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Cities Founded by the French in North America

Can you name the six most populous cities in North America that were originally founded as French settlements?
By city proper population
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: June 22, 2023
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First submittedJune 7, 2017
Times taken36,144
Average score50.0%
Rating4.50
2:30
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Population
City
1,760,000
Montreal
1,200,000
Port-au-Prince
620,000
Detroit
550,000
Quebec
370,000
New Orleans
290,000
St. Louis
74 Comments
+28
Level ∞
Jun 7, 2017
The next biggest ones: Cap-Haïtien, Baton Rouge, Windsor, Mobile, Trois-Rivières, Kingston (Ontario), and Green Bay.
+3
Level 78
Jun 8, 2017
Not Des Moines? I would have thought Des Moines over Green Bay
+2
Level ∞
Jun 8, 2017
I don't think Des Moines was founded by the French.
+14
Level 76
Sep 16, 2017
With a name like Des Moines it HAS to be founded by the French. 'Of the monks' - it is meaningless in any other language!
+37
Level 69
Sep 16, 2017
No, it says that Des Moines was incorporated in 1846, long after the French left. It was an Indian fort named after the river, which was coincidentally named by the French).
+4
Level 92
Aug 28, 2020
@markasol, Boise is a french word meaning trees, or woods. There was a Frenchman involved in the naming of the town, but it wasn't founded by the French.
+5
Level 78
Feb 16, 2023
Was Paris, Texas founded by the French?
+1
Level 35
Jun 26, 2024
No French to be found here in nearby Paris Kentucky either lol
+3
Level 76
Jul 5, 2023
Laval, Quebec?
+3
Level 78
Sep 16, 2017
I thought for sure Windsor would make the list.
+1
Level 74
Sep 19, 2017
Windsor is named after the British Royal family's name.
+2
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
The quiz isn't about who gave the city its current name! The city was founded by French settlers in 1749. The city-proper population is only 230,000, so that's why it's not on the list.
+2
Level 43
Jan 4, 2024
The name of Windsor, Ontario first comes about in the 1830s so it predates the naming of the British royal family.

But as its named after the same palace the Windsor's took their name from I guess its the same name.

+2
Level 71
Sep 18, 2017
Tried Baton Rouge, Mobile, and Green Bay! Got them all in the end though. Great quiz
+2
Level 63
Aug 6, 2018
I grew up in Kingston, Ontario- there's still a little piece of the original French fort's wall to ogle at! But for the most part, the city's heritage is English/British Isles. By the 19th century, the French influence that founded the place was all but gone. All the other old landmarks we have are from the British-ruled days (ESPECIALLY Fort Henry. That one's indisputably British. Had a summer job as an interpreter there... red coats, "British grenadiers" for our march, "Built by the British empire after the war of 1812". etc.)
+3
Level 51
Jul 14, 2020
Being someone who used to live in the Iowa City area, I find the geography there to be relatively intuitive; Iowa City and Iowa Falls are on the Iowa River, which also happens to flow through Iowa County, Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls are on the Cedar River, which happens to flow through Cedar County, Des Moines is on the Des Moines River, Sioux City is located at the confluence of the Missouri and the Big Sioux River, and the town Clear Lake is located conveniently next to... surprise surprise, Clear Lake.
+2
Level 71
Jul 14, 2020
I wonder what source you're using. The first Québec (province) city mentioned in your list is Trois-Rivières. Yet, Wikipedia lists 6 others before it (Laval [which should appear in the quiz], Gatineau, Longueuil, Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Lévis)...
+2
Level 71
Jul 14, 2020
And now, I just read a comment lower which might answer that issue. ("Laval has not been founded by the French (from France), but by French-canadians... Probably why it's not on that list.")
+4
Level 63
Dec 9, 2022
Not Pittsburgh? That grew out of Fort Duquesne after the British took it over and renamed it Fort Pitt. Or did you not count cities that were only forts at the time of French rule?

Arguably Toronto could also be included, but Fort Toronto was briefly abandoned before the area was re-settled as the city of York, so it's not a straight line from French founding to the modern day.

+1
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
You missed Laval, which should be above New Orleans in this quiz.
+1
Level 59
Jun 9, 2017
Quebec is not a city
+23
Level 67
Jun 9, 2017
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_City

Quebec City is a city in the province of Quebec and is the provincial capital as well. It is the 7th largest city in Canada.

+10
Level 67
Jun 13, 2017
As a Quebecer, I can confirm there is indeed a city called Quebec in the province of the same name in Canada. It's the provincial capital and they have a fantastic winter festival, which I attended for the first time last February. Amazing restaurants and museums too ;)
+1
Level 69
Sep 16, 2017
You forgot to mention the Citadel and the Chateau Frontenac!
+1
Level 48
Sep 16, 2017
Is that the noun you use? Quebecer? I hadn't heard that before.
+6
Level 74
Sep 17, 2017
Yes Quebecer is correct. Québécois/e in French. Québec is beautiful, peaceful, active and the cradle of French civilization in North America. Also a great place for alternative, progressive or hard rock and metal. Ask Metallica. For a mix of the band + Québec city, take a look : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFZpZ2QPyw
+2
Level 63
Aug 6, 2018
My Dad was born in Quebec city! We're not a Quebecois family, but Grandpa was stationed there in the army when Dad came along...
+4
Level 71
Jul 14, 2020
@cshtthomas So that means since New York is a state, New York City does not exist? Interesting.
+1
Level 76
Jul 5, 2023
Or, it's been a permanently-inhabited city since 1608. Either way.
+2
Level 91
Jun 12, 2017
Source? I'm curious to see what other cities are on the list, even if they're smaller populations than the cutoff.
+3
Level ∞
Jun 20, 2017
Original research by looking at a list of biggest cities in the United States, Canada, and Haiti and then referencing Wikipedia.
+4
Level 86
Jul 18, 2017
when did Haiti become a part of North America? it is a Caribbean island nation not part of a continental mass. otherwise great idea for a quiz!
+15
Level 70
Aug 23, 2017
Found the nitpicker. Technically Haiti is not part of a single landmass, but it is still a part of North America in the American Continent.
+3
Level 75
Sep 16, 2017
There is no "American Continent". There is the continent of North America and the continent of South America. When I was in school the islands weren't considered part of any continent and some sources still say that, but on this site they are included as part of the North American continent. (So is Hawaii, but the reason is politically, not geographically.)
+1
Level 58
Jul 5, 2023
Maybe you'll learn something new, but there is no ground truth about what is a continent and how many continents there are. For example, I learnt that there were six continents: Asia, Europe, America, Africa, Oceania and Antarctica.
+28
Level 82
Sep 16, 2017
Continents traditionally include islands. Do you believe that Japan is not in Asia? That the UK is not in Europe? That Madagascar is not part of Africa?
+3
Level 75
Jul 14, 2020
There are still some sources which say the Caribbean islands are not part of North America or any other continent - even Wikipedia doesn't seem 100% certain whether to call them part of the continent or their own region. I wasn't referring to any other islands in my comment, and Japan was included with Asia even back in the Dark Ages when I was in school. We were also taught that Central America wasn't part of either North or South America but was its own region, as were many areas in the world. I think there are reasons to support either point of view but currently the winning argument classifies every country in the world as part of some continent either politically or geographically, no matter how far separated.
+1
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
Islands that are part of the same tectonic plate as a continent are part of the continent. North America consists of the North American and Caribbean plates (the latter of which includes most of Honduras and all of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama). Central America is part of North America because it's connected to it by a wide area of a land (not an isthmus), and the Caribbean Islands are part of North America because they're on the same tectonic plate as Central America, which is part of North America.

The only way for Central America to not be part of North America is if it was connected by only an isthmus (like North and South America, or Africa and Asia), or a significant mountain range (like Europe and Asia). From a geologic perspective, Central America and the Caribbean islands are part of North America.

+1
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
The African continent consists of the African and Somali plates. Being part of the Somali plate is why Madagascar, Seychelles, and Comoros are part of Africa.

Japan is divided by the Eurasian and North American plates. It's considered part of Asia due to closer proximity to continental Asia than continental North America.

The UK and Ireland are part of the Eurasian plate, which is why they're part of Europe.

And then there's case of Iceland, which straddles the North American and Eurasian plates. It's close to Greenland, but Greenland is an island. Iceland is closer to continental Europe than continental North America.

+3
Level 85
Oct 16, 2017
Australia is not part of Australia, 'cuz Australia is an island.
+11
Level 72
Aug 16, 2017
Nice quiz but if you use city proper population, you forgot Laval, which is over 400,000
+1
Level 70
Aug 23, 2017
+1
+1
Level 71
Sep 18, 2017
+2

Also, more recent data seems to give slightly higher numbers for Montréal and Québec at 1,942,042 and 585,485.

(https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_municipalit%C3%A9s_du_Qu%C3%A9bec_par_population)

+4
Level 53
Sep 16, 2017
What about Laval? Or is it considered part of Montreal?
+2
Level 83
Sep 16, 2017
It says city proper. Which puts Laval in the middle of this list.
+7
Level 43
May 17, 2018
Laval has not been founded by the French (from France), but by French-canadians...

Probably why it's not on that list.

+1
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
Um, nope! Laval was first settled by Europeans in 1636 by Jesuits who were granted a seigneury (a semi-feudal system of land tenure used in the North American French colonial empire). There was no such thing as a French Canadian in 1636!

Agriculture started in 1670, and the seigneury was taken over by François de Montmorency-Laval in 1675, after whom it is named. Whichever of these events you consider Laval's founding, it was founded by the French.

+5
Level 82
Sep 16, 2017
Surprised I got all six with my first six tries.
+1
Level 48
Jul 15, 2020
Exact same surprise here. I don't know how much it helped being Louisiana Cajun.
+1
Level 74
Apr 23, 2021
Yeah same, very surprising.
+5
Level 71
Apr 5, 2018
Oh, North America! I thought it was US only. >_<
+1
Level 76
Jul 14, 2020
"originally founded" is a tricky phrase, but you could make an argument for Winnipeg as well. It certainly wasn't founded, in any sense, by the French crown, but the Red River Settlement (which became Winnipeg) was about 80% French-speaking Metis in 1870 (the year in which Manitoba became a province - at that time a small "postage stamp" surrounding Winnipeg). So, not the French crown, but a "French settlement"? Its city proper population would put it third on this list.
+4
Level 79
Jul 14, 2020
I was focused on Canada and the United States and so forgot about Haiti...
+1
Level 72
Jul 14, 2020
Ditto.
+1
Level 79
Nov 23, 2022
Done that again..
+2
Level 79
Jul 5, 2023
Didn't make this mistake this time!
+1
Level 51
Jul 14, 2020
Only 21% got Port-au-Prince?
+3
Level 67
Jul 14, 2020
It's focus, people focus to much on USA and Canada
+2
Level 76
Jul 15, 2020
To be fair, nobody in Haiti (or the rest of the Caribbean) would say they were from North America.
+1
Level 60
Jul 6, 2023
I think the same would go for most countries.
+1
Level 46
Jul 14, 2020
Great quiz! I missed St. Louis, ...and I live there!
+5
Level 71
Jul 14, 2020
We're fighting so hard to keep on speaking French up here. Would you please consider putting the accents on Montréal and Québec? Pretty please?
+1
Level 50
Feb 14, 2021
It's really not a big deal
+1
Level 55
May 20, 2022
to you?
+2
Level 79
Nov 23, 2022
There are no accents in their English names
+1
Level 81
Jan 14, 2021
I got most of these very quickly and then I was stumped. It took a lightbulb moment for the most southerly answer.
+1
Level 46
May 10, 2022
im canadian so i only got the ones in quebec
+1
Level 41
Jul 5, 2023
So... not 6 cities founded by Blue Peter then XD
+1
Level 72
Jul 5, 2023
I remembered that France had territory in the Caribbean, but focused on Jamaica and not Haiti. Doh.
+1
Level 48
Jul 6, 2023
Most of those cities are doing so well nowadays economically and socially. Unemployment, poverty, violent crime levels. Is it just a concidence or some undeŕying cause?
+1
Level 35
Jul 7, 2023
What do you mean ?
+1
Level 85
Jul 7, 2023
Being part of Canada and the United States might have something to do with it?
+1
Level 43
Aug 16, 2023
Wasn't Chicago founded by the French?
+1
Level 43
Jan 4, 2024
Wiki says founded as Fort Dearborn in 1806 by the Americans. Although there was a previous French inhabitant, he left the farm.