Canadian Besner Family of French Origins


The ancestral land in the seigniory of Vaudreuil.

It is only two years after his marriage that we find out that Jean Bézanaire was granted land in the seigniory of Vaudreuil, more precisely on November 5th 1762. The seigniory of Vaudreuil conceded in 1702, is situated to the west of the Island of Montreal in Québec. However, because the act that was passed in front of the royal notary Simonnet mentions that the Marquis of Vaudreuil is "Governor", we are probably witnessing an officialization after the fact of an act already passed under the French Regime, the conquest undoubtedly upset the legal customs, and it took a little while to reestablish a state of law. This land is situated in the seigniory of Vaudreuil, in the "Anse de Vaudreuil", and would have been the lot number 11 in accordance with the seigniorial land papers.

Canada is a confederation comprising of 3 territories and 10 provinces of which Quebec

Quebec mostly developed along the banks of the St-Laurence River where the seigniory system took root

In the region of Montreal, in a triangle between the borders of Ontario and the state of New York, we find the sub-region of Suroît

The seigneuries of the Quebec South-West

In the seigniory of Vaudreuil, the ancestor of French Canadian family lived on the lands shown here in color

These photos go back to the 1940's; at left, in the forefront, I believe that it was the remnants of the ancestor of French Canadian family's first house; at right, it would be the new house that Jacques had built. Today, both are gone

We learn officially for the first time, in 1765, at the time of one of his children's christening, recorded in the Saint-Anne registries, that he was a "farmer of Quinchien". By the designation of "Quinchien", name of a river that irrigated the region, we designate all the territory occupied today by the municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion. This occupation of "farmer" is confirmed in a certificate of donation "inter vivos" passed on December 23rd 1791 and in his burial certificate. The ancestor of French Canadian Besner family was thus a farmer the rest of his life.

The parish registers of Vaudreuil reveal that, on November 27th 1768, "Jean-Baptiste Bezenaire" bought the piece of land number 29 at the 3rd concession (on the north of the long strip of farmland), in the "Petite Côte" (Small Hill) of Vaudreuil. He probably already occupied the land bearing the same number 29, but located at the south of the road. He was enriching the family heritage. Athanase, one of his great grand sons, spent his life on lot 29 north, and another Félix, on the lot 29 south, on which stands today, an area of the city of Dorion know as the "Dorion Gardens".

Tradition states that this land be situated in the "Petite Côte" (Small Hill), then named "Côte des français" ( Frenchs' Hill), because many of the concessions that were made by the seignior, the Marquis of Vaudreuil, Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnal, then governor general of New-France, were accorded to French demobilized soldiers during set-backs accompanying the loss of his colony. The first concessions in this seigniory were situated perpendicular to the Ottawa River and to a small road still named Quinchien and St-Charles street. When we looked at the surveyors plans of "Petite Côte", it is designed as a large "double concession", that is to say, comprising land allotments on either side of a road, the second concession being south of that road, and the third to the north.

These ancestral lands are found on route 342, named route Harwood in the current city of Vaudreuil-Dorion, not far from highway 20. The one I have the most information on is the 3rd concession or on the north side. The motel "Hill Top" sits in that area on top of the hill, neighbor to an ordinary house surrounded with large trees that meet up with a loose stone roadway that goes up the hill on a diagonal. Since 1996, a road side rest area was built close to this house.

In the mid 1960's, I came in contact with a descendant of Athanase-IV Besner, son of

Michel-III, who occupied a plot of on the ancestral land. He confirmed that his neighbor lived on the site of a old house that belonged to the ancestors. It was a Belgian that lived on those grounds at that time, and he also confirmed that the chain of titles to the property went back to Jean Bazanaire. It's from him I learned that the house he occupied, dating from the 1950's, was built on the old stone foundations that were five feet wide, probably the ones from the ancient house built by Jacques-II. I assure you, that the view from this site, overlooking Dorion, Vaudreuil and the Ottawa River is breathtaking. I returned there with a Dubeau cousin in September 1994: I did not get very far, for we were greeted by big mean dogs and people who came to the front to let us know that we were not welcomed. We learned that the owner was the same person who owned the motel my questions, the young occupants confirmed that, indeed, the basement of their house rests on a very large stone wall.

On Saturday January 24th 1997, I met Richard Besner, a young "pot-à-boire" (from the earlier nickname "prêt-à-boire") interested in his origins; he has in his possession a film with the original house before it was demolished. He got this "super-8" film from his great uncle Armand Besner, a pharmacist, and is dated from 1943. These images shows us a Canadian house from room to room, with an off-center chimney in the inside of the west wall. Converting a few extracts of the film to color photographs represented a challenge and the results were not spectacular.

There is a Museum that doubles as a Research Center in Vaudreuil

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