A Petition against the Seigneurial Regime
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Canada at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century
A Petition against the Seigneurial Regime
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A Petition against the Seigneurial Regime

The seigneurial regime had been established during the era of New France, and it was intended to promote the development of agriculture and increase the population of the colony.
In Lower Canada, most farmers did not own their land but gave part of their harvest as payment to the landowner. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
In Lower Canada, most farmers did not own their land but gave part of their harvest as payment to the landowner. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
The majority of the seigneuries had been distributed along the Saint Lawrence River: near Quebec, Trois-Rivieres and Montreal (Ville Marie). At the end of the seventeenth century, other seigneuries were created along the Richelieu River, in Beauce and around Lake Champlain.

The seigneurs, whether English or French, owned the land and demanded rents from the peasants who cultivated and lived on it. At the end of the 18th century, in Lower Canada, most of the good land was taken and the seigneurs demanded higher and higher rents. Most families found this burden too heavy to bear.

The system angered the peasants. On November 23, 1832 the habitants of the county of Two Mountains sent a petition to their elected representatives:

"(...) a great many seigneurs [...] treated these lands as if they had absolute authority over them, selling and transferring them at exorbitant prices, by means of illegal contracts, while His Majesty's 'Canadien' subjects have not, until now, been protected against these abuses."

The shortage of land forced the young habitants to clear lands in ever more remote regions or to abandon agriculture altogether and find work in the city.
Louis Duquet and his family had to build a new homestead after they were evicted from their farm in Lower Canada for non-payment of rent. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Louis Duquet and his family had to build a new homestead after they were evicted from their farm in Lower Canada for non-payment of rent. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Discontent was growing in the countryside of Lower Canada

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