REMOTE NOTARIAL DEED: Since April 1st, notaries are allowed to sign a notarized document remotely. This is not compulsory and notaries are free to use this additional tool or not. Consult the steps and application procedures.
CHAMBRE DES NOTAIRES OFFICES: The Chambre des notaires continues its activities remotely. The offices are closed to clients, but services continue to be offered.  Additional delays are to be expected for search requests to the Registers of Testamentary Dispositions and Mandates and requests for certificates of quality and authenticity.


Home > The Profession > History of Notarial Practice in Québec

History of Notarial Practice in Québec

Québec was first colonized by France in the early 17th century. It was not long before New France realized it would need to validate contracts and enforce the will of the parties. A few inhabitants who knew how to write started drawing up contracts for themselves and for others.

In 1663, Louis XIV, King of France, reorganized the colony, creating the Sovereign Council to which he delegated the power to appoint notaries. In the early years of the colony, when Québec was still called New France, notaries were the only practitioners of law. In 1663, there were already 26 notaries along the St. Lawrence River. Their number and duties continued to expand under the French regime, and many notaries were executing tasks that would otherwise have been carried out by lawyers if they had not been ousted from the judicial organization by royal edict.

After the British conquest of New France in 1778, the governor divided the legal tasks between lawyers and notaries. This separation of the two judicial functions followed more or less the same division of tasks between barristers and solicitors in England.

In 1785, an edict imposed a prior requirement on the exercise of the profession: five years of articling with a lawyer, followed by an examination by the chief judge and two competent barristers. These examiners could then recommend the candidate's admission to the governor.

It was only in 1847 that the three regional professional chambers were established, covering the territories of Montréal, Québec City and Trois-Rivières, subsequently responsible for governing the exercise of the notarial profession. Two years later, the Act to Incorporate the Bar of Lower Canada entrusted the new professional order with controlling access to the profession of lawyer.

The "Provincial Chamber of Notaries" – the ancestor of the Chambre des notaires du Québec – was created in 1870 from the merger of these three local chambers.

Due to their functions and the relationships they have with their clients, notaries have been front-row witnesses to the changes and upheavals that have helped fashion contemporary Québec.

Today, the notarial profession is practised by some 3,800 notaries, men and women alike, all across Québec.

History of Notarial Practice in Québec