Tourtière is not exclusive to Quebec. Tourtière is a traditional French-Canadian dish served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout Canada and the bordering areas of the United States. In the U.S., namely in the states of Michigan, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New York, citizens of Quebec ancestry have introduced the recipe. Every family has its own "original" recipe, passed down through the generations. Like the recipe, there is no one correct filling, as the pie meat depends on what is available in regions. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef, rabbit, and game are used inland.
The name supposedly comes from a pie-making utensil but by 1611 tourtière more or less referred to the meat pie as we know it today. Historically, the tourtiere was the pie-pan named for the key ingredient: the cooked meat of the once abundant and now extinct passenger pigeon, the "Tourte".
The tourtières of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area and Eastern Quebec are slow-cooked deep-dish meat pies made with potatoes and various meats (often including wild game) cut into small cubes. Elsewhere in Quebec and the rest of Canada, this variety of tourtière is sometimes referred to, in French and in English, as tourtière du Lac-Saint-Jean or tourtière saguenéenne to distinguish it from the varieties of tourtière with ground meat.