The earliest inhabitants in the region, the Algonquin and Iroquois nations, built large, oblong communal dwellings called longhouses These were strong and flexible structures made with a frame of saplings that was then covered with insulating tree bark. The first European settlers in Québec also built their houses out of available materials, using logs left over from land clearing. Some traditions had to be adapted to the climate: the typical French Stone House had to have its floors raised above snow level and its walls covered with insulating plaster or wooden siding to make it livable during Québec's long, hard winters.
By the 19th century, concerns about adapting to the climate were replaced by the need to house the rapidly increasing populations of Québec's industrial cities. In the developing centres different solutions for housing, mill, and factory workers led to standard plans for two-and-three level brick or stone houses, built in rows and adapted to local needs. In Montréal, much of the housing is built of local limestone, called greystone, that gives the city much of its character. No mention of Québec's architecture could go without commenting on the number and grandeur of the province's religious buildings. The 19th century increase in population is reflected in the churches dating from that era.