Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Townships of Pontiac, Gatineau Counties, plus the Township of Hull

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the area around the Gatineau hills of Quebec, north and west of Ottawa, was the home of the Anishnabe Algonquin First Nations people. Between about 1800 and 1900, western Quebec was settled by British, American, Irish Protestant, Scottish, Irish Catholic, French Canadian and Germanic families. The Germanic settlers had a strong presence in this region. To my knowledge, there were few Loyalists or Huguenots.

Prior to 1845, people and goods were transported primarily by barge along the Ottawa River, which separates Quebec and Ontario. The steamboat that operated on the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa could not manage the rapids between Carillon and Grenville, so in 1854, the Carillon and Grenville Railway, a short 12-mile-long portage railway, was organized.

Prior to 1845, when they purchased land, finalized business deals or wrote their wills, the settlers of western Quebec likely dealt with notaries from Montreal, and perhaps those in Vaudreuil and Rigaud. The section of this compilation that lists notaries begins in 1845, since the Judicial District of Hull was a late-comer among judicial districts across the province.

Today, this region is well served by two superb archives and four regional genealogical societies. Contact details for all these places can be found in the attached compilation.

BAnQ Gatineau – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

LAC – Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa

OGS – Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

SGO – Société de généalogie de l’Outaouais

Gatineau Valley Historical Society

Pontiac Archives (genealogy society, located in Shawville, QC)

See: Townships of Pontiac and Gatineau Counties plus the the township of Hull

The contents of this 23-page compilation are as follows:

Page 1  the settlers (including farmers, businessmen, militia officers, politicians)

Page 3  the counties in 1791

Page 4  the townships in chronological sequence

Page 11 regional cemeteries

Page 13 Outaouais region (a list of cities, towns, villages)

Page 14 description of notarial records

Page 15 the notaries

Page 22 area archives and genealogical resource centres

 

 

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal, United States

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

french-canadian, Genealogy, Military, Quebec

Seigneuries of Lanaudière, including Regional Notaries and Cemeteries

This region, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River between Trois-Rivières and Montreal, is unknown to most North Americans except for those who had ancestors there.

The Elliotts were one well-known Lanaudière family. Through Grace Elliott Trudeau (1880-1973), Robert Elliot was an ancestor of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Robert Elliott was born in Scotland in 1762 and settled in the Lanaudière area. His funeral service was held on April 17, 1810 at the Anglican Church in Trois-Rivières, and he was buried two days later in Maskinongé County, in the Protestant Cemetery of Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon.

The Lanaudière region was settled by French Canadian, Acadian, British, Irish Catholic, Irish Protestant, Germanic, American and Eastern Europe families, including a few Loyalists in the Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon, Louiseville and Yamachiche regions.

The Acadian families who came here had originally been deported to Massachusetts. In August 1766, they accepted the offer of Governor James Murray to come to Quebec. A large number of these Acadians were assigned pristine lands in the Lanaudière region.

One has only to review the list of seigneurs at the beginning of this research guide to realize the importance of the military in this region. Senior and junior officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Régiment Carignan-Salières (1665-1669), as well as officers and soldiers of the 28 Compagnies Franches de la Marine en Nouvelle-France (1622-1761) were granted lands in Lanaudière. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was common for officers and soldiers to request land in New France after their tour of duty was completed. In 1665 about one third of the 1,200 soldiers and officers of the Régiment Carignan-Salières requested lands in various regions of New France.

Here is a link to the PFD research guide: Seigneuries of Lanaudière

In this compilation, you will find:

  1.  p. 1 Seigneurs and military regiments
  2. p. 11 Seigneuries in the current counties of Berthier, Joliette, L’Achigan, L’Assomption, Maskinongé, Montcalm
  3. p. 39 Cemeteries
  4. p. 40 Notaries practising in the area, 1712-1916
  5. p. 76 Articles and resources on the Acadians, Irish, Germans and Loyalists.
  6. p. 77 Repositories in Quebec and France

(corrected and updated Nov. 26, 2018)

french-canadian, Genealogy, Quebec

Patrimoine Québec — a Genealogical Library

If you are interested in learning more about the history and people of New France, Acadia and Québec, a collection of more than 300 digitized books on these subjects might be of interest to you. There are two problems with this collection: all the books are in French, and it is not easy to navigate the site. Nevertheless, it is worth persisting, especially if you are a genealogist or have a background in history or archives.

This free virtual library is continually growing. The books, available as PDFs, can be found at www.patrimoinequebec.ca/bibliotheque/propos.php

The online collection focuses on genealogy. It includes family biographies, dictionaries in alphabetical order by various authors addressing families of Nouvelle-France and Québec, genealogical dictionaries, historical men and women from the 16th century onward of Nouvelle-France and Québec, family lineages, and descriptions of online collections, historical villages, towns and cities of Quebec.

A collection on the site that is of special interest to genealogists is called Registre Cadastrale (cadastral registry). These volumes list the seigneuries and their owners, the rangs (roads) in each seigneurie, the names of the censitaires (tenants), the amount of land each tenant held and the annual rent.

Two unique online dossiers address the content of the various fonds (collections) at BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) and their 12 repositories, namely: Rapport de l’Archiviste du Québec and Collectif des Archives de Québec.

To explore the collection and search the Patrimoine Québec (heritage Quebec) website, go to http://www.patrimoinequebec.ca/

The home page is available in English translation at http://www.patrimoinequebec.ca/library/.

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, Quebec

Seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley

The PDF research guide linked below explores the seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley, south-east of Montreal. This compilation includes the seigneuries, cemeteries and notaries of the area, including present-day Chambly, Iberville, Napierville, Longueuil, Lacolle, St. Hyacinthe, Yamaska, La Prairie and Sorel.

This region was established by officers and soldiers of the Carignan-Salières regiment. French Canadian, Acadian, Loyalist, British, non-Loyalist American, Scottish, Irish, Germanic and Dutch families were present in the Richelieu River Valley from about 1636 to 1899.

After the British Conquest of New France and the American Revolution, large numbers of Loyalists sailed north in Lake Champlain and along the Richelieu River to settle in Missisquoi Bay, the Upper Richelieu near the Vermont-New York State border, St. Johns (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Chambly, Sorel and Saint-Ours. They also crossed the St. Lawrence River from Sorel and put down roots in Machiche (Yamachiche), Louiseville, Saint-Cuthbert, Maskinongé and Trois-Rivières.

Between 1669 and 1899, many notaries established careers in the Richelieu River Valley. They recorded land transactions and rental agreements, wills, marriage contracts, protests and other legal documents for the residents. As of 2018, about 70 percent of the notarial records made in this region can be found online, either on the Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec site (BAnQ.qc.ca), Ancestry.com with two online databases (1647-1942 & 1637-1935), Genealogy Quebec (Drouin Institute), or FamilySearch.org.

On the last page of the attached research guide, I have listed research assistance services offered by BAnQ Montréal under the heading BAnQ Ask a question. If you fill out the detailed questionnaire in English, you should receive a reply in English within 48 hours. Downloads of Notarial Acts at the BAnQ are free.

Here is the link to this PDF: Seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley

This research guide includes:

p. 1 Introduction to the area and the Carignan-Salières regiment

p. 1. Seigneurs of the area

p. 3. The seigneuries including Beloeil, Carignan, Chambly, Lacolle, Longueil, St. Hyacinthe, Yamaska, La Prairie, Sorel.

p. 23 Regional cemeteries in Chambly, Iberville, Napierville, Monteregie, St. Hyacinthe, St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Yamaska

p. 24. The notaries: the locations and years they practiced, from 1669 to 1957.

p. 80. Links to archives.

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Census Results for New France Online

If you think the census is a modern invention, think again. The Nouvelle-France.org collection of archival treasures includes a number of censuses taken in New France. They can be found on the New France Archives site http://nouvelle-france.org by searching for recensements (censuses). The search brings you to this page: http://nouvelle-france.org/eng/Pages/list.aspx?k=Recensements&

This database includes 265 population census returns of New France (Nouvelle-France) and Acadia (Acadie). All are digitized versions of the original documents. Beyond 1760, the census results include pockets of former French citizens in small regions of Quebec or in the Maritime Provinces. The 1756-09-27 census (database item 12496) addresses the Acadian refugees on Ïle-St-Jean, which is present-day Prince Edward Island.

These documents have not been indexed so you will have to browse through them to find your own ancestors, but they are fun to look at. It helps if you have at least a rudimentary French vocabulary, and the beautiful old handwriting is an additional challenge, or bonus, depending on how you look at it. If you have difficulty reading it, try this website on paleography, the study of handwriting: https://paleography.library.utoronto.ca/

For example, database item number 30692, is a census of Canada, including the Quebec City area, Montreal and Trois-Rivières, taken in 1666, and stored today at the Archives nationales d’outre-mer (the Overseas National Archives) in France.

 

On the first page of this document, you will see an entry for a habitant family. The heading reads Quallitez et Mestiers, or quality (meaning discerning) and trade or occupation. The first family is that of Estienne Racine (Estienne or Etienne means Steven) habitant (tenant farmer), age 59, his wife (sa femme), his sons (fils) and daughters (fille.) and a hired domestic. Many of the other people counted in this census were members of religious orders.

The New France Archives project brings together digitized results from four archives in France and Canada: Library Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, A.N.O.N Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France), Archives nationales (France) and BAnQ Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

  

 

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Social history

Seigneuries, Notaries and Cemeteries of the Montreal Region

This post is an update from an earlier version. In the attached 161-page research guide to the seigneuries, notaries and cemeteries of Montreal, I have enlarged the content of the notaries.

Here is the link to the updated compilation (as a PDF): Seigneuries Region of Montréal rev

If you had ancestors in Quebec before 1854, chances are they lived on a seigneury. The seigneur (the owner of the seigneury) granted the land to tenants, who were usually called habitants or censitaires. The seigneurs and the habitants owed certain obligations to each other. The system, based on a feudal one, dates back to the mid-1600s when the government of France was trying to ensure its colony of New France would be settled in a systematic manner.

Seigneurs were usually people of noble backgrounds, military leaders or civil administrators, or they were religious institutions. Some seigneuries were well run, other seigneurs were absentee landlords or excessively demanding. In 1854, the seigneurial system was abolished and the tenants were allowed to acquire the land they farmed. The seigneuries had a lasting impact on Quebec society and geography and the names of many seigneuries and seigneurs live on in the names of towns and streets.

In the days of New France, Montreal was a small city on the shores of the St. Lawrence and the rest of the Island of Montreal was rural farmland. For many years, the priests of Saint Sulpice were the seigneurs of most of the island. The seigneurial system began to disappear from the Montreal region before it did elsewhere because it held back development of the growing city.

The compilation in the attached PDF includes links to a variety of articles related to seigneuries and seigneurs who lived in the Montreal region, both on and off the island. Some articles are in English, others are in French. If you cannot understand the French, copy and paste the text into a translation app such as Google Translate. Included in the compilation are links to articles from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography about some of the leading figures in the history of Montreal, as well as background information about the seigneuries, Catholic parish churches and cemeteries in the region.

This compilation provides links to information on the many seigneuries, fiefs, arrière-fiefs on the island of Montreal and in nearby areas. Various historians work have described these fiefs under different names. For example, from various sources in the City of Saint-Laurent in 1720, the following seigneuries and fiefs were named: Seigneurie Saint-Laurent, Côte Saint-Laurent, Côte Notre-Dame-des-Vertus , Notre-Dame-de-Liesse and Côte-du-Bois-Franc.

In 1854, the Assemblée nationale in Québec issued a decree which halted new seigneuries from being created in the province. However, in order to satisfy the concerns of many of the existing seigneurs, the censitaires, or tenants, continued to pay rents on an annual basis. Finally, in 1935, the Assemblée nationale du Québec issued a new law. The first URL address on the attached research guide links to the rent abolition act which facilitated the freeing of all lands from constituted rents. From 1854 to 1901, the government of Québec issued payments to large land owners (seigneurs). These payments were referred to as Créanciers de rentes.

Up to 1935, notaries were involved in the creation of new documents addressing lands. This is the main reason I have extended the content of this compilation: to include notaries during this late period of time.

The largest portion of this revised research guide refers to notaries. In this update, I verify the notaries whose dossiers were digitized and are available on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) database of notaries http://binnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/. Additional notarial acts can be found online on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and Généalogie Québec (Drouin Institute).

In the regions served by the BAnQ Gaspé, BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles, BAnQ Sherbrooke, BAnQ Trois-Rivières, about 70% to 80% of the acts written by local and regional notaries can be accessed online at BAnQ, Ancestry, FamilySearch and/or Drouin online.

The BAnQ Montréal and BAnQ Québec (City) are the two largest repositories of the Archives nationales du Québec, and they get the most visitors. With regard to notarial acts being accessible through the BAnQ online database, probably only 40 percent of the notaries who served within the judicial districts of these two cities have had their files digitized as of 2018.

Furthermore, I have noticed over the years that the BAnQ Montréal and BAnQ Québec have not included many of the Royal Notaries (Notaires royaux), either under the French Regime of Nouvelle-France or under British military rule prior to the Lower Canada period of 1791, in the BAnQ database. However, some of the acts of Royal Notaries in the Montreal and Quebec City Judicial Districts, can be found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. Other notaries can simply not be found online at all.

Here is an overview of the contents of this research guide:

p. 1 Seigneurs, governors, religious and civic leaders of Montreal

p. 7 Seigneuries of the Montreal region, including those owned by religious orders. The seigneuries include Lachine, Riviere des Prairies, St. Anne de Bellevue, Ahuntsic, St. Leonard, Chateauguay, Boucherville, St. Rose, Longueuil, Ste. Therese, Mille-Iles, Vaudeuil.

p. 7 Regional cemeteries

p. 45 Notaries who worked in the area from the beginning of settlement until 1954, and where to locate their acts.

p. 157 Repositories for archival material and other resources, such as books and databases.

p. 159 Authors and online historical resources.

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Researching the New France Archives

If your ancestors date back to Nouvelle France, as Quebec was known in its early days as a colony of France, you will be happy to hear about this wonderful New France research portal created by Library and Archives Canada. The New France Archives site can be found at http://nouvelle-france.org

The project brings together results from four archives in France and Canada: LAC – Library Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, A.N.O.N – Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France), Archives nationales (France) and BAnQ – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It also accesses digitized documents in several other governmental and private archives centres.

Researchers with French Canadian, Acadian, Franco-American, Franco-Manitoban, Cajun, and Huguenot heritage will be able to use this one search engine, and voilà. The collection may not help with genealogy questions, but it will give access to a vast array of documents dating from New France.

First, spend some time on the home page learning how to search. Then explore the list of themes and LAC’s online exhibition, New France, New Horizons.

You can use the basic or advanced search and you can search in English or French, but a search in French brings much better results.

For example, I searched for the words “traiteurs+en+fourrures+France” (fur traders France, although the word traiteur now generally means caterer,) and found links to some 2000 documents stored in Canadian and French archives. A search for “commerçants en fourrures” or “commerçants de fourrures” also brought hundreds of results, but a search for “fur traders” only brought a handful. Try using Google translate before you put in your search term.

The results were in French, but a box appeared in the upper right hand corner, offering to translate into English. The page then looked like this:

new france archives results fur

Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Seigneuries of the Trois-Rivières Region

I originally wrote this research guide to the seigneuries of the Trois-Riviè,res region, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, several years ago, but it was not posted at that time. Recently I improved and expanded it.

The portion about the seigneurs has been expanded by about 80% and the content of notarial acts has increased by 30%. In addition, I expanded the research process to also include local history groups, including scholars associated with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), and information from sources such as Persée, Érudit, Université Laval, University of Toronto, Ciéq, Scap and Séminaires de Nicolet.

When I began researching seigneuries of New France through Google, I usually confined the research process to Canadian-based organizations, archives and research groups. I ignored research results addressing seigneurs and seigneuries of New France which Google indicated could also be found among the 95 Archives départementales de France, the Archives nationales de France in Paris, the Archives de la Marine (France), Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France).

During the 155-year period from 1604 to 1759 when New France was a French colony, thousands of records were simply sent to France, including documents addressing the creation of a seigneury or the appointment of a bourgeois or military officer to the post of seigneur. These original documents are still in France.

Finally, by reading all of the biographies of the seigneurs listed within the attached compilation, I realized that many, if not most, of the explorers and military officers who were assigned seigneuries were also merchants, exporters, and sometimes ship owners. Most of them derived their incomes from the fur trade industry, and Trois-Rivières was a port of departure for destinations in France.

Following the British Conquest of 1759 and the arrival of Scottish immigrants, the fur industry moved from the Trois-Rivières region to Montréal and the creation of the Scottish Fur Barons of Montreal had its birth.

Click to view this PDF research guide: Seigneuries Region of Trois-Rivières 2018-09-13

The contents of this 97-page guide are as follows:

page 1,  The seigneurs, governors, explorers, military officers, fur traders and leaders of the Jesuit, Recollet and Ursuline religious orders in the area, from the beginning of the colony to the British conquest.

page 16, The seigneuries found in the following areas: on the north shore: Trois-Rivières, Maskinongé, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Saint-Maurice, Yamachiche; on the south shore: Nicolet, Saint-Francois-du-Lac, Yamaska, Gentilly, Bécancour, Baie-du-Febvre

page 44, Regional cemeteries.

page 45, Notaries who worked in the area from the beginning of settlement until 1953, and where to locate their acts.

page 93, Links to information about the Acadians and Loyalists who came to the region.

page 94, Repositories for archival material and other resources, such as books and genealogical databases.

 

 

 

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Using the BAnQ’s Pistard to Research Your Ancestor’s Life

Some family history researchers complain that Pistard, (pistard.banq.qc.ca), the online search tool for documents stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), is too complicated difficult to use because it is only in French. I beg to disagree.

The site offers its own online translation tool, users can buy their own French/English dictionaries or they can use online translation tools such as Google Translate. As for the complaint that Pistard is too complicated, I think that is a myth. Pistard by BAnQ is easy to navigate in both the normal search option and the advance search option.

Remember, Pistard is not an online database of marriages, baptisms and deaths. At the BAnQ, there is an online search engine addressing such events, and it is a good one. See http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/ressources/bd/

Nor does Pistard address notarial acts including marriage contracts, land purchases and sales, after-death inventories or guardianship of minors after the death of both parents. BAnQ has a superb online search engine addressing notaries. See http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/ You can search each notary’s index of acts and, when there is an asterisk beside the notary’s name, the acts have been digitized. (Ancestry.ca also has a collection of Quebec notarial records. For hints on using it, see the blog Genealogy a la carte, Oct. 6, 2016, http://genealogyalacarte.ca/?p=16520)

Pistard does include archival resources including letters and other text documents, diagrams, land surveys, photographs, drawings and items on microfilm. It includes an online database addressing issues that were dealt with by judicial courts, judicial appointees by Governors or Lieutenant-Governors of New France or by Intendants of New France and appointees of the latter who acted on behalf of the King of France on subjects such as fraud, breach of contracts, unpaid debts, illegal transactions such as the sales of liquor to first nation people, or simply the removal of a fence.

Let me give a couple of examples using, with her permission, several ancestors of my friend and fellow genealogist Claire Lindell. Two of her pioneer ancestors were Claude Jodoin and Julien Fortin. I searched for each name in Pistard.

Jodoin was a neighbour of two farmers in the Seigneurie de La Chevrotière. When these two farmers argued about the location of a fence between two farms, the regional Justice of the Peace had to settle the issue.

Jodoin in Pistard EN
This is a screen shot of the search result for Claude Jodoin, translated by the BAnQ

The second case I have selected deals with the children of Julien Fortin and Suzanne Quenneville. It appears that, after the death of both parents, their daughter Marie was placed under the care of a Jean-Baptiste Lachaise and/or a Pierre Charbonneau. This one is not clear: only the actual document could clarify the reason the judicial system had to solve the issue.

Fortin Pistard
A search in Pistard for Julien Fortin brought up this result, and I then applied the BAnQ’s online translation tool. 

 

The online description of each document posted on Pistard is only a recap of the real document, which is stored in one of the 12 branches of the BAnQ across Quebec. In some cases, Pistard will link you to an image of the original document and a brief description of the case. If not, you can obtain the complete file through an email request.

For each query on Pistard, search results indicate the Cote (Shelf)  #, the Judicial District or Region and the Dossier (file) #. Then, through an email to the repository where the document is kept, you can obtain a download within a few days, for free.

A few months back, I had a telephone conversation with a clerk at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal. I asked her, if you receive an email in the English language, will you reply in English? She replied yes, adding that she was then working on a query from Australia. The person said his ancestor, who had been a Quebec Patriot during the Rebellions of 1837-1838, had been deported to Australia. The BAnQ clerk sent this researcher numerous documents about his ancestor at no charge.