Searching the Lower Canada Land Petitions…

So many Clarks, so many petitions…

In our previous post, I mentioned how I was up to my digital neck in images of documents signed by the many and various Clark and Clarke families that petitioned for grants of government land in Lower Canada from the 1790s through the early 1800s. My online search at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) produced many, many Clark/Clarke results, but they could not be further sorted according to county or township/canton.

So how can we select only the Clarks that may have settled in the Stanstead county area of Lower Canada in the early 1800s—potentially including Jonathan M. Clark’s kin—from among all the other Clarks and Clarkes that petitioned for government land in other parts of Quebec/Lower Canada between 1764 and 1841? An index, organized by county and then by township or canton would really help…

Click to open digital book in new window. (Image enhanced for clarity.)

There is an index!

Yes, there is an index! It is the List of lands granted by the crown in the province of Quebec, from 1763 to 31st December 1890, printed by order of the Quebec Legislature by C.-F. Langlois, Printer to Her Majesty the Queen, in Quebec, 1891. Our online copy (click image, above) of the List of lands granted… comprises 1981 pages, 1951 of which are full-text searchable.

Further good news is that the book is available for free at several online sites, including Internet Archive, and is also searchable at (pay site). The copy linked to this post is from another interesting collection of digital documents, Canadiana, one of the sites managed by the Canadian Research Knowledge Network. (More on CRKN, later.)

You can read the book online—or download your own copy for offline perusal—at


So far, in our search for Jonathan M. Clarks roots, we have:
• A huge collection of potentially useful Lower Canada land grant petitions, searchable by grantee’s name, and
• a comprehensive listing of the original grantees of land in the province, organized by county and township/canton.
What more do we need to make quick work of sorting out the Clark land petitions?

Well, a more readable copy of the book would be nice. So far, all the online copies appear to have been made from one old, over-exposed microfilm of a very tired copy of the original book. Legibility is a real problem in using these images.

Also, a large part of the book consists of two-page tables, in portrait orientation, listing the land parcels, grantees and dates of patents. Like so:

List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec […], pages 1006-1007, showing initial entries for Stanstead County. Click to open larger image in new window.

The overlapping pages, the sideways orientation and the dim images are—individually—minor inconveniences, though over time they make for tiring reading. More importantly, the OCR used to recognize text and make a digital book fully searchable does not always do a good job on faded text or on rotated pages/text images. That means the researcher has to be much more diligent in looking for information in the digital pages.

Next week we will start to use the List of lands granted to guide us to what we hope are the more relevant land petitions in the LAC database. For starters, we’ll look for Clark families that actually settled in Lower Canada and see how they might connect with Jonathan M. Clark. Or not. And along the way, we’ll take a quick look at a land scheme that makes the Quebec/Lower Canada land patents a more complicated source than you might expect.

5 thoughts on “Searching the Lower Canada Land Petitions…

    • Me too! It seems like 99% of the search for Jonathan M. Clark’s kin and early years in either Vermont or Lower Canada involves doing lots and lots of digging just to—yet again—rule out another Clark family and their offspring as JMC’s kin.

      And Lower Canada history, geography and record-keeping practices have a real learning curve, too. Not a dull moment, though.

      More coming soon.


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