In the early days of the colony, the French transplanted the seigneurial system to the St. Lawrence Valley, which established a land ownership arrangement similar to the one existing in France at the time. Inherited from the Middle Ages, of which it retained the symbols, it enabled the King to secure the loyalty of new seigneurs, or lords, who in turn derived prestige and honour from their rank, while benefiting from the revenue produced by the land they were granted. The system was applied in New France without much planning. The King's representatives in Canada attributed territories of varying sizes as fief and seigneury to nobles and religious communities. In the 18th century, ecclesiastical seigneuries accounted for 25 percent of the seigneurial lands and were among the most populous fiefs. The nobility received quite a large proportion of the concessions, considering their small numbers. From the outset, the desire to make waterways accessible to as many people as possible determined the layout and shape of the land concessions. These were generally in the form of long rectangles fronting on the St. Lawrence River or another river. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the wealthier English and certain French-speaking bourgeois acquired several seigneuries belonging to descendants of the nobility; the Church continued to hold a large portion of the fiefs. The seigneurial system, although suppressed in France by the Revolution, survived in Canada until 1854.

Canada or Île Royale. Drawing of a house, 18th century
FR CAOM COL F3 290 n° 78
The Inhabitants of Québec
The Seigneuries
Report on the Seigneuries
The Seigneury of Sorel
The Censives
Concession in Québec
The Edicts of Marly
Rights and Obligations
The Financial Administrator
The Communal Mill