The J.-A. Moisan store in Quebec City, the oldest grocery store in North America, is where customers can buy modern products in an old-world atmosphere.

How often can people shop in a store that is more than a century old? Quebec City, capital of the province of Quebec in Canada, is known for many things, including the old walled city, the Chateau Frontenac hotel visited by royals and famous politicians, and the Plains of Abraham where the French and English fought for control of what later became Canada. However, Quebec is also home to a less famous but still important place. Near the walls of the old city is a small shop called J. A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America, where customers can still go to buy specialty foods or to stock up for their daily needs.

The History of Quebec

In 2008, the city of Quebec turned four hundred years old, as the Quebec Kiosk website states. Founded by explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1608 as a trading post, the community began at Cape Diamant, now known as Place-Royale. The town that grew from the trading post became capital of New France and later of the province of Quebec. Just outside the old city, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place in 1759 between the French under General Montcalm and the English under General Wolfe. The next year, the colonies of New France officially came under British control with the Treaty of Paris. Although Quebec was no longer central to the colony, it still remained important, and in 1985, the old city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its integral role in the history of North America.

J.-A. Moisan and the Growth of Quebec City

Throughout the history of Quebec, the city has grown and changed to meet the needs of its residents. As the community developed outside the walled city, businesses were established to meet the needs of the people who lived there. By 1871, Quebec already had two distinct districts, the wealthy Upper Town and the poorer Lower Town. That year, Jean-Alfred Moisan established a grocery story to cater to the needs and desires of Upper Town residents. As the History page of the J.-A. Moisan website states, the intent was to supply imported goods that could not be found anywhere else in the area. J.-A. Moisan retired in 1927, and the shop remained in his family until 1978, when an antique dealer bought the business. The current owners bought the store in 1999. Although the shop no longer caters only to the exclusive clientele of its early years, it still maintains an old-world atmosphere that recalls its earliest days.

With so much history behind it, the J.-A. Moisan store is an essential part of Quebec City’s heritage and culture.


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