FamilySearch has added more than 600,000 records to its Quebec, Notarial records collection, 1800 – 1920 for a total of more than 4.9 million records available online. The images of notarial records are arranged by locality, then notary, then time period, and you must browse them. Although you cannot search by name or other keyword, I find it much easier to browse these records online than to look at the microfilms at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) where the originals are held. For people who cannot travel to Quebec, these online records are a goldmine.
The challenge, however, has been to know which notary my Montreal ancestors may have hired. The list of notaries that practised in Montreal can overwhelm. I did manage to find a couple of notaries’ names by scouring every legal record I have, including marriage contracts, land transactions, and business records. When I found a notary’s name, I pulled out the microfilms for all of his records for a certain time period and viewed the film, record by record.
If your ancestor lived in a small town in Quebec, I would simply browse all the notarial records in that town and perhaps in nearby towns.
Do not assume your Anglophone ancestors hired only Anglophone notaries. Take a look at the Francophone notaries as well. In my limited experience, I have found records in both English and French. The maternal language of the client often determined the language used in the document.
No one said genealogy is quick and easy, but it sure is fun.
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Copyright © 2014, Gail Dever.