Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Seigneuries in the Western Laurentians near the Ottawa River

Introduction

The PDF link at the end of this introduction is attached to a compilation that describes the seigneuries and townships in the Western Laurentians region, along the banks of the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa.

The compilation describes the counties that existed in the region in 1791: Effingham, Leinster, Ottawa and York. The seigneuries are described in chronological order, from the Seigneurie de la Petite Nation, created in 1674, to the Seigneurie Papineau, granted in 1817. It includes a list of the major seigneurs (landowners) in the region and links to some information about each of these individuals and their properties.

The townships and some of their best known residents are described in chronological sequence, including St. Andrews Township, formed in 1800, Grenville Township, Gore Township established in 1825 by Scottish and Irish settlers, and Lochaber Township, established in 1855. It also describes the city of Lachute, founded in 1796.

The compilation includes links to lists of local cemeteries.

There is also a list of notaries who lived in the region, including the years and places they practiced, and the branch of the Quebec archives (BAnQ) where their records are kept. The legal documents they created can be very helpful to family historians looking for land transfers, business agreements, apprenticeships, wills, inventories, marriage contracts and other records. The records of some notaries mentioned here are kept in Montreal, but others are available in Gatineau, near Ottawa. I have included the locations and contact information for these archives.

Some of these notarial records, or the indexes to them, have been digitized and are online through the BAnQ online, Ancestry.com (two different databases of notarial records), FamilySearch.org or Genealogy Quebec (Drouin Institute Online).

Seigneuries and Townships

Seigneuries were created by the kings of France, based on a land ownership model that was used in France prior to the creation of New France in 1604. Seigneuries were also created in Québec after 1759 under British rule. In 1854, the seigneurial system was abolished.

For example, after Quebec became a British colony, Governor James Murray was granted the seigneury of Argenteuil in Argenteuil County. It had been granted in 1680, under French rule, to Charles-Joseph d’Ailleboust des Musseaux, an officer of a French regiment stationed in New France. In 1697, d’Ailleboust des Musseaux granted the concession of the Seigneurie d’Argenteuil to his son. Neither the father and nor the son resided there. After 1700, surveyors mapped out the region along the banks of the Outaouais, or Ottawa River.

Because the Argenteuil seigneury had not been settled or seen economic development under its previous owners, the British colonial government granted ownership of it to James Murray. Under British rule, a seigneur appointed by the British authorities was expected to reside on his seigneury for at least a few months every year, and to take an active part in its management, with the legal help of a notary. A large number of notaries began their careers this way.

In contrast, land grants were usually offered in remote rural areas in which the seigneurial system had not been implemented. They were granted by both administrators of New France, and in Quebec prior to Confederation. In the majority of cases, rural land grants were recorded by the local notary. Land grants still exist today in far-flung regions of Quebec within the mining and lumber industries.

Cantons, or townships, were mainly instituted by the British in regions that had not previously been occupied by seigneuries. The Eastern Townships, Argenteuil, Gatineau, Hull and Pontiac counties were some of the regions in which the early settlers embraced the concept of townships.

Seigneuries along the Ottawa River

 

 

 

 

Genealogy, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Notaries of Lower Canada 1760-1848

If your ancestors lived in Quebec in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, you can discover a great deal about them from the records of their land transactions, wills, marriage contracts, apprenticeships and other documents that were prepared by notaries.

The key to researching these documents is to find the notary your ancestor hired — not an easy task since so many notaries practiced in Quebec over these three centuries. But if your ancestor’s first language was English or a language other than French, the search might be easier. Many notaries practiced in French only.

The PDF link at the bottom of this introduction will take you to a relatively short list of notaries who practiced between 1760 and 1848, roughly the period when Quebec was known as Lower Canada and was under British rule. These notaries prepared documents for residents who were of British, Scottish, Irish and American origin (both Loyalists and non-Loyalists), as well as people with Germanic, Dutch or Scandinavian roots. In addition, they served Huguenots who had lived in England before coming to Canada.

Notarial records are stored in the archives of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and you can find them either online or on microfilm at the various branches of the archives.

The BAnQ has 10 repositories across the province, the largest being in Montreal and Quebec City. The others locations are in Sherbrooke, Trois Rivières and other smaller cities. The larger a BAnQ repository is, the smaller the online content of notarial acts because members of the public can more easily visit the big city archives in person. That means that, if your ancestor used the services of a notary in Gaspé, for example, his records are more likely to be online than if the notary was based in Quebec City.

At least 70% of the documents written and recorded by notaries in Quebec are available online. The main online repositories are:

http://www.banq.qc.ca/accueil/index.html?language_id=1  BAnQ online

Ancestry.com – Drouin Collection of notarial acts

Ancestry.com – BAnQ Collection of notarial acts

FamilySearch.org – BAnQ Collection of notarial acts (different years than the BAnQ online database of notarial acts)

http://www.genealogiequebec.com/en – Quebec Genealogy (Drouin Institute online)

There is a list of notaries on the BAnQ website at http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/index.html?a=v_z

You can search for a notary by place and browse his indexes by year. Starting with these indexes might be a good strategy, especially if the notary did not have a very busy practice, or if you know approximately what year your ancestor married, died or made a business agreement.

The URL http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/fichiers/portail/html/liste.html takes you to another list. If a notary on this list has an asterisk, clicking on the name will allow you to view his documents on the BAnQ website.

PDF:  Notaries of Quebec and Lower Canada 1760-1848

Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Seigneuries in the Quebec City Region

This research guide explores the seigneuries of New France from about 1626 to 1759 in the Quebec City region, including Lévis, Lauzon, Côte-de-Beaupré, Île-d’Orléans, Charlesbourg, Portneuf, Sainte-Foy, Sillery and other locations within a 50-mile radius of the city.

The PDF below links to a variety of resources describing historical individuals and seigneurs (landlords) in the area, the histories of the seigneuries themselves and a list of the Catholic churches and cemeteries in the towns.

The compilation includes the names of the notaries who worked in this region. Notaries prepared land transfers, leases, business agreements and protests following disagreements, apprenticeships, marriage contracts, wills and even travel arrangements. These documents are kept in the provincial archives and can be read on microfilm. At the end of the compilation you will find contact information for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City and the Société de généalogie de Québec.

If your ancestors were living in rural Quebec before 1854, chances are they lived on a seigneury. The seigneur granted the land to tenants, who were usually called habitants or censitaires. The seigneurs and the habitants owed certain obligations to each other. The system, based on a feudal one, dates back to the mid-1600s when the government of France was trying to ensure its colony of New France would be settled in a systematic manner.

Seigneurs were usually people of noble backgrounds, military leaders or civil administrators, or they were religious institutions. The seigneurial system was abolished in 1854 and the tenants were allowed to acquire the land they farmed.

The seigneuries had a lasting impact on Quebec society and geography and the names of many seigneuries and seigneurs live on in the names of towns and streets, while the agricultural fields along the shores of the St. Lawrence River are still divided into the long, narrow strips that were created for the habitants.

Many of the links in this compilation are in French. If you can’t understand them, copy and paste the text into a translation app such as Google Translate. In some cases, you may have to search (rechercher) further. Que cherchez vous? means, what are you looking for? So put in the name of the seigneurie or the arrondissement (borough).

Seigneuries of Quebec City and Region

 

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Social history

Seigneuries of the Montreal Region

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 PDF below 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.

The compilation also includes a list of the notaries who handled land transactions, wills and other legal agreements in the Montreal region up to the end of the 18th century. These notarial records are kept in the archives of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Montreal. Finally, there is a list of further resources at the end of the compilation.

Seigneuries Region of Montréal

french-canadian, Genealogy, Manitoba, New France, Quebec, United States

Chasing the Voyageurs, part 2

The fur trade was a key part of Canada’s history and hundreds of people were involved in it from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. One way to research an ancestor who was a fur trader is to find the contracts he signed, contracts thwere generally prepared by notaries in Montreal, Quebec or Trois-Rivières.

The notaries who handled fur trade contracts in the 18th and 19th centuries were:

Louis Chaboillez – Montréal 1787-1813 – 9,346 bibliographical records

John Gerbrand Beek – Montréal 1781-1822 – 5,277 records

Jonathan Abraham Gray – Montréal 1796-1812 – 3,258 records

Jean-Baptiste Adhémar– Montréal 1714-1754 – 3,151 records

Louis-Claude Danré de Branzy – Montréal 1738-1760 – 2,784 records

François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778 – 2,139 records

Joseph Desautels – Montréal 1810-1820 – 1,638 records

Antoine Foucher – Montréal – 1746-1800 – 1,056 records

Henry Griffin – Montréal 1812-1847 – 952 records

Pierre Panet de Méru – Montréal 1755-1778 – 824 records

François Leguay – Montréal 1770-1789 – 814 records

Nicolas Benjamin Doucet – Montréal 1804-1855 – 609 records

Henry Crebassa – Sorel 1795-1843 – 555 records

Joseph Cadet – Québec 1784-1800 – 276 records

Charles Claude Pratte – Trois-Rivières 1801-1817 – 236 records

Louis-Joseph Soupras – Montréal – 1762-1792 & 1809-1832 – 150 records

Pierre Ritchot – Montréal 1821-1831- 117 records

Joseph Gabrion – Montréal 1780-1804 – 54 records

Jean-Baptiste Desève – Montréal 1785-1805 – 15 records

One of the busiest of these notaries was Louis Chaboillez, who practiced in Montreal. Summaries of the more than 9000 fur trade contracts he handled can be found online on the website of the Societe historique de Saint-Boniface (SHSB) at http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/fr/list?q=Louis+Chaboillez&p=1&ps=20

The SHSB in Winnipeg has a special interest in the history of the fur trade and the people who were involved. You can learn more about the SHSB heritage center at http://shsb.mb.ca/en/about_us. This society can also help with genealogy research, especially if you have Metis ancestry. See http://shsb.mb.ca/en/Collections_and_Research.

Diane Wolford Sheppard of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan has done extensive research on the fur trade during the French Regime, especially in the Detroit region of Michigan, the Mississipi River in Illinois and the Green Bay region of Wisconsin. This includes Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinac Island & Mackinak County, Michigan) 1683-1754; Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit – Fort Détroit (Detroit, Michigan) 1701-1760; Fort de Chartres (Mississipi River in Illinois) 1718-1731; Bay of Sauks (Ouisconsin) — Fort Winnebago; (Green Bay, Wisconsin) 1640s-1763.

The notaries in New France who handled fur trade contracts for destinations in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin were:

Antoine Adhémar – Montréal 1668-1714 – Trois-Rivières 1668-1714

Claude Mauque – Québec 1674-1682 – Montréal 1677-1696

Hilaire Bourgine – Montréal 1685-1690

Pierre Raimbault – Montréal 1697-1727

Michel Lepailleur de Laferté – Québec 1700-1715 & Montréal 1701-1732

Jean-Baptiste Adhémar – Montréal 1714-1754

Henri Hiché – Québec – 1725-1736

François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778

http://www.habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/the_fur_trade This article on the website of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan links to a variety of resources about the fur trade in the 17th century.

http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Women_and_Their_World_-_for_website.275153906.pdf This article by Diane Wolford Sheppard lists some women who were involved in the fur trade or liquor trade in the 17th century.

http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Outdoor_Activities.27051652.pdf This article mentions the names of some of the men who were present in Detroit around 1715.

If you had an ancestor who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, take a look at this article from the Alberta Family History Society on researching family history at the archives of the HBC: http://afhs.ab.ca/aids/talks/notes_mar98.html. The Hudson’s Bay Company records are at the Manitoba Archives, https://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/.

Library and Archives Canada has many records of people who worked in the fur trade; for example, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/genealogy/topics/employment/Pages/fur-trade.aspx

The McCord Museum in Montreal has records of the North West Company, one of the major players in the later years of the fur trade. Some of its photos and documents have been digitized; see http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/scripts/search_results.php?keywords=North+West+Company&Lang=1

Notarial records including fur trade contracts from prior to 1800 can be found on the Parchemin database; see https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is slowly digitizing its collection of notarial documents, but most can be consulted on microfilm at the archives in Montreal and other branches across Quebec.

The Société de généalogie de Longueuil (http://www.sglongueuil.org/), just south of Montreal, also has an extensive collection of notarial records on microfilm; see http://www.sglongueuil.org/cadres/texte/greffes.html.

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, Manitoba, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Chasing the Voyageurs, part 1

Have you heard a family story about an ancestor who was a voyageur or coureur des bois? These were the men who canoed across the interior of North America to trade with the indigenous people for beaver pelts and other furs and bring the pelts back to Montreal.

The fur trade thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries and the early years of the 19th century. Setting out from Montreal, the voyageurs’ destinations included what is now western Canada, Ontario, Michigan and Illinois. Some had wives and children in Quebec and some fell in love with aboriginal women and were the ancestors of Canada’s Métis people.

Before they set out on their travels, the voyageurs signed contracts with fur trading companies or their agents. These contracts specified where they were to go and for how long, and how much they were to be paid. Notaries, most of whom resided in Montreal, Lachine or Ste-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Ile (now known as Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue), prepared the contracts and kept them on file. As a result, more than 34,500 of these contracts have survived.

The notarial records themselves are stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) along with all the other contracts, wills, leases and other documents these notaries prepared.

In addition, the information in many of the voyageurs’ contracts is available online, thanks to La Société historique de Saint-Boniface (http://shsb.mb.ca/en). St. Boniface is a traditionally French part of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and its Centre du patrimoine (heritage center) specializes in the history of the francophone community of Manitoba, and in the heritage and genealogy of the Métis people.

http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/en/list?q=Notaires+de+Montr%C3%A9al&p=1&ps=20 This link takes you to the database of contracts. You can search in English, but the data is mostly in French. There are various ways to search the database, but if you know your ancestor’s name, you can put that into the search box. There is a small box for each result, and clicking on “more detail” opens it up. Included in the details is the date the contract was signed. For example, 18090503 indicates May 3 1809. You can use Google translate or a similar online translator if you need help understanding the text.

http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Fur_Trade_Contracts_during_the_French_Regime.29095438.pdf This article by Diane Wolford Sheppard of Michigan is a collection of representative contracts drafted during the French Regime, including engagé (hiring) contracts, partnerships, partnership settlements, obligations and invoices for fur trade purchases. They have been translated into English.

http://www.habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/the_fur_trade For more in-depth background, images and documents about the fur trade in the Great Lakes region, see this page posted by the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan.

See also http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/voyageur/

Genealogy, Quebec

Finding Quebec’s Early Notarial Records

Many people living across North America today had ancestors in the colony of New France or in the British colony of Quebec prior to 1800. The legal documentation of their business transactions, property transfers, wills and marriage contracts were prepared by notaries.

Notarial acts written after 1800, plus a few from the late 18th century, are available on microfilm at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and are in the process of being digitized. You can search the BAnQ website (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaries/), while a growing number of notarial documents can be viewed on familysearch.org (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Quebec_Notarial_Records) and on Ancestry.ca (http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=61062&geo_a=r&o_iid=41015&o_lid41015&_sch=Web+Property).

But most acts of notaries prior to 1800 are only available through a database called Parchemin, and you will have to visit a branch of the BAnQ or go to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa to consult this database.

Parchemin is a collection of hundreds of thousands of records prepared by the notaries of early Quebec, from the first French settlement of North America until December 31, 1799. During this two-century period, more than 275 notaries practised in New France and in Quebec following the British conquest. The collection of original documents takes up hundreds of meters of shelf space, and is mainly preserved at the BAnQ.

The Parchemin database was built with software designed specifically for notarial documents. It displays like a computer directory, providing access to personal data, as well as to other information regarding the nature of the transaction.

The Parchemin database was developed by Archiv-Histo with the financial support of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, and other government programs.

You can search the Parchemin database at the LAC archives in Ottawa, Ontario, and at various BAnQ locations across Quebec (see list below). Parchemin is also available at some municipal and university libraries in Quebec which are not listed here because they are accessible to residents and students only.

Future posts will identify many of these early notaries and describe the work they did.

https://archiv-histo.com/assets/publications/2015-Notaires-liste-Chrono-Tablo.pdf

Where to access Parchemin by Archiv-Histo

Ontario

  • Bibliothèque et Archives Canada – Library Archives Canada

395, Wellington Street. Ottawa (Ontario) K1A ON4 – email:
BAC.CCG-CGC.LAC@canada.ca

Québec

Gaspé

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

80, boulevard de Gaspé, Gaspé (Québec) G4X 1A9
1-800-363-9028 poste 6573 – emaill : archives.gaspe@banq.qc.ca

Gatineau

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

855, boulevard de la Gappe, Gatineau (Québec) J8T 8H9
(819) 568-8798 – email : archives.gatineau@banq.qc.ca

Montréal

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

Édifice Gilles-Hocquart
535, avenue Viger, Est, Montréal (Qc) H2L 2P3
(514) 873-1100 – email : archives.montreal@banq.qc.ca

  • Société généalogique canadienne-française

3440, Davidson, Montréal (Qc), H1W 2Z5
(514) 527-1010 – email : info@sgcf.com

Québec

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec – Pavillon Louis-Jacques-Casault – Campus de l’Université Laval – 1055, avenue du Séminaire, Québec (Québec) G1V 4N1
    (418) 643-8904 – email : archives.quebec@banq.qc.ca

Rimouski

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

337, rue Moreault, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1P4
(418) 727-3500 – email : archives.rimouski@banq.qc.ca

  • Société de généalogie et d’archives de Rimouski

110, rue de l’Évêché est, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1X9
(418) 724-3242 – sghr.ca/fr/contact

Rouyn-Noranda

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

27, rue du Terminus Ouest, Rouyn-Noranda (Québec) J9X 2P3
(819) 763-3484 – email : archives.rouyn@banq.qc.ca

Saguenay :

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

930, rue Jacques-Cartier Est, bureau C-103, Saguenay (Québec) G7H 7K9 – (418) 698-3516 – email. archives.saguenay@banq.qc.ca

Saint-Hyacinthe :

  • Le Centre d’histoire de St-Hyacinthe

650, rue Girouard Est, St-Hyacinthe (Québec) J2S 2Y2
(450) 774-0203 – infos@chsth.com

Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

  • Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Salaberry

16, rue Saint-Lambert, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (Québec)  J6T 1S6
(450) 763-2398 – email : shgs2011@hotmail.fr

Sept-Îles

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

700, boulevard Laure, bureau 190, Sept-Îles (Québec) G4R 1Y1
(418) 964-8434 – email : archives.sept-iles@banq.qc.ca

Sherbrooke

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

225, rue Frontenac, bureau 401, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 1K1
(819) 820-3010 – email : archives.sherbrooke@banq.qc.ca

  • Société généalogique des Cantons de l’Est

275, rue Dufferin, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 4M5
(819) 821-5414 – email: sgce@abacom.com

Trois-Rivières

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

225, rue des Forges, bureau 208, Trois-Rivières (Québec) G9A 2G7
(819) 371-6015 – email : archives.trois-rivieres@banq.qc.ca