Twenty-five years ago today, on May 20, 1980, Quebec held its first referendum on whether Quebec should consider secession from Canada. The vote was defeated by 59.56% to 40.44%.
The exact phrasing of the question on the ballot was as follows:
"The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad — in other words, sovereignty — and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will be effected with approval by the people through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?"
Quebec voted on sovereignty a second time, on October 30, 1995. The vote was much closer, but the supporters of secession still ended up losing. Since then, the issue has once more become dormant, and for the foreseeable future, Quebec will continue as one of Canada's ten provinces rather than an independent state.
Want to learn more?
Wikipedia entry on the 1980 Quebec referendum
Wikipedia entry on the 1995 Quebec referendum
And, hey, if you're an American and need even more context:
Wikipedia entry on Canada