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:

Click on the above link to open the database in a new window

Lydia and the Mill

Jacques et Gilles work at the mill;

That stands beside the water;

Could be Lowell, could be Lawrence;

Or Nashua, New Hampshire;

Jacques et Gilles, they hate the mill;

But they’ve too many sons and daughters.

(Jccques et Gilles: McGarrigles from Matapaedia Album)

Sulloway Mill, Franklin, NH

Lydia Morrisette, my granddaughter’s 2nd great grandmother on her mom’s side, was a real Americanophile, or so Lydia’s daughter, Irene, told me just the other day. Lydia always raved to Irene about life the US despite the fact she had lived and worked there for a mere seven years in her youth, in Franklin, New Hampshire from 1903 to 1910.

Why do you think your mother loved the United States so much, I asked Irene. After all, work in New England textile mills by most accounts was no picnic, not even at the best of times, what with the long hours, the lack of respect, the bad ventilation and lint and dust flying everywhere, the dangerous machines that could ‘jump’ at any time and the NOISE. Oh, the noise! Let’s not forget the institutionalized racism against French Canadians, often referred to as pea-soupers, or the paternalistic behavior of the French Canadian overseers.

“She liked the independence,” said Irene. “She liked the money.”

So, it seems that Marie-Leonie Ledia Morrisette, like so many other Edwardian women out in the workforce in the big cities of the Western World, valued her independence and enjoyed having an occupation in which she took some pride. After all, the Sulloway Mill up on the hill produced top-of-the-line men and women’s hosiery.

Irene agrees. “They made nice socks,” she says.

Maria-Leonie Lydia (Ledia) Morissette was born in 1889 (with the help of Dr. Harel1) in Ste Gertrude, Becancour, Quebec, a short ferry ride across the St Lawrence to Three Rivers, to farmer Eugene Morrisette and his wife, Clarisse Heon.

In 19032 The Morrisettes and their children, four five girls and two boys, set out to work in Franklin Mills, a smaller, happier sort of industrial town of around 6,000 people on the Miramack River.

Lydia and her sisters on the 1910 US Census. Few French workers made the Census for some reason (including Lydia’s parents) but the 1906 Franklin Annual Report reveals there were many French Canadians in the town. They just weren’t enumerated, perhaps seen as temporary workers. The Morrisette family is on the 1911 Canada census but Eugene and Clarisse and a son and daughter returned to the US.

With four girls and two boys (including a newborn with “muscular atrophy” ) moving to a mill town where the older children could help support the family was a logical step for a Quebec subsistence farmer.

The 1910 United States Federal census has Lydia and her two sisters, Antonia and Elivina (Alvina) working in a “hosiery mill” (almost certainly the Sulloway Mill) as helpers/top hand and boarding in Ward 2, up from the river and the mill, with teamster M. Poirier and his family.

Lydia, as young “Canadiennes” were instructed to do by the community patriarchs (wherever they happened to be living) ceased work in 1910 to marry handsome Quebecker Henry Hamel. Of course, biology likely had its part in this 🙂 The couple moved back to Drummondville, Quebec and raised a large family. Irene, born in 1918 (and the last surviving child, needless to say) is the among the youngest of their brood.

Lydia was the only female member of her strong-willed Morrisette girls to marry. A sister Alvina remained a mill worker in Franklin and two of her sisters became nuns.3

Perhaps because Franklin was a smaller, kinder New England textile down with fewer workers; perhaps because Franklin is where Daniel Webster of dictionary fame was born; perhaps because the Morrisettes lived in Franklin during an era of exponential change, Lydia and her sisters were different from many New England mill workers from Quebec – who usually kept to themselves. The women took pride in integrating and learning English.

Indeed, their one healthy brother, Horace, was of a similar stamp. He stayed in New Hampshire with his parents, Eugene and Clarisse, and his sister Alvina and married an English girl, Mary Murray.

French Canadian child workers at the enormous oppressive Amoskeag Mill in Manchester New Hampshire 1909. LIbrary of Congress. in Franklin NH, at least in boom times, there were Company picnics and baseball games and parades to compensate for the gruelling work in the mills.

1. This is the first time I have seen something like this on the Drouin records. Was the birth difficult?

2. This 1903 date is given on the US Federal Census, shown above and on Eugene Morrisette’s death certificate in 1937.

3, Alvina is listed in the 1930’s as a working as a finisher, which might mean sewing toes and heels into socks or applying chemicals and pressing the socks. Another sister, Antonia, joined a Catholic order back home, but moved to Ontario as she spoke good English. Another sister, Aurore, became a nun in Africa, much to her parents’ displeasure.

325,000 Quebecers left between 1860 and 1900. Just 100,000 between 1900 and 1910 with 40,000 returning. ­ This 2020 YouTube Video from Rhode Island Genealogy Society explains: Country life was very hard for Quebeckers in the Victorian Age. The burgeoning New England textile industry proved most alluring to many farm families. As industry competition increased over the decades, some New England Textile Corporations actively sought out French Canadian workers who, because of their large families who could pool their income, could toil for less money and were less inclined to agitate. French Canadians were also valued for their excellent work ethic.

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.

Click on the above link to open in a new window.

Settlements in New France During the 17th Century

Settlement of New France during the 17th century /

Peuplement de la Nouvelle-France au 17e siècle

            The content of previous dossiers that addressed the origins of French Canadians, Acadians, and Franco Americans in Genealogy Ensemble has been expanded. A large portion of the content may now be accessed online.

The list below indicates the many sources including new repositories of books, dossiers, documents, essays, etc. :

  • BnF Gallica (Bibliothèque nationale de France) in Paris (Online dossiers (free))
  • BnF Catalogue général (Bibliothèque nationale de France) at the two main libraries in Paris
  • BAnQ Catalogue at the 12 repositories throughout  the province.
  • BAnQ Numérique (Online dossiers (free)
  • BAnQ Collections (Online dossiers in many cases of fonds (collections) addressing New France & Québec and the people who made a difference.
  • MemHOuest – Université de Rennes – Theses described as Maîtrise, DEA et Master by students at various universities of France who researched the origin in North West France of immigrants bound for the North American French Colonies from 1598 onward
  • La Revue d’histoire d’Outre-Mer, later changed to Revue d’histoire – Outre-Mers – Essays, dissertations, papers by college and university professors of France who published texts addressing the immigrants from mostly North West France with the destination to the French Colonies of North America including Nouvelle-France, Acadie, Louisiane of the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Les Cahiers des Dix – A regrouping of the best and most influential historians and authors of the French language in Québec province from the 1920s onward to the present.
  • Les Sept aux Archives nationales du Canada in Ottawa. The greatest historians associated with Library Archives Canada and Université d’Ottawa of the French language over the last 60+ years .

Click on the link below to access the file in a new window

Greece, Beautiful Greece

Have you ever been to Greece? Great food, good weather, beaches. I could go on and on. But my favourite part about visiting Greece is staying in the ancestral home of my husband located on the island of Tinos in the beautiful village of Skalados.

My mother-in-law, born in 1932, has lots of stories of growing up in this lovely village. When she was born, the village had no running water, no electricity, and no roads. It is hard to imagine as everyone now has internet, televisions, washing machines, and one or two cars per family.

While she was growing up, the villagers’ took their water from the well located in the village. It was hard work carrying the water that the household needed from the well to the home. They also used the well for washing the clothes. Women would help each other, as washing was heavy and hard work. Everything that they needed had to be carried to the well, including the clothes. To my surprise they used a blue rinse for the whites. 

Well in Skalados, Tinos (courtesy Tinosecret)

The village had two wood ovens and these were also shared. On baking days the families would bring their bread and dishes that needed to be cooked in the oven.

If you have been to Greece, you will have noticed that the stairs in the villages are wide and long, with a small step.  These stairs were designed for donkeys, which explains their design. My husband’s grandfather used a donkey as his means of transportation as there was no road to the village until the 1970s. The whole island is crisscrossed with “donkey paths” that are now either overgrown or used as walking paths.

Stairs – Skalados (courtesy Tinosecret

I am already looking forward to my next visit.

The Mitcheson Sisters

Sisters Margaret (born 1781), Elizabeth (born 1786) and Jane Mitcheson (born 1793) grew up together on their parents’ farm in County Durham, England, but when they became adults, their lives followed very different paths. The eldest married a much older man who provided her with financial security, the middle sister was swept off her feet by a tenant farmer and the youngest married a mariner who was often away at sea.

The daughters of yeoman farmer Joseph Mitcheson and his wife Margaret Philipson, they were baptized at Lanchester Parish Church and grew up in the rolling countryside of northeast England. Their mother died in 1804, when Jane would have been just nine years old.

They had two older siblings, Mary (born 1776) and Robert (born 1779) who both immigrated to North America, and another brother, William (born 1783), an anchor manufacturer who lived near the docks of London. (Mary and Robert were both my direct ancestors since Mary’s grandson, Stanley Clark Bagg, married Robert’s daughter Catharine Mitcheson in 1844, so these three sisters were my 4x and 5x great-aunts.

Their grandfather Robert Mitcheson (-1784) left each of his older grandchildren 50 pounds, part of which could be spent on their care and education and the rest given to them when they turned 21. In his will, written in 1803, their father also left them between 100 and 150 pounds each,1 although he gave the two youngest, Elizabeth and Jane, their inheritances in 1807.

Margaret Dodd

Margaret would have been considered as having married well when she wed gentleman Thomas Dodd (1743-1823) at Whickham Parish Church in 1808.2 The Dodd lineage in northern County Durham can be traced back to 1645, and his family owned a farm called Woodhouse, located in Woodside Ryton Township.

Whickham Parish Church. JH photo.

Thomas was in his sixties and Margaret was 27 when they married. They had five children, three of whom lived to adulthood, although their only surviving son, Thomas Anthony Humble Dodd (1824-1899), was born after his father had died. Thomas grew up to be a well-known Newcastle surgeon and married his cousin, Frances Jane Mitcheson (1824-1898), daughter of the anchor maker.3

Thomas Dodd senior was an early pioneer of Methodism, founded in the 18th century by English minister John Wesley. Wesley often preached to large crowds outdoors. According to the late Durham-based genealogist Geoff Nicholson, John Wesley may have preached in the fields at Dent’s Hall, near Ryton, and Thomas may have met Wesley.4

After her husband’s death, Margaret remained at Woodhouse. In 1824, 1825 and 1827, the property was listed as owned and occupied by the executors of Thomas Dodd’s estate, but according to the 1830 land tax returns, it was “Property of Mrs. Dodd, occupied by Mrs. Dodd.”5

She was also a farmer. A local directory published in 1828 listed Margaret Dodd as a farmer in Woodside Ryton Township,6 and the 1841 U.K. census did the same.  

The 1851 census found son Thomas A. H. Dodd as head of the household, living at Woodhouse with his wife and two small children, his mother and two servants. Margaret was listed as an annuitant, meaning she had her own income. The census noted that Thomas was a surgeon, and that the farm had 96 acres and employed two labourers.

When the 1861 census-taker came around, Margaret was once again head of the household, living with her widowed daughter Mary Robson and a house servant. Margaret died in October, 1864, age 83, and was buried with her husband in Holy Cross Parish Churchyard, Ryton.7

Elizabeth Maughan

While researching Margaret was straightforward, finding records of her sister Elizabeth’s life was more challenging. What I did find suggests that Elizabeth’s life was far from easy.

She was just 20 when she married farmer John Maughan, of Shotley, Northumberland, in 1806 at Whickham Parish Church.8 They lived in Shotley, a sparsely inhabited parish in southern Northumberland, located between the River Derwent and the town of Hexham. Its soil consists of sandy clay, and coal, silver, lead and iron have been produced in the area.

Elizabeth might have been lonely on that remote farm, but she probably didn’t have much time to think about it as she gave birth to at least 10 children.9 Several of them died young, but Joseph (b. 1810), Margaret (b. 1814), Isabella (b. 1816), Mary (b. 1817) and possibly William (b. 1823) grew to adulthood.

The family eventually appears to have left Shotley. In 1842, my Montreal ancestor Stanley Bagg and his 21-year-old son Stanley Clark Bagg travelled to England. In an account of the trip, Stanley Clark Bagg mentioned that they visited his great-aunts Mrs. Dodd near Ryton and Mrs. Maughan in Sunderland, in northeastern County Durham.11

Some genealogists suggest Elizabeth died in Hexham, Northumberland in 1839, but in that case, the Baggs would not been able to visit her. The 1841 census counted a John Maughan, agricultural labourer, and Elizabeth Maughan, age 55, in Sunderland, along with 15-year-old Thomas Maughan, so this may have been the family.12 I do not know when Elizabeth died.

As for the youngest sister, Jane, she married master mariner David Mainland in 1812. About 10 years later, the family moved to London. Jane died in London in 1825 and their son David married his widowed cousin Mary Ann (Mitcheson) Eady in 1849. Jane’s family will be the subject of my next post.


According to genealogist Geoff Nicholson, Margaret and Thomas Dodd’s children were: Margaret (c.1810-1851) m. John Milburn; Isabella Ann (1815-1822), Mary (1817- ) m. Rob. Robson or Ritson; Anthony Humble (1818-1821) and Thomas Anthony Humble (1824-1899) m. Frances Jane Mitcheson.

Elizabeth and John Maughan’s daughter Mary (born 181712))moved to Montreal, Canada, where her Aunt Mary (MItcheson) Clark lived. Mary Maughan married merchant William Footner in Montreal in September, 1840,13 and she gave birth to one of her three children at Mile End Lodge, a large farmhouse that belonged to her aunt. The Footner family later moved to the United States and Mary died in Minnesota in 1901. (There was another William Footner, an architect, married to another Mary, in Montreal in the mid to late 1800s.)

See also:

This article has simultaneously been posted on

The Lucy H. Anglin Family Tree on Ancestry Public Member Trees. Numerous members of the Mitcheson family in Durham, including several generations of men named Robert Mitcheson, as well as their descendants in Philadelphia and Montreal, are listed on this tree.

Janice Hamilton, “Mary Mitcheson Clark”, Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2014,

Janice Hamilton, “Philadelphia and the Mitcheson Family,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 22, 2013,

Janice Hamilton, “Robert Mitcheson’s Last Will and Testament”, Writing Up the Ancestors, March 1, 2022,


1. Will of Joseph Mitcheson, yeoman, Iveston, Durham, The National Archives, Wills 1384-1858 (, search for Joseph Mitcheson, accessed Nov. 18, 2010), The National Archives, Kew – Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 9 February, 1822.

2. England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973, (, database on-line, entry for Margaret Mitcheson, accessed April 19, 2022), citing England, Marriages, 1538–1973. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

3 London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921, (, database on-line, entry for Thomas Anthony Humble Dodd, 1848, accessed April 19, 2022), citing Marriage Bonds and Allegations. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives.

4 E-mail correspondence from Geoff Nicholson about the Dodd family, June 13, 2009.

5 Durham County Record Office. Quarter Sessions – Land Tax Returns, Chester Ward West 1759-1830,, search for Dodd, viewed April 19, 2022.

6 The History, Directory and Gazetteer of Durham and Northumberland, Vol 2, by Wm. Parson and Wm. White, W. White and Company, 1828, p. 186, Google Books, search for Margaret Dodd, accessed April 19, 2022.

7 Find a Grave (, database online, search for Margaret Dodd, accessed April 19, 2022),

8. England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973 (, database on-line, entry for Elizabeth Mitcheson, Whickham, accessed April 10, 2022), citing England, Marriages, 1538–1973. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

9. England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,, database online, entry for John Maughan and spouse Elizabeth, Shotley; accessed April 10, 2022.

10. Letter from Stanley Clark Bagg to Rev. R. M. Mitcheson, Dec. 6, 1842, probably transcribed by Stanley Bagg Lindsay; Lindsay family collection.

11.1841 England Census, (, database on-line, entry for Elizabeth Maughan, Bishop Wearmouth, accessed April 10, 2022), citing Class: HO107; Piece: 310; Book: 4; Civil Parish: Bishop Wearmouth; County: Durham; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 13; Page: 21; Line: 1; GSU roll: 241353, original dataCensus Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841.

12 “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975”, database, FamilySearch ( : 20 March 2020), entry for Mary Maughan, accessed April 19, 2022).

13. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, (, database on-line, entry for Mary Maughan, accessed April 19, 2022), citing Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Drouin Collection; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp.

Notaries of Montreal 1760-1791

    The Notaries of Montreal 1760-1791

The following database consists of :

  • The Notaries who began their careers from 1760 to 1791
  • The Notaries who began their careers during the French regime of Nouvelle-France (New France) and were reappointed by the British governors and administrators after 1759.

Note that BAnQ keeps adding new online search engines which did not exist about two years back,  such as :

  • BAnQ Advitam-Numérique
  • BAnQ Archives

BAnQ Advitam-Numérique in regard to notaries and their dossiers is a regrouping of Notarial Acts which previously were only available within the 10 repositories of the Archives nationales du Québec across the province in the form of :

  • Microfilms
  • Original Minutiers (Notarial books)
  • Or as in-house digitized dossiers which could only be accessed within the 10 libraries of BAnQ across the province on dedicated computers

Click on the above link to open the link in a new window.

Walking in the Footsteps of Quebec City Ancestors

I felt like a time-traveller within ten minutes of arriving in Quebec City by train. The stairs up from the platform led into a resplendent bricked hall with caged windows that looked like something from Queen Victoria’s time. A domed sunlit ceiling of glass and stained glass made the space luxurious and opulent.

A conference presentation brought me to Quebec City, but I also wanted to use the trip to learn more about ten ancestors who once lived there. I wanted to to see if I could get a better sense of my ancestors’ lives by walking in their footsteps even though the city in which they once lived has changed enormously over the ages. If studying history helps us recognize patterns about our lives that are invisible in close context, perhaps I could use my five senses to imagine the lives of people who lived in this Canadian City in previous eras and use the insight gained to learn something needed now.

As far as I know, my ancestors had long left Quebec City by the time the train station opened, so beginning my trip in this building didn’t have any personal relevance, but it created a great mood enhancer for the trip. Canadian Pacific opened Union Station in 1916 near the once-famous Boswell Dow Brewery. After the Brewery closed in 1968, archaeological excavations on the site identified it as the one-time palace of the Intendent of the colony of New France, which is why the train station now has the name Gare du Palais.1 The title fits the elegant granite and limestone structure, which was designed by architect Harry Edward Pringle to match the style of the 1893 Chateau Frontenac. The newly renovated building made me enthusiastically embrace my heritage walkabout right away.

Where the River Narrows, 1500s

While on the train, I got an overview of the city with a quick look at it on Google map’s satellite view. The long range view hinted at many of the reasons for the historic strategic importance of Quebec City. The mighty Saint Lawrence River divides in two at Ile d’Orléon (Orlean Island). This is the reason for the Montagnais people’s name of Kebec “the place where the river narrows.” Ships and canoes could be quickly seen before they make landfall, with larger vessels having to unload and transfer to smaller vessels at this spot. A large cliff prevented people from attacking the site without being seen.

When Cartier arrived in Canada in the 1500s, this location housed the village of Stadacona. In July 1534, Cartier brought two people (Taignoagny and Domagaya) from the village back to France, returning them in 1535. In 1536, he kidnapped 10 people, including Donnacona, Taignoagny and Domagaya, all but one of whom died in France.

The village was abandoned and dense forest covered the territory by the time Samuel de Champlain brought 28 men there to build a fort and establish the second settlement in the colony of New France in 1608.

Author Adam Shoalts described the building of Champlain’s fort in his fabulous novel “A History of Canada in Ten Maps.”

The French rowed ashore beneath the towering cliff in their small ship. The soil looked promising, and the butternuts would make an excellent addition to their diet. Under Champlain’s direction, the colonists felled trees, planted gardens, dug cellars, and began work on a palisaded fortress. They erected three two-storey buildings complete with chimneys, interconnecting balconies, a watchtower, and cannons. Outside the palisade, Champlain had a moat dug for additional protection.2

By 1628, 103 colonists lived in Quebec City when Paris business leaders formed the Company of One Hundred Associates to turn New France into an important mercantile and farming colony.

Notre Dame de Québec, 1600s

A year later, despite Champlain’s military defences and Quebec’s strategic location, the Kirk Brothers captured Quebec City, returning it three years later. After that, Champlain rushed to add a chapel to add some spiritual defence to his city. It’s said that Champlain’s remains were buried below the chapel after he died of a heart attack in 1635, although they still haven’t been found.

I appreciated the summary of events provided by Pierre-Georges Roy in a 1925 book about Quebec’s churches.

“Quebec, taken by the English in 1629, was restored to France three years later. On his return in 1633, Champlain hastened to fulfil the vow which he had taken to erect a chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin, if he came back. In the autumn, the church of Notre Dame de Recouvrance was finished. It was partly situated on the present site of the Cathedral. On the 15th of June, 1640, it was destroyed by fire and with it disappeared the first and oldest original registers of the colony which had to be reconstructed from memory.

Until they could rebuild, services were held in the house of the Hundred Associates which Father Vimont somewhere pompously styled in 1645: ‘church of La Conception de la Bienheureuse Marie à Québec.3

By 1647, the Quebec community of only 355 people had its first stone church, Notre-Dame de la Paix, which became Notre-Dame de Québec in 1664 and a Cathedral in 1674. It’s had to be completely rebuilt twice since then, once after the English bombarded and burned it in 1759 and again after a fire destroyed it in 1922.4

I tried to get a good photo of today’s version, but the structure was too big and too many buildings blocked my long range view. I wanted the photo to include in a story about my ancestors Catherine Clarice and Jacques Lussier. The couple got married in Notre-Dame de Québec with nine other couples on October 12, 1671. The first parish priest of Quebec, Henri de Bernieres, officiated. Toussaint Dubeau, Louis Denis dit Lafontaine and Rene Dumas witnessed the wedding.

The marriage was a second one for the groom, whose previous wife Charlotte Lamarqe died earlier the same year sometime after the baptism of her daughter Marie in February.5

As I walked around the church looking for a decent shot, I imagined my ancestors’ wedding party coming out of the front doors and having rice tossed at them by guests. The roads around the building would have been dirt then, and most of the buildings now hemming the church in didn’t exist. Despite my struggles to get the imagery right, it was pretty cool imagining their special day late in the autumn.

Multiple Battles, 1700s

At the end of my first day in Quebec City, I found myself in the Quebec General Hospital Cemetery taking photos.

The remains of more than 1,000 French, British and First Nations soldiers who fought in the Seven Years War are located here. A plaque on site and a heritage web site explains the details.

During the fateful battles of the Plains of Abraham and Sainte-Foy in 1759 and 1760, French and British troops fought at Québec’s very doorstep. Since the general hospital was located far from the fighting, it was used to care for the injured from both sides. The Augustinians provided the same assistance to British soldiers as to the French. They also treated Canadian militia and First Nations warriors. However, without access to antiseptics, proper medical procedures, or sufficient staff, the injuries of many combatants proved fatal. The sisters buried the remains of Catholics in a common grave in the parish cemetery, and those of Protestants in another one just next to the cemetery. By 1760 when the fighting ended, 1,058 French, British, and First Nations fighters had been buried at Hôpital général. The Augustinians carefully recorded the name, place of birth, and age of every one of them in the parish register, if that information was known.6

The Seven Years War, a battle between England, France and Spain, lasted from 1756 until 1763, but England and France were fighting over Quebec City as early as 1690.

Walls to protect the city were built in the summer of 1690 after Port Royal fell to the British in May. They were in place by October, when the British arrived and the first Battle of Quebec began. In 1693, the French built the Cap Diamant Redoubt, a protective structure that could have prevented the loss of the City by the French during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September 1759. It helped the British protect against seiges by the French in 1760 and the Americans in 1775 and remains an integral part of the Québec Citadel that the British built as a temporary structure in 1789 and then replaced with stone in 1832.

My ancestors Louise Thérèse Lareau and Joseph Beleau dit Larose lived in Quebec City during both of these sieges, first with their parents and then as a newly married couple for the second one. I decided to walk in their footsteps along Cote St. Abraham Road, which travels along the Sainte-Geneviève hillside cliff and links the St. Charles valley with upper town. This is one of the few routes that didn’t include the many fortifications Quebec City has become known for. During their time, between 1774 and 1795, the street was known as Rue St. Georges. Like them, I walked along the edge of the Heights of Abraham, named after boat pilot Abraham Martin “the Scot” (1589-1664) who received 12 acres in what is now known as the Saint-Jean-Baptiste district from the Company of New France in 1635 and another 20 acres as a gift from Navy Surgeon le Sieur Adrien Du Chesne ten years later. It’s said that the road follows the original trail Martin used to bring his cows to drink in the St. Charles River.

While walking, I decided to set aside the modern wars the City faced, and instead consider geology. Quebec City is unusual in that allows you to investigate three diverse geological periods in one location: the Canadian Shield, the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Appalachian Mountains. Upper Town and the Plains of Abraham along with Lévis and Ile d’Orléans are part of the Quebec promontory, which glaciers moved north from the rest of the Appalachian Mountains, which can be seen in the south. Meanwhile, the cliff between Lower Town and Upper Town forms part of the Laurentian Mountains, which make up youngest part of the Great Canadian Shield. The cliff itself demonstrates Logan Fault, and gave me a chance to imagine the work of plate tectonics while overlooking the vast Saint Lawrence Lowlands, once covered entirely by the glacial Champlain Sea.

Then I walked up the stairs to get to the earliest suburb outside the City Walls.

The first Fauberg of Quebec: St. Roche Parish 1829

Looking at my notes, I noticed that three of my ancestors lived in the St. Roche Parish. Programming the map finder on my phone to include stop-offs along the walking route, I set off. It took about 15 minutes to walk along Saint Vallier Street. I began looking for number 28, the place where Joseph Belleau and Marie-Anne Ratté lived in 1832.

As I walked, I tried to imagine the internationally-prominent city J Brouchette described that very year.

Québec is also the most important seaport of British America, excepting probably Halifax. Its harbour, situated upwards of 400 miles from the sea in the gulf, is perfectly safe and calculated to receive the largest fleet.7

Today, we call the district through which I walked Saint Roch after the first village set up beyond the walled city of Quebec City in 1829. Tucked between the cliff to Upper Town and the Saint-Charles River, Saint Roch Village housed many working class people, many of whom kept 20 different shipyards active. As a baker8, Joseph probably got lots of work feeding labourers drawn to the area.

I got more hints about how my ancestors might have lived from a wonderful essay by W. H. Parker about life in Quebec in the 1830’s. One paragraph describes Saint Roche.

A third part of the town, distinct from the basse-ville and haute-ville, was the suburb of St. Roch, which had developed between the river St. Charles and the northern side of the Québec platform. It was an industrial district and growing rapidly,9 with accommodation “suited only to the lower ranks”.10

Eventually, I found two lots where Joseph and Marie-Anne may have lived; one to the east of Charest Boulevard Ouest; the other to the west.

The eastern lot sat right across from my lodgings. Today, the space is just an empty lot, but in my head, it contained a tiny house, a bakery and tons of people. For the next two days, I was giddy wondering how this couple with eight children survived. Marie-Anne and Joseph were among 30,000 people who lived in Quebec City in the mid-1800s. Keeping everyone fed, clothed and clean must have been a challenge. How did they feel as they walked up this same street for the first time? What was the weather like? What did they wear? What were their dreams? Confirmation, church register and marriage records display their Catholic heritage, but beyond that, little remains demonstrating their lifestyles.

A wonderful book called “La Vie Quotidienne au Québec” inspired my imagination. The photos reminded me how difficult basic survival was for my ancestors. Their tools took up more space than ours do today, and were difficult to operate. One chapter showed photos of people constructing an oven to bake bread out of sticks, rocks and rope and then covering it with flat boards built to create a peaked roof.11 Did my ancestor bake his bread using such a structure? How big would it have been? Where would he build it? How would he gather the wood needed to make it continually operational in a busy city far from the forest?

Going back to W. H. Parkers’ essay, I learned about the horrible sanitation and garbage issues my ancestors faced, particularly in the spring.

After the melting of the snow in April and May, several streets in the flat suburb of St. Roch are no better than slough; and very offensive sloughs too, from the accumulation of filth that was hidden by the snow in winter. Such places, when acted on by the summer’s sun, must give out very noxious effluvia.12

Luckily, sanitation issues have been long corrected, but they must have made life pretty difficult in their time.

My imagination really got going after reading Parker’s description of the daily food market in Saint Roche in the 1830s.

The crowds of carters, with their wives and families, bringing in the productions of the surrounding country, their brawlings and vociférations in bad French and broken English, from a scène of noise and confusion, amid which appear a few Indian squaws, and the gentlemen of the city and garrison going round to make purchase. Every kind of provision is abundant and cheap, except fish.13

I couldn’t help wondering if Marie-Anne, Joseph or their daughter Judith/Julie brought his bread to sell at the market, something I can well imagine since I run farmers markets today. Certainly their tasks were significantly more time-consuming and difficult than my modern ones are. Still, it’s a link across the ages, and it came from just thinking about an empty lot.

2Shoaltz, Adam. A History of Canada in Ten Maps, Penguin Canada, Toronto, 2017, p 82.

3Roy, Pierre-Georges, The old churches of the province of Quebec […], Québec, King’s Printer, 1925, 1 Ressource en ligne (viii, 323 p.) : ill., Collections de BAnQ.

4, accessed 2022-04-24.

5Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1997 – Drouin IGD

6Ville de Québec – The Hôpital-Général de Québec Cemetery.” Accessed May 11, 2022.

7BOUCHETTE, J., A topographical dictionary of the province of Lower Canada (London, 1832), under Quebec as quoted by W. H. Parker, “Québec City in the 1830’s.” Cahiers de Géographie Du Québec 3, no. 6 (1959): 261.

8Archives de la paroisse de Notre-Dame-de-Québec, CM1/F1, 3, vol. 4, p. 36. Visite générale de la paroisse de Québec commencée le 1er octobre 1805, p 36.

9Bouchette, J. The British Dominions in North America (London, 1831), i, p259.

10Willis, Canadian scenery, London, c. 1840, as quoted by W. H. Parker, “Québec City in the 1830’s.” Cahiers de Géographie Du Québec 3, no. 6 (1959): 267.

11Séguin, R. L., R. Bouchard, and Société québécoise des ethnologues. La Vie Quotidienne Au Québec: Histoire, Métiers, Techniques et Traditions : Mélanges à La Mémoire de Robert-Lionel Séguin. Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1983., p355

12Kelly, W., Médical statistics of Lower Canada, 1837, in Transactions of the literary and Historical Society of Québec (Québec, 1837), iii, pp. 210-211.

13Willis, Op Cit, p 11.

Stories about some of my Quebec City ancestors

Notaries of Nouvelle-France


An example of a notarial record from the late 1600’s in New France

The following link from BanQ is included as background information about notarial records.

The French Regime

The first clerk of New France, Jean Nicolas, was appointed by Samuel de Champlain in 1621. Since France would not send notaries to the colony, men who knew how to write and had an ”honourable” reputation were allowed to practice the profession . Only from 1647 onwards were colonial authorities, then referred to as the Council of New France (a body consisting of the Governor General, the Jesuit superior, and the Governor of Montreal), mandated by the King to appoint a secretary that could act as notary. Guillaume Audouart, also known as St-Germain, hence became the recipient of the first official commission granting the title of notary. It would take the establishment of royal justice in New France and the creation of the Conseil Souverain (Conseil supérieur de Québec) in 1663 for the notarial profession to be officially recognized. One of the main assignments of the Council was to appoint the bailiffs, clerks and notaries. And so it was that in 1663, the first royal notary of New France, Jean Gloria, was appointed in Quebec City.

 Characteristics of notarial records

A notarial record is a deed written by a public officer recognized by the State and commissioned to that effect within his territorial jurisdiction. Notarial archives are the most searched genealogy and family history source in Québec, after registers of civil status and censuses, because of:

  • the quality and accuracy of the information they contain;
  • the breadth of their content which relates to all aspects of life in society;
  • their nearly complete nature, since almost all registries have been preserved and relatively few records have been lost (e.g. several notarial records from the Outaouais region were destroyed in the Great Hull Fire of 1900);
  • their standardized content in accordance with templates drawn from manuals such as Le parfait notaire by Ferrière;
  • the fact that most records preserved by BAnQ have been microfilmed and digitized allowing for greater accessibility; only non-probated wills written after 1920 cannot be viewed;
  • the Parchemin database (developed by the Société Archiv-Histo) for the pre-1799 period;
  • the reassuring nature of the source for the reason that notaries bestow authenticity to the records they execute (regarding the date, content, signature, and so on).

For genealogists, notarial records can offset the loss or destruction of registers of civil status. In some cases, notarial records are the only documents that can confirm the kinship of an individual.

Notarial archives are very useful for non-genealogical research, including:

  • to present a property title or to defend a right;
  • for any research related to history, especially for any research related to local, regional, and family history.

The database below consists of the practices of the notaries of New France.

Click on the above link to open in a new window.

The Goddesses of Expo67

My mother-in-law’s Expo passport. My husband’s family didn’t go to Expo often; there was a summer marriage.

I remember 1967 as the best of year of my childhood. In the US, 1967 was the Summer of Love (flower-in-your-hair hippies) and of war (Vietnam draft dodgers) and of civil unrest (inner city riots) but in Canada it was our Centennial Year, the 100th anniversary of Confederation. For children across the nation it was an especially giddy year: teachers from coast-to-coast were teaching their charges how to sing Bobby Gimby’s exuberant CA-NA-DA song, “one little, two little, three Canadians. We love you. Now we are twenty million.”

For Montrealers like me, it was the summer of Expo67, our fabulous world’s fair, situated just a short bus and metro ride away on two man-made islands in the Saint Lawrence River.

I visited Expo 50 times, if memory serves. I sometimes went by myself and I was only 12 years old!

I could go whenever I pleased because I was in possession of a shiny red passport that cost a whole 17 dollars. With his passport you could go from pavilion to pavilion and get it stamped, just like travelling the world.

I no longer have the passport, but it was not lost. My passport was given away by my mother to a beautiful young African woman – and this is how it came about.

Mentewab (probably) at the coffee bar from a Youtube Video
(See notes 1)

A friend of my mother’s had gone through official channels offering to chaperone Expo hostesses from foreign countries. Two Ethiopian hostesses, Hanim and Mentewab, were suggested to her. My mother got into the act and the two girls soon regularly visited our Snowdon home.

Hanim was shy and wore a caftan and hijab. Mentewab was ‘wild’ and wore a halter top, micro-miniskirt and white go-go boots when not in her official costume.

I do not recall having any specific conversations with these young ladies, but I can still see in my mind’s eye their pretty faces as they sat so graceful and ‘grown-up’ on our brown corduroy living room couch, Mentewab so animated, Hanim so quiet.

These women seemed to exotic to me: the reporter in the Gazette had called them ‘goddesses’ after all.

Hostesses from Montreal Star Insert. The media focused a great deal on the attractive and accomplished hostesses of Expo, from Canada and beyond.

I doubt that they were as impressed with us and our dingy upper duplex apartment. These girls must have been from the elite classes to have been chosen to host at Expo.

As it happens, on May 2, I caught a glimpse of their leader, Haille Selassie, as he passed through the Expo crowd to polite applause, a small, very proud-looking man followed by a tiny little dog, Lulu the Chihuahua, whose short legs were working very hard to keep up with her master. My mother, who admired powerful men, was very excited. “The Lion of Judah” she sang out as he passed.

On cold rainy days at Expo I spent a great deal of time in the coffee bar at the Ethiopian Pavilion, a shiny red tent with lion cubs on guard, probably pestering Hanim and Mentewab big time.

And then, in mid-October, Expo was over. I guess the women visited us one more time because that is when my mother gave MY Expo passport away to one of the girls. Upon learning that Mentewab or Hanim didn’t have a passport of her own, she merely grabbed mine and said, “Take this one.” (At least, that is how I remember it.)

Sometimes I wonder if Mentewab and Hanim are still alive (why wouldn’t they be, they were hardly older than me) and whether one of them, living in Addis Ababa or Paris or New York City, occasionally opens a drawer crammed with Expo67 memorabilia and shows to her many grandchildren a shiny red passport belonging to a pimply, brown-haired Canadian girl called Dorothy Nixon – and wonders, in turn, where I am today. I’d like to think so.

A World of Education. No kidding. The copy here acknowledges that Canada is multi-cultural the visuals not so much.
Ethiopian Stamp that was really a stamp.
My husband may not have visited Expo much, but he did keep the newspapers from the opening.
  1. A video about the Ethiopian Pavilion with images of Hanim and Mentewab (I assume) is here.

Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

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