There are 3 steps involved with Land Grants:
- Land petitions
- Land allotments
- Letters patent
1. Land petitions
When New France became a British colony in 1763, a new land system was introduced. Lands were granted as part of townships in areas not already seigneury lands. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted petitions to the Governor to obtain Crown land.
The index and many digitized images of the Lower Canada Land Petitions are available in an online searchable database at Library and Archives Canada Land Petition. The Lower Canada Land Petitions contain petitions for grants or leases of land and other administrative records. This research tool provides access to more than 95,000 references to individuals who lived in present-day Quebec between 1764 and 1841.
Indexes to, and copies of, land petitions are also available on microfilm at archives centres of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec: www.banq.qc.ca.
2. Land Allotments
If approved, the petitioner would obtain land on which to settle and work. Full ownership was often contingent on certain conditions being met, such as clearing, building, etc. Authorities wanted to make sure that people actually settled the land and established themselves: colonization was the primary goal.
3. Letters Patent (Lands Granted)
Once the conditions were satisfied, the Government issued a Letter Patent, representing the final confirmation of a land grant. The two volume publication showing the successful land grants, List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December1890, is available in the reference section of the Quebec Family History Society. The QFHS index to it is in the reference section and also online here. It contains an alphabetical listing of those to whom Letters Patent (final grant confirmations) were issued. This searchable database contains 34,355 names which you can search by grantee name, township or county.
Each record contains:
- Name of grantee
- Acres granted
- Letters patent reference
- Letters patent date
The Letter Patent document identifies the location, lot, the fact that he met the requirements to obtain a full grant confirmation, and certain terms.
On consulting the index, notice that the letter patent reference identifies the book (aka libro/livre) and page number. Those shown with a letter (e.g. Q) were registered pre-Confederation, while those with a number (e.g. 50) were registered post-Confederation. Using the details obtained from the previous publication listing, you can obtain the document itself from archives centres of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ).
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.
Process outlined by Sharon Callaghan about researching a pre-Confederation (1867) Letter Patent:
First, I checked the “List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890” for a John McEwan of Rawdon Twp., Montcalm Co. You’ll see reference to his Sept. 3, 1835 Letter Patent registered in Book (Libro) ‘Q’ Grants, on Page 13.
Next, using the grantee’s name, the above Letter Patent reference, date and location, I searched for the actual Letter Patent document. I obtained that two page document (images below) at the BAnQ Montreal Archives Centre, from Microfilm #6868 for ‘Libros N, O, P, Q’ of the Registraire Québec (fonds) Concessions de Terres. It identifies the location, lot, the fact that he met requirements to obtain a full grant confirmation and certain terms.
Process outlined by Sharon Callaghan in researching a post-Confederation (1867) Letter Patent:
First of all, I checked the “List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890” for a Henry W. Albro of Ditchfield Twp., Beauce Co. His Aug. 8, 1889 Letter Patent was registered in Book (Libro) ‘50’, on page 288.
Secondly, using the grantee’s name, the above letter patent reference, date, and location, I requested the actual Letter Patent document. I sent an email to the BAnQ Quebec City Archives Centre, to which I received a reply advising cost (credit card only, Visa or MasterCard) based on email or postal delivery choice.
Thirdly, I replied with my delivery preference and on providing credit card details (by email or phone) I obtained the one page letter patent (image below) as an email attachment. It identifies location, lot and details of full land grant confirmation.
Quebec Land Grant Database - Explanation of Column Titles
Grantee Name – Name of the person to whom the land was granted. If more than one name appears on the original land grant, both names have been recorded in our database and will appear in the corresponding land grant publication.
Township – Township that appears in the 1891 Census
County – County that appears in the 1891 Census
Acres – Acreage awarded to the grantee. In some cases the land awarded was river shoreline frontage and is shown in feet.
Register - Book (Libro) – Original books in which the lands granted letters patent were recorded, titled as follows:
A Grants to Z Grants
AA Grants to MM Grants (AA, BB, CC…)
A Sales to Z Sales
AA Sales to AR Sales (AA, AB, AC…)
Book 1 to Book 62
Register Page – Page on which a lands granted letter patent entered in the original books (libros)
Date – Date of a lands granted letter patent, as recorded in original books (libros)
Vol 1 County Index Page – Page where grants are listed in Volume 1, County Index, of the List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890 publication.