Land Petitions of Lower Canada, 1764-1841

The Records

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 (concessions) of his land to tenants called censitaires or more commonly, habitants.

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. Only land petitions for Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were retained by the Government of Canada.

Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada (RG 1 L3L) includes the petitions and administrative records concerning land disposition in Lower Canada as well as the preceding New France and Province of Quebec regimes. This series also documents land disposition of the part of the colony that later became Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) up to and including 1791.

Each petition includes the original submission by the petitioner and the various administrative documents added by the different offices of the government reviewing the petition. Some small maps, particularly those set within documents, remain with the petitions.

The series is divided into three sub-series:

  • Volumes 1 to 28 - Minute books and loose minutes of the Land Committee of the Executive Council, 1766-1836;
  • Volumes 29 to 209 - Petitions for grants or leases of land, or commutation from seigneurial tenure, 1637-1842;
  • Volume 210 - Miscellaneous administrative records, 1743-1842.

The Database

This database provides access to more than 95,000 references to individuals in Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada (RG 1 L3L). Microfilm reels C-2504 to C-2571 that contain volumes 29 to 210 have been digitized.

This database is estimated to be at least 85% accurate and complete. Names of petitioners and claimants were indexed, but those of surveyors and authors of many supporting documents were not.

A card index by name was prepared for volumes 1 to 10 and 29 to 209 (available on microfilm reels H-1155 to H-1172). Staff members created a database from this name index.

Records in volumes 10 to 28 (sub-series, Minute books and loose minutes) were not indexed. Certain records in volumes 10 to 28 relating to seigneurial tenure, exploration and surveying are of particular importance for legal or geographical research questions.

Some of the original documents are difficult to read and therefore some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.

How to refine your search in the result page

As a federated search engine, “Collection Search” allow users to search multiple collections available to the public at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) from one starting point. Besides the advanced search, you can refine your search results is by using the facets (also called filters) found in the left-hand menu of the results page.

Facets can be selected or deselected. The results list will adjust itself to your actions. If you select a specific facet, other options within the same tab will no longer be visible. You will see a red “X” next to the facet selected. To remove or deselect this facet, you just need to click on the “X”. You will then be able to see the other options for the tab again.

Basic facets let you define your search based on elements common to all records in “Collection Search”:

Found in

This facet lets you choose which subject to explore based on the datasets that contain results generated by the keywords you used. If you select the tab “Genealogy”, you will see the broader subjects of interest (e.g. “Military”, “Census”, etc.). In the case of the “Archives” tab, you will see the datasets containing your keywords (e.g. “Fonds and Collection”, “Orders-in-Council”, etc.).

Date

You will see the decades corresponding to the search results. Click on a decade to see a list of results by year.

Type of material

This facet will list the type of format available. For example, if you are interested in videos, select “moving images”. If you want to concentrate on written documents, click on the option “Textual material”.

Hierarchical level

This facet will indicate the number of results per level of archival classification (fonds, sous-fonds, series, sub-series, files, items, component, etc.).

Online

This facet lets you choose records available online.

Source

This facet can limit your results to records coming from a government archival fonds or a private source.

Specific facets

You will notice that some datasets have unique facets to provide a better search experience. For example, under census records you will find facets for province, district and sub-districts. These might be the key to your research, so it’s a very good idea to watch out for them!

How to Interpret the Results

You can print the images or save the images on your computer. For documents that are not linked to digitized images, see How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records.

Other Resources

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