August 26, 1977

Quebec’s National Assembly adopts the Charter of the French Language

The provisions of the Charter of the French Language, commonly known as Bill 101, affect the activities of the government, commerce, business, education and the courts.

The Charter required the exclusive use of French on signs and in advertising. All businesses with 50 employees or more had to set up a francization program.

Access to English-language schools was restricted to children with a parent who attended elementary school in English in Quebec. And only the French version of legislation would be considered official.

Quebec’s English-speaking community viewed the law as a threat to their existence. Shortly after being adopted, the Charter was challenged before the courts, and several amendments were made. Despite these changes, thousands of English-speaking Quebecers no longer felt welcome and left the province. The percentage of the population whose mother tongue is English dropped from 13.1% in 1971 to 7.7% in 2011.

A large number of English-speaking Quebecers who decided to stay in the province would become bilingual over the years.