In 1980, cars could be found in every corner of Quebec. The increase in the number of cars after World War II had completely changed Quebec’s landscape which now had many roads, bridges and highways. Automobiles also resulted in changes in the transportation industry because trucks were now in competition with trains.


During the years after World War II, only a minority of Quebec households had a car. However, this changed quickly, and the number of cars rose from 171000 in 1945 to 2 548 000 in 1980. The government had to react quickly and construct highways like the Metropolitan, the Gatineau Highway and the Henry-IV Highway in order to accommodate motorists. There were also bridges built: the Champlain Bridge in Montreal in 1962 and the Pierre Laporte Bridge in Quebec in 1970. The government also had to make sure that country roads were widened and paved. The automobile was rapidly becoming the preferred method of transportation for Quebeckers, and this was resulting in traffic jams, especially in Montreal.

Aerial views of roads and highways in the Montréal region
Aerial views of roads and highways in the Montréal region. By Gabor Szilasi, Gilles Langevin et E.V via License: by-nc-nd

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Commercial transportation

Trucks were being used more and more in the transportation of merchandise. This type of transportation was faster than railroads over short distances. For this reason it was used more often and even more often than the train as a means of transporting goods. On the other hand, the railroads were still important because they were better for transporting used to transport raw materials such as iron ore, timber especially in remote areas.

Impacts on the environment

Today, we better realize how the use of so many cars causes environmental problems.  Many Quebeckers live in the suburbs, far enough away from their workplace and must travel great distances every day. This choice is put into question because of changes in the climate caused by greenhouse gas emissions which are partly caused by so many cars. Government and environmental organizations are trying to convince more people to use public transportation or carpool to reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix

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