Quebec City (S5.07)

Audio: Quebec City

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcastwe’ll be talking about the only walled city north of Mexico on the American Continent – Quebec City. The capital city of Canada’s Quebec province, the city is located on the St Lawrence River, around 500 kilometres from the Eastern coast of Canada, and around 700km northeast of New York City. Founded in July 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, Quebec City originated as Stadacona, a Iroqious Native American settlement, before the arrival of Europeans. A base for the French exploration and colonisation of what would become New France, Quebec remains a hub of French-Canadian culture and history, with French serving as the primary language, as throughout the wider province of Quebec. In 1775, American troops led by Benedict Arnold attempted to invade and take over Quebec City in the Battle of Quebec to “liberate” the region from the British. The siege was unsuccessful, however, and Quebec did not become the 14th colony; instead, it remained under British rule until Canada became its own country in 1867. Today, the city is home to just over half a million residents, making it the eleventh-largest city in Canada, similar in urban population to Albuquerque, New Mexico or Dublin, Ireland. The city’s curious name was taken from the native term for “where the river narrows” after its location on the banks of the St Lawrence River. 



Flag of the City of Quebec (left), and the province of Quebec (right)

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Dublin, Ireland, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Galway, Ireland. Our theme music and other stings come from Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella. 

We’ve also just launched a merch store in associated with TeePublic. You can find our store by clicking here, with exclusive discounts at the time of publishing. 

Further information and some of the sources we consulted can be found below:

  • You can find A Short History of Quebec By John Alexander Dickinson, Brian J. Young on Google Books here.
  • Another source for this episode was History of Quebec For Dummies By Éric Bédard, found here.
  • We’d also recommend A People’s History of Quebec by Jacques Lacoursière, ‎Robin Philpot · 2009.
  • There’s a great PDF on the geology of this region available from
  • ResearchGate provided a copy of Iroquoians in the St. Lawrence River Valley before European Contact by Christian Gates St-Pierre from the University of Montréal.
  • ArcheoQuebec also shed a lot of light on the early history of the region.
  • Adam Woog’s Great Explorers: Jaques Cartier is also recommended reading for more about the influential early explorer of this region.
  • CBC have an article on the settler women from whom a huge proportion of French Canadians are descended here.
  • More on the Quebec Rockslide of 1889 can be found here.
  • For general reading on the city, The Canadian Encyclopedia is well worth checking out.
  • Further reading on the modern history of Quebec can also be found at Ville De Quebec.
  • Langfocus on YouTube has a breakdown of Quebec French vs Metropolitan French.
  • The final song of the episode is “La Ziguezon” and can be found here.
  • We also featured a clip of some Wendat music, which can be found here.

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As we mentioned, Patreon proceeds from this episode will go to the Red Cross to help refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.


Wyoming (S3.03)

Wyoming audio

In this episode we’ll be talking about the US state of Wyoming, also known as “the equality state” and “the cowboy state.”
Admitted to the US as the 44th state in 1890, Wyoming has always been among the least populous states in the nation. Roughly rectangular in shape and located in the western part of the country, straddling the continental divide, Wyoming is the 10th largest state by area, and its current day population is just over 585,000, making it the second-least densely populated state after Alaska. The climate here is semi-arid and continental, drier and windier than the rest of the U.S., with greater temperature extremes.
The state is famous as the home of the first US National Park, Yellowstone and the first US national monument, Devil’s Tower. Historically important industries include coal, cattle and tourism.

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)



Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

  • To get a good overview of the geography of this place, PBS has a great film that takes you all over the state. You can find it on YouTube.
  • The images of Yellowstone National Park that were promised are in the gallery below.
  • Jim Bridger, the famous ‘mountain man’ who plays a small role in The Revenant is profiled by Brittanica here.
  • The Union Pacific featured prominently in this episode. It’s still going today, and you can learn more about its chequered history over at Wikipedia.
  • Crowheart Butte, the site of the epic battle between two Native American chiefs, is profiled by Wyoming Tales and Trails here.
  • We spoke at length in this episode about the shady story behind women winning the right to vote in Wyoming. You can dive deeper into that whole story thanks to WyoHistory. The site also has tons of deep dives into other elements of the state’s history, many of which were mentioned in this episode.
  • ‘Fantastic Yellowstone’, the archival film that’s featured in this episode, traces the history of the national park and is available here on the Internet Archive.
  • This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The music you heard in this episode was from the following sources;

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Newfoundland (S2.04)

S02E04: Newfoundland Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we return to the north of North America and explore  Newfoundland, a Canadian island in the North Atlantic.  At over 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 sq mi), Newfoundland is the world’s 16th-largest island, and Cape Spear, just south of the capital, St John’s, is the easternmost point of North America, excluding Greenland. Newfoundland has long been a sparsely populated and harsh land, with residents traditionally relying heavily on fishing to survive. The area has a significant Gaelic heritage, with strong connections to Ireland and Britain. Modern-day Newfoundland has a population of just under half a million, and is the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle). Our guest contributor this week is Dr Philip Hiscock (Department of Folklore, Memorial University, Newfoundland)

Table of Contents:
[01:16] Intro
[01:57] Early history – indigenous peoples and pushy Catholics
[09:00] Eric the Red – bad egg/ass
[13:00] Soil update – no codding you
[20:10] As usual the British turn up
[25:40] 80 Days Guest Dr Philip Hiscock – with some local knowledge
[30:00] The French arrive and shrug disinterestedly
[41:54] Beothuk people try to avoid conflict… uh oh
[47:40] Census, politics and telegraphy
[54:11] World wars, & reluctant Canadification
[1:09:06] I’m here from the government and I’m here to help (resettlement, cod & seals)
[1:20:24] 9/11 “We’re diverting you to Newfoundland. All of you.”

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

There is a lot of music (particularly Irish-inspired folk), some examples of which we would recommend if you enjoyed what you heard in the episode:

Thanks this week to Dr Jenn Jones and Jeffrey Doker, who backed our Kickstarter campaign. Your t-shirts should be on their way to you already. Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on by using our promo code – just listen in to the episode for exact details.

Alaska (S1.05)

Audio: S1E05 Alaska

This week on 80 Days, we talked about Alaska, the United States of America’s 49th state. The name Alaska comes from the Aluet word Alyeska, meaning great land, and it is a plentiful place in many respects. Rich in natural resources, Alaska has a longer coastline than the other 49 states combined  and is the largest state in the US. It contains over 3 million lakes, as well as Denali, North America’s highest peak. about 500 miles separates Alaska from Washington state, its nearest neighbour within the US, and it has a strong connection with Russia, which used to occupy and control the territory. Exploring Alaska for you are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

Flag of Alaska

Things you might want to read more about:

  • Alaska is the point of mainland America where it is generally considered humans first arrived in waves from Asia, including the ancestors of most indigenous South American peoples (25000-15000 years ago), the ancestors of many native Alaskan people and the Navajo and Apache Native American tribes  (14000-9000 years ago), the ancestors of Aleut and Eskimo people (9000-6000 years ago). This makes the area valuable for archaeologists trying to understand how people came to the Americas. Alaska’s indigenous people (including Tlingit, Athabaskan, Innupiak, Aleut and others) and much of their culture still persists to the present day, although they were, of course, greatly affected by the intervening centuries of colonisation.
  • Potlach – a “competitive altruism” practice among some native communities, such as Athabaskans
  • Music this week is all from aboriginal North American people and can be found here and here
  • Semyon Dezhnynov‘s expedition in the Bering Strait, which may have brought the first Russians to Alaska, although there are mixed opinions about this
  • The first Europeans to arrive in Alaska were the Russians, who – in the course of charting the Pacific coast of Russia – crossed the strait which is now named after Vitus Bering, a Danish navigator who led a voyage across to what is now Alaska. There were violent clashes with native Aleuts and Tlingit people and disease had devastating consequences on the indigenous population. Bering himself was marooned on an island on the way back to Russia and died.
  • Fur-trapping, particularly of sea-otters, became the major economic interest of the Russians in “Russian America” and a monopoly was given to the  Shelikhov-Golikov Company (later, the Russian-American Company), which set up headquarters at Sitka. This early settlement was attacked in the Battle of Sitka by the Kiks.ádi Tlingit clan.
  • Rather than lose their hard-to-defend province to the British in a war, the Tsar decided that the best course of action was to sell Alaska to the USA for $7.2m in 1867
  • We mentioned the instance of a Pope drawing a line on a map, which gave the Spanish a right to colonise some newly-discovered territories and the Portuguese others – this is dealt with in the Wikipedia article on the Treaty of Tordesillas
  • St Herman (the hermit) and St (Bishop) Innocent are two Russian Orthodox saints who were missionaries in the areas
  • The Klondike Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of people north to the parts of Alaska bordering Yukon as gold was discovered in the rivers of this region. Many were ill-prepared and most unsuccessful in staking claims. Con man “Soapy” Smith was an interesting character in this period, depriving treasure seekers of their money through tricks, games and crime, until his eventual death at a famous shootout on Juneau Wharf
  • During World War 2, there was a lot of action in the Aleutian Islands, while US forces attempted to dislodge a Japanese force which had occupied; American propaganda during WW2 was remarkably racial in nature, describing Alaska as a “Death Trap for the Jap

File:Alaska Death Trap.jpg