Quebec genealogy is a challenge and it has taken me a long time to understand it. I would not say I am an expert but somehow I manage to make progress. Genealogical research has improved in Quebec since I started in 1998 studying my Quebec ancestors. A lot more is now online and on microfilm.
For some reason there is no updated or current book on how to do research in Quebec. It is extremely difficult to navigate the websites at the archives to find what you are looking for, not to mention that some are only in French.
For translating the French to English, I find that if I open an online translator I can cut and paste the French words into it and get an idea of what they are referring to and then understand it better.
Here is a link to the Wiki at Family Search and if you scroll to the bottom you can find a list that might help with the French.
This article which I have featured before was done several years ago and it focuses on Montreal genealogy. It is all different now.
Book: Finding Your Ancestors in English Quebec, by Althea Douglas MA, CG (C), 2001 Book HC02 Heritage Productions. This may be old at 2001 but still may give some idea of the sources in Quebec for genealogy.
Book: “Finding Your Canadian Ancestors, A Beginner’s Guide,” by Sherry Irvine and David Obee, Ancestry Publishing, 2006. This gives and overview of Quebec research.
Book: “Planning a Genealogical Trip to Montreal,” Paul LeCleric, BA, BSc. Book HC19 Heritage Productions, 2003. This is helpful but he doesn’t say where to go to find the records.
Today’s topic is land grants. You can approach finding your ancestors by looking at the book form of the index or going to an online index.
Before I try to make some sense of it all, we need a little history of land in Quebec. There are three different land registration systems in Quebec.
LAND IN QUEBEC
1. Seigneury 1626-1795 and discontinued in 1854 and tenants could claim their land (Seigneurial Tenures Act of 1854). Land would be granted to a land owner and they would in turn rent to tenants. They were usually established along major waterways. These are with the BAnQ and its research centres and in the Parchemin Notarial database 1626-1794 at the BAnQ.
This article about seigneuries at Canada in the Making is very good.
Chronicles of American also a good article on seigneuries:
Richard Colebrook Harris’s book: The Seigneurial System in Early Canada, A Geographical Study is on online at Google Books as a preview.
A good use of the Google search engine can bring up a lot of history of the seigneury system in Quebec. I have yet to find a listing of who own them through the years. Can anyone help me, if so leave a comment and link.
2. Township 1763 – 1890 this did not replace the seigneury and are the Upper and Lower Land Grants and Letters Patent.
My patents were obtained by Danny Bouchard a member of APG and the researcher whom I hired to help me get ready for my first trip to Ontario and Quebec in 2012. He obtained these from the Ministry of Justice:
Danny writes: The Registre Foncier is the land registry and it is run by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It is quite complex and not user-friendly and goes back to about 1841. The database is very picky to use and you must have the exact location of the land to find your ancestor. This is a government website and it is not free.
3. Cadastral started 1830 and is currently being used. I visited Campbell’s Bay’s Palais du Justice on my trip in 2012 and was given land records back to 1900 for several people. I was trying to get back into the 1800’s and discovered to late that the clerk only got me back to 1900. I may have to go for those records at the Land Registry site which I have yet to conquer. However, based on an email from Danny I think he had the same problem?
He writes again: For some reason the indexes don’t go back that far. I ran the Lot 43, Range 3 as well and the records start in late 1890’s early 1900’s and go to 1978.
Very interesting and helpful.
Go here and scroll down to Quebec Land records for more details at the Quebec Family History Society: http://www.qfhs.ca/facts.php
The next piece of information is the timeline of Quebec, Canada which covers the different governmental definitions of Canada and you may have to get maps in the different time periods to figure out where your ancestor was located.
Era of Exploration 1508-1613
Colony of Canada 1534-1763 – French Regime
Colony of Quebec 1763-1791 – When Quebec became British.
Lower Canada 1791-1841 was Quebec but boundaries changed.
Canada East 1841-1867 again it was Quebec but watch the boundaries.
Confederation – Province of Quebec 1867 to Present
Note: See Wikipedia for definitions and timelines in more detail. Remember that the St. Lawrence River flows northeast and that is why you have the Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) designations.
FINDING LAND PETITIONS IN QUEBEC which lead to the Letters of Patent.
Here is a quick list of ways to find Land grants read all first and then decide on a strategy for your ancestor. You need the name, page, volume and other information in order to obtain the Letters of patent.
1. In book form and on microfilm at the Family History Library: List of Land Grant by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890, Argenteuil Co. – Huntington Co., FHL#413121 and Joliette Co.- Yamaska Co., Districts of Quebec, Montreal Alpha Index FHL#413122. Note these are by geographical area.
I pulled the one for Pontiac County on FHL#413122, Quebec and took photos of what is the photographed book index listing which includes: Name of grantee, number of lots granted, ranges, number of acres, date of letters-patent, Book and page. It is one way to identify where your ancestor lived and is like a census for it shows the whole township with names.
The Family History Library has more about land records this is just the start scroll to Land: https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/results?count=20&placeId=305&query=%2Bplace%3A%22Canada%2C%20Quebec%22
2. The Quebec Family History Society, in Pointe Claire, Quebec has booklets by alphabet for about $10.00 (2001). Alphabetical Index to the Land Grants by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31 December 1890. Of course I ordered Booklet M for McDonell and its various spellings. They have a Land Grants database for members only at their library in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Wow, I ordered this like 10 years ago. I still have it.
Here is the post I wrote about my visit to this archive.
“Quebec Wanderings: The Quebec Family History Society,” October 2, 2014.
Here is a link on how to research land in Quebec at the QFHS and how to do a pre (before 1867) and post-Confederation Land patent (before 1867) which is very important for Pontiac County.
You can get copies of pre-Confederation Letters Patent in person from microfilms at the BAnQ Montreal Archives Centre, 535 avenue Viger est, or by email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group of post-Confederation letters patent can be found in person at the BAnQ Quebec City Archives Centre, 1012 avenue du Séminaire or by email request to email@example.com.
I am not totally convinced this is the correct the address above for post-confederation letters of patent. There has been a lot of change in Quebec over the last 16 years and things have been consolidated and moved around. Based on Danny’s emails and the fact that the stamp of the Minister of Justice is on my copies of the Letters Patent that he obtained for me I think they are at the Minister of Justice website?
This website of the Federation Genealogical of Quebec may be of help as well.
This looks helpful at Open Library:
3. Library and Archives Canada has a Land Petitions Index of Lower Canada (Quebec) from 1764 to 1841 online at:
The index allows you to search using the various spellings of a surname and in my case it is:
The online index gives name, surname, date and some may or may not show an image with lots of pages, I read somewhere it was about 25%.
The unfortunate part is that it only goes up to 1841 and this does not really cover the Pontiac area unless they came before that date.
Don’t forget that they have an index for the Land Petitions for Upper Canada (Ontario) 1763-1865. This means you need to check for those who settled in Renfrew County and more. Don’t assume your ancestor has land only in one area, township or province and look out for group petitions.
The Library and Archives Canada has changed their website a great deal since 2012 when I was planning my first trip to Canada. To find the land records, I would click on Discover the Collection, then click on Genealogy & Family History and it takes you to another menu where you can select what you want.
Here is the link directly to the Land information on the Library and Archives website. From here you can familiarize yourself with the different selections. Sorry but you are going to have to study it carefully so go slowly.
I visited this archive in 2012 and you can find my post about that experience on this blog. “Ottawa: Libraries and Archives Canada!,” June 12, 2012.
4. Ancestry.com has under Quebec an index of the Land Grants: Quebec, Canada Land Grants 1763-1890. This index is a little easier to search and is like the information in No. 1 and 2 above. You can search on all names and not be restricted to a section of the alphabet. I do not know what Ancestry for Canada has but I assume it is the same?
Original data: Robert Dunn and Derek Hopkins, comp. Alphabetical Index to the Land Grants by the Crown in the province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890. Pointe Claire, Quebec: Quebec Family History Society, 2005.
The original records and microfilm copies are available at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationalies du Québec. Requests for microfilm copies should include the full reference to the book and page (found in the source citation for the record). Requests should be addressed to: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, 1012, avenue du Séminaire, CP 10450, Sainte-Foy, QC, G1V 4N1.
Okay, I get it Sainte-Foy is part of Quebec City, no wonder I am confused for this is still a slight difference in the address for the BAnQ Quebec City.
Here is the address Danny gave me for the documents he was seeking for land.
A. par courier: Direction des registres et de la certification
Registre des lettres patnetes foncieres 1 rue Notre-Dame Est, bureau 7.07, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 186. Montreal: 514 864-5764, Quebec 418 528-5764. If you speak French you might be able to figure this out.
Example in the written alpha list: In searching for Archibald McDonell in the Ancestry index, I find one of his patents: Name, location Chichester, Pontiac, Acres 86, Letters Patent Date: 1 Sep 1868. The source citation below reads Letters Patent Book, 8, pg. 103, County Index Vol. 1, page 828.
5. The BAnQ in Montreal at 535 Viger Street (Old Montreal) has indexes to, and copies of land petitions which are also available on microfilm at their archive centres (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec: www.banq.qc.ca.) Be prepared for the website to be in French. I have my translator on so it moves to English. I visited the BAnQ briefly and wish I had stayed longer. It is a wonderful archive.
In finding what is where at the BAnQ I would go to the Pistard search. This is under the Genealogy section of the website. You go to the website click on Collections, then choose Genealogie and it takes you to two catalogue searches. You can use the advanced to narrow things down.
My post on my visit to the BAnQ in Montreal: “Quebec Wanderings: Montreal and the BAnQ,” October 4, 2014. I should have dallied but maybe I will go back?
In the next posts I will share what Land Petitions I have.