Quebec City was founded on July 3, 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. de Champlain named his settlement after a local Indian word meaning “the river narrows here.” de Champlain's settlement was located at the foot of Cap Diamant (the peninsula on which Old Quebec lies today) . The French settlement was at first sparsely inhabited and served mostly as a point of interest for fur trading and missionaries. In 1615, the first missionaries, the Recollets, arrived in the city. From 1629-1632, the city briefly passed into possession of the British. The Jesuits arrived in 1635 and the Ursulines and Augustines in 1639. In 1636, Charles Hualt de Montmagny became the settlement’s governor, who presided over expansion of the settlement and construction of its first church, Notre Dame de la Paix (Our Lady of Peace.) Surrounding the settlement were various parcels of farm land. By 1663, the year during which Quebec became the capital city of New France, the population of Quebec and its surrounding farm lands had reached 1,950 people. The British attempt to capture the city in 1690 during King William's War failed.
In 1984, Opération Nez rouge (Operation Red Nose) was founded in Quebec City. It has been imitated in many other European countries. This is a service that runs during the Christmas holiday season to assist drivers incapable of driving home due to alcohol consumption or fatigue.
In April 2001, Quebec City played host to the Summit of the Americas where the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was discussed. This conference was expected to be filled with confrontations between the police and anti-globalization groups, which meant that the location of walled Quebec City was vital for security reasons.
On January 1, 2002, surrounding towns were incorporated into the existing city. The "New Quebec city" includes 11 former municipalities: Sainte-Foy, Beauport, Charlesbourg, Sillery, Loretteville, Val-Bélair, Cap-Rouge, Saint-Émile, Vanier, and Lac-Saint-Charles, in addition to the original Quebec City.
In 2005, Capitale-Nationale played host to the second most important sporting event in the world besides the Olympic Games, the World Police and Fire Games, which was a success for the city, with as many as 11,000 athletes and 14,000 persons accompanying them, making 25,000 persons in total.) The City also experienced higher than average temperatures with an average of 30 degrees celsius.