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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

 

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

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