Québec around 1980

Quebec entrepreneurs

In 1980, more and more Quebec businesses were successful, not only in Quebec but also in Canada and throughout the rest of the world. This was a big change from 1905 where Quebec entrepreneurs were rare. Some of the most important Quebec companies included Bombardier, Quebecor, Jean Coutu, Power Corporation and Steinberg’s. In the years that followed, other companies such as the Cirque du Soleil, were added to the list of Quebec companies known throughout the world. 

See CBC Archives: The Genesis of Cirque du Soleil, 1988 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwq-7-7-pxM


Cirque du Soleil foundation, in French at


In 1980, the Steinberg’s food chain was the most popular in Quebec. It operated more than 300 stores throughout Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. There was a Steinberg’s store in every neighbourhood of Montreal. This chain was so popular that people would say, “I have to do my Steinberg’s,” meaning they had to do their grocery shopping.


In 1980, Bombardier was already known throughout the world for its manufacture of Ski-Doos, first invented in 1959 by the company founder Joseph-Armand Bombardier. In recent years, the company had also been active in the manufacturing of trains and was on its way to becoming the largest manufacturer of train cars in the world. In 1980, Bombardier bought several factories around the world and began manufacturing airplanes.

Jean Coutu

In 1980, the Jean Coutu Group owned 60 pharmacies throughout Quebec and New Brunswick. This company was considered as innovative because it created superstores which offered pharmaceutical products and services at low prices. Because of this approach, the Jean Coutu Group became one of the biggest pharmacy chains in North America.

The impact on Quebec’s economy

The emergence of large Québec companies allowed for the francization of the economy because many companies were controlled by Francophones. It also allowed Quebec’s economy to be less dependent on English-Canadian and American companies since more and more large Quebec businesses were stimulating the economy.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix. Additions and adaptations by LEARN.

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