16 March 2010

Using the Online Quebec Land Register

A post last September referred to my struggles to understand an unfamiliar source: the Quebec Land Register system. My descriptions had some ineptness due to an anglo-centric perspective and semantics. Writer and researcher Sharon Callaghan, who has hands-on experience, kindly shared some further clarification about accessing the online records. Items in the older post have been corrected.

Quebec Land Register refers to the entire cadastral system and its variety of component documentation. The actes, or full notarial entries, are now digitized as far back as the oldest cadastre system. Brenda corrected her blooper (BLUSH) for Index des Immeubles. Immeubles = immovables, i.e. real estate. Meubles = furniture. I knew that! I doubt anyone wants to waste time on the furnishings of a registry office! 

Meanwhile ... accessing the digital materials is what genealogists and family historians want to do. To have a go at searching the online database, the Quebec ministry responsible for the Quebec Land Register is Natural Resources (and choose English unless you are proficient en francais). I would show a screen shot, but blogger does not like .jsp extensions ... woe is moi.

It’s essential to do your homework first:
1. Read all the information provided in various sections on the website.
2. Identify the cadastral number of the lot you want to search.
Steps 1 and 2 should be acted upon conjunctively.
3. Make sure your computer meets the specifications (outils requis) and downloads indicated on the site.

Number 1
At the home page, click on Land Survey was at the bottom of the page. On the next page, click on Land Register of Québec on the left. Then read the information options on the left before you proceed: they are in English (as you go deeper into the site, you have to work mainly with French). An important initial option is How to Consult with its numerous links, especially Procedures and also Consultation Tools. Take your time—there is much information to absorb for a technical dunce like me!

Number 2
Remember, Quebec is divided into circonscriptions (divisions) and then cadastres (districts), each of the latter having a series of lot numbers. The cadastre number is your KEY for accessing all options in the Land Register, before trying the database search.

The site does have municipal contact information (Répertoires des municipalités du Québec) but of course they are concerned only with current addresses for tax purposes. It’s up to you to obtain relevant material about the ancestor’s historical location from every resource at your disposal—old maps, local histories, etc.—so you can determine where that location fits into today’s division and district.  

Number 3
You will not find success with the search engine unless you have a fairly updated version of Internet Explorer and then download the two special viewers. The How to Consult page leads to Consultation Tools. Internet Explorer 6.0 is the minimum browser requirement (searching will not work, for example, with Firefox); the free viewer plug-ins are Active CGM (Intercap) and WinZip.

Finally, you must sign in to use the database as an occasional client or a regular client creating an account. In either case, each time you use it, the credit card information is mandatory—when you sign out none of the information is retained. A search that brings results on your screen means the charge goes on your credit card. The website advises:
You may access information in the online Land Register of Québec without opening a client account, but you must use a credit card for payment and provide some information each time you begin a consultation session. Note that when you choose this method, you will not receive a user code or password, and you will need to print your invoice before leaving the site. In addition, you will be asked to approve a $5 charge at the beginning of your work session. This is a credit card company preauthorization, and you will not be billed for it.
Sharon says: “Everything located via a search in the online database is viewable, saveable, printable, etc. Once you see the result of a search, the fee has been charged and it is yours!” Voilà! Et bonne chance! May I add, any further confusions are strictly due to the dunce and not to her advisors.

To give further credit to the friends who assisted me:
● Sharon Callaghan is the author of Paths of Opportunity, recently launched by Shoreline Press. Genealogists and family historians, take note that it is “a portrayal of the Irish Montreal experience of one family among many who helped make Montreal what it is today” (publisher’s blurb). The book discusses community social life and the places, institutions, and events our ancestors would have encountered.
● Gary Schroder is the president of the Quebec Family History Society and a well-known speaker on genealogical records in Quebec and the British Isles. Gary will be giving presentations on Quebec research at the Conference of the Ontario Genealogical Society in Toronto in May.


CallieK said...

Just reading how to do that makes my head hurt.

BDM said...

My head still hurts. Occupational hazard.