Thursday, March 04, 2021

The seigneurial regime in the twentieth century

At the Borealia site for early Canadian history, Olivier Guimond offers a fascinating review of Benoît Grenier (dir.) (coll. Alain Laberge et Stéphanie Lanthier), Le régime seigneurial au Québec: fragments d’histoire et de mémoire (Sherbrooke, Les Éditions de l’Université de Sherbrooke, 2020). The book, by a seigneurial scholar and a group of his students, explores the survival of seigneurial influences in Quebec long after the abolition of the seigneurial regime in 1854 and down into the present.

The abolition of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada came with significant compensation for the seigneurs for the loss of their landholdings and rents.  (As with slavery in British possessions, where owners were compensated for the loss of their "property" at the time of abolition.) In some cases, the continuation of payments by former seigneurial tenants continued into the late twentieth century.

Apart from the ongoing payments, the book's exploration of survivals and memories seem perhaps to emphasize positive and sentimental memories of seigneurial society.  But the whole study seems to be a remarkable report on the depth of history in Quebec.     

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