Would you like to know more about the daily lives of your New France and Quebec ancestors? Then you might be interested in looking at notarial records, where you can find a wealth of information about your ancestors’ goods and properties, and any transactions they may have entered into with others. The oldest known notarial record dates back to 1635.
A notarial record is a private agreement written by a notary in the form of a contract. Some of the most common ones are marriage contracts, wills, estate inventories, leases, and sales contracts.
Notarial records are held by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), but Library and Archives Canada holds copies of some records in the collection, Fonds des greffes de notaires du Québec. You can also use the advanced search to look up the name of an individual or a notary.
How to search for notarial records
You can use a variety of tools to search for notarial records. For the oldest records from 1635 to 1784, consult the Parchemin database, developed by the Archiv-Histo historical research society (French only), which provides an abstract of each notarial record (date of the record, name of the notary, names of the parties, etc.). Parchemin is available at BAnQ, and in some public libraries, and archives.
You can also consult several name indexes (French only) for various regions in Quebec. Through a large-scale digitization project, you also have access to online directories and indexes of notaries from all regions of Quebec up to 1933 through BAnQ’s Archives des notaires du Québec (French only).
Once you have found a reference, you can consult the original record on paper or on microfilm. You may even be able to consult it online as BAnQ, in collaboration with FamilySearch, will eventually have all the records available online.
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Is LAC merged with BANQ now? I am expecting something about LAC’S collection here.
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Of course the wills I need are not online 😦 Index is nice but tells little details 🙂 Hope it does not take long.
Where did you find the will index? I’m trying to find a will for someone who died in 1798…….
Please explain to me how i can register a public record.
Hello Mr. Penney,
I think you need to talk to someone with current legal knowledge for your geographic location.
Best of luck!
I have a relative who lived in Montreal and passed away in the 1990s. Are probate records this recent available online for Montreal/Quebec?
Library and Archives Canada only has copies of some notarial records. The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) holds those records, so I would recommend that you start your exploration there.
I am trying to obtain copies of Wills recorded in Quebec in 1891 and 1896. I can find a record online that the Wills were recorded, but not copies of the actual Wills. Would someone please be so kind as to let me know what the process is to obtain copies of the Wills? Thank you for your attention to my request.
Hello Ms. Nelson,
I am not 100% clear on your question, but I will attempt to answer it.
If you go to the BANQ’s Fonds des greffes de notaires du Québec and locate the notary that registered the will, for example, Louis Lavoie and in the left sidebar there will appear a list of the acts that the notary registered. In his case, you can see the acts chronologically or through a name index. It must be noted that the actual text of the acts are only available for some notaries.
I would recommend that you contact BANQ directly for further guidance. They have an Ask a question form (https://www.banq.qc.ca/formulaires/formulaire_reference/index.html) which will direct it to the right person.
Thank you very much for your reply. This is very helpful and I appreciate the information.
Hi im trying to find my lost siblings in Canada and only have my mothers name, is there a way to search for them
you can ask a genealogy question to the reference service desk here. However, there are many skilled genealogists around who would be able to help you with your search.
I was adopted out of quebec canada 1970 to bahamas freeport .
Name is Robin Hemminway
I am looking for my family i was born in canada qubec 1970 i had two operations
I have a birth mark on my left arm
You will need to find more recent documents than the ones held at BANQ or LAC. I suggest that you talk to a librarian who could help direct your search for your birth parents. Good luck in your search!
Are there general templates available to help decipher the notarial records for wills, obligations, donations, engagements etc.? I am trying to sift through a Quebec notarial obligation record from 1817 and most of the writing is very difficult to read. As with the parish records , there usually is a general format the clergy followed which really facilitates reading through them.
I am looking for a Will written by a brother. Where would I look? I’m told by an Ontario lawyer that Quebec has a registry.
In Quebec, wills and estate records were made by notaries and are accessible through the same process as described in the blog above. Those documents are also registered in the local Bureau de la publicité des droits. Hope this helps!
Hi, whom do I contact to try and find a will? Thank you,
I think this page will help you!