1900

1924

1929

1936

1940

1945

1946

1951

1956

1959

1960

1968

1972

1975

1978

1981

1982

1986

1991

1993

1998

2000

2001

2003

2004

2012

2014

2018

2019

2021

2023

Timeline

The story of the men and women who farmed Quebec 100 years ago continues today with the farmers we depend on for our food. A common thread emerges from this inspiring history: for those who dedicate their lives to agriculture, the only way to survive and succeed is to join together and use collective action to adapt to the challenges of their time.

1914
1944

Living off the land,
even in
wartime

It was a period marked by two world wars. The Catholic religion was deeply rooted in Quebec, especially in rural areas, and the clergy held significant sway over all aspects of society. The Church, after supporting the development of farming cooperatives, approved the creation of a Quebec-wide association to defend farmers. A gathering of farm producers in Quebec City, organized by agronomists Ponton and Létourneau and enjoying steadfast support from the clergy, was held on October 1 and 2,1924 Some 2,500 farmers attended, and they agreed to found the Union catholique des cultivateurs (UCC), a democratic organization that would represent them to the government. Various initiatives were launched, including income protection, electrification of farms, and education and information-sharing for members.

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1945
1959

The power of
collective action
in Quebec’s
changing landscape

The 1945 to 1959 period is often called la Grande Noirceur (the Great Darkness). However, many historians consider it an important phase of economic growth due to factors such as the post-war economic boom, urbanization, the arrival of new immigrants, and the rise in consumption. On a broader scale, the advent of television opened a window onto the world, the march towards modernity accelerated, and the affirmation of Quebec identity started to take shape. In tandem with these developments, Quebec farmers took their first steps towards the collective marketing of agricultural products.

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1960
1980

Bringing agriculture
into
the modern age

When it comes to modernizing institutions—in other words, bringing them up to date socially, economically, and technologically—the period from 1960 to 1980 was one of the most decisive in Quebec’s history. The Quiet Revolution, a time of rapid transformation, took place. Quebecers sought to reclaim their economy and reform their education and healthcare systems. The rural community was mobilizing, the UCC became the UPA, farmers strengthened their collective resources, and market globalization lay on the horizon.

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1981
2001

Facing
global
challenges

On the political front, the 1980s and 1990s were a time of constitutional debates and crises between Quebec and Ottawa. Internationally, the period was also marked by the signing of major trade agreements. The support of governments around the world for their agricultural sectors declined, with environmental protection becoming a priority. In Quebec, more and more groups representing specialized production sectors joined the UPA and implemented new collective marketing and development tools.

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2001
2020

Striving
for fairness

At the start of the new millennium, the agricultural sector was experiencing an unprecedented income crisis. Generating an adequate income was increasingly difficult in all types of production, and inequity between the different actors in the sector was intensifying. The UPA continued its efforts to raise awareness of the issue among leaders and the public. At the same time, agriculture faced a growing list of societal expectations: environmental regulations, traceability, animal welfare, and so on. Society demanded more and more from farmers, without necessarily weighing the consequences. Still, farmers managed, with difficulty, to adapt their practices in response to these expectations.

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2020

Challenges
and hope

A new era begins, with major challenges on the horizon. Agricultural producers are mobilized to support the next generation of farmers and protect the future of Quebec farms. At the top of the priority list is food autonomy, a social project requiring support to match the challenges involved—support that includes more powerful protection for the land and for local farming activities.

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And after?

This is the end of your journey through this timeline of farm unionism… for now, at least, because the story never ends.

Ready for the next 100 years?

2022 : Story continues