If your ancestors lived in Quebec in the 17th, 18th or 19th centuries, you can discover a great deal about them from the records of their land transactions, wills, marriage contracts, apprenticeships and other documents that were prepared by notaries. Notarial records are stored in the archives of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and you can find them either online or on microfilm at the various branches of the archives.
The BAnQ has 10 repositories across the province, the largest being in Montreal and Quebec City. The others locations are in Sherbrooke, Trois Rivieres and other smaller cities. The larger a BAnQ repository is, the smaller the online content of notarial acts because members of the public can more easily visit the big city archives in person. That means that, if your ancestor used the services of a notary in Gaspé, for example, his records are more likely to be online than if the notary was based in Quebec City.
At least 70% of the documents written and recorded by notaries in Quebec are available online. The main online repositories are:
Ancestry.com – Drouin Collection of notarial acts
Ancestry.com – BAnQ Collection of notarial acts
FamilySearch.org – BAnQ Collection of notarial acts (different years than the BAnQ online database of notarial acts)
Quebec Genealogy (Drouin Institute online)
For each notary whose work can be accessed online, I always reproduce the URL link for notarial acts that can be viewed or downloaded.
There is a list of notaries on the BAnQ website at http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/index.html?a=v_z
You can search for a notary by place and browse his indexes by year.
The URL http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/fichiers/portail/html/liste.html takes you to another list. If a notary on this list has an asterisk, clicking on the name will allow you to view his documents online.
On Ancestry.com, you will sometimes find links to two distinct databases for the same notary. If a notary began his career within, for example, the Judicial District of St. Francis (Sherbrooke) and moved his practice to the Judicial District of Richelieu (Sorel), these notarial acts written and recorded by same notary will be found on two distinct databases on Ancestry.com
The Drouin Collection of notarial acts is the same as the Ancestry.com/Drouin collection of notarial acts, however, the online search options differ.
The compilation in the PDF link below concerns notaries who worked in Quebec City and the surrounding region from the time New France became a British colony until the seigneurial system of land ownership was abolished in 1854 and through to the end of the 19th century.
The links on this compilation include:
Background information of the notary and his practice from Library and Archives Canada
A table of notaries including the judicial district in which he practiced, the years he worked and the branch of the Quebec archives where his records are kept.
A database on Quebec City notaries that can be viewed by members of the Quebec genealogy society.
A description of the BAnQ’s collection of a notary’s records
The BAnQ page that leads you to an index of that notary’s records you can browse.