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

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.

France, Genealogy, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives

The attached 43-page PDF addresses the Archives communales de France, also known as the Archives municipales de France. This is the second most important group of archives in France for tracing the families of New France and Acadia. The 95 Archives départementales de France are the number one source of information addressing French Canadians, Acadians, Franco Americans, Franco Ontarians and others. (See also, Researching Your French Ancestors Online, posted May 13, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/)

There are some 400 municipal archives. I have selected the 124 largest, including archives that offer online access to some files, or at least an online description of the contents.

In 1792, the Assemblée législative de France (The Legislative Assembly of France) took away the responsibility for issuing birth, marriage and death registers from the curés (priests) and gave these duties to local mairies (city halls). At about the same time, a new civil register of France was created addressing acts of birth, marriage, divorce and death. This register was named the Registre de l’état-civil, and the documents were issued by the city halls.

Subsequently, when many cities and towns created their own archives communales (municipal archives), these local municipal archives were assigned responsibility to safeguard the civil registers.

After the creation of the 95 Archives départementales de France, a great number of the local archives communales (municipal archives) turned over their actes de l’état-civil, or copies of these records, to the regional archives départementales. Other municipal archives did not do so. As a result, some of the files found in municipal archives of France can also be found in the regional archives départementales, while other dossiers cannot be found anywhere else.

The majority of genealogy societies in France work closely with their local archives communales. Many of these genealogy societies share the same building or adjacent building to the archives communales of their region.

Here is the link to the PDF: Archives communales de France – 2018-09-04 Rev

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Searching the BAnQ for books and documents

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the Quebec provincial library and archives, is making some changes to its online search tool that will impact you if you are looking for some books about history.

Pistard pistard.banq.qc.ca will continue to be the primary search tool if you are searching for documents owned by BAnQ. For example, Pistard is the place to search for records of non-criminal offenses such as unpaid purchases of goods, as well as letters and various documents, maps, diagrams and photographs. You can also find documents that were issued by Judicial Districts of New France, Quebec under British Military Rule, Quebec under Lower Canada and Quebec under Confederation.

What the BAnQ has removed from the Pistard search tool is published books which are not owned by BAnQ. You must now look for such books through the Catalogue cap.banq.qc.ca

A search for the name Bagg through Pistard, for example, brings up a list of 24 documents, several of which are plans (diagrams) of property that belonged to a member of the Stanley Bagg family. You can view images of some documents returned by a Pistard search by clicking on the word Coll. on the far right-hand side of the list of results. You can also try researching this database directly from Google by searching, for example, the words Pistard and Bagg together.

One result from Pistard refers to the records of notary Stanley Clark Bagg, but it just describes the collection. To see the index of his notarial acts, you must search on http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/

A search for the name Bagg through the Catalogue brings up 123 results, only one of which is a book that refers to the family – an archaeological report on the house of Abner Bagg, built in 1821.

If you wish to borrow the excellent book by John Francis Bosher, Négociants et navires du commerce avec le Canada de 1660 à 1760, you would now (2018) conduct your online search through the BAnQ Catalogue.

If you want to borrow the English-language version of the same book by J.F. Bosher, Men and ships in the Canada Trade, 1660-1760A biographical dictionary by J.F. Bosher, the online search process is also done through the new BAnQ Catalogue.

The publisher of these two books, Canada Environment – Canadian Parks Services, has discontinued the sales of the English-language version of this superb book. According to the policy of BAnQ in regard to Canadian authors and Canadian publishers, once a book has been removed from the marketplace, BAnQ will digitize that book and the digitized version can be viewed at two of the 12 repositories of the BAnQ: the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal; and BAnQ Québec – Archives nationales du Québec at Université Laval in Quebec City.

You must reserve such digitized books by email. Only the person who has ordered a book by email can have access to these precious and discontinued books. I did so about a month ago, but I have yet to visit the Collection nationale. At my next visit, I will be reminded politely by one of the librarians or technicians that I have not yet reviewed that book on one of the four library computers reserved for such services.

I will explain other aspects of searching on Pistard in future posts.

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Resources Outside of Montreal

Seigneuries of the Lower St. Lawrence and of the Côte-du-Sud

If some of your ancestors lived along the south shore of the Lower St. Lawrence River (the Bas Saint-Laurent, as it is often called today,) the attached PDF compilation is designed to help you learn more about their lives.

See PDF:  Seigniories of the Lower St. Lawrence – Revised Version 2018-09-03

The river is tidal here, and so broad that the far north shore is hardly visible. This beautiful area of rolling farmland and salt marshes has been settled for generations, with many residents making a living fishing, building boats and transporting goods and people on the river.

south shore egret
South shore of the Lower St. Lawrence River

Until the 1850s, almost all the land was owned by a few individuals, known as seigneurs, who rented it out to the censitaires, or tenant farmers. Most seigneurs were honest and caring individuals who took care of their tenants. They granted lands to the settlers and financed their first years with money, food, cattle and other animals, farm equipment, wood-cutting tools, building tools and rifles.

In return, the censitaires would repay on a yearly basis their seigneur with beaver furs and other types of fur. They also repaid them with hard-wood, a precious commodity in the 17th century in Europe, for most hard-wood forests no longer existed on the European continent. If the seigneur and his family resided on the seigneury, the censitaires would bring them eggs and meat, as well as fresh milk.

south shore famrland
Farmland along the south shore of the Lower St. Lawrence

Many of the seigneurs on the attached list were merchants or fur traders, and obtained most of their revenue from the sale of wild furs and hard-wood. Some were importers and exporters and dealt with merchants in French port cities such as La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen and Le Havre.

The compilation on the PDF attached includes six main sections:

The Seigneurs: this section focuses on the historic landowners on the south shore of the Lower St. Lawrence, including links to biographies of these individuals.

Regions: the geographic regions described in this compilation are Montmagny, l’Islet, Kamouraska, Témiscouata, Rivière-du-Loup, Les Basques, Rimouski, Neigette, La Mitis (Métis), Matapedia and Matane in the Gaspé.

Cemeteries: a list of historic cemeteries in this area.

Notaries: this compilation includes the names of notaries who worked in this region, the places and years they practised, and the archives where their acts can be found today. The notaries handled important legal documents for people, including wills, marriage contracts, business agreements, land rental and sales agreements, and protests in cases of disagreement.

Bibiothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ): locations and contact information for the archives, and how to order documents online.

Genealogical and historical societies in the region: contact information

With regard to the notaries listed in the attached PDF, the majority of the notarial acts can be obtained through the BAnQ online (free, http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/ or http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/genealogie_banq/guide/archives-notariales/index.html), FamilySearch.org (free), or Ancestry.com (subscription). Ancestry has two distinct databases covering different time periods during the lifetime of a notary. Also listed are the notarial acts which can be obtained through Généalogie Québec (Drouin Institute online), (https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/.

For each notary selected, if a URL address has been posted, this indicates that the genealogy provider’s online databases contains notarial acts. If a URL address has not been posted, this simply indicates that the provider does not own fonds of this particular notary.

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

The Seigneuries and Townships of Beauce, Bellechasse, Dorchester and Lotbinière

(Note, this is my last post until September. I have many more compilations ready to post then. Meanwhile, happy summer! Jacques)

The region south of the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and the U.S. border is a tranquil area of forests and farmland. The main highway hugs the shore of the broad St. Lawrence, crossing tributaries such as the Chaudière River, and the land rises gently to the south into the Appalachian Mountains. Today, this area is known as the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec.

The region has a long history of human habitation. Before the 1600s, the people of the Abenaki First Nation lived here. The French founded Quebec City in 1608 and started to grant large tracts of land called seigneuries to aristocrats and military officers. Each seigneury was long and narrow so it could border the St. Lawrence River, the only transportation corridor. Most of the early Europeans were men, including soldiers and fur traders, and the population remained small. In 1663, women arrived in the colony, chose husbands and started families. The population of New France grew quickly.

In 1759, the British defeated the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and a new era of British rule began. Chaudière-Appalaches saw many new settlers arrive from England, Scotland and Ireland, and for the most part they got along well with their French-speaking neighbours. Today, the area remains primariiy French-speaking.

This 59-page guide in PDF format is designed to help you find the records of people who lived in this region. Click on this link to access the PDF:

The_Seigneuries of Beauce Lotbiniere Dorchester and Bellechasse

Contents:

  1. 1 Information on the seigneurs who owned much of the land, including the Lotbinière and Taschereau families.
  2. 5 Descriptions and histories of the region’s seigneuries.
  3. 20 Descriptions of the area’s townships, which were established by the British and date from the 1790s and 1800s. This guide includes links to the churches and cemeteries in these townships.
  4. 27 Descriptions and history of the counties in the region, including when they were created and how they were named and settled.
  5. 30 Towns that changed names over the last 240 years. If the town where your ancestor lived had different names over the years, this will help you identify it.
  6. 44 A list of regional cemeteries in each county or municipality.
  7. 45 Notaries prepared a variety of legal documents for their clients, including land transfers, wills and business agreements. The list of notaries shows where each one worked, the years he practiced and the location of his records at the archives today.
  8. 59 Contact information for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City.
Genealogy, Loyalists, Quebec, Research tips

The townships of the Eastern Townships and the seigneuries of the Upper Richelieu River Valley

Today, Quebec’s Eastern Townships and Richelieu Valley areas feature fertile farmland and forests, lakes and rivers, wineries, ski hills and cycling trails for tourists, but at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, these areas were being newly settled by former colonial soldiers, British families, new immigrants from Scotland and Ireland, and Loyalists from south of the border.

This extensive guide to the settlement of these areas includes a description of the counties and townships in southern Quebec where these people settled. It does not attempt to cover any of the First Nations people who lived here before the European settlers arrived.

Quebec’s Eastern Townships and the Upper Richelieu Valley

Here are the topics you will find in this 120-page PDF:

Page 1   Biographies of the governors, land surveyors, missionaries and seigneurs who were influential in this area. Also geographical information about the Eastern Townships and a map of the area in 1792.

Page 6   An alphabetical list of the townships and counties of southern Quebec, with a brief history of the settlement of each area. Places highlighted in the Eastern Townships include Acton, Barford, Brome County, Bury, Compton, Drummondville, Magog, Megantic County, Missisquoi County, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Sutton, Stanstead and Thetford Township. The list of places in the Upper Richelieu Valley begins on p. 68 and includes Lacolle, and Saint-Valentin.  Where place names or jurisdiction have changed, I have indicated the old and new information. I have included links to a variety of web pages including archival sites, cemetery lists, and information about area churches.

Page 72   A list of links to cemeteries in these areas.

Page 75   A list of judicial districts and information on some of the notaries who worked in these communities. This section includes links to the more detailed articles I have written and published on Genealogy Ensemble about important notaries in these areas such as Louis Chaboillez and Peter Lukin.

Page 109   A list of repositories, including branches of the BAnQ, Bishops University and Protestant church archives.

Page 114   Links to some of my own articles on topics such as the saddlebag preachers and the German presence in the Eastern Townships.

Page 115   A list of authors, historians, genealogists and archivists who have contributed to our understanding of the history and people of the Eastern Townships.

Most people do not combine the Eastern Townships (better known in Quebec as les Cantons de l’Est, or l’Estrie,) with the Upper Richelieu River Valley. The Richelieu River lies to the west of the Eastern Townships and connects Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River. I did so because, following the British Conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham, British officers, British and Scottish soldiers, and Loyalist families fleeing the United States after the American Revolution began to emigrate to the shores of the Richelieu River.

They settled along the length of the Richelieu, from the fortified town of Sorel on the St. Lawrence River to the village of Lacolle at the U.S. border, populating towns such as Chambly, St. Johns (also referred to as Dorchester in the 1780s and later renamed Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the original name under French rule), Abbotsford, McMasterville, Otterburn Park, Mount Johnson (Mont-St-Grégoire), the Seigneury of Sir John Johnson, the Seigneury of Gabriel Christie, Henryville, Christieville, Odelltown, Clarenceville, Noyan, Fadden Corner and hamlets along the western sector of Missisquoi Bay.

One reason people chose to live in these areas was that much of the land in Quebec was owned by a few landowners called seigneurs. This system of land ownership, based on feudal principles borrowed from France, continued until the middle of the 19th century. The  Loyalists especially, who had owned their own land in the Thirteen Colonies, did not wish to settle on seigneurial lands and pay a rent yearly to a seigneur whom they had never met. So Governor Frederick Haldimand decided to create the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Governor Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) who replaced Haldimand (second term as governor) supported Haldimand’s decision.