Few commuters anywhere have as beautiful a morning trip as those who cross the St Lawrence from Lévis to Québec City. Lévis itself is an attractive Victorian town, particularly on its upper level which is not only home to the city’s core but has stunning views of Québec. Most tourists shuttle on the ferry across and back, but those who scale the staircase up to the Terrasse on the heights of Lévis are rewarded with an even greater panorama. The main street of Lévis, rue Déziel, runs parallel to the river a couple of blocks north from the Terrasse. The streets leading off it are as narrow and steep as those in Québec City and showcase old buildings with elaborate brickwork and ornate roof lines.
Levis was founded by Henry Caldwell in 1826, and originally known as Ville d’Aubigny. It grew quickly with several shipyards, which could access their raw materials from Martimes forests using new railways built in 1854. Levis was, for a time, the rail connection to Quebec City, since there were no tracks on the north shore. By 1861 the ecommunity was given its present name, in honour of Chevalier Francois de Levis, who defeated the British at the 1760 Battle of Ste Foy.
Today, the city has a population of 43,000 and its attractions include a fort, dating back to the 1860s. The nearby Parc de la Paix with a CF-101 Voodoo fighter plane, the home of Alphonse Desjardins, founder of the first credit union in the Americas.
Terrasse du Chevalier-de-Lévis
5 Rue William-Tremblay, Levis, Quebec G6V 4B3
Views of Quebec City and the Chateau Frontenac as well as a few modern skyscrapers, around Quebec’s Parliament Hill.
6 Rue du Mont-Marie, Lévis, QC G6V 1V9
This 1882 Gothic Revival house has a Victorian cake frosting-like facade. The permanent exhibition explains the evolution of the cooperative credit union in Québec founded by Alphonse Desjardin (1854-1920) who stubbornly sought to build a caisse populaire controlled by its members and small depositors. Started at his kitchen table and originally greeted with scepticism, the movement grew to now have 1200 branches and 5 million members. Open (Mon-Fri 10 am-noon & 1-4.30 pm; Admission free. Open Mon-Fri 10 am to noon, and 1 pm to 4;30 pm; Sat-Sun noon to 5 pm.
Eglise Notre Dame de-la-Victoire
18 Rue Notre Dame, Lévis, QC G6V 4A4
In 1851, catholic priest Joseph Deziel proposed building a large church to serve the growing town. Designed by Thomas Bellarge, who designed many Quebec churches of the time, it was built on the exact spot from which British canon shelled Quebec during the seige of 1759.
Lévis Forts National Historic Site Of Canada
41 Chemin du Gouvernement
(4 km from the Québec-Lévis ferry)
(418) 835-5182, Fax: (418) 835-5443
During the second half of the 19th century, the British built a chain of three forts on the heights of Lévis, overlooking the St. Lawrence River, to protect Quebec city from a potential attack by the Americans at the end of their Civil War. Fort No 1, restored by Parks Canada, is the only one of these stone fortifications still standing today. To reach the inside of the fort, visitors travel over a rolling bridge spanning a deep ditch. Open: May 10 to August 29 Daily from 10 am to 5 pm; August 30 to September 26, Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission.
Levis- Quebec Ferry
The regular ferry leaves day and night (until 2 am) from near Québec City’s Place Royale, and costs $1.80 ($2.25 June-Sept) for the fifteen-minute crossing – double that if you go back.