Category Archives: Quebec
(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:
- 1 Information on the seigneurs who owned much of the land, including the Lotbinière and Taschereau families.
- 5 Descriptions and histories of the region’s seigneuries.
- 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.
- 27 Descriptions and history of the counties in the region, including when they were created and how they were named and settled.
- 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.
- 44 A list of regional cemeteries in each county or municipality.
- 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.
- 59 Contact information for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City.
I trail closely behind my petite 97-year old aunt as she pushes her walker towards the residence dining room. Her recently repaired hip doesn’t appear to bother her as she purposefully maneuvers herself to the front of the line.
Ironically, she was born with a curvature to her spine and the doctors pronounced baby Mary “delicate” informing her parents that she would not have a long life.
“Ha!” she has been known to utter on many an occasion.
Another favourite saying has become “I shall never surrender!” It is stated with such passionate theatrical flair leaving no doubt that she means what she says.
Her parents, Millicent and Sydenham Lindsay, provided their first born child with numerous quiet diversions such as books, art supplies and writing materials during her childhood. She was not to tax herself physically much to the dismay of her brother and two sisters. Consequently, her artistic talents and imagination flourished and by the time she completed high school, she was ready to perform!
Mary was a talented actress and enjoyed memberships in several different theatre groups in and around Montreal during the 40’s and 50’s. She also occasionally designed store windows in connection with the theatre that drew the attention of the local paper.
“A departmental store window display, depicting characters in a scene from Kings in Nomania has aroused considerable interest and admiration to the gratification of Mary Lindsay, talented young display artist who designed the window.”
In 1950, Trinity Players and The Montreal Repertoire Theatre produced the play “Jupiter in Retreat” and 30-year old Mary won the best actress award for the Western Quebec Region in the Dominion Drama Festival for her leading role. The Herald raved about her:
“Mary Lindsay Kerr, actress playing a leading role, gave a performance of confidence, sincerity and absolute conviction. This artist didn’t put a foot wrong. She played right from the beginning with ease, and she had the power of making lines appear spontaneous.” 
The prize was a beautiful handcrafted painted wooden bowl that she later passed on to me. It currently hangs on my kitchen wall as a proud memento from my much-loved aunt.
Mary was blessed with a true soulmate when she married Robert Black-Byrne Kerr in 1946. Not only did he continue to look after her but he shared her love of the theatre! They were known to host house parties with themes like “Ye Gods” where guests dressed in togas as Roman Gods and probably ate and drank excessively!
Lively games of charades were played at every family gathering. Halloween was a fabulous excuse for a little play-acting! Mary would dress up as a witch and stir a giant pot of steaming “witch’s brew” in the large front window while Bob handed out treats to anyone who dared to come close enough!
In the 50’s, they moved to Vancouver for Bob’s job and Mary was welcomed enthusiastically as “a prize winning actress” into the Vancouver Theatre Guild. She also developed a reputation for radio work (Trans-Canada Matinee on CBC) and several TV and screen appearances (she was the voice of Clarence the Caterpillar on the children’s “Peppermint Prince” program).
As they didn’t have children of their own, Mary and Bob took great pleasure in doting on their nieces and nephews. When they moved back to Montreal in the late 60’s, Mary taught me how to bake a “four egg sponge cake” folding in the stiffly beaten egg whites just so. Weekly tea parties featuring just the two of us were a real treat. Sometimes she would serve “backwards dinner” starting with dessert first!
Over the years, we were often treated to hand painted watercolour cards sent to us for every special occasion. Her joie de vivre was obvious throughout her notes by the abundant use of exclamation marks. They were always lovingly signed: “Big Hugs, Tante Marie!”
(Tante Marie is presently residing in Ottawa, Ontario, where she is now doted on by her nieces and nephews.)
 Based on Sir Winston Churchill’s famous WWII speech.
 Newspaper clipping, personal collection – “Novel Store Window illustrates C.A.T. Play (Canadian Art Theatre), December, 1944.
 The Herald, Montreal , Friday, March 10, 1950.
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.
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.
This week’s compilation, “France Huguenot Family Lineage Searches,” is designed to help you find your Protestant ancestors in 16th to 18th century France. It includes links to books and societies that can help you find your ancestral name in France prior to the French Revolution, and it focuses on Protestant aristocratic families. Click on the link to read the pdf document:
This guide complements the compilation published May 20, 2018 on Genealogy Ensemble on finding Huguenot families in France, “How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France” https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/20/how-to-search-for-huguenot-ancestors-in-france/
In the past, a great deal of research was done on the Huguenots who came to Canada, however, many of the researchers who contributed to this field are now retired or have died. For example, Huguenot Trails (a periodical published by the Huguenot Society of Canada) addressed the Huguenot families who settled in Canada. This periodical stopped publishing in 2002, and the society closed its doors in 2006. The lead authors were Ken Annett and René Péron. See my post, “Huguenots – Index of Names,” March 6, 2015 https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/03/06/848/ This article consists of a list of family names that appeared in “Huguenot Trails.”
Another fine piece of research is Fichiers Huguenots en Nouvelle France, by Michel Barbeau (http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/index.htm). This database includes only the Huguenot families who settled in New France prior to 1759. See also, Huguenot Family Names in Nouvelle France, Québec under British rule, Lower Canada, Québec under Confederation – Various Authors. This and other reference works can be found at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal or at the Collection nationale (same building, different collections.)
Here are some other compilations I have prepared in the past on the Huguenots:
“British, Irish, Scottish, Loyalist, American, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Huguenot Families in Lower Canada and Quebec 1760,” April 8, 2015
This compilation is a list of villages, towns and townships in Quebec where various groups of people settled. Many of these places have changed names or disappeared over the years.
“French Protestant Churches in Quebec,” Nov. 22, 2015
This compilation includes an article by Huguenot researcher René Péron, the names of Protestant ministers who served these French-speaking congregations and a bibliography for further reading. It includes brief histories of 187 churches, including Anglican, Baptist and other denominations, in which Protestant Quebecers have worshipped between 1600 and today. Finally, this extensive compilation tells you where to find the parish records of these churches.
“The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada,” April 4, 2014
This short post is a quote from a book in the library of the Quebec Family History Society in Montreal, The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada, by G. Elmore Reaman, that points to the important role the Huguenots played in New France. According to worldcat.org, this book is available in more than 1000 libraries around the world. It is also available online, https://archive.org/details/trailofhuguenots00ream
“Huguenot Refugees,” April 2, 2014
This post links to several databases and websites.
“Register of Abjurations,” Feb 3, 2014
This post covers records of renouncements of faith by Huguenots in New France.
1958 St-Eustache, Quebec. Super 8 film ‘capture.’
I never thought I would write about my Uncle Frank Walter, my Aunt Flo’s husband and my mother’s brother-in law. He is, perhaps, the least controversial figure in our family. One might even call him boring. I never heard a word uttered for or against him – and, believe me, that’s saying a lot .
Frank married Flo her late in life, in 1955, when she was 50 and he was 63. He was a tile painter by trade. He was French from France, my mother told me, but in Quebec that’s hardly exotic. My mother also told me his last name “Walter” was really pronounced “Valter,” but that didn’t seem important.
Frank and Flo, the giddy ‘newlyweds’ would visit us occasionally, in St. Eustache, north of Montreal, where we lived in the mid 1950’s. They had a big black Buick and they took it everywhere on day trips. They also had a Super 8 movie camera and I have a few seconds of faded film of Aunt Flo and me by the swing set. On another visit, they brought me a giant stuffed panda bear. I was enraptured. My brothers later beat the stuffing out of it, out of jealously, I imagine.
My family visited them at Christmas at their apartment in the city on West Hill Avenue in 1964. I have a colour photo with my Dad and us kids sitting on their fancy pink French Provincial style couch that I would inherit much later in the 1980’s and put in our basement.
Frank was very old (in my eyes). He was the closest I came to having a grandfather around. He had grey hair on the thin side and sported a debonair pencil moustach. He was always smoking a pipe. I could sense, even as a child, that he was a bit on the vain side. He had a twinkle in his eye and he still flirted with my Aunt Flo who happily flirted back. They made quite a pair.
Frank died in 1977 and I clearly recall the scene at the grave on a hill with trees in Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery on the mountain, as Aunt Flo wept uncontrollably and the tears rolled down my cheeks in empathy. She was crushed at the loss of her “Ptoutsi.”
I thought of Uncle Frank again, in 1990, when Aunt Flo went into a retirement home. Helping her clear out her apartment, I found a photo album from his WWII service. The album contained many pictures of younger female servicewoman. His girlfriends? He was a ladies man, after all! The album creeped me out, so I tossed it in the garbage.
At the same time, my aunt gave us her ‘junk’ to sell in a garage sale in our suburban garden. One piece was Frank’s foot locker from WWI. (Yes, he participated in two world wars.) A collector came around before the start of the sale, gave the tables in the yard a quick scan and immediately pointed to the foot locker.
“I guess French Infantry foot lockers from WWI are worth something,” I said to my husband, suddenly wishing I’d held on to it.
Intimate ‘captures’ of Frank and Flo from a Super 8 film taken in the mid to late 1950’s in their home.
Left: Domestic life on West Hill, in NDG. Right: A visit to a war memorial in Montreal.
Aunt Flo died in 1999.
The other day, checking up on Aunt Flo in Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery1 where she was laid to rest, I realized she wasn’t in the family plot but buried with Frank and his family.
So, I took a closer look. To my surprise, I saw that Uncle Frank’s full name, at least as listed at the cemetery, was Ferdinand Francois Walter and that he was named after his father, who was buried beside him.
Frank’s Mom, Octavie Turgeon, was there, too. A Quebecois name, that’s for sure. So Frank had a German-sounding father and a French Canadian mother. He wasn’t even from France. He was Canadian-born.
I checked on Drouin and sure enough, Frank’s father, Ferdinand married his mother Octavie in Quebec, in 1890.2 Ferdinand, an engineer, was from Willers, Alsace Lorraine, the son of Francois, and Octavie was from Levis, Quebec.
(Willers, by the way, is one of those achingly picturesque towns in the Haut Rhine.) Ferdinand’s mother was a Berkertz, also German sounding.
Ferdinand’s signature on the marriage document was remarkable in that it was executed in a meticulous ornamental font. I can see where Uncle Frank got his artistic talent. Octavie’s brother signed for her indicating she was illiterate.
The couple sounds like a mismatch. Maybe she was beautiful or rich.
Other Drouin records reveal that Ferdinand Francois, my Uncle Frank, was born in Montreal in 1893.3 WWI military records at LAC reveal Frank enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1916.
“Frank Fern” is how he is registered. So, that prized foot-locker was Canadian Army issue. Fern? Is that a typo, or, back in 1916, did Ferdinand sound too German?
Was Uncle Frank, French or German? Actually, he was something in-between.
I checked the 1891 census to see that Frank’s father, Ferdinand Walter, emigrated to Canada in 1878, a few years after the Franco Prussian war, when Alsace was turned over to the Germans in the Treaty of Frankfurt, 1871. He is listed as “French” and “Catholic.”
I further learned that in 1872 residents of Alsace who wanted to remain French citizens had to make French Citizenship Declarations or automatically become German citizens. These declarations have been digitized and are available on Ancestry with an explanation. Apparently, there were 124 Walters from Alsace who were determined to keep their French citizenship. Five are listed under Francois.
I wonder if most in the Walters clan wanted to remain French. That would take a lot more research.
In the end, I picked up some interesting European history while I learned a rather boring truth about my still very uncontroversial “French” Uncle Frank Walter – the “W” pronounced like a V.
Sorry if I led you to believe otherwise.
Still, I wonder how my young uncle felt in 1916 going back ‘home’ to shoot at his cousins. Perhaps it was just business-as-usual. Alsace-Lorraine was been the site of a vicious tug-of-war between Germany and France for generations.
Ferdinand’s pretty signature on his wedding certificate.
- Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery: Locate a deceased person. https://www.cimetierenotredamedesneiges.ca/en/recherche-defunt
- Ancestry.ca. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records, (Drouin Collection) 1621-1968. Marriage and death.
- Ancestry.ca. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records, (Drouin Collection) 1621-1968. Marriage and death.
- Ancestry. ca. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records, (Drouin Collection) 1621-1968. Marriage and death.
The PDF link at the end of this introduction is attached to a compilation that describes the seigneuries and townships in the Western Laurentians region, along the banks of the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa.
The compilation describes the counties that existed in the region in 1791: Effingham, Leinster, Ottawa and York. The seigneuries are described in chronological order, from the Seigneurie de la Petite Nation, created in 1674, to the Seigneurie Papineau, granted in 1817. It includes a list of the major seigneurs (landowners) in the region and links to some information about each of these individuals and their properties.
The townships and some of their best known residents are described in chronological sequence, including St. Andrews Township, formed in 1800, Grenville Township, Gore Township established in 1825 by Scottish and Irish settlers, and Lochaber Township, established in 1855. It also describes the city of Lachute, founded in 1796.
The compilation includes links to lists of local cemeteries.
There is also a list of notaries who lived in the region, including the years and places they practiced, and the branch of the Quebec archives (BAnQ) where their records are kept. The legal documents they created can be very helpful to family historians looking for land transfers, business agreements, apprenticeships, wills, inventories, marriage contracts and other records. The records of some notaries mentioned here are kept in Montreal, but others are available in Gatineau, near Ottawa. I have included the locations and contact information for these archives.
Some of these notarial records, or the indexes to them, have been digitized and are online through the BAnQ online, Ancestry.com (two different databases of notarial records), FamilySearch.org or Genealogy Quebec (Drouin Institute Online).
Seigneuries and Townships
Seigneuries were created by the kings of France, based on a land ownership model that was used in France prior to the creation of New France in 1604. Seigneuries were also created in Québec after 1759 under British rule. In 1854, the seigneurial system was abolished.
For example, after Quebec became a British colony, Governor James Murray was granted the seigneury of Argenteuil in Argenteuil County. It had been granted in 1680, under French rule, to Charles-Joseph d’Ailleboust des Musseaux, an officer of a French regiment stationed in New France. In 1697, d’Ailleboust des Musseaux granted the concession of the Seigneurie d’Argenteuil to his son. Neither the father and nor the son resided there. After 1700, surveyors mapped out the region along the banks of the Outaouais, or Ottawa River.
Because the Argenteuil seigneury had not been settled or seen economic development under its previous owners, the British colonial government granted ownership of it to James Murray. Under British rule, a seigneur appointed by the British authorities was expected to reside on his seigneury for at least a few months every year, and to take an active part in its management, with the legal help of a notary. A large number of notaries began their careers this way.
In contrast, land grants were usually offered in remote rural areas in which the seigneurial system had not been implemented. They were granted by both administrators of New France, and in Quebec prior to Confederation. In the majority of cases, rural land grants were recorded by the local notary. Land grants still exist today in far-flung regions of Quebec within the mining and lumber industries.
Cantons, or townships, were mainly instituted by the British in regions that had not previously been occupied by seigneuries. The Eastern Townships, Argenteuil, Gatineau, Hull and Pontiac counties were some of the regions in which the early settlers embraced the concept of townships.
This research guide explores the seigneuries of New France from about 1626 to 1759 in the Quebec City region, including Lévis, Lauzon, Côte-de-Beaupré, Île-d’Orléans, Charlesbourg, Portneuf, Sainte-Foy, Sillery and other locations within a 50-mile radius of the city.
The PDF below links to a variety of resources describing historical individuals and seigneurs (landlords) in the area, the histories of the seigneuries themselves and a list of the Catholic churches and cemeteries in the towns.
The compilation includes the names of the notaries who worked in this region. Notaries prepared land transfers, leases, business agreements and protests following disagreements, apprenticeships, marriage contracts, wills and even travel arrangements. These documents are kept in the provincial archives and can be read on microfilm. At the end of the compilation you will find contact information for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City and the Société de généalogie de Québec.
If your ancestors were living in rural Quebec before 1854, chances are they lived on a seigneury. The seigneur 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. The seigneurial system was abolished in 1854 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, while the agricultural fields along the shores of the St. Lawrence River are still divided into the long, narrow strips that were created for the habitants.
Many of the links in this compilation are in French. If you can’t understand them, copy and paste the text into a translation app such as Google Translate. In some cases, you may have to search (rechercher) further. Que cherchez vous? means, what are you looking for? So put in the name of the seigneurie or the arrondissement (borough).