Tag: BAnQ

Where did your ancestors live in Montreal?

I am often curious to find out where my ancestors lived at different times of their lives. For most of my 19th and 20th-century Montreal ancestors, this has been relatively easy using online maps and city directories, and I have used the same techniques to find ancestors in Philadelphia, Winnipeg, and other cities. Once I locate them, it is fun to look at the same addresses today using Google Street View. 

In Montreal, the main directory has been published by Lovells since 1842, and these resources are searchable online on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) website. While the directories themselves are in English, this post should help you navigate that French-language provincial archives site.  Go to http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/lovell/index.html and, on the left, click on explore.

Then click on Montreal et sa banlieue (Montreal and its suburbs), then on serie principale (1842-1977) and choose the year you want to explore. You can search for either the name of the household head or for the street address. This directory often includes the occupation and/or employer of the household head.

A sample map of Montreal showing a corner of my ancestor’s property on the BAnQ site.

Once you find your ancestor’s home address you can try to find it on a map of the city during the same time period. The page http://services.banq.qc.ca/sdx/cep/accueil.xsp will take you to the BAnQ’s collection of digitized cartes et plans, or maps and diagrams. You can search by lieu (place), by region of Quebec or Canada, or by title of the map, date, author or subject. 

If you are looking for the easiest maps of Montreal to understand, go to the left hand side of that opening page and click on the bottom choice of Collections, Pour en savoir plus, “Sur les cartes de Montreal utiles à la recherché” (to learn more about easy-to-use maps of Montreal).

This will take you to a list of useful maps of the city, such as Goad’s maps, which were created for insurance purposes and identify property owners. 

Searching for property ownership documents is a whole other complicated story I’m not going to talk about here, except to say that these documents can be found — with a lot of effort. Go to https://www.mern.gouv.qc.ca/english/land/register/index.jsp, a site of the provincial department of Énergie et Ressources naturelles Québec, and follow the links to the Land Register of Quebec site.

First, though, you need to know the ward of the city your ancestors lived in, and the cadastral number of the property they owned, which is not the same thing as the street address. You may have to compare different maps of the same area over different time periods to nail this down, remembering that street names and numbers sometimes changed.

Once you have a firm idea of your ancestor’s geographic location, the 1874 map titled Cadastral plans, City of Montreal (http://services.banq.qc.ca/sdx/cep/document.xsp?id=0000337579) can help you to identify the cadastral number. Once you see the image of the map you want, you can click above it on the left to download it (télécharger l’image) or on the right for a full-screen view (image plein écran). Move the red rectangle in the small map at the upper right to navigate your way around the screen. 

Good luck and have fun!

(This article has also been posted on the collaborative blog https://genealogyensemble.com.)

Tracking Montreal Ancestors: Images of the Past

Many genealogists are aware that the Montreal’s McCord Museum has a large collection of digitized photographs taken in the 19thcentury studios of William Notman (1826-1891). Although it is best known for its photographs of Montreal’s English-speaking elite, the collection goes far beyond the studio, including pictures of Montreal’s Victoria Bridge, the Canadian Pacific Railway, First Nations people across the country and ordinary Montrealers at work and at leisure. 

This view of Montreal was painted around 1830 near my ancestors’ home. It is from the McCord Museum’s paintings, prints and drawings collection.

This is only one image collection of potential interest to genealogists researching Montreal. As you try to try to imagine the people and places that would have been familiar to your ancestors in what was once Canada’s largest city, here are some other resources that might inspire you.

The place to start exploring the McCord Museum’s images is http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/collections/. This page links to the museum’s online collection of more than 122,000 images, including paintings, prints, drawings and photos. There are documents such as diaries, letters and theatre programs, as well as costumes and archaeological objects. While the museum’s collections focus on Montreal, they include images and objects from the Arctic to Western Canada and the United States. You can search the McCord’s online collection for an individual name, or you can browse time periods, geographic regions and artists. 

The McCord also has a flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/museemccordmuseum/albums.The historically themed albums on the flickr page include old toys, Quebec’s Irish community and an homage to women. 

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is another excellent source of digital images, including photographs, illustrations, posters (affiches) and post cards (cartes postales) from the past. To start exploring these collections, go to http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/images/index.html.

There are two collections of special interest to people with Montreal roots. The first is a collection of 22,000 photos taken by Conrad Poirier (1912-1968), a freelance photojournalist who worked in Montreal from the 1930s to 1960. He covered news (nouvelles), celebrities, sports and theatre, and he did family portraits, weddings, Rotary Club meetings and Boy Scout groups. I even found a photo of myself at a 1957 birthday party (fêtes d’enfants). You can search (chercher) the collection by subject or by family name.

Here I am, bottom row, far left, in a birthday party photo taken by Conrad Poirier.
St. Martin’s Church, where my great-grandparents were married. I found this illustration in the BAnQ’s Massicotte collection.

The other collection of interest to people researching Montreal is the BAnQ’s Massicotte collection (http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/collection_numerique/massicotte/index.html?keyword=*). Edouard-Zotique Massicotte (1867-1947) was a journalist, historian and archivist. The online collection mainly consists of photos and drawings of Montreal street scenes and buildings between 1870 and 1920. Some illustrations come from postcards, while others are clippings from periodicals. There are also a few blueprints and designs. The accompanying text is in French. You can search this collection by subject, by location, date of publication or type of image, or you can put in your own search term. 

Philippe du Berger’s flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbexplo/albums is a gold mine of Montreal images. He includes contemporary photos of the city, including neighbourhoods that have recently been changed by big construction projects such as the new CHUM hospital. There are old photos of neighbourhoods such as Griffintown, Côte des Neiges and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and he illustrates the transformation of the Hay Market area of the 1830s that eventually became today’s Victoria Square. Some albums include old maps to help the viewer put locations into geographic context. 

The City of Montreal Archives has uploaded thousands of photos to its flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesmontreal/albums/. They are arranged in albums on various topics, ranging from city workers on the job to lost neighbourhoods, newspaper vendors, sporting activities and cultural events.


James Duncan. Montreal from the Mountain, 1830-31. M966.61, McCord Museum. http://collection.mccord.mcgill.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M966.61?Lang=1&accessnumber=M966.61

Conrad Poirier. Cathy Campbell’s Party, 1957, P48,S1,P22510, BAnQ. http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/images/notice.html?id=06MP48S1SS0SSS0D0P22510

Rue St-Urbain [image fixe], 1876, BAnQ. http://collections.banq.qc.ca/bitstream/52327/2084185/1/2734179.jpg

This article is also posted on https://genealogyensemble.com.