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With their unique patterns and vivid colours, tartans are more than just fabrics; they are woven representations of history, heritage, and cultural pride. Each thread intricately intertwined into the pattern tells a story of the land and the people it represents. Across Canada, many provinces have adopted their tartans, each reflecting their distinct histories and cultural backgrounds.

In today’s blog post, we focus on a province whose tartan, though not officially adopted, continues to resonate with the spirit of its people. We are heading towards the vibrant and historically rich Quebec to unravel the threads of its distinct tartan. Known as the Plaid du Québec, this tartan is a beautiful symphony of colours derived from the province’s coat of arms. Join us as we journey through the warp and weft of Quebec’s cultural fabric!

Tartan Tidbits:

Quebec has a tartan known as the Plaid du Québec. Interestingly, although it was designed in 1965, it has yet to be officially recognized as the province’s tartan, making it unique among Canadian provincial tartans.

The Plaid du Québec was designed by Rotex Ltd, a clothing manufacturer, in 1965. Despite the passage of time, this design continues to be a vibrant symbol of Quebec’s cultural heritage and Scottish connections.

The Quebec tartan’s colours mirror those on the province’s coat of arms: blue, green, red, gold, and white. Each colour narrates a piece of Quebec’s history, from the blue of the St Lawrence River, green for the three maple leaves, red and gold for the crown and lion passant, to white symbolizing the province’s motto, ‘Je me souviens’ (‘I remember’).

A Tapestry of Time: The Historical Context and Creation of Quebec’s Tartan

As Canada’s largest province, Quebec has a vibrant history that is as colourful as the threads that make up its tartan. The French-speaking province’s name is derived from the Algonquin Indian word ‘Kebe,’ meaning ‘the place where the river narrows’—a reference to the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City.

Scottish immigrants, who arrived in Quebec over 400 years ago, are regarded as one of the founding peoples of the province. The first Scottish settlers arrived in Canada in the 1620s, and many Quebecers have Scottish ancestry. Their influence, although not as strong as the French one, is evident in the rich cultural mosaic of Quebec.

While the tartan has not been officially adopted, Quebec has embraced the concept of Tartan Day, celebrated annually on April 6th. Highland games are also organized yearly in Montreal to celebrate the Scottish heritage. This recognition of Scottish heritage suggests that the Plaid du Québec’s official adoption may be possible.

This current status of the tartan only adds to its unique allure and makes anticipating its potential official recognition a captivating conversation amongst tartan enthusiasts.

Designed in 1965 by Rotex Ltd, who created a tartan for Ontario as well, the Plaid du Québec’s Scottish Register of Tartans number is 1949. Each tartan has a unique reference number in this index, highlighting its distinct place in the tapestry of global tartan designs.

Plaid du Québec: Quebec wool tartan fabric

The Tapestry of Quebec: An Insight into the Design of the Tartan

The coat of arms influence

Each tartan tells a unique tale through its design, and the Plaid du Québec is no exception. Its carefully chosen colours directly reflect Quebec’s provincial coat of arms, symbolizing the province’s history: the fleur-de-lis for the French heritage, the lion for Great Britain, and the maple leaves for Canada.

The tartan’s design captures the coat of arms’ blue from the upper division, representing the Saint Lawrence River, a crucial aspect of Quebec’s geography and history. Green, symbolizing the three maple leaves on the lower division of the provincial shield, stands for the natural wealth and beauty of the region. The vibrant red is inspired by the center division of the coat of arms, a reminder of the Queen’s Victoria coat of arms and an embodiment of the passion and vitality of the people of Quebec.

Adding a regal touch to the tartan is gold, mirroring the crown and lion passant on the coat of arms, a nod to Quebec’s historical ties to the monarchy. Lastly, white threads are woven into the fabric, representing the scroll containing the province’s memorable motto, ‘Je me souviens’ (English: “I remember”), a testament to the province’s history and resilience.

Quebec coat of arms – Credit Superbenjamin

The Tartan Sett

As for the pattern or ‘sett’ of the tartan, it isn’t known if there’s any special significance behind it. The Plaid du Québec follows the following sett (full sett):

  • Very Dark Blue 50
  • Dark Green 10
  • Very Dark Blue 4
  • Yellow 4
  • Black 4
  • Red 6
  • Dark Green 40
  • Red 40
  • Very Dark Blue 4
  • White 4
  • Black 4
  • Red 4

Here are the hex color codes:

  • Black 101010
  • Red B40000
  • White E0E0E0
  • Yellow C4A000
  • Dark Green 003820
  • Very Dark Blue 00002C

This tartan is one of the few with an asymmetrical design, which makes it even more interesting. The amalgamation of these colours and the design pattern visually represents Quebec’s rich history and cultural identity, a vibrant reminder of the province’s roots and journey through time.

Plaid du Quebec: Tartan Pattern

Wearing Heritage on the Sleeve: The Usage and Significance of the Tartan

Tartans are more than mere fashion statements; they are narratives of culture and history worn on the sleeve. Despite its unofficial status, Quebec’s tartan enjoys a special place in the province’s cultural fabric.

If you pay attention, the Plaid du Québec, with its rich colours and distinct pattern, can be seen across the province in various forms. Clothing is the most traditional expression of the tartan: shirts, skirts, kilts, ties, scarves, and more. But it doesn’t stop at apparel. You can spot the tartan gracing official events, adorning everything from table runners to banners.

While clan tartans are exclusive to those belonging to a specific Scottish clan, the Plaid du Québec is open for everyone to wear. It doesn’t bear the constraints of clan affiliation, making it a universal symbol of Quebec’s cultural pride.

The tartan’s cultural significance is apparent in the province’s annual Tartan Day celebrations on April 6th. The tartan waves proudly, resonating with the provincial motto, “Je me souviens” (“I remember”). It’s a day when the province’s Scottish heritage is acknowledged and celebrated.

The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath on April 6th, 1320, a significant milestone in Scotland’s historical independence. In Quebec, this tradition was established by the National Assembly in December 2003.

For enthusiasts of tartan and Scottish culture who yearn to immerse themselves in a vibrant celebration of this heritage, Quebec hosts a series of events that weave together tradition, history, and community. Don’t miss out on these key gatherings across the province:

  • Montreal – Montreal Highland Games
  • Quebec – Festival Celtique de Quebec
  • St. Malachie – Festival Celtes et Cie de Saint-Malachie

Unraveling the Tartan: Purchasing and Crafting Opportunities

Where to Buy Quebec Tartan

I recommend buying this beautiful tartan “Lochcarron of Scotland” and “ScotlandShop,” two reliable suppliers of quality tartan fabric and related products. Having sourced many of my tartans from them, I can vouch for their authenticity and quality. And it seems natural to buy tartan from Scotland, doesn’t it?

If you want to buy in Canada, I would go to the province with the most Scottish heritage: Nova Scotia. Stores like “The Plaid Place” and “Maritime Tartan Company” offer many tartan products.

Product ideas with the Quebec tartan – Credit ScotlandShop

Crafting Ideas with Plaid of Quebec

Regarding crafting with the tartan, the possibilities are as diverse as the colours in the Plaid du Québec. Consider sewing a warm tartan scarf for the winter months or a chic tartan skirt for a standout look at a party. For home décor enthusiasts, a tartan cushion or throw can add a touch of coziness and heritage to any room.

For those less inclined towards sewing, there are still many ways to use tartan in crafting. A tartan-covered notebook makes a thoughtful gift, while a tartan table runner could be your dining room’s finishing touch. From tartan bunting for a celebration to tartan-lined picture frames, the opportunities to include a piece of Quebec in your craft projects are boundless.

By purchasing and crafting with the Plaid du Québec, you not only become a part of this beautiful tartan’s ongoing history but also help keep the spirit of Quebec’s rich heritage alive.

The Unending Weave: Concluding Thoughts

As we come to the end of this exploration of Quebec’s tartan, it’s clear that the Plaid du Québec is more than a simple arrangement of coloured threads. It’s a vibrant testament to the province’s cultural heritage, representing Quebec’s history, values, and spirit. Despite its lack of official recognition, the tartan remains an enduring symbol of the province’s rich past and its ties to the Scottish settlers who helped shape its history.

From the tartan’s historical roots to its vibrant design, from its widespread use to its notoriety, every aspect serves as a reminder of the province’s cultural resilience and diversity.

Let us appreciate the Plaid du Québec, not only as a piece of fabric but as a significant part of Quebec’s cultural tapestry. I encourage you to share this post with others interested in the fascinating interplay of history and culture reflected in the vibrant threads of the Plaid du Québec. Together, we can celebrate this wonderful cultural symbol and look forward to the day when it receives the official recognition it deserves.

Source:

  • The Scottish Register of Tartans