Category Archives: Genealogy

Finding Ancestors in Manor Land (Seigneurial) Records

If you have ancestors who lived along the St. Lawrence River between 1627 and 1970, it’s worth asking who owned the place where they lived. Often, you’ll discover that a colonial structure that began in France determined their rents, obligations and many other living experiences.

France’s Seignorial Regime

The colonialization of Quebec took place primarily under the French land ownership system known as “the seigneurial regime.” It began in North America in 1627 and continued in one way or another until 1970.

When European explorers and religious leaders arrived what we now call Quebec, they aimed to conquer territory permanently on behalf of patrons. Colonialists created manors for farming and religious settlements. Large tracts became private property where exclusive groups could hunt, log or trap. Other lots became militarized defence zones. Disagreements were rampant from day one.

Following the borders of colonization to figure out where to look for records during this period can be a challenge. In many ways, modern day genealogists face the same multiplicity of sources and analyses that cadastral surveyors faced after the British Conquest.

British Era

In 1673, British surveyors had to codify the rights and obligations inherent in the way the seigneurial regime was enacted in New France with a requirement under treaty terms to protect inhabitants who wished to remain in conquered territories. By examining French, British and cadastral records and interviewing the people then living on the territory, surveyors found multiple competing claims for the same tracts of land. They found it difficult to determine property boundaries that took into consideration the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in a pure rent for land property distribution system. How much land per tenant is a landlord’s obligation to supply an operating mill worth? How do you evaluate the necessity to raise sheep on a certain part of a property in terms of acres of land? How do you define the borders of traditional Indigenous hunting lands while keeping intact promises to more recent European colonialists?

Unlike those surveyors, we no longer have access to the families who rented land from manor Lords or hunted on traditional lands. Instead, we have to scour the maps notes on they left behind, along with the notarial acts, land grants, pledge records, oaths of allegiance and censuses surveyors examined more than 250 years ago.

Historical Context

If they exist and we can find them. Today, original records might be held by First Nations, the British, French or Canadian governments, Catholic institutions, military organizations, provincial archives, ministries or libraries, educational institutions or private companies.

If we find legible documents, we have to interpret them, remembering that as European monarchs began dividing the territory between themselves, the area now known as Quebec went under different names. Some of these names are used for different territories today.

When Jacques Cartier landed in 1535, he named the major river now known as the St. Lawrence “the Canada River” despite naming France’s new colony the same. Canada’s first settlement was Quebec, followed by Montreal and Trois-Rivières, which remain in roughly the same locations as the modern-day cities. By 1608, much of North America became known as New France, which consisted of the colonies of Acadia, Canada, Hudson’s Bay, Louisiana and Newfoundland. As France ceded territory to Britain, New France shrunk to its most populated region along the Saint Lawrence Valley.

When France ceded their North American territory to the British in 1673, surveyors got to work trying to figure out how to divide up the land. They came up with so many ambiguities and complexities, that the British Government retained the seigneurial system even after they introduced a township system in 1774.

The American War of Independence began a year later and lasted for seven years. In 1783, an influx of English-speaking British Loyalists began purchasing property in the colony. Tensions with the new settlers and original inhabitants led successive governments to divide the territory into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791.

The war of 1812 followed. Multiple land grants occurred, but all were on properties beyond previously-existing manors.

How the Hudson’s Bay Company Lost its Seignorial Land Rights

Tensions for land resources didn’t get tense in Upper Canada until 1828, when Napoleanic wars led to a shortage of wood in Britain. By that time, William Price, a British Citizen who served in the militia during the War of 1812 owned a local timber company in Malbaie. Meanwhile, the Hudson’s Bay Company rented vast forests in Saguenay that it wasn’t logging. The governor held a commission to look at the territory in 1828, which led to a petition from 250 Malbaie residents to open up the land for logging a year later. By 1835, the territory still wasn’t logged, so 1,800 people signed another petition to open up the territory to private logging. The Hudson’s Bay Company attempted to set up logging operations in 1836 but couldn’t get the project underway. By 1837, 21 people, including Alexis Tremblay dit Picoté and Thomas Simard, set up the Société des Pinières du Saguenay logging company, which became known as the Société des Twenty-one. Over the next five years, the men not only logged the territory, but also built houses on the land they cleared. In 1842, the government cancelled their lease with the Hudson’s Bay Company and sold the land to the farmers. A year later, William Price purchased their logging company.

How Seigneuries Disappeared

Twelve years later, in 1854, the government officially ended the ability of seigneurs to create new rental contracts, but didn’t cancel contracts already in place.

Some seigneurs got paid for contracts for more than a century after the regime ended. A 1928 inquiry showed that 60,000 tenants continued payments to more than 190 different seigneurs. The government decided to set up a commission to loan cities, towns and county councils enough money to pay out their contracts. The cities then set up an extra tax to collect the payments from tenants over a 41-year period.

The last municipality paid the last manor payment in 1970.

If you want to research ancestors who lived on seigneurial lands, you’ll need to keep a few French terms in mind when searching through the various resources. Here’s a list of both for your information.


Acquet: Goods inherited or otherwise obtained prior to marriage

Aveu et dénombrement : Inventory, to be conducted by Manor holders when the property changed hands

Cens: Rent

Communauté de biens: commonly-held goods

Compagnie des Cent-associes: Company of 100 Associates, the Company of New France, named after 100 merchants, financiers and politicians who paid 3,000 livres each to underwrite a company in operation from 1627 until 1663.

Concessions en Fi’ef et Seigneurie, Foi et Hommages et Dénombrements: Registers of fealty and homage pledges a Lord made to the King when he received the land.

Corvées: one to four days of compulsory work per year during the sowing, haying or harvesting season

claration de fiançailles: oral promise to marry

Douaire: dower or widow rights to be paid by a future husband to his future bride in the case of his death; this amount could not be taken by creditors in the case of bankruptcy

droit de réunion: right to repossess

Fief: estate

Engagés – indentured servants. Usually found in notarial records signed by labourers, carpenters, masons and domestic servants in France for work in New France (Nouvelle France), Acadia (Acadie), and Louisiana (Louisiane). Contracts usually lasted three years and included cost of passage, wages, lodging and food. There are 4,000 people who came to Canada under these terms between 1630 and 1789. Note that after 1714, ship captains were required to transfer 3, 4 or 6 servants to New France, depending on the size of the vessel. Ship captains then sold these servants to whomever would pay for them once they got to New France. Between 1714 and 1721, ship Captains had to pay 200 lires per missing engagé; after 1721 the fee dropped to 60 lires.

Fiançialles: marriage bonds, oral promise of marriage, engagement

Lods: a tax due when a land was sold or transferred to another tenant (also called lods)

Propres: Items legally owned by a man and women when they married that would not be jointly owned after marriage

Rhumb de vent: the measurement of a territory perpendicularly and diagonally from a river.

Sépulture: burial

Seigneuries: manor lots

Syndicat national du rachat des rentes seigneuriales, or SNRRS: National Commission for the Repurchase of Seigneurial Rentes

Tonnelier: a cooper, which is a carpenter who makes wooden barrels. Most manors had at least one cooper, who would make barrels for flour, grain, vinegar, wine and spirits.

Ventes: transfer fee (also called lods)

Primary Sources in Canada

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ)

  • Advitam. “Seigneuries”
  • Advitam. “Autres seigneuries.”
  • Advitam. “Seigneuries.”
  • Marriage Contracts of Quebec: Contrats de mariage des districts judiciaires de Québec, de Beauce, de Charlevoix, de Montmagny et de Thetford Mines, 1636-1953
  • Superior court records: Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Québec. Insinuations, registres des insinuations de la Prévôté de Québec, vol. 1 (Anciennement registres 1, 2 et 3) (1er mars 1667 – 25 septembre 1696), folios 109-109v.
  • Superior court records: Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; Title: Saint Martin, Antoine Adhemar dit (1668-1699) Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; Title: Saint Martin, Antoine Adhemar dit (1668-1699)com. Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935
  • Parish Records:Fonds Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Foy, 1662-1976, Cote : P48, Id 298582
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Sainte-Famille, Ile d’Orléans – registres d’état civil, 1666-1790, ZQ1,S28 #184 : 12 avril 1666 au 7 octobre 1727.
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, 1657-[vers 1850], Cote : P1000,D1277 Id 696688 et Registres d’état civil, 1642-1948, Cote : ZQ106, Id 420864 et Index alphabétique des confirmés de Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, de 1676 et 1678 – s.d. 11 pages Numéro : 301330
  • Notarial records: Montréal (Québec : district judiciaire). Notariat, 008127867_003_M99W-KP4, Jan 1, 1657–May 14, 1669; notary Claude Aubert, 1652-1692; notary Bénigne Basset, 1658-1672; notary Pierre Raimbault, 1698-1727; notary Antoine Adhémar, 1673-1712.
  • Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; 

Library and Archives Canada

  • Canada, Library and Archives. “Settlement,” July 28, 2015.
  • Collection Jacques Henri Fabien (MG 25 G231), La collection sur microfilm se compose de renseignements généalogiques pour la période de 1657 à 1974.
  • Cases of indentured servants who left their masters (extraits d’arrêts du Conseil supérieur concernant les engagés qui quittent le service de leurs maîtres) 00003916294, fol. 56-57v sur microfilm Centre des archives MG1-C11A, 1663-1702 Microfilm reel number: F-2.
  • New France Archive Collection:, including the correspondence and memoirs of Jean Talon
  • Rules, arrests and declarations made in Paris (Recueils de réglements, édits, déclarations, et arrêts : concernant le commerce, l’administration de la justice, & la police des colonies françaises de l’Amérique, & les engagés : avec le Code noir, et l’addition audit code, France, Chez les Libraires associés, Paris), 1765, MG1-C11A. Microfilm reel number: F-2.

McCord Museum

Archived Collections:

  • Seigneurie de Sorel Fonds (P109)
  • Seigneurs de Rouville Fonds (P107)

Parks Canada

St. Paul University, Centre for Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism

Vatican Archives of the Sacred Congregation “de Propaganda Fide” 1622-1846, PFcongressi_1831-1836_p.407-526,

University of Montreal, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) Research Programme in Historical Demography

Primary Sources in France

Archives de Bordeaux

Amirauté de La Rochelle

Archives départementales du Calvados (14)

Archives départementales de Charente-Maritime (17)

Archives départementales du Finistère (29)

Archives départementales de Gironde (33)

Parish and state registers (les registres paroissiaux et l’état civil), 1538-1935

Archives nationales

Primary Sources in the United States

Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska

English translation of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610-1791,, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, computerized transcription by Thom Mentrak, historical interpreter at Ste. Marie among the Iroquois living history museum, Liverpool, New York, 1898-1901.

Internet Archive, San Francisco, California

The Internet Archive operates as a free catalogue of everything on the Internet since 1996. It also operates as a public library.

Secondary Sources

Academic papers

Coleman, Emma L. “A Seigneury of New France.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, 1937, pp. 133–138. JSTOR,

Gettler, Brian. “Money and the Changing Nature of Colonial Space in Northern Quebec: Fur Trade Monopolies, the State, and Aboriginal Peoples during the Nineteenth Century.” Histoire Sociale/Social History 46 (November 1, 2013): 271–93.

McInnis, Marvin. “Peasant, Lord and Merchant: Rural Society in Three Quebec Parishes, 1740–1840. By Allan Greer. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985. Pp. Xvi, 304. 15.00 Paper.” The Journal of Economic History 46, no. 2 (June 1986): 571–72.


Greer, Allan. The People of New France. University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Harris, Cole. Seigneurial System in Early Canada: A Geographical Study. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP, 1984.

Jetté, René. Dictionnaire généalogique des familes du Québec. Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983.

Jugements et délibérations du Conseil Souverain de la Nouvelle-France. Volume 1. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, 1932.

Lunn, Alice Jean Elizabeth. Economic Development In New France, 1713-1760. PhD, MeGill University, 1942.

Mathews, Geoffrey J., Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. 1, From the Beginning to 1800, editor R. Cole Harris. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 1987. The map is plate 51. FHL book 971 E7h

Noël, Françoise. Christie Seigneuries: Estate Management and Settlement in the Upper Richelieu Valley, 1760-1854. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1992. 

Roy, Pierre Georges, Inventaire des Concessions en Fi’ef et Seigneurie, Foi et Hommages et Dénombrements Conservés aux Archives de la Province de Québec (Inventory of fief and manor concessions, fealty, promises and debts to the King at the Archives of the Province of Québec as of 1929) 6 vols. Beauceville, Québec: l’Eclaireur, 1927-1929,

Sulte, Benjamin. Histoire des Canadiens-Français. Wilson & Cie, Editeurs, Montréal, 1882, ISBN 0885450183; Editions Elysse, 1977.

Sawaya, Jean-Pierre. La fédération des Sept Feux de la vallée du Saint-Laurent: XVIIe au XIXe siècle, Sillery, Québec: Septentrion, 1998.

Trudel, Marcel. La population du Canada en 1666. Recensement reconstitué. Québec: Septentrion, 1995.


Borealia. “Beyond the ‘System’: The Enduring Legacy of Seigneurial Property,” October 9, 2018.

Borealia. “Mapping Land Tenure Pluralism in the St. Lawrence River Valley,” September 26, 2018.

Bosher, J.F., Men and ships in the Canada trade 1660-1760, Canadian Parks Service, the French version.

French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan (FCHSM),

Genealogy Ensemble: (particularly,,,, and

Mathieu, Jacques. “Seigneurial System | The Canadian Encyclopedia,

New France, New Horizons,, a bilingual site set up by the Direction des Archives de France (Paris) et les Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (Ottawa) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of New France in 2004. The search function still works.

Séminaire du Québec,,

Southwestern Quebec Genealogical Resources,

Quebec Heritage Repertoire,

Notaries Appointed by the Governors of British Quebec – 1760 – 1789

An example of a notarial act

Notaries of Quebec Appointed by the Governors of Quebec 1760-1789 at the beginning of the British Regime.

Definition: Notarial records are private agreements (contracts), written by notaries, who are considered legal professionals. This collection consists of notarial records for Quebec from the years 1637 to 1935. Each notary set up practice and kept sets of records for documents they created.

Notaries This database lists the notaries appointed in the following

Districts of Quebec – Montreal -Trois-Rivieres – Joliette – Kamouraska – Montmagny – Richelieu – Saguenay – Saint Hyacinthe – Terrebonne

Authors Numerous authors have written about these notaries and indicated the sources where their documents can be found and researched on various websites.

This database has focused on the availability of the greater portion of these documents that are located at BanQ Numerique These are indicated at the end of the link: ex: Doc online.

Click the link below to access the database and open in a new window.


Governor Frederick Haldimand’s portrait is missing from the above document.

Happy Canada Day

Recently the Governor-General of Canada appointed Nancy Karetak LIndell, Membership in the Order of Canada in recognition of her contribution to Canadians in the far north. She is the wife of my nephew, Jon Lindell, who passed away shortly after she became a member of Parliament. Nancy Karetak Lindell served for more than a decade as a member of Parliament and now lives in Arviat, Nunavut close to family members.

Her activities, contributions and dedication to the people of the north continues to this day.

It is with great pride as a Canadian that I share this news having learned of it through this week’s Nunatsiaq News that featured the article below.

A former Nunavut politician, Nancy Uqquujuq Karetak-Lindell is one of 85 Canadians to be appointed to the Order of Canada this year. She is seen wearing a traditional tuilik made by her mother Rhoda Karetak. (Photo courtesy of Hinaani Design)

NEWS  JUN 29, 2022 – 9:30 AM EDT

Nancy Karetak-Lindell appointed to Order of Canada

Click on the link below : Nunatsiaq News to open the article in a new window.

A History of Plymouth Gin

…or, to be historically correct “The Black Friars Plymouth Gin Distillery” however, we locals just call it Plymouth Gin. I was born in historical Plymouth at the end of WW2 and among our history lessons was, of course, the history of England and Plymouth in particular. (1)

Plymouth’s history goes back to very early times. In 1866 several caves were discovered in the Plymouth area, containing the bones of animals that no longer live on these Islands. along with the human remains were the bones of a lion, hyena, cave bear and rhinoceros, which show man lived in this district as far back as the early stone age. Saxons settled in the area and by 926 AD ruled the whole of Devon.

Plymouth was attacked, raided and ruled, by others many more times…but that is another story, this story is about the Plymouth Gin Distillery, the oldest working gin distillery in England.

In the 13th century, friars arrived in Plymouth. Friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world, they went out to preach and help the poor. There were also Carmelites in Plymouth, known as White Friars and Franciscans or Grey Friars. During the middle ages, because the Dominicans wore a black ‘cappa’ or cloak over their white habits they became known as the ‘Black Friars’

The Friar is still used somewhere on every bottle of Plymouth Gin today

The Plymouth Gin distillery building dates back to the early 1400s and was formally a monastery inhabited by the Black Friars. The most intact part of the distillery is the Refectory Room a medieval hall with a hull-shaped timber roof built in 1431 and is one of the oldest buildings in Plymouth.

In 1536 the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, the former home of the Black Friars was put to a variety of other uses including the first non-conformist meeting place, a debtors’ prison, a meeting hall and a centre for Huguenot refugees who fled France and came to Plymouth.

In 1620 It has been suggested that the Pilgrim Fathers spent their last night in England in the distillery and they made the short walk down to the harbour to set sail to America on the Mayflower, where they founded a new Plymouth.

Plymouth Gin Bottle

The original distilling business was owned by Fox and Williamson and in 1793 when a certain Mr Coates joined the establishment, Plymouth Gin started being distilled and soon the business became known as Coates & Co,. until March of 2008, when the French Pernod Ricard took over the company.

My three miniature souvenir bottles from my last visit to Plymouth – Empty!

Some of the many fascinating botanicals that make up the unique taste of Plymouth Gin are Juniper berries, Coriander seeds, orange and lemon peels, angelica root, green cardamom, and orris root. Its gin is also ‘Appellation Controlee’ meaning it can not be made anywhere, except Plymouth, Devon, England.

Made with single-origin juniper, picked on a single day, from a single mountain location in Frontignano, Italy, only one batch will ever be made.

One of the oldest continuous buyers of Plymouth Gin is the Royal Navy. Almost all Navy Gin is linked to Plymouth thus Plymouth and the Royal Navy have a long history. The Royal Navy’s ‘rum ration’ or ‘tot’ was usually rum for the ratings but the officers drank Gin.

Spot the Friar

This was a huge business for British distillers. By 1850 the Royal Navy was said to be buying over 1,000 barrels of Plymouth Gin a year, and during the Napoleonic Wars, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson ordered barrels of Plymouth Gin for his officers. However, on the 31 st July 1970, that tradition ended. Modern Naval ships carry sophisticated weaponry where a push of the wrong button or an unsteady hand could result in WW3, so it was decided to end the daily Rum ‘tot’ that the ratings had been drinking for over 300 years!

On that day, sailors, drinking their last free ration of rum, wore black arm bands, drank their tot and threw the glasses into the sea. I have no idea what the officers did with their Gin! (2)

The Mayflower ship forms Plymouth Gin’s trademark label today. Black Friars is indisputably the oldest working gin distillery with records of a ‘mault-house’ on the premises going back to 1697. Today, Plymouth Gin is known worldwide. Just the other day, to my surprise, I heard VPR – Vermont Public Broadcasting Service – advertise Plymouth Gin on its station.

At the moment, no doubt due to the Covid delays, it is hard to find Plymouth Gin in Montréal, as the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec or Quebec Liquor Corporation) where I usually buy it, is sold out!

Today, Black Friars offers a range of tours, ranging in price from a 40-minute, £7 inspection through to an in-depth, 2.5-hour “Master Distiller’s” outing (£40) where visitors get to create (and take away) their own bespoke gin. The distillery complex also has its own cocktail bar and brasserie. (3)





The YouTube link below is a tour with the Master Distiller.

Scandinavian & Baltic States Families of Quebec 18th, 19th & 20th Centuries

Norway – Sweden – Finland – Denmark – Iceland – Estonia – Latvia & Lithuania

Coming to Canada


The offer of Canadian land parcels to settlers in the 1890s attracted Norwegians to come to Canada. Before that time, Norwegians would cross the Atlantic Ocean, land in Quebec City, then migrate south to the United States. As the American Midwest and Northwest became more populated, and immigration policies more restrictive, the Canadian Prairies became the next destination for many Norwegians.


Swedish immigration to Canada began in the 1870s with the first rural Swedish colony, Scandinavia, near the town of Erickson in Manitoba. Originally named New Sweden, Scandinavia was established by three men who organized dwellings to house the first settlers.

Like their Scandinavian counterparts, Swedish immigrants first arrived and settled in the United States and then travelled north to settle in Canada. A large influx of Swedish immigrants from the states of Minnesota and North Dakota migrated to the Canadian Prairie provinces in the 1920s.


It is very difficult to determine the exact date of arrival of the first Finnish settler to Canada. However, Finns began settling in large numbers in the 1880s. During this period, many Finns who had arrived in the United States in the 1860s crossed the border into Canada. By 1890, many communities of Finnish Canadians had formed. The largest of those communities were Nanaimo, British Columbia; New Finland, Saskatchewan; Port Arthur, Toronto, and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario.


Although there are early accounts of Danes working as trappers in Canada, little documentation exists that describes their experiences. By the 1860s, political unrest, religious divide, and the promise of a better life in America, all contributed to the migration of Danish people to Canada and the United States.


Leif Eriksson was the first Icelander to set foot in what would become Canada. Wineland, the first settlement of Icelandic origin, was established in 1003, and Snorri Þorfinnsson is the first known European born in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

In 1872, Sigtryggur Jonasson traveled to the Muskoka region of Ontario and a group of 100 Icelanders later joined him there. Not satisfied with their settling attempts in Ontario, the Icelanders moved west to Manitoba and established the first lasting Icelandic colony on the continent. 


From 1900 to 1944, fewer than 3000 Estonians immigrated to Canada. Approximately 72, 000 Estonian political refugees fled to Sweden and Germany in 1944 to escape Russian communism. Of these, nearly 14, 000 immigrated to Canada between 1946 and 1955

Approximately 72, 000 Estonian political refugees fled to Sweden and Germany in 1944 to escape Russian communism. Of these, nearly 14, 000 immigrated to Canada between 1946 and 1955. Balts, mostly Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, were among the first displaced persons selected by Canadian immigration during the Second World War (WWII).

Lithuania is a small country on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The first recorded Lithuanian immigrants to Canada were soldiers serving in the British army in the early 19th century. The 2016 census reported 59, 285 people of Lithuanian origin in Canada (11, 185 single and 48, 100 multiple responses). At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, many Lithuanians, fleeing Tsarist police or to improve their livelihoods, immigrated to Canada and settled in Nova ScotiaOntario,and western Canada   
Between 1921 and 1945, 409 Latvians arrived to Canada, although in the 1941 census listed 975 people claimed Latvian origin. After the Second World War in 1947, many Latvians moved to Canada as war refugees. This migration, which accounted for 92% of Latvians who immigrated to the country between 1921 and 1965, ended in 1957. Many of these Latvians worked in the agricultural areas during their first years in Canada, but soon settled in cities. By 1961, only 10% of those immigrants lived in rural zones and farms (6% in rural areas and 4% on farms). The majority of Latvian immigrants in Canada in 1991 were women, 775 more women than men.[1
Information : Library and Archives Canada

Click on the above link to access the database that consists of authors who have written about those who immigrated to Quebec.

Motherhood in New France

A Short Life of Dedication

In the waning years of the 16th century, Pierre Esprit Radisson, my eighth great grandfather was born in France. He was a cloth merchant of modest means living in the parish of Saint Nicolas des Champ, Paris Frances.

In the year 1633, he married Madeleine Henault, the widow of Sebastien Hayet. She brought to the marriage her young toddler, Marguerite. Together they had three more children, Francoise (1636), Elisabeth (1638), and Pierre Esprit, the famous fur trader and explorer (1640).

Recently the following biographical sketches about members of the Radisson family were added to our blog.    Elisabeth Radisson    Claude Jutras, Elisabeth’s husband     Pierre Esprit Radisson, Elisabeth’s brother

Pierre Senior died in 1641 at the age of 51 leaving Madeleine to care for the four children. Within five years she also passed away. (1646) What was going to happen to the youngsters? Marguerite was now 15 years of age, while Francoise, Elisabeth, and Pierre were still very young.

The three sisters, despite their young age, became “marriageable young girls”. They arrived in New France during the summer of 1646 and were welcomed into the community of Three Rivers (Trois Rivieres) that had been settled in 1634 by Samuel de Champlain. The location was ideal, the midpoint between Quebec City and the burgeoning Ville Marie (Montreal1642).

Very little information is known about the early years of Francoise Radisson, other than in 1649 the record shows that she became her nephew Etienne’s godmother. He was the son of her half-sister, Marguerite.

In 1653 at the age of seventeen, Francoise married Claude Volant de Saint Claude, a soldier from France, also 17. No records of their marriage contract nor written records of their marriage have been found.

A typical document containing information about the Volant Family

The young couple set out to have a family and before long they were blessed with a set of twin boys, Pierre, and Claude, born November 8, 1654. Two and half years later, on July 28th, 1657, a daughter, Francoise saw the light of day, but at the age of five and a half, she died. There is no indication of what caused her death, but, typhoid and smallpox were common diseases causing the loss of life.

In November of 1659 another daughter, Marguerite and was welcomed after the pain of losing their first daughter. Four years later in July of 1663, another daughter also named Francoise was born. Her life came to an abrupt end, having lived only three months. In the fall of 1664, the family rejoiced when their healthy young son Etienne joined the family. Almost five years later Jean Francois was born, followed by Nicolas in 1671 and then young fellow Charles Ignace rounded out the family on November 7, 1673.

For nearly twenty years Francoise bore nine children having given birth to three daughters and six sons. No doubt there were moments of deep grief, along with times of jubilation for the family. The childbearing years took a heavy toll on Francoise.

In the last years of her life, she became ill and Claude soon realized the need for help and hired a housekeeper to care for her and the five young children still living at home. When the leaves of autumn are at their finest, most splendid colors, Francoise died October 3rd, 1677at the young age of forty-one.

During her lifetime, she lived to see her two eldest sons become priests, but not long enough to see them ordained, nor to witness their many accomplishments. She must have been quite ill when her daughter Marguerite was married in the summer of 1675 and perhaps unable to attend the celebrations. She may have rejoiced seeing her first granddaughter when Marguerite gave birth before her mother’s passing, but she died before seeing the second granddaughter and was spared knowing that Marguerite died shortly thereafter.

Francoise’s will above was prepared on the 12th of August 1677 prior to her death in October of the same year.

A soldier

Francoise’s steadfast husband, Claude Volant became a prominent member of the Three Rivers community. He was granted a Seigneury along the St. Lawrence river also named a churchwarden. Numerous interesting notarial records may be found in his name. Perhaps the most important one consisted of his being named tutor of his children still living at home.

 Request from Claude Vollant (Volant), Sieur de Saint-Claude, for the election of a tutor to property and persons at the meeting of May 11, 1678 by Gilles Boyvinet (Boivinet), King’s adviser… (04T, TL3,S11,P1681)1)

Above is a small section of a four-page notarial document naming Claude Volant, the father of the five children as the tutor for his children living at home.

Below are several notarial land transactions by Claude Volant, Sieur de Saint Claude.

Ulster Families in Quebec in the 18th and 19th Centuries

The database below consists of the many authors who focused their writings on the many families from Ulster who settled in Quebec.

There are numerous documents available for download, interesting articles on the subject, including several theses, and magazine articles.

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The Mystery of Lavinia Patterson

Who was Lavinia Patterson? I found a cabinet photograph of her in one of the boxes from my mother’s cousin. Written on the back, her name, the date and place. It wasn’t in one of the albums, just in an envelope with other pictures. She was a good looking girl with what I thought was an unusual haircut. She had very long hair hanging free with bangs and a short boy cut around her ears. Cutting or shaving some of one’s hair is a style seen now but in 1886?

The first clue was the photographer’s name and address. Barnett M. Clinedinst Sr and Jr had a studio in Baltimore from 1880 to at least 1891. Clinedinst Sr. began as an artist and turned to photography after the Civil War. He built up a prosperous business in Staunton, Virginia and later settled with his wife Caroline McFee and children in Baltimore. His son followed him into the business and they opened a studio in Washington DC where they photographed Presidents, military men and societie’s elite. Barnett Jr became the official White House photographer for three administrations. They were also innovators and were some of the first to use flash lighting.

Much information about the photographers exists but what about Lavinia? In an 1887 Erie PA directory, Lavinia B. Patterson, a student, lived at the corner of 7th and Sassafras, the same address as a Revered James G. Patterson of Park Church. Two years later Rev Patterson resigned as pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Erie. There was also a Lavinia and Anne Patterson going to a school in 1881 but so far no proof that either is this Lavinia.

This picture was with other photographs that had belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Girod Bruneau. Ida taught school in Baltimore before she married Ismael Bruneau in 1886. Was Lavinia one of her pupils saying goodbye to Ida, a favourite teacher?


The photograph was taken on June 8th 136 years ago.

Scottish Quebecers of the 18th & 19th Centuries

2014 Highland Games held in Verdun

Background Information pertaining to Scottish Settlers in Canada

Scots began arriving to Canada as early as the early seventeenth century. Sir William Alexander obtained permission from King James I to establish a Scottish settlement in 1622 named New Scotland or Nova Scotia. The colony failed to flourish, however, and few families settled in Canada before the British conquest in 1759. The majority of these early Scottish settlers were Roman Catholics seeking political and religious refuge, fur traders with the Hudson’s Bay Company, merchants and disbanded soldiers.

After this early period there were also a number of Highland farmers who emigrated from Scotland after being ejected from their land to make way for sheep grazing. The primary destinations for these early settlers were agricultural communities in Upper Canada, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Island had a significant Scottish population, Gaelic being the only language spoken there. Scottish Loyalists arrived in Canada from the United States in 1783 and settled mainly in Glengarry, Upper Canada, and Nova Scotia. Lord Selkirk also settled over 800 Scottish migrants in Prince Edward Island in 1803 and placed many others in his Red River settlement in Manitoba in 1812. By 1815, there were already more than 15,000 Scots living in Canada.

Between 1815 and 1870, over 170,000 Scots immigrated, with increasing numbers settling in Quebec and Ontario, notably in Lanark County. They were a widely-varied group, including Highlanders and Lowlanders, farmers, teachers, merchants, clergymen and servants. Many were Presbyterian and English speaking. Many Scots were encouraged and supported by the British government and private companies in their effort to emigrate.

Scottish immigration to Canada continued into the twentieth century and increased the Scottish population to over 1 million by 1930. Most of these later Scottish migrants were farmers and farm labourers coming from the Lowland regions, while fewer Highlanders emigrated during that period. There were also many more industrial workers coming after 1900, many in the iron and steel industries. The primary destination for this later settlement of Scots was western Canada, with Manitoba receiving the largest numbers.

After the First World War, many Scots were able to gain passage to Canada under the Empire Settlement Act. Immigration from Scotland to Canada continued in large numbers throughout the twentieth century and between 1945 and 1993 approximately 260,000 settled in Canada. Today, there are approximately 4 million Canadians of Scottish heritage.

Source for above text:

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Church of England, Church of Scotland,

British Wesleyan Methodist Church, American Congregational Church, and Other Protestant Denominations  During the Lower Canada Period at BAnQ.

St. James Anglican Church – Three Rrivers – Originally built in the mid 1700’s as a Recollet Mission
Saint James Anglican Church Three Rivers where the congregation has been worshipping since 1823.

The following database contains books written by numerous authors who have penned books, essays, treatises, dissertations, theses, studies, abstracts, and papers. within the libraries of genealogy societies and at BenQ. These documents may be accessed online and downloaded.

 On pages, 69, 70, 71 are listed the leading repositories of Protestant Church Registers in Quebec, Many Protestant Registers cannot be accessed at BAnQ Numérique,, Genealogy Quebec (Drouin Institute Online), Very few Protestant Church Registers (baptism, marriage, death) survived during a period of time in New France However, it is possible that  Notarial Records may shed light on Protestant families prior to 1759.

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