France, french-canadian, New France, Quebec

The Merchants and Fur Traders of New France, part 2, H to Z

In the days of New France and Acadia, a merchant, fur trader, private banker or ship owner was sometimes called a négociant, or dealer. Some négociants were based in Canada, but most had their headquarters in France, especially in La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen and Caen. Other French port cities with connections to the new world included Brest, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Dunkerque, Fécamp, Le Havre, Lorient, Rochefort, Royan, Saint-Malo and Vannes, while a few ships sailed from Marseille in southern France.

Rich merchants from La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Caen and Rouen often sent young family members to the French colonies of New France, Acadia and Louisiana to manage their North American investments.

Most such dealers, especially those who settled in New France and Acadia, were Catholics. Some were Protestants (Huguenots or Calvinists) and a few from the city of Bordeaux were Jewish. Following the 1759 British conquest of New France, the number of Huguenot merchants increased slightly, at least in Montreal and Quebec City.

These négociants were the people who opened communications between Europe and ports located in the American colonies. Many of the French traders also dealt with associates in South America, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.

Hundreds of dealers were in business over the approximately 250 years that New France existed. In the compilation attached below, I have only selected a fraction of them, addressing primarily the French traders who dealt directly with family members or associates in New France, Acadia or Louisiana. In regard to the fur traders, I have tried to identify those who had a place of business in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City or Louisbourg. I have also included a few well-known explorers who were associated with merchants in these four towns.

Many of the French traders who were associated with Quebec, Louisiana or the Great Lakes regions are profiled in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. If your ancestor was a fur trader, banker or ship owner, you may find a great deal about his life in this publication, available online or in many libraries. See http://www.biographi.ca/en/index.php or http://www.biographi.ca/fr/index.php for the French-language edition.

This post is the second in a series of compilations focused on these négociants during the period of colonial New France in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The series will include brief biographies of these merchants, background on the French port cities where they were based, information about the trading companies they were associated with, the names of historians and other researchers who have written about this people, and a list of archives where you can obtain further information.

To see last week’s post introducing the merchants, fur traders, private bankers and ship owners of New France with last names beginning A to G, go to https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/05/the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-1-a-g/

To read this week’s compilation on the merchants, fur traders, private bankers and ship owners of New France and Acadia with last names beginning H to Z, click on this link: Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, H-Z Merchants, Fur Traders and Ship Owners of New France, H-Z

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

The Merchants, Ship Owners and Fur Traders of New France, Part 1, A – G

There are a couple of versions of this story: in 1539, someone told the King of France that explorer Jacques Cartier had found gold and silver along the shores of the Saguenay River. Another source says that Cartier had only suggested there might be gold and silver in the Saguenay region. (It turned out to be fool’s gold.)

According to both sources, however, Cartier suggested that trading beaver pelts and other wild animal furs could become a great source of income for the king. Needless to say, the fur trade turned out to be a lucrative business that lasted for almost 250 years.

Eventually, many types of traders established operations at the ports of Quebec City, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Louisbourg. All these merchants were associated with fellow merchants at various port cities of France, including La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Rouen and Caen. And in the days of Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac and Governor of New France between 1672-1682 and 1689-1698, merchants in New France and its territories held a special place among the elite of the French colony.

Some of these traders married in North America, or brought their wives and children with them. They became the ancestors of many French Canadian or Acadian families, but, as of today, few family history researchers have searched for these early merchants, traders, private bankers, ship owners or tannery operators.

If you think you might have merchant ancestors, and you enjoy research online in France and Canada, try searching for the following term: Name of Ancestor (family name only, négociant du 17ème et 18ème siècles en France et Nouvelle-France. You can also try replacing Nouvelle-France with Acadie. This may bring you surprising search results.

First, however, you must determine on the spelling of the family name in France in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. For example, my Gagné brothers who settled Château-Richer near Quebec City in the 17th century were Gasnier in France – same pronunciation, different spelling.

This is the first in a series of weekly posts about these merchants, fur traders and ship owners during the period of Colonial New France (until around 1760.) It will include:

two compilations including very brief biographies of these merchants and usually including their wives’ names;

links to information about the port cities in France with which they traded;

links to information about the trading companies they were associated with;

a list of authors, historians and academic researchers who have studied this period, with links to some of their publications;

a list of the archives and other repositories where you can learn more about this subject.

Click on the link to read Merchants, Ship Owners and Fur Traders A-G

 

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Royal Notaries of New France and in Quebec under the British

For family researchers looking for ancestors in Quebec, notarial acts are much more than marriage contracts or wills. A notarial act can offer a detailed overview of all the members of a particular family through documents such as notarized after-death inventories.

In order to pinpoint where and when an ancestor settled within a particular region of Quebec, notarized land grants and land purchases, sales and leases can provide family lineage researchers with answers to their research stumbling blocks.

If your ancestor was a business person, notarial acts can describe the types of business activities your ancestor carried on, and the names of his partners or competitors.

All types of transactions that seigneurs carried on with their tenants in New France, between 1612 to 1760, and under British rule, from 1760 to 1854, were recorded by notaries. These records are a must for those with ancestors in rural districts of New France and British Quebec up to 1854.

In order to find the notarial documents relevant to your family’s activities, you first need to know the name of the notary who prepared these documents. Unless the notary’s acts have been digitized, you will need to scroll through his index to find the dates and act numbers so you can find the documents themselves.

In New France, there were three types of notaries: public notaries, also referred to as regular notaries; seigneurial notaries, appointed by the owners of vast territories called seigneuries; and royal notaries. In most cases, royal notaries were well-educated individuals who were considered to be of high integrity, and to have exemplary behaviour in family relationships and with business associates.

This is the group of notaries we wish to introduce to family history researchers in Canada and in the United States.

Royal notaries were appointed by representatives of the French Crown in New France, known as indendants. An intendant was an administrator appointed by either Louis XIII, Louis XIV or Louis XV, kings of France from 1621 to 1760, and by the kings of England during the reigns of George III and George IV.

The French intendants who appointed royal notaries were Louis Robert (1663-1665), Jean Talon (1665-1668 & 1670-1672), Jacques Duchesneau (1675-1682), Jacques de Meules (1682-1686), Jean de Champigny (1686-1702), François de Beauharnais (1702-1705), Jacques Rondot (1705-1711), Michel Bégon (1712-1726), Claude Thomas Dupuy (1726-1728), Gilles Hocquart (1731-1748) and François Bigot (1748-1760).

Following the British conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, the authorities who appointed royal notaries in British Quebec were: Governor James Murray (1760-1768), Lieutenant Governor in Montreal Thomas Gage (1760-1763), Lieutenant Governor in Trois-Rivières Ralph Burton (1760-1766 and 1763-1766 in Montreal), Governor Guy Carleton (1768-1770 & 1774-1778 & 1786-1796), Lieutenant Governor Hector de Cramahé (1770-1774) and Governor Frederick Haldimand (1778-1784).

One of the best experts on royal notaries was André Vachon, a university professor, author and archivist. Born in Quebec City in 1933, he was archivist at the Archives de la Province de Québec (the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec) from 1956 to 1961. For nine years, he was a professor at Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke, and from 1971 to 1976, he was curator at the Archives nationales du Québec. He was also historian and managing director of Les Presses de l’Université Laval.

From 1967 onward, Vachon wrote 15 books, one of which should be considered of exceptional value to family lineage researchers. It is called L’Histoire du Notariat Canadien (The history of the Notaries in Canada)

In addition, Vachon contributed a series of excellent articles that were published over many years by the Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française. These are available online through Erudit, the largest French-language research platform in North America. Many of his texts addressed the subject of notaries in New France from 1621 to 1759, as well as notaries under the British regime.

For more details on Vachon’s career and the Andre Vachon Fonds at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, see http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/description_fonds?p_anqsid=201402101331371539&p_centre=03Q&p_classe=P&p_fonds=840&p_numunide=835866

The following articles, researched and compiled by Vachon and his associates, describe most of the royal notaries of New France and those who served as royal notaries under the British regime in Québec.

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1955/v9/n3/301728ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1956/v9/n4/301791ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/cd/2013/v54/n1/1014289ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n2/301835ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

If you want to find out which notaries served your ancestors in Quebec, the websites of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) are the best places to look. These sites list notaries who were described as royal notaries or as public notaries (regular notaries) or as seigniorial notaries.

Archiv-Histo (Parchemin) (https://archiv-histo.com/assets/publications/2015-Notaires-liste-Chrono-Tablo.pdf ) provides a research tool on the notaries who served in New France. There were 206 notaries working in New France from 1634 to 1759, and 2,086 notaries served in Quebec from 1760 to 1899.

 Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/) offers readers a tool to research notaries by regions of Québec who served during the 19th century and a few within the 18th century in all regions of Quebec. These regions can be found on the left side of the front page under the heading of Par region.

These regions were:

>> Montreal Region

Island of Montreal plus Saint-Hyacinthe – Richelieu River Valley – Iberville – Joliette – Terrebonne – Beauharnois – Longueil – Laval – Labelle – Bedford

>> Quebec City Region

City of Québec plus Montmagny – Saguenay – Beauce

>> Central Region of Quebec (Mauricie et Centre du Québec)

City of Trois-Rivières plus Arthabaska County – Drummond County – St. Maurice County

>> Eastern Townships (Estrie)

City of Sherbrooke plus St. Francis Judicial District (Sherbrooke, Stanstead, Richmond, Compton, Wolfe Counties) – Bedford Judicial District (Missisquoi, Brome, Shefford,Counties plus the Upper Richelieu River Valley (Missisquoi Bay)) – Megantic County

>> Western Quebec (Outaouais)

District of Hull-Gatineau plus Gatineau County – Pontiac County – Labelle County – Papineau County under Hull-Gatineau District

>> Lower St. Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent)

Regions of Rimouski and Rivière-du-Loup plus Kamouraska District, Gaspé County, Bonaventure County

>> Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean

Regions of Chicoutimi (Saguenay today) plus Roberval, Alma

>> North Western Quebec (Abitibi-Témiscamingue-Nord-du-Québec)

Abitibi County, Témiscamingue County

>> St. Lawrence Lower & Upper North Shores

Baie-Comeau & Sept-Iles regions from Tadoussac to the Labrador Border along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River

Please note: All articles by André Vachon and his associates on the Érudit site, as well as the content of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the BAnQ are in the French language only. Try using Google Translate, or another online translation service.

See also:

Jacques Gagné, “Finding Quebec’s Early Notarial Records,” Genealogy Ensemble, Jan.1, 2017, https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/

Jacques Gagné, “Notaries of Lower Canada, 1760-1848,” Genealogy Ensemble, April 29, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/04/29/notaries-of-lower-canada-1760-1848/

Compiled by Jacques Gagné

gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca 

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Bulletin des Recherches Historiques

If your ancestors lived in Quebec between 1640 and 1940, you may find them mentioned in a periodical called Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, published by one of the province’s senior archivists and his sons. Searching this publication takes a little effort, and it helps if you can read some French, but your time may be well spent.

Archivist Pierre-George Roy and two of his sons did their research over several decades and published the Bulletin between about 1920 and 1943. In 1920, Roy was the first archivist at the Archives de la Province du Québec, the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and he later became senior archivist at the Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City. His two sons were also archivists.

Roy obtained the majority of his material from notarial documents. His father, Joseph-Edmond Roy, was a notary in Québec City from 1880 to 1911, and other Roy family members were also notaries.

The Bulletin includes a variety of articles including family genealogies, profiles of individuals, amusing anecdotes and accounts of historical interest. Some articles focus on high-profile people such as land owners and civil servants in the days of colonial New France. Others look at Catholic religious orders, laws and the courts, but there do not seem to be many women mentioned.

The articles are not exclusively about French Canadians; they also include Acadian, British, Scottish, Irish, Germanic, American, Jewish, Loyalist and Huguenot families and individuals. Ancestors of at least four members of Genealogy Ensemble are covered in the pages of the Bulletin.

When the BAnQ copied these periodicals, it named the database Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques 1895-1968, however, it appears that the articles cover the period 1642 to 1942, not 1895 to 1968.

To find out whether any of your ancestors is mentioned in the Bulletin, start by scrolling through the 818-page PDF of the index. The volume number is underlined and the second number is the page number. Here is a link to the index: http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

Once you have found your family’s name in the index, the next step is to go to the database that includes the actual volumes of the Bulletin. Open http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/ and, on the right hand side, put in your search terms: Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, as well as the volume number in roman numerals and the name of the month the issue appeared in French.

For example, according to the index, the name Bagg appeared in volume 49, page 59, so the search term is “Bulletin des Recherches Historiques XLIX Fevrier” You may have to guess the month, depending on the page number. Then scroll down to find your ancestor. You can also find hard copies of this publication at la Societé généalogique canadienne-française (https://www.sgcf.com/) in Montreal.

The language level of the magazine is not difficult, and you can use Google Translate or a similar online tool to help with the translation.

Here are links to a few samples of the Bulletin that I found interesting:

http://collections.banq.qc.ca/jrn03/dn2087/src/1935/02/164865_1935-02.pdf

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656964

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657360

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656957

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657519

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657338

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657205

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657534?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657523?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

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

Seigneuries of the Charlevoix and the Saguenay

Beginning in 1535, long before the establishment of Nouvelle France by Samuel de Champlain, Europeans traded goods for furs with the indigenous people in the region referred to as the Royaume (kingdom) du Saguenay (1535-1842).

For centuries, the fur traders had complete control of the Saguenay River and the Lac-Saint-Jean regions of Quebec. Because the fur industry was so dominant, farming was forbidden in the Lac-Saint-Jean area until the 1850s.

The Charlevoix refers to the area of boreal forest along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, northeast of Quebec City, including present-day towns such as La Malbaie. The Saguenay River, which flows south from Lac Saint-Jean, enters the St. Lawrence near the village of Tadoussac.

 

Mouth of the Saguenay River at Tadoussac; Janice Hamilton photo

The attached research guide lists the fur trading companies that operated in Nouvelle-France and Québec, from the first such company established in France in 1614 to the Hudson Bay Company in 1854.

In 1835, 1,830 young farmers from the south shore of the St. Lawrence and the Charlevoix region signed a petition sent to Governor Archibald Acheson of Gosford, requesting access to lands in the Lac-Saint-Jean region. When Acheson and later governors did not react to the petition, many young Quebecers moved to the New England States and other parts of the United States in order to seek jobs.

In the late 1850s, the fur trade declined and the fur trading companies lost their political influence. Finally, the Lac-Saint-Jean and upper Saguenay areas were opened to agriculture, however, by this time, the seigneurial system had been abolished across Quebec.

This 23-page PDF includes a list of the seigneurs and business leaders who controlled the Charlevoix and Saguenay areas for almost two centuries. It lists regional cemeteries and briefly describes the counties and towns in the area. It includes a list of the fur trading companies that operated in the region and a list of the notaries who prepared documents such as business contracts and wills. At the end of the guide you will find contact information for the archives and historical societies found in these regions.

See the research guide here: seigneuries of charlevoix, chicoutimi and saguenay

 

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Online learning, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Jacques Gagné’s Research Interests in 2018 and 2019

2018 was a busy year for genealogy researcher Jacques Gagné, so if you missed any of his posts, here is a recap of his work and a look ahead to 2019.

For many years, Jacques was a volunteer researcher at the Quebec Family History Society, so he has a broad knowledge of genealogical records in Quebec. He is particularly knowledgeable about resources at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), finding notarial records, searching for ancestors in France and anything to do with the Huguenots.

He is now on the far side of 80 and his eye sight is not what it used to be, so the amount of research he has accomplished for Genealogy Ensemble is all the more impressive. He is passionate about what he does and he just keeps pushing ahead. The list of projects he would like to do in the future is almost as long as the list of his past achievements.

                 Jacques Gagné

Jacques’ work is actually a collective effort. He does all the hard work of exploring the Internet and putting together the research guides, while Claire Lindell and Janice Hamilton (me) revise them, edit the introductions and post everything online. I took a year off between the spring of 2017 and April 2018, which is why there is a gap in his posts.

The major research guides posted in 2018 focused on one main theme: the seigneuries of Quebec. From the time New France was created in the 1600s until the mid-1800s, most land in Quebec was owned by a few individuals known as seigneurs. They were usually French aristocrats, wealthy merchants or military leaders. Most ordinary Quebecers were tenant farmers living on the seigneuries. Jacques identifies the seigneurs and seigneuries in each region, and the notaries who practised there. He also includes a list of cemeteries in each area and repositories for archival material and other resources.

Another post from 2018 was a list of notaries who practised in the years after Quebec came under British rule, between 1760 and 1848. He also put together research tips for finding Huguenot ancestors in France, tips for searching at the BAnQ and French municipal archives, and a heads up on a wonderful online resource, the New France Archives from Library and Archives Canada, nouvelle-france.org.

Jacques has been hard at work for several months on a new series of guides for 2019 on the merchants, ship owners and fur traders of New France. This series looks at the men who did business in New France. Many of them were born in France but married and died in North America, and some were also notaries or played other important roles in the new world. The series includes a post about their ports of departure and their trading partners back in France, as well as background on the trading companies they were associated with.

He is also working on a new series of posts updating his old research guide to the Irish Catholic churches of Quebec (https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/05/20/irish-catholic-churches-of-quebec/). Meanwhile, guides to ancestors in the Charlevoix and Gaspe regions, and more tips on searching in France are coming soon.

If you missed some of Jacques’ past compilations, or are having trouble finding something you noticed several months ago, our blog has several features that makes searching easy.

On the right hand side of the screen, under the Geneabloggers logo and before Categories, there is a Search box. Enter any terms that you might think will take you to a post you are trying to find, such as the name of a region, as well as Gagné. (It will work without the accent.) If you find an article of interest and open it up to its full length, you will find suggestions for related articles at the bottom of the page.

You can also look down that column on the right of your screen until you come to Jacques’ name (it is the fourth name in the list) and click on it. You can then scroll backwards through all his posts. When you get to the bottom of a page, click on Older Posts.

Finally, below all the authors’ names on the right is a search function called Archives. It brings up all our posts from each month.

Thank you for following us since 2014, and good luck with your research in 2019.

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

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

french-canadian, Genealogy, 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