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.

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by:

  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. In that case, try searching by surname only. Names can also be written in different ways. The entries reflect the spelling of names as they appear on the documents, some of which are barely legible.

Once you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The search results page displays the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Year

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page has digitized images of the actual pages available in JPG format and contains the following fields:

  • Given Name(s)
  • Surname
  • Year
  • Volume
  • Page
  • Microfilm
  • Reference
  • Item Number

Entries identify the first and last page numbers of the file, within which the name may appear only once or twice. Entries for individuals who were members of groups will identify all the page numbers of the petition and associated documents for that group. The name of a particular individual may appear only once, as signatory to the petition or within a list of settlers.

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Obtain Copies

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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