’s as if the streets of the Old City converge on this terrace.  It is not surprising that two million people a year stroll along this boardwalk! The terrace is a must see on all my walking tours, especially the Quebec 101 Tour and the Photo Tour.

sunset over quebec city

The Dufferin Terrace on a beautiful day of late summer. The perfect place for a stroll with your loved one!

Disclaimer: I’m a native French speaker.  English is not my first language. I learned English at school, but I mostly learned it by watching to The Simpsons and listening to rock/metal music. So, I might have made a few mistakes in this blog post.  If I did, please tell me, its the best way I can improve!

History of Dufferin Terrace

The fortifications’ savior

This grandiose terrace was named after Lord Dufferin, a Governor General of Canada (representative of the Queen in Canada) who fell madly in love with Québec. Lord Dufferin arrived in Québec in 1872. He immediately understood the importance of my city and he managed to stop the demolition of the fortifications undertaken by the city officials. If we still have fortifications today and that Quebec City is on the UNESCO Heritage List, it’s because of Lord Dufferin.

Lord Dufferin

Lord Dufferin, General Governor of Canada 1872-1878. He is one of the most successful diplomats of his time and savior of Quebec’s fortifications.

The evolution of the terrace

Remember Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec City in 1608? He built his residence called the Château Saint-Louis on this site in 1620. His successor enlarged it and added a boardwalk for his guests. During the French Regime, it would be open only to a privileged few.

After the conquest of New France, when Quebec became a British Regime, Château Saint-Louis became the official residence of British governors. This residence burned down in 1834. Four years later, the new governor, Durham, had a first public boardwalk built on the ruins. That was the beginning of the terrace we know today.

This first boardwalk called Durham Terrace was opened in 1838. It was 50 meters (164 feet) long by 15 meters (49 feet) wide structure. The site was an immediate hit, and the Quebecois loved to stroll on this terrace. It was THE place to be and being seen. Durham Terrace was already boosting tourism in Québec. However, twenty years later, Lord Dufferin had even bigger plans.

Dufferin extended Durham Terrace in 1878 to 430 meters in length. Five green and white roofed gazebos were built along the cape. Thanks to Dufferin, these gazebos are a tour guide’s life saver! Whenever it rains, snows or just to hide from the sun, they protect my guests from the elements.

The new boardwalk, renamed Dufferin Terrace in his honor, was officially opened in 1879. It has not changed since and we are glad it didn’t.

terrasse Dufferin

Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views over the Ste-Lawrence River from the Dufferin Terrace and it’s gazebos. Photo by David L.Labrie

Photo Tour of Quebec City

If you enjoy taking pictures while traveling, the Dufferin terrace offers spectacular views over the Ste-Lawrence River, Orleans Island, Lévis and Petit-Champlain. On my Photo Tour, my guests and I always spend a lot of time there. The western tip of the terrace also offers great angles over the Château Frontenac.

Did you know?

  • In 1885, the first electric streetlamps ever to illuminate a public venue were switched on here! Hydroelectricity came from the Montmorency Falls.
  • A 250-meter toboggan slide built a century ago delights visitors in winter. You can reach 70km/h on this slide!
  • It is possible to visit the remains of Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux. Park Canada offers affordable and very interesting guided tours.
Terrace Dufferin slides in winter

A 250-meter toboggan slide built a century ago delights visitors in winter. You can reach 70 km/h on this slide!

Romantic Québec

I must say, it is a very romantic place. During summer time, we can hear buskers and street musicians playing there. Even if I see this lovely place every day on my tours, I still love to have stroll there hand in hand with my boyfriend, Sébastien. He always wants to make a stop at Café 1884, located directly on the terrace. Sébastien loves their espressos! As for me, I prefer their ice cream.

Marie-Pierre and Sébastien in Old Quebec

That’s me, Marie-Pierre and my boyfriend Sébastien enjoying a beautiful stroll in Old Quebec.

Tour guide tip:

Plan a picnic or just simply visit the Gouvernor’s Park, located just next to the terrace and the Château Frontenac. Despite being in the middle of the Old City, it is a very calm place locals enjoy. It is also one of my photo stops on my Photo Tour.

Marie Pierre on the Dufferin Terrace

That’s me! Your tour guide is acting like a fashion model on the Dufferin Terrace.

Will I be showing you the Dufferin Terrace during your next stay here in Quebec City? I hope so! You can contact me or book a tour using the contact form below.

See you in Quebec City!

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