Mourners in Quebec City braved a fall snowstorm on Saturday to pay their respects to former premier Bernard Landry as his body in lay in state at the provincial legislature.

By 1 p.m., some 400 citizens and dignitaries had already stopped by to express their condolences to the family of the former Parti Quebecois leader, who died Tuesday at the age of 81 of a pulmonary disease.

One by one, the mourners shook hands with Landry's spouse, Chantal Renaud, who was dressed in black.

In addition to Renaud, Landry leaves behind three children from a previous marriage.

Landry's daughter Pascale thanked the visitors, saying the wave of public affection that has followed her father's death has helped the family to grieve.

"It comforts us enormously," she said.

Landry's casket arrived early in the morning, draped in a blue-and-white Quebec flag and accompanied by a police procession.

Premier Francois Legault was among the first to pay his respects alongside his wife, Isabelle Brais.

Afterwards, Legault described Landry as "a man of duty" who always put Quebec first.

"Mr. Landry often said it: 'the party before the men, the state before the party.' And I have seen him often apply these two sentences in practice," Legault said.

"For him, it was always important to put the common good before the partisan interest."

Landry was a prominent figure in Quebec's sovereignty movement for half a century, and served as the province's premier from 2001 to 2003.

The Parti Quebecois' interim leader Pascal Berube said he hopes the politician's death would be a rallying cry for all those who dream of an independent Quebec.

"The best tribute we can pay him is to be faithful to his commitment, to be faithful to the dream of youth he had for Quebec, and that we continue to carry," he said.

Another visitation will take place Monday at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica, ahead of a state funeral on Tuesday.

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