|All Saints Anglican Church, Dunham, Quebec|
taken by Barbara Poole, 2000
Recently, I have been going through old research papers, and one had information about a service Pennie Redmile was offering to those doing research in Missisquoi Co., Quebec, Canada. I used her service, and we have remained friends since before 2003. Recently, I asked her if she would write a few paragraphs about Notaries. I believe my readers doing Canadian research will be interested in learning about them. Pennie is no longer doing this work, but she was willing to write about Notaries as a guest writer. Thank you, Pennie.
Unlike other places, notaries in Quebec were responsible for many many transactions. Even to today, a will drawn up by a notary does not need to be probated. --- Aside from wills, notaries were responsible for many other transactions. It wasn't uncommon for a notary who worked for 40 years to have over 100,000 documents. Aside from wills, there were marriage contracts, estate inventories (a complete list of holdings when a person died), indentures & apprenticeships, protests, (disagreements over anything from estate matters to business partnerships) all land transactions were handled by notaries, "gifts" could be another, a father giving land or possessions to a son or daughter, or it could be a son promising to care for his parents for their lifetime. When a person bought or sold an item -- even a horse or carriage --there likely was a "sale".. When the army bought beef for the soldiers, there was a contract .Only once did I ever see an adoption carried out by a notary. The list is quite endless. There were many many hundreds of notaries in Quebec-- which makes finding the records for a specific family quite daunting a task. The Montreal Archives have posted some notary indexes or repertoires to their website. An index was an alphabetical day to day listing of each transaction. However to locate a specific person , one must check the entire listing for that letter of the alphabet. If a man had a marriage contract drawn up & 40 years later had a will drawn up -- the two documents will be found in the time frame they were contracted. A repertoire was a different book kept by the notary & was a day to day chronological listing of the events.
Also --especially in rural areas , one will find tutorships & curatorships in with the notary records. These are court documents & was another fantastic provision (not mandatory) that people could benefit from. When a spouse died , the surviving spouse could petition the court for a "tutor" & "sub tutor" for the minor children. The person would go to court & give the name of the deceased (maiden name if it was the mother) & occupation & residence. They give the names of all minor children & often their ages or dates of birth. If married outside Quebec, it will often state where the couple was married.. The petitioner asks the court to appoint 3-5 men to choose the tutor. The names of the men are cited, their relationship to the minor children , their occupations & place of residence. These men will choose a "tutor" (caregiver for the children) & it was usually the surviving parent. Then a "sub tutor" would be chosen from the men & he would be instantly responsible for the care of the children should the "tutor" become ill or die or etc.
The tutorships carry a great deal of genealogical information & they are held in the nearest archives to the region & are known in French as "tutelles". The curatorships are much the same idea-- but there are voluntary & involuntary curatorships. Some man who inherited money might request one --to have help in dealing with the money. An involuntary one could be a a person who couldn't care for himself being taken to court by family to see that he was properly cared for. It was usually family who took on these responsibilities when the need arose. The "curatorships" in French are called "curetelles" .