Category Archives: Loyalists
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.
If your Loyalist ancestors settled in the Missisquoi Bay area of Quebec, including towns such as Frelighsburg, Philipsburg, Saint-Armand and Pigeon Hill, the files of notary Louis Chaboillez might help you learn something about them.
This area, located just north of the Vermont border near Lake Champlain and the Richelieu and Pike Rivers, has a long history. The shore of Missisquoi Bay was once the site of an Abenaki village, but in the mid-1700s, the governor of New France divided the land into vast estates called seigneuries. Two of the seigneuries in this part of Quebec were the St. Armand and the Foucault Seigneuries. The first owner of the Saint-Armand seigneury was a Quebec City man who built ships for the King of France, and later, this seigneury was owned by a senior British colonial administrator.
Although New France became the British colony of Lower Canada in 1763, the seigneurial system of land ownership remained in effect until 1854. But long before 1854, many new settlers began to arrive in the area, and they wanted to own their own property.
Thousands of Loyalists who had been loyal to the British during the American Revolution left the United States for Canada in 1784. In the Missisquoi Bay area, they built homes, farms, flour mills, schools and churches. The government of Lower Canada had to find a way to sort out titles to properties in this and similar areas, and it gave this responsibility to certain notaries. The man who undertook this task in the Missisquoi Bay region was Louis Chaboillez. A notary who practiced between 1787 and 1813 in the Judicial District of Montreal, he was assigned to legalize the allotment of lands in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and in the Richelieu River Valley. He served families in the Eastern Townships until the arrival of notary Léon Lalanne in the spring of 1799.
You can find the collection of notarial acts written by Louis Chaboillez between 1787 and 1813 at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in downtown Montreal. The acts are on microfilm under Cote (Fonds) # CN60,S74 (1787-1813). The original fonds (collection) includes 14.67 metres of documents and one map. It appears that all documents written by Chaboillez were reproduced, with the exception of the map, on microfilms # 3291, 3292, 3293, 3294, 3295, 3296, 3297, 3298, 3299, 3300, 3301, 3302, 3303, 3304, 3305, 3306, 3307, 3380, 3496, 3497 and 3733. A few additional acts were reproduced on Cote (Fonds) #ZQ601.
As of October, 2016, the notarial acts of Louis Chaboillez were not available on the BAnQ’s website (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/).
The main Montreal branch of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec is located at 535 avenue Viger Est, Montréal, QC H2L 2P3; Tel : 514-873-1100 #4 or 1-800-363-9028; email: email@example.com. The archives is open from Tuesday through Saturday every week; please verify for actual opening hours and legal holidays. See www.banq.qc.ca/archives/entrez_archives/centres_archives/ca_montreal.html.
Louis Chaboillez’s notarial acts can also be found in the Parchemin collection, compiled by Archiv-Histo, under cote # 06010074 (1787-1813). The Parchemin collection is available at libraries throughout Canada and the United States. Archiv-Histo is an associate society of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
The collection of notarial acts on Parchemin is the largest and most precise in Quebec. Not all of the documents produced by Quebec notaries between 1663 and 1900 are available at BAnQ repositories across the province. Parchemin tells you where notarial acts (minutiers) are kept, and which ones were destroyed by fire. To learn more, see https://www.archiv-histo.com/EN/index.php.
Compiled by Jacques Gagné firstname.lastname@example.org 2016-10-16
Notary Peter Lukin Sr. helped the people of the Upper Richelieu River Valley and Eastern Townships of Quebec sort out land ownership issues between 1790 and 1814. Among his clients were Loyalists and other American-born settlers who had moved north of the border in search of farmland, as well as British, Scottish and Irish-born families.
Although New France was ceded to Britain in 1763 and became the Lower Canada colony, the old seigneurial land-ownership system of New France persisted until 1854. The seigneurial system began in the 1600s as a tool to control the settlement of New France. The king granted large areas of land to influential people including military officers and members of the aristocracy. The seigneurs then rented out farm lots to the habitants, or tenants. The habitants paid rent in cash or grain in exchange for land management assistance and various rights from the seigneurs. This system determined the way rural society in New France developed. When the British abolished the system in 1854, the colonial government had to introduce a means for the tenants to buy their farms.
One area in which the seigneurial system existed was in the Upper Richelieu Valley, an area with very fertile soil that attracted many settlers. The valley stretches next to the Richelieu River, which flows north out of Lake Champlain in northern Vermont and empties into the St. Lawrence River near the town of Sorel. Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Christie acquired five seigneuries in this region following the fall of New France. The Christie Seigneuries remained in his family’s possession long after the seigneurial system was officially abolished.
In her book The Christie Seigneuries; Estate Management and Settlement in the Upper Richelieu Valley 1760-1854 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1992), historian Françoise Noël wrote that seigneurial property rights were used to control access to land, timber mills and other resources in the area for many years.
On May 8, 1790, Peter Lukin Sr., a notary and Justice of the Peace in the Judicial District of Montreal, was appointed as one of several notaries assigned to legalize the allotment of lands in the Eastern Townships and the Richelieu River Valley, including the Christie Seigneuries.
The seigneurial system was never implemented in the Eastern Townships, which was settled in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
The notarial acts of Peter Lukin Sr., 1790-1814, Cote # CN601, S269, can be found on microfilm at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Montreal. The BAnQ Montréal is located at 535 avenue Viger Est, Montréal, QC, H2L 2P3; Tel: 514-873-1100 plus option 4, plus option 1; Toll Free: 1-800-363-9028 plus option 4 plus 1; email: email@example.com
A database of the Christie Seigneuries, “The Upper Richelieu Valley Database by Seigneury,” prepared by Françoise Noël can be found at http://faculty.nipissingu.ca/noel/files/2013/01/Christie_Seigneuries_by_Seigneury.pdf
Noël also identified three other early notaries who served in the region of the Christie Seigneuries within the Upper Richelieu River Valley:
Pierre de Mérut Panet – Notary, Judicial District of Montréal 1755-1778
Pierre Lanctot – Notary, Judicial District of Montréal 1809-1850
Pierre Besse – Notary – Judicial District of Richelieu 1811-1813
The Notarial Acts of Pierre de Mérut Panet likely address the British officers who were granted lands in the Upper Richelieu River Valley and perhaps also in the Lower Richelieu River Valley (the Sorel area) who fought with military leaders James Wolfe, Jeffery Amherst, James Murray, Charles Saunders, Thomas Gage, George Townshend and Robert Monckton at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and at the Conquest of Montreal in 1760.
If you had ancestors who were early immigrants to Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the records of notary Leon Lalamme might help you learn details about their lives, but you will have to travel to Sherbrooke to consult them.
The first Europeans to settle in the Eastern Townships region (now known as Estrie) were farmers from Vermont, New York state and New Hampshire. They were looking for free land. After the American Revolution, Loyalists who had supported the British flooded across the border. Having supported the losing side in the war, they were promised new land in Canada. Most of them came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
The trouble was that, in this part of Lower Canada, other settlers were already living on the land. The colonial government passed an act to legalize the allotment of lands in the Eastern Townships, and several notaries were appointed to settle these issues.
Among the notaries appointed to this task were two from Montreal: Louis Chaboillez, who practiced from 1787 to 1813; and Peter Lukin, who practiced from 1790 to 1814. Pierre Gamelin, who practiced in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu from 1815 to 1855, was a third appointee.
Leon Lalanne.was another notary who served Loyalist & non-Loyalist American families in the Eastern Townships. He practiced between 1799 and 1845. He lived in the village of St. Armand (now known as Frelighsburg) until 1842, then moved to Brome County and served families there until his retirement.
As well as acting as a notary to former American families, he also served the needs of Dutch, Scottish, British, Irish and French Canadian residents. His records at the Archives nationales du Québec are mostly in the English language, and total 8.23 linear metres (28 feet). Notarial acts cover agreements such as land sales and rentals, marriage contracts, wills, apprenticeships and protests over unpaid loans.
The microfilms of Lalanne’s notarial acts (Cote # CN 502, S26) are stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Sherbrooke, They have not been digitized. The BAnQ Sherbrooke is located at 225 rue Frontenac #401, Sherbrooke QC J1H 1K1, tel: 819-820-3010, toll free: 1-800-363-9028; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that the Bedford Judicial District (District judiciaire de Bedford) was a group of villages, towns and townships within Missisquoi, Brome and Shefford counties. The St. Francis Judicial District (District judiciaire Saint-François (Sherbrooke)) included villages, towns and townships in Sherbrooke, Stanstead, Compton, Richmond and Wolfe counties.
Among the other notaries who practiced in the Eastern Townships and southwestern Quebec in the early 19th century were Edouard Faribault, Farnham,1826-1832; Richard Dickinson, Bedford, 1826-1877; Henry Bondy, Sweetsburg,1829 -1869; Samuel Gale, East Farnham, 1802-1819; Louis Barbeau, Laprairie, 1804-1864 (his files were burned, but some still exist in the Ellis Papers at the Archives); Pierre Besse,1809-1810, Trois-Rivières and 1811-1854, Richelieu.
Over the next few months, I intend to post more information on the notaries who served the residents of the Eastern Townships. Some, but not all, of these notaries are included on the website of the BAnQ; see http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/
Finally, thanks to Pennie Redmile for help with this post. She has been a family lineage researcher for 35 years and is also an expert on Quebec notarial records. She has compiled information on hundreds of Loyalist and non-Loyalist families, plus British, Scottish, Irish families who settled in Missisquoi, Brome and Shefford Counties, as well as the Upper Richelieu Valley (Missisquoi Bay) from the 1780s onward. She is now retired.
Compiled by: Jacques Gagné email@example.com 2016-10-10
Between 1798 and 1812, American circuit riders, or saddlebag preachers, travelled to Quebec’s Eastern Townships to serve the religious needs of the area’s settlers. Many of those settlers were Loyalists from New England, Pennsylvania and other states who had come to Canada following the American Revolution.
Most of the saddlebag preachers were Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist or Congregationalist ministers. During the summer months, they would criss-cross the villages and hamlets of Compton, Sherbrooke, Richmond, Shefford, Brome and Missisquoi counties, as well as the Upper Richelieu River Valley (St. John’s County, or St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and the Chateauguay-Huntingdon region.
In September or October, they would go back to their own churches in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts. There, they deposited the books in which they had record marriages and baptisms during their travels. Today, however, these books seem to have vanished.
In the following compilation, Montreal researcher Jacques Gagné has put together whatever information he could find about the circuit riders and their home churches. Claire Lindell has edited this compilation.
If you know anything about any of the missing records, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By René Péron
Religious history tells us that what we call The Reformation was indeed part and parcel of several attempts to reform certain aspects of the once dominant Roman Catholic Church. Be it under the influences of Francis of Assisi, Erasmus, Waldo, Hus, most prior moves towards reform from within said Church lasted but short periods of time. It remained for two convinced and strong willed men, namely Martin Luther and Jean Chauvin (whom we know best as Jean Calvin or John Calvin) to found separate though like-intentioned movements for deep and exacerbating reform.
Out of these said movements there was born a surge of people who became followers of the revised theological thinking as promulgated by each of the above named men, each in his own right and own sphere of influence. Thus the followers of the one became known as Lutherans and those of the other as Calvinists.
As is also well known, homo sapiens being a questioning animal, even the followers of the above two men started questioning some of their theological pronouncements. Over the years, much to the dismay of many, such questionings became points of division within the very core of the first Lutherans or Calvinists. These divisions on doctrinal or other issues within “reformed” Christianity over the last several centuries have led to a multitude of groups, such bearing names which they gave themselves or were given by others to differentiate, separate them from other believers in Christianity. Some of these names were outright fanciful whilst others were based on their beliefs or organizational set-ups. Thus Lutherans, Calvinists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Brethren, to name a few.
As North America as we know it today was founded by members of these diverse religious groups said members formed communities of like minded folk and their religious entities bore, bear, names borrowed, adopted, from the movements found in the country of origin, be it the British Isles or the European continent. . Canada, particularly after the Conquest, inherited similar religious names through the migration of people from the British Isles as well as Europe. To these was the added influence of those U.S. citizens known to us as (a) Loyalists, or more simply as (b) people who crossed back and forth over the common border between Canada and the U. S. A., loosely guarded and even more loosely observed or recognized. Some of these latter individuals belonged to splinter religious entities, thus forming dissentient groups in Canada, keeping their identifying religious nomenclatures. Needless to say, further dissenting members of the established groups perpetuated the practice of adopting names to identify themselves.
In all of this one must not lose sight of the historical fact that in the early days, after the conquest, non-French speaking immigrants were most apt to affiliate, join, with the then official state church, namely the Church of England. However many areas soon saw the arrival of itinerant preachers of the then established denominations, some originating in the British Isles, others in the U.S.A., ; these men would often visit communities which were not, or at least not well, served by the state church. Thus there soon were pockets of folk who formed Baptist, Methodist, or other church groups as they gathered around the said itinerant preachers, adopted their way of expressing their religious beliefs and took on the nomenclature which defined their particular approach to “religion”.
Perhaps this modus operandi was most noticeable in those geographical areas where the established state church had not found it expedient to send representatives. Understandably such areas were in the undeveloped hinterland. Those places, distant from the large centres, such as along the U.S./Canada border, were most susceptible to experience this phenomenon.
All of which leads one to remark or note that when the Province de Québec saw the beginnings of its own “reform” movement amidst the French speaking population in the early 1800s the people who converted to Protestantism were apt to follow the same pattern in joining one particular religious denomination or the other. One can cite as an example the group which many historians recognize as the first to firmly put down roots and later affiliate itself with a recognized denomination, namely the Baptist one. Its founders, from “la Suisse” (Switzerland), namely Louis Roussy and Mrs Henriette (née Odin) Feller had felt a spiritual calling to come to Québec to evangelize. Supported by a non-conformist missionary /religious society, La société des missions évangéliques de Lausanne, in Suisse, encouraged by a fellow Christian, namely Henri Olivier, who was already trying to evangelize French language Canadians in the Montréal region, they briefly came to that city and endeavoured to convert the local folk to their view or approach to the Protestant faith.
The American Revolution was time of flux for many citizens who were loyal to the British. These Loyalists sought refuge in towns north of the border in an area known as the Eastern Townships. They settled and formed communities and built their churches
In this database you will find the locations of births, marriages and deaths of these early settlers.
Right Click the title below to open the database in a new window:
The American Revolution left profound marks on the development of the areas of Brome-Missisquoi, the Upper Richelieu Valley and South Shefford. The Americans who wished to remain loyal to the British Crown fled the United States. These Loyalists came from the northern states and settled very close to the border. Within a short period of time they began to develop many small communities, from Abercorn , near what is now the Vermont border to St. Armand near Missisquoi Bay..
This compilation describes the many towns and villages that emerged from the late 1780s to this day. Their churches contained documents of birth, marriages and deaths that have been preserved and are available in various archives.
The contributions of these Loyalist can be found throughout the area. Many of the churches are still standing and are a tribute to their perseverance.
Click on the link: Loyalist Churches in Brome Missiquoi
Upper Richelieu Valley and South Shefford
This compilation, prepared by Montreal genealogist Jacques Gagné, looks at the churches frequented by Loyalists who settled in three regions of Quebec in the late 18th century: Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers) and Sorel, east of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, and Saint-Jean (St. Johns) and Chambly, south of Montreal on the Richelieu River. It outlines the histories of these churches and where to find surviving records.
Click on the link: Loyalists Churches Sorel – Three Rivers