July 3, 2008 will mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, a milestone reached by very few North American cities.
So last week we attended a meeting in Liverpool with a group of cultural representatives from Quebec who are keen to look for opportunities to collaborate with Liverpool. I didn’t realise that the two cities where closely linked in the past, less so now probably because French is their first language.
Research in the archives of the Liverpool Maritime Museum reveals that Québec and Liverpool were very closely linked in the 19th century, with Québec a major point of entry into the New World via the Liverpool shipping route. Liverpool merchants actually sent members of their family to live down on the dockside in Québec to supervise orders for ships, and our research has revealed that between 1849 and 1854 alone, over 280 Liverpool-registered ships were built in Québec City.
Many of these ships brought timber to the UK and goods were exported from Liverpool on them into North America via Québec City, including a lot of Liverpool slipware. A lot of the empties returned with families as ballast, seeking a new life in North America. Many people continued to cross the Atlantic in both directions between Québec and Liverpool (this was cheaper than the New York crossing) on Allan Line and CP Line ships right up until the 1960s.
There may be several opportunities for exchange and collaboration. One of the people we met was from an art school Maison Des Metiers D’art de Quebec (MMAQ), specialising in ceramics, textile design and sculpture. It has residencies for young artists and established professionals from Canada or abroad. They take place from September to June and last for one month.
Proposals may be submitted at any time. See the website for more details, it helps if you can read French.