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Verdon Family Fonds (P108)

Codicil of Thérèse Chamereau (1804-1865), wife of Benjamin Verdon (1805?-1892) (detail), 1865. Verdon Family Fonds P108, P108/A1,2.1 © McCord Museum

An adopted daughter's rights and duties

"To Marie Jary dit Henrichon, my niece who lives with me, and Elise McGery, my adopted daughter, I give and bequeath, to each, a sum of one hundred dollars of lawful money of this province that will be paid to them by my heirs immediately after the death of my husband, Benjamin Verdon, once the obligations and charges mentioned in my will have been fulfilled."

In nearly 42 years of marriage, Benjamin Verdon and Thérèse Chamereau never had any children of their own. That is why, in 1865, when Thérèse Chamereau knew she was dying, she named her niece and one Elise McGery, whom she identified as her adopted daughter, as heirs. In addition to the aforementioned 100 dollars, the two young women were entitled to a cow and various pieces of furniture.

Quebec did not establish a legal framework to regulate adoptions until the year 1924. However, up to then, the practice of de facto adoption was more widespread than one would think. More often than not, such cases would involve a childless couple taking responsibility for a relative or close friend (neighbour, friend or colleague) of a family they knew. This would happen following the death of the child's parents or because the parents were unable to fulfil their duties. Apart from concerns about lineage, this practice, in the best-case scenario, would provide the adopted children with a comfortable life and future, while the adoptive parents would gain an additional worker in the household and a source of care in their old age.

It was therefore not surprising that the codicil of Thérèse Chamereau specified that "the bequest to the aforementioned Elise McGery is made on the express condition that she remain with the aforementioned Benjamin Verdon [...] and work for him until she marries." Was it perhaps to avoid these obligations that the young woman went on to marry within the year? History does not provide the answer.


P108 Verdon Family Fonds. - [1788-1890]. - 3 cm of textual records.

Biographical Sketch

Laurent Verdon (1760-1818?) was the son of Pierre Verdon (1715-1799) and Marguerite Groulx (1725-1793), inhabitants of the parish of St. Laurent (Côte de Vertu). He had at least one sister, Marie Amable, and one brother, Benjamin, who worked as a tanner in Côte des Neiges. In 1774, Laurent Verdon received 63 acres of land from his father, along with a house and some buildings. Less than 10 years later, in 1783, he married Marie Angélique Courtin (1765?-1810?). The couple had eight children: Benjamin (1805-1892), Jean-Baptiste (married to Elizabeth Hébert in 1826), Toussaint (married to Magdelaine Nadon in 1830), Angélique, Marguerite, Marie Anne, Marie Louise and Marie Amable.

A farmer by trade as well as a landowner, Benjamin Verdon married Thérèse Chamereau (1804-1865) in 1823. The couple lived in the parish of St. Laurent, on a property bordering the Chemin du Roy (and possibly inherited from Laurent Verdon). They lived there until at least some time in the 1840s, even though they had acquired 32 acres of land in the seigneury of Saint-Georges, in about November 1838. Although we do not know the exact date that the couple moved to the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, we do know that in 1858, Benjamin Verdon was a farmer in the parish of Saint-Édouard (today the municipality of Saint-Édouard), located in the seigneury of Saint-Georges, in the county of Napierville. Thanks to various land transactions, his property expanded in the following years.

Although Benjamin Verdon and Thérèse Chamereau had no children of their own, they took in the latter's niece and adopted an orphan named Elise McGery. Following his wife's death, Benjamin married Mary Ellen Burns (?-?), in 1868. The couple had one son, Joseph Benjamin, born in 1872. Benjamin Verdon later left Saint-Édouard to move to the city of Montreal, where he died in 1892.

Scope and Content

The fonds focusses primarily on Benjamin Verdon's properties and land transactions when he was a farmer in the parish of St. Laurent, on the island of Montreal, and then in the parish of Saint-Édouard, in the seigneury of Saint-Georges in the county of Napierville.

Various notarial documents (relinquishment, release and surrender, exchange) chronicle the acquisition, administration and transfer of landholdings by certain Verdon friends and family in St. Laurent, between 1815 and 1842. There are contracts involving Benjamin Verdon, as well as some with his father Laurent, Louis Verdon (possibly Benjamin's cousin), and Pierre Verdon, père and fils (possibly Benjamin's uncle and cousin).

Several notarized contracts and receipts also document transactions that Benjamin Verdon conducted with residents of the parish of Saint-Édouard, between 1858 and 1882. There are, for example, documents mentioning the sale of land to Benjamin Verdon by Joseph Bombardier and Jacques Levert (represented by his widow, Célina Giroux), along with transactions involving Cyprien Bombardier, Joseph Gaspard Laviolette, Auguste Demers, Ambroise Ouellette, Edmond Angers, Joseph Richard and various members of the Chamereau dit St-Vincent family, who were related to the Verdons by Benjamin's marriage with Thérèse.

In addition, the fonds documents the personal lives of Benjamin Verdon and Thérèse Chamereau, namely their marital union and testamentary provisions, through a promise of marriage, a marriage contract, a will and a codicil. There is also a poem inspired by the sinking of a ship near La Prairie in the late 18th century and a receipt for a subscription to the newspaper L'Union nationale.

Several notarial documents chronicle how Chamereau dit St-Vincent family members administered landholdings in Côte des Neiges, the parish of Saint-Martin on Île Jésus, and the parish of St. Laurent. Other documents concern land transactions conducted in the parishes of St. Laurent and Saint-Édouard, although their connection with Verdon properties has not been clearly established.

Finally, it is important to note that several of the notarial documents are copies and that the majority were signed before notary Jean Blain.

Variations in title: Formerly known as the Seigneury Saint-Georges de Napierville Fonds and the Benjamin Verdon Fonds.

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

Physical condition: Several documents are fragile. The pages of some documents are stuck together because of contact with water or some other liquid.

Arrangement: The fonds underwent an initial treatment around 2001 and a new classification plan was adopted in 2017.

Language: The documents are in French.


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

 

Last update: August 30, 2017