Quebec Land and Property

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Seigneurial System[edit | edit source]

In the province of Quebec, land distribution was originally based on the seigneurial system, established in 1627 and used until 1854.

Seigneuries were granted by the King to members of the "bourgeoisie," members of important families or former military officers. As proprietor of a seigneurie, the "seigneur" had privileges and obligations towards the King or his representative. The "seigneur" granted parcels of land (concessions) on his seigneury to tenants called "censitaires."

The granting of land by the "seigneur" produced a notarial act. This contract gives:

  • the names of the parties;
  • the dimension and locality of the land; and
  • the various obligations of the "censitaire."

A list of all of the seigneuries of New France, with the dates of their foundation is found on Wikipedia. There is a map of the seigneuries of Quebec, made by A. E. B. Courchesne in 1923. Most seigneuries had a frontage of several miles along the Saint Lawrence river and estuary (Le fleuve Saint Laurent), or along a major river, although some seigneuries surrounded large lakes.

The French king's grants to original seigneurs are in:

  • Québec (Province).Législature. Assemblée legislative. Land Grants of Seigneuries 1674–1760 Quebec: Appendice du Onzième Volume des Journaux de L'assemblée Legislative de la Province du Canada, Appendice (H.H.H.H.). Québec, Canada: Secretary's Office, 1853. Family History Library. Text in English.

A map with the names of the original seigneurs, their successors in 1791, and the boundaries of the original seigneuries is in:

  • Matthews, Geoffrey J. Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume 1, From the Beginning to 1800, Editor R. Cole Harris. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1987.Family History Library.) The map is plate 51. WorldCat

Detailed maps and land descriptions of the seigneuries along the Saint Lawrence River are in:

  • Trudel, Marcel. Le Terrier du Saint-Laurent en 1663 (Lands Occupied in the St. Lawrence Valley in 1663). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Les Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa, 1973. Family History Library.) WorldCat Text in French.

Types of Seigneurial Records[edit | edit source]

Seigneurial records include:

  • Land grants generally give the name of the colonist, the maiden name of his wife or widow, the name of the seigneury and its boundaries, the names of immediate neighbors, and the obligations the colonist accepted or the price paid.
  • Fealty and homage records are registers of the pledges a seigneur made to the king when he received land. These records may show how an individual was entitled to receive the land, either by a grant or by inheritance, and may provide names of relatives of the seigneur.
  • Aveux (oaths of allegiance)
  • Dénombrements (censuses)

Some land grant and fealty and homage records are summarized in:

  • Roy, Pierre Georges. Inventaire des concessions en fief et seigneurie, foi et hommages et dénombrements conservés aux Archives de la province de Québec (Inventory of Seigneurial Records at the Archives of the Province of Québec). Six Volumes. Beauceville, Québec, Canada: L'Éclaireur, 1927–1929. Family History Library; on 24 fiches numbered 6046791.) WorldCat Text in French. Includes index.

Aveux and dénombrements for the Saint Lawrence River Valley are transcribed in:

  • Mathieu, Jacques, and Alain Laberge. L'Occupation des terres dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent: aveux et dénombrements, 1723–1745 (Occupation of the St. Lawrence River Valley: Oaths of Allegiance and Censuses, 1723–1745). Sillery, Québec, Canada: Éditions du Septentrion, 1991. (Family History Library book 971.4 R2m.) Text in French.
Describes each seigneury, lists its farms, and gives the names of the habitants. Has information on approximately 7,400 farms (more than 98 percent of the seigneury farms in Québec during the French régime). Includes indexes of the names of the seigneurs and habitants.

Notarial Records[edit | edit source]

  • Notaries (notaires) have registered all types of contracts since 1626.
  • These deeds, wills, marriage contracts and other records were recorded and the originals given to the parties involved with the notary keeping a copy known as “minutes.”
  • The information included in the minutes gives at least:
  • the name of the notary,
  • the date and place the document was prepared,
  • the names and addresses of the persons involved, and
  • the names and addresses of the witnesses.
  • ages and relationships of the witnesses and the persons involved are sometimes included.
  • These records are not normally indexed by the names of the persons involved in the contract; instead they are collected by the name of the notary. *These notarial records are sent to the protonotaire of the local judicial district when the notary involved no longer is employed as a notary.
  • Notarial records before 1900 have been deposited in the branches of the Archives Nationales du Québec (see contact information at end of this module).
  • An important early notary was Léon Lalanne. He was a notary for the entire Eastern Townships area between 1799 and 1815. This included the Bedford Judicial District and the St. Francis Judicial District. The counties in the Bedford district are Brome, Missisquoi and Shefford. The counties in the St. Francis district are Compton, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Stanstead and Wolfe.
  • Notarial records after 1900 are only available to the person involved or the person’s legal representative who may request copies from the judicial district office that has the records. Addresses of the judicial offices are given in Marthe Faribault-Beauregard’s La Généalogie: Retrouver ses ancêtres. Current addresses of the district offices are listed in annual editions of the Canadian Almanac and Directory.

Index[edit | edit source]

Since 1997 the Chambres des notaires has collaborated with the Archiv-Histo Society to produce the Parchemin Project (Banque Parchemin), an index to the files (greffes) of deceased Quebec notaries. The database is searchable online (in French) or by a set of CD-ROMs held by major research repositories. You can search the database by key word (mot-clé) such as your ancestor’s surname, or by the name of a local notary. There is also a map-related feature for determining the name of a notary who worked in your ancestor’s locale. The database includes other types of papers prepared by notaries, besides land-related documents. Presently the period of the documents in the database is 1635 to 1800, but the Society’s own data bank holds millions more, and they will assist you:
Société de recherche historique Archiv-Histo
2320, rue des Carrière
Montréal, Québec H2G 3G9
Telephone: 514-763-6347

Township System, 1763--[edit | edit source]

Starting in 1763, new lands were granted according to the township system. Quebec was divided into counties that were divided into townships or "municipalités de paroisses." The British North America Act of 1867 established Crown lands as a provincial responsibility.

Crown Land Records[edit | edit source]

After 1763, areas in the Eastern Townships and counties on the Ottawa River were surveyed for settlement by the British and by Loyalist Americans. This included counties such as Argenteuil and Gatineau. The areas were divided into townships (cantons). In contrast to the French river-lot system, the English usually divided the land of each township into sections called ranges or "concessions." The concessions were then divided into regularly shaped farm lots of 100 to 200 acres.

Beginning in 1764 in Québec, land was given in crown grants instead of in seigneuries. A settler who wanted free land in a township submitted a petition directly to the governor or lieutenant governor. Crown grants became especially popular because of the American Revolutionary War. Grants were made to all Loyalists or children of Loyalists. Later, any settler in the provinces of Canada could receive these grants. Free grants were abolished in 1827, except for relatives and descendants of Loyalists.

Petitions and Patents[edit | edit source]

The petitions for land and the patents-certificates that granted the land are the most important crown land records for genealogical research.

  • The petitions may have information on the petitioner, his family, parentage, military service, time of settling the land, etc.
  • The patents give the name of the grantee, a description of the land, and the date of the grant.

Several manuscript records relating to crown lands are at the National Archives of Canada, the Archives nationales du Québec, and online through FamilySearch.

This book is a transcription of information from land patents. It is an especially good source to begin with if you are looking for English-speaking settlers. It gives the date of the patent and the county, township, and lot number where the grant was located. The index at the end of the volume is alphabetical only by the first letter of the surname.
Includes records for the years between 1842 and 1867, when Canada East (Québec) was part of the Province of Canada.

Registration Offices, 1841--[edit | edit source]

In 1841, the government created registration offices, which today are called the Bureau de la publicité des droits. Records of land transactions subsequent to the original grant or purchase are in the custody of the Bureau de la publicité des droits for each county or district. [ Scroll down to the "Registry Office (BPD)" drop-down menu at the bottom of the "Contact us" page.

Jésuit Estates[edit | edit source]

The Jésuit Estates were the properties owned by the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus. These lands were confiscated by the Crown following the conquest of Canada by the British and were located entirely in Québec. These lands were first rented and then sold separate from the Crown Lands in Québec. The records for this are in the Archives nationales du Québec (series-QBC-18-20).