11 April 2012

Frasers Part 20, A Property Puzzle

Catherine McIntyre was born ca.1777 in Scotland; married John Cameron before about 1803.[1]
Margery McIntyre was born ca.1785 in Scotland; married John Fraser 17 August 1808.[2]

Following on my previous Fraser post, I was assembling information on points of intersection between John Fraser and John Cameron. The hypothesis is that their two wives were sisters. The women provide almost no clues themselves; their husbands might tell us more. To be continued later, but one piece of information loomed larger than others: is it a stepping stone to brothers-in-law, or a roadblock? I haven't convinced myself of the overall importance of the point, but it needs addressing. Or maybe I should say it took me into a tangent on maps. What genealogist can resist maps?

From G.R. Rigby, A History of Lachute (Lachute, QC: Giles Publishing House Ltd, 1964).
The two men had contiguous properties on the River Rouge Road by St. Andrews, Seigniory of Argenteuil, according to the metes and bounds description in two land documents of 1845.[3] John Cameron was transferring properties to two sons—all lots then being measured in arpents. Lot 29 was three (frontage) by twenty-eight (depth) arpents, a shape typical of French river lots. The rear of lot 29 abutted the boundary line between the seigniories of Argenteuil and Deux Montagnes. Lot 28 was three by thirty arpents. The latter is the one of interest; John Fraser's land was named as one of the “bounds.” The date of Cameron's acquisition of the properties has not been determined yet, but it was obviously prior to 1845.

Bouchette's 1814 map is the classic post-conquest map of Lower Canada. The line from D to E on the right signifies the boundary between the old seigniories, later counties, of Argenteuil and Deux-Montagnes. It looks to me like there are no more than a dozen lots on the south side of the River Rouge.
Cameron's lot 28 was “ ... bounded in the front by the said River Rouge, in the rear by a certain Grignon, on one side by the land of John Fraser and on the other by the above designated land which is Number twenty-eight, where the donor currently lives, ...”.[4] [emphasis added] This seems to place John Fraser on lot 27. 

Probably Bouchette, 1814

The second map is not dated, nor is its source cited, on the website in question.[5] I believe it's a portion of the 1814 Bouchette map which Rigby adapted in a line drawing for his book.You can see the boundary line again. The roads and layout of lots along the Rouge look the same. I scarcely need to mention the lack of lot numbers!

So where would lot 28 be, according to this?!

Were lots numbered in one consecutive series along one side of the river and continued over to the other side? Or did the north and south (sometimes called east and west) sides have their own separate numbering? Did the numbering extend into the Deux-Montagnes seigniory (because the river did)?
Bouchette, 1831
Here is Bouchette again in 1831, a good generation after settlement.[6] Houses and buildings are shown! ... how accurate would they be? But again, no lot numbers. However, I know from the 1861 census and specific land records that John Fraser's land included lots 21 (acquired in 1824), 22 (1806), and 23 (1818). Therefore I'm having some trouble with contiguous!
Cadastre map St-Andre East parish, no date
 All Quebec properties were re-numbered in the cadastral reform of the second part of the nineteenth century. The cadastre map shows many more than a dozen lots each side of River Rouge, within the old seigniory and parish limits.[7] Did something change between 1831 and ca.1870? Or were Bouchette's smaller number of squarish-looking lots simply the surveyor's artistic licence? The cadastre numbering, continuing from the Côte du Midi section, ascends numerically from the village along the south range of the river and continues from east to west on the north range.

Then John Fraser's original property numbers became lot 592 (formerly lot 21), lot 593 (22 ), and 594 (23). The highlight shows his lot 594 (23). How do I know this? Because with time and patience, professional researchers in Quebec were able to access both the registered notarial documents and the seigniorial records. We need to go through the same exercise with John Cameron's seigniorial record(s).

Even if John Fraser and John Cameron were located on adjoining lots, am I putting too much weight on proximity to infer a relationship? After all, a man has many neighbours! It can be argued that Fraser and Cameron are no more or less “associates” than all the settlers along the river bank.

Still, how could lot 28 border with John Fraser's lots 21 to 23?

A thought almost too grim to contemplate: What if the John Fraser mentioned in Cameron's document was my other John Fraser? ... the blacksmith “of St. Andrews.” Instead of hammering happily away in the village, did he have a farm where he practised his trade? Not too likely, I think. Not only had he died or disappeared shortly before 1842, his widow could not be found in that census. She spent her later days living with a brother on one of her father's original properties. It wouldn't hurt to investigate all the lots from 20 to 29. Much easier said than done, in two sets of complicated records. It's either an extended visit to BAnQ in Montreal or hire a researcher again.

[1] 1851 Census Canada East, County of Two Mountains, District 11, parish of St. Andrews, stamped p. 41, John Cameron household; Library and Archives Canada (LAC) microfilm C-1147. “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967,” digital images, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed March 2012), baptism of “Jean” Cameron, 18 July1803; citing St. Benoit Catholic register (Saint-Benoît, Quebec) 1799-1805.
[2] St Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church (Montreal, Quebec), 1808 register, p. 47, Fraser-McIntyre marriage; Archives of Ontario (AO) microfilm MS 351 reel 1.
[3] A transcription of the John Cameron notarial document was provided by third-party Cameron researchers; the citation is incomplete until they provide details or unless I can see the original documents: District of Montreal, County of Two Mountains, notaries J.Geo. Lebel and F.H. Leclair of St. Hermas, document no. 944 (20 January 1845).
[4] Ibid.
[5] “The Seigniory of Argenteuil,” Comte d'Argenteuil (www.comte-argenteuil.com/SA1.jpg : accessed 21 March 2008).
[6] Joseph Bouchette, Topographical Map of the District of Montreal (London: James Wyld, 1831); digital image, David Rumsey Historical Map Collection (www.davidrumsey.com/ : accessed 9 April 2012).
[7] “Collection numérique de cartes et plans – Impression,” Bibiothêque et Archives nationales de Québec (http://services.banq.qc.ca/ : accessed 2 August 2009).

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