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Why did Quebec go to QC?
January 10, 2008 6:02 AM   Subscribe

When (and why) did the postal abbreviation for Québec change from PQ to QC? Was PQ too closely associated with the Parti Québécois?

Newfoundland also changed from NF to NL, I believe, but I think that was related to the official change of the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001.
posted by Chrysostom to Law & Government (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect it was the "Province" part of PQ that was disliked and thrown out, although I can't quote you a reference. Around the same time, probably early 1980s, the motto on Quebec license plates went from the longtime "La belle province" to "Je me souviens" as well.
posted by zadcat at 6:17 AM on January 10, 2008


PQ could be "Province de Québec" as well as "Province of Québec".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 AM on January 10, 2008


I can't find the relevant technical doc on line, but suffice to say I had to look some of this up for my job...

sometime before 2000, the three major countries of N.America sought to synchronize their postal abbreviations so that no state (USA or Mexico) or province (for Canada) had the same two-letter abbr.
There must have been some reasoning at that time that QC was a better reference for Quebec that PQ, and the change was made.

Newfoundland changed, as you said, from NF to NL to reflect the official name change of the province to "Newfoundland and Labrador"
Mexican officials were too slow in responding to this request-for-change, and the change was made, even though NL was a candidate for one of their own state's abbr.

that's all I've got, hope it helps.
posted by I, Credulous at 6:36 AM on January 10, 2008


Blazecock: It's the word "Province" that rankles. Quebec has done a lot to excise that word from its public face. I haven't been up there in a couple of years, but for a long time highway signs on the way to Quebec City informed you that you were approaching the "capitale nationale" and the provincial parliament (I have trouble even thinking of it in those terms) is called the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale).
posted by zadcat at 6:39 AM on January 10, 2008


The Quebec parks are still 'National Parks', too.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:47 AM on January 10, 2008


Blazecock: It's the word "Province" that rankles. Quebec has done a lot to excise that word from its public face.

Perhaps, but the postal system isn't under provincial jurisdiction. I don't think Canada Post would have changed its abbreviation system because of sovereignist rumblings.

I'd think it's more likely to be a redundancy issue: including "province" in the space (on forms, for example) that's already labeled "province". Just like it'd be a bit silly to write "Civic Number YourCivicNumber" or "City of YourCityName" on envelopes.

Data point:

I just flipped through my stack of mail, and most of it uses QC. But my address on my bank statement is PQ (the return address is QC, though). So while it's not officially correct, PQ still works. It's probably because that's how I filled out the account info when I opened it, which was... hmm, in the mid-80s I think.
posted by CKmtl at 1:57 PM on January 10, 2008


@CKmtl: it's probably not that the 'PQ still works' so much as that the postal code is correct.
posted by onshi at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2008


onshi: granted.

I happened to mention this question to my aunt. She took it upon herself to look through her federal tax records, which include an address label generated by the federal gov't. On those, the last year that the provincial postal abbreviation was PQ is 1992. From 1993 onward, it's QC.
posted by CKmtl at 5:58 PM on January 10, 2008


"Province" may well be redundant, but don't forget that Quebec is the only province whose capital city has the same name as itself. So emphasizing PROVINCE of Quebec may have had some utility in distinguishing it from Quebec, the city.
posted by zadcat at 6:26 PM on January 10, 2008


sometime before 2000, the three major countries of N.America sought to synchronize their postal abbreviations so that no state (USA or Mexico) or province (for Canada) had the same two-letter abbr.

Only Nuevo León and the Distrito Federal have two-letter abbreviations. The rest are all 3-5 letters.
posted by oaf at 4:37 AM on January 11, 2008


Only Nuevo León and the Distrito Federal have two-letter abbreviations. The rest are all 3-5 letters.

except, when they aren't.

basically, it comes down to Mexico not standardizing, and leaving several different (and in some cases merely colloquial) forms of State shortforms in use. Sepomex and the Federal gov't will have to put their foot down someday and decide, is all.

I believe, however, that my original reason still stands.
posted by I, Credulous at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2008


I was talking about the official ones.
posted by oaf at 3:12 PM on January 25, 2008


I vaguely recall (someone corroborate this?) a provincial/Canada Post exchange regarding the "issue" that no other province has to have an acronym that includes a reference to "Province", therefore neither should Quebec.
posted by iTristan at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2008


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