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Robillard Family Fonds (P106)

Inventory of common property owned by Catherine Brabant (1776?-1810) and Michel Robillard (1772-1838) (detail), April 1, 1811. Gift of Mr. Peter Williamson, Robillard Family Fonds P106, P106/A3.1,1.1 © McCord Museum

From the kitchen of Braerob Farm

"First, the following was found and inventoried in the kitchen:
one trammel, value of forty sols
one coal shovel, estimate of fifty sols
three flatirons, total estimate of seven francs
two tin bowls, total value of seven francs
one drip pan and one coffee pot, total estimate of [one hundred?] sols

This 1811 inventory of common property owned by Michel Robillard and Catherine Brabant, conducted several months after the latter's death, goes on for nearly nine pages. It lists the contents of the dining room, the attic and outbuildings, itemizes the household's revenues, debts, titles and papers, and describes the land where their home is located. This estate inventory provides a glimpse into the material lives of this family from the settlement known as Côte Sainte-Marie. Interestingly, nearly 50 years after the English conquest, the estimated value of the goods was still expressed in French currency!

There is little doubt that the home described in this inventory is the Maison Michel-Robillard, better known in the 20th century as Braerob Farm. In about 1797, the year he married Catherine Brabant, Michel Robillard had a farmhouse built on this land owned by his family, a building that still stands on Ste-Marie Road, in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. The Robillard family had owned the property land for nearly two centuries when the Williamson family took it over in 1932. Of Scottish origin, the Williamsons named the property "Braerob": "brae" is a Scottish word for hillside, while "rob" was a nod to the first occupants, the Robillards.

Neglected for over a decade, this rare relic of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue's agrarian past is still waiting to be given a new use.

P106 Robillard Family Fonds. - [1739-1943]. - 12 cm of textual records.

Biographical Sketch

This fonds focusses on Robillard family members who lived primarily in the settlements of Côte Sainte-Anne, Côte Sainte-Marie, Côte Sainte-Geneviève, Côte de Pointe-Claire, and Île Bizard. Located in Montreal's West Island, these areas are known today as the cities of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Baie-d'Urfé, Kirkland and Pointe-Claire, the village of Senneville, and the Montreal boroughs of Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève.

In 1739, Claude Robillard (1712-1796?) was granted a parcel of land in Côte Sainte-Marie, along Ste-Marie Road in modern-day Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. Married to Marie Élisabeth Daoust (1717-1748) in 1735, Robillard wed Marie Anne Cardinal (1701?-1778?) in 1750 following his first wife's death. Together, these unions produced at least 11 children, including Élisabeth Marie Isabelle (1736-1793), Marie Josephe (1738-1816), who married Louis Saint-Denis in 1757, and Joseph Marie (1740-1814).

Joseph Marie inherited a large portion of the family property in Côte Sainte-Marie and, in 1762, married Marie Reine Ranger (1742?-1817?). The couple had at least nine children, including Marie Reine (1766-?), the wife of Joseph Legault, Marie Geneviève (1768-1859?) and Michel (1772-1838).

Joseph Robillard (1722-1784), Claude's brother, also lived in Côte Sainte-Marie. With his wife Marie Joseph Ranger (1730?-before 1784), whom he married in 1751, Joseph had at least 10 children, including Joseph (1751-?), who settled in Île Bizard, Nicolas (1753¬-?) and Marie Geneviève (1761-1785).

Michel Robillard married Catherine Brabant (1776?-1810) in 1797, the same year he had a farmhouse built on the family property he had inherited. This house, located on what is now Ste-Marie Road, has been designated a heritage building under the name "Maison Michel-Robillard." Following the death of Catherine Brabant, Michel Robillard married Felicite Sureau (1785-1834) in 1811. These two marriages produced at least 24 children, including Angélique (1803-1834), Euphrosine (1804-1891?), Josette (Josephte) (1808-1890), Scholastique (1806?-1881?), Sévère (1814?-1875), Marie Euphémie (1819-1873), Marceline (1824-1874) and Joseph Michel (?-1875).

Married in 1848 to Adelaide Gemme (James) dit Carrière (1824-1878), Sévère Robillard settled on the farm formerly occupied by his parents. He and his wife had at least 12 children, including Aldéric (1853-1906), Odile (1855-1939), Parmenie (1859-1922?), Emma (1860-1927) and Marie Joséphine Félicité (1848-1883). Sévère took an active role in managing the family's landholdings, working with his brother, Joseph Michel.

The family property was then inherited by Aldéric Robillard, who had no children. As a result, upon his death it was transferred to his cousin Pierre Robillard, and then to Pierre's son, Napoléon Robillard (husband of Parmenie Robillard, his 3rd cousin), who owned it until 1928. The property was purchased in 1932 by the Williamson family, who dubbed it "Braerob Farm" and owned it until the late 20th century.

Scope and Content

The fonds documents the activities of six generations of Robillard family members, members of related families and close friends, from the mid-18th to the early 20th century. It chronicles the accumulation, administration and transmission of the family's assets, particularly land. There is information about the key alliances the Robillards formed with certain families (through marriage and various land transactions), such as the Saint-Denis, Legaults (dit Desloriers), Rangers and Pilons, as well as associations entered into among cousins, likely in an effort to consolidate the family's property.

This fonds makes a significant contribution to the history of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Montreal's West Island by providing information about some of the Francophone families who settled in and shaped the area. In particular, it chronicles the island of Montreal's agrarian past and the land tenure system created by the seigneurial regime.

It contains several notarial acts documenting the marriages and estates of various Robillard family members. A substantial number of the documents focus on the administration of the family's assets over the generations: legal documents (land grants, sales, exchanges, transfers, donations, quittances and inventories) in addition to survey records and reports. The fonds also contains archives (genealogical notes, a biographical text and correspondence) tracing the history of certain Robillard family members and Braerob Farm.

Finally, several notarial documents record the administration of landholdings by individuals or families, such as the Humerdeau family, whose association with the Robillards has not been established.

Source of title proper: Title based on the creators of the fonds.

Physical condition: Some fragile documents are cracking along the fold lines.

Immediate source of acquisition: David Ross McCord acquired some of the documents in this fonds in 1919 and 1929, but Peter Williamson donated most of the documents to the McCord Museum in 1967.

Language: The documents are in French, English and Spanish, but primarily in French.

Finding aids: A paper inventory of the documents is available for consultation.

Associated material:

BAnQ (Old Montreal): Le fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Greffes d'arpenteurs. (CA601) contains the subdivision plan for the property in the estate of J. Lanthier (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Parish), drawn up by surveyor Claude-Élie Rinfret, which mentions a Mr. Robillard.

The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries, sub-subseries and files:


Last update: August 30, 2017