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« Facing rejection | Main | Research rabbit holes and procrastination »

Registre Foncier: Finding Quebec Land Transactions

I found yet another rabbit hole when I finally figured out how to use the Quebec land registry Registre Foncier. There's a surprising amount of information that's been digitized going back to the early 1800's. However, the website is primarily in French and I thought I'd share how I figured out to use it. Their help resources are also mostly in French, but the resposne I got online and on the phone was very helpful.

Firstly, you will need to register for a free account. Cost to download most documents is generally $1, so you will also need a credit card number. You can order all the given transactions for a specific lot, but it will cost much more.

The website is only available for searching 6AM-11:30PM weekdays and 6AM-5PM weekends.

Note the website may not work for all Mac OS (OS 9 and X are no longer supported). The website is optimized for Internet Explorer 11.0 (or more recent) and a 1024 X 768 pixels screen. I used a Mac with Sierra 10.12.6 browsing with Firefox 60.5.2esr without issue.


Suivre - continue

Annuler - cancel

Poursuivre - continue

Code d'utilisateur - user code

Mot de passe - password

Circonscription foncière - district of land registry 

Get an account

Select 'Consulte le Registre foncier du Quebec en ligne'. You can use the site with a temporary user code ('Client qui ne possède pas de code d'utilisateur'). However, I had diffuculty obtaining one. You can obtain a code for repeated log in under ('Devenir client régulier - Formulaire enligne'). Select 'Suivre' on the next page.

On the registration page, 'nom' is last name and 'prenom' first name. You can enter a non-Canadian address and phone number. For the nearest public registry office 'Bureau de la publicité des droits', select from a drop down list. I used the one closest to the area I was researching. You should then get an email with your operator number.

Logging in

Use your user code (not account number) and created password to log in. You will get prompted to download Adobe or another pdf viewer. At least on Macs, it doesn't recognize installed ones. You can select poursuivre (continue) if you have a reader that isn't being detected.


Select 'consulter' to bring up the main search pop-up. There are a number of searches that can be performed from property deeds and maps to mineral rights. The most useful ones for identifying land transfers are:

Index des nom - Name index for records older than the cadastre system. Depending on the district, their name registries go back to the mid 1800's (e.g. Stanstead goes to 1842). If you do not know the name of the district for the land you are researching, consult a census from the time you are interested in with the names of known inhabitants. Some townships have switched districts over the years and you may need to consult different district name indexes depending on the era (see below).

Index des Immeuble - index of non-movables. This is the core search database for the land registry. You will need to know the current or historical lot number for the land. If you don't have it, you can use the map searches at the bottom of the search menu pop up. Plan cadastre will give you the current maps with lot numbers. Historic will give you the lot number prior to the 1980's.

Plans Cadastre - search for current lot maps. You will need to know the district.

Historic Cadastral Etendu - search for historic lot maps. Again you will need to know the district. Below is the township of Potton in the Brome district.


Land transactions after 1980's

You will need to know a lot number. This can be a lot number established in by 'Index des Immeuble'

Land transactions between 1880's and 1980

You will need to know the historic lot number. If you do not know it, you can find it on the top of the result for the modern lot number registry file.

Land transactions before 1880's

You can look up earlier land transactions if you know the name of one of the people involved in the transaction. From the search popup menu, select 'index des nom' (name index). Under 'numerise', select 'index des nom '. Choose the circonscription foncier. My region of interest is Potton which is currently in the district of Brome (name index started in 1856) but has also been a part of Stanstead (name index started in 1842), Missiquoi and Richelieu.
By searching for all of the name indexes for a district, you can select the earliest one from the results. However, if the district has more than 50 name indexes such as for the district of Quebec (city), you will need to refine the search parameters such as date or name.
Then it's a matter of looking through the indexes for the name of the person who owned the land at the time. Or all the land transactions associated with a person of interest. Some indexes are organized alphabetically in year groups, others are organized into first letter of last name and order of transactions. So you will need to read the entire letter section to find all the transactions from a given person. The index is bidirectional for the transactions so you will find an entry for buyer to seller or seller to buyer. There are also other transactions listed such as will deeds and debts relating to land.
Once you find the name of interest the next columns record the register (A, B, etc), volume (numeric), page and acte. You can then use this information to obtain a pdf copy of the transaction. 
Finding an acte

Once you've obtained the exact acte number for a transactions, you can search for a pdf of the actes using the 'Acte, radiation, avis d'adresse' in the consulter pop-up menu. Select Circonscription foncière (district) and enter acte number. You may get back multiple files to chose from but if you know the register and volume (also listed in the name index) you can decipher which one is yours:
For example, Standstead 188 brings back multiple results but the index told had recorded as registre B vol 3 ...
Stanstead 188 RB3 Registre B Volume 3


Reading these acts is fascinating. For my region of interest and time period, the actes are in English. They may list professions of people involved, dates, sums of money exchanged and a description of the physical boundaries of the property in question.


'Vous ne pouvez accéder directement à cette page. Vous devez d'abord fournir certaines informations avant de pouvoir y accéder. Vous allez être dirigé vers la page précédente. Pour plus de détails, consultez le guide d'utilisation. Cliquez sur OK.'

If you see this error page, it means the page you are trying to access has expired. You will need to return to the entry page

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