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Revolutions are most often marked by the violent cry of gunfire and the flow of a soldier's blood. But throughout the 1960s, the people of Quebec embarked on a peaceful revolution that began with a cry for change and continued with a steady flow of creative new ideas.

This "Quiet Revolution," as it was nicknamed by journalists, signalled the beginning of a new era in cultural expression for Quebec's French-speaking population. It also proved to be the most important period of development for the province since its beginning as New France more than 300 years ago.

When French troops in New France were defeated by the English in 1763, France gave up its claim to the colony by awarding it to England as part of the Treaty of Paris. Suddenly, nearly 55,000 French-Canadians found themselves under the rule of a British minority. Although they were awarded the legal rights to their language, laws and religion by the British, it was a serious blow to French settlers who felt France had betrayed and abandoned them.

Separated from their English landlords by language, religion and nationality, the colonists vowed to maintain their own culture at all costs. As a result, the people of Quebec developed a fierce, independent pride that often kept them at odds with the English-speaking majority in the rest of Canada.

By the mid-1950s, Quebec had developed a vibrant culture that made it the most distinct province in all of Canada. However, a new generation of leaders in Quebec felt the future of French culture in the province was being threatened by the overwhelming influence of English Canada. As a result, they began developing ways to promote the culture of French-speaking Quebec to its own citizens.

The Quiet Revolution was a well-planned attempt to introduce a program of social and cultural reform in the province. It was lead by the Quebec Liberal government, who came to power in 1960. The Liberals urged Quebecers to become maitres chez nous, meaning "masters in our house."

The movement began with provincial government attempts to lessen the influence of the Catholic Church in Quebec. This was accomplished when the government took control of education and social services within the province. They also negotiated with Ottawa to reduce the powers of the federal government and give Quebec more independence.

The most significant result of the revolution was an increase in creative expression within the province. Music, art, drama, literature, films and even cuisine reflected a new sense of pride in Quebec's identity, as French-Canadians began to realize their true potential.

In 1970, the peaceful reforms of the Quiet Revolution took a bloody turn. A group of terrorists called the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ), demanding Quebec separate from Canada, kidnapped and murdered a provincial cabinet minister. The event became known as the October Crisis.

In the decades which followed, Canada began to pay more serious attention to the separatist movement in Quebec. And the province continued to make tremendous strides in instilling a sense of distinct cultural identity in its citizens.

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