The French colonists (‘habitants’) who began settling Canada in the early seventeenth century brought with them the French language, the Catholic religion, and French cultural traditions. These basic elements of ‘le patrimoine’ continued to evolve in the North American context after France abandoned the colony in 1760. Under the influence of a conservative political establishment and the Catholic Church for two centuries, French Canadians perceived themselves as an isolated minority whose duty was to preserve their language, religion, culture, and agrarian traditions. A collective identity crisis during the 1960s led to the conclusion that the old social, educational, and religious institutions had failed to keep up with the forces of modernization, industrialization, and urbanization which had transformed the province. During the period known as the ‘Révolution tranquille’, political reforms gave Quebec greater autonomy within the Canadian confederation, economic reforms improved material conditions, and educational reforms began preparing future generations for productive careers. Rejecting the term ‘Canadien français’ because it connoted colonial status, Quebec intellectuals adopted the term ‘Québécois’ and called for the creation of a national literature, independent from its French roots and its Anglo-American connections. This distinctive Québécois literature would reflect the reality of their lives and speak to them in the language of Quebec.