Records of Incorporation for Montreal Businesses

Gary Perlman -

This is a draft document about how to find the records of incorporation for a business in Montreal. It might be a subset of the possibilities, and there might be inaccuracies. Document location:

Companies can bind people as closely as family, and often support whole families through generations. Incorporating a business creates a legal entity, and the documents related to incorporation are worthy of genealogical research. They name the people directly involved in the company, and can also name people with possible interest in the company (e.g., spouses, with references to marriage contracts and the notaries who recorded them).

There are records of corporate documents at the BAnQ Vieux-Montréal (Bibliothèque at Archives nationales du Québec, Old Montreal). To access them, I think you need a BAnQ card, or at least a client number and password, which you can get from the BAnQ site: I don't know if the BAnQ Vieux-Montréal can make you a card, but it's just a short walk up Berri to the new BAnQ building (la Grande Bibliothèque). You might need to be a Quebec resident. Many of the BAnQ Vieux-Montréal staff speak English, but knowing some French is useful.

Because the documents are not online, you need to go to the archive. There might be some research that you can do online, but that would be for step 2 of a 3-step process.

My search started at the BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, 535 Avenue Viger Est, Montréal, QC H2L 2P3, Canada. I took the Metro, Orange line, to Champ-de-Mars and walked a few blocks, but the Berri-UQàM metro is about the same distance walk. The Berri-UQàM Metro is right next to the main BAnQ, la Grande Bibliothèque.

Once inside the building, there is a reception to sign in. I tell them I am there for genealogical research. Up the stairs, there are lockers to store a bag or other items for a $2 refundable deposit or a picture id. There are vending machines for snacks, but these are not allowed in the archives. The archives are then up the metal stairs, past the giant statues, and a guard. You are now on the second floor.

Step 1: Find Companies

Step 1 is to find the companies of interest in the Index des raisons sociales - Montréal 1849-1967. There are newer indexes in the same room, and you may want to look in more than one catalogue. It is an old library physical card catalogue that is not online. It looks like this:

You'll find cards like this (it's unusual to be able to pull out the cards): In the case of Ideal Dress, the Dissolutions happen at the same time as the following incorporation; to change a corporation -- you don't change the corporation -- you dissolve it and create a new corporation.

To make it easier to look up the companies online, I place the information in the following table. The order of fields differs from the card catalogue, but more closely matches the online search. In the online search, records are organized

  1. by type: O=Ordinaire, PS=Personne Seule (an individual), CFS=Compagnies à Fonds Social (joint stock),
  2. then volume,
  3. then number,
although there are exceptions. You will want to look for all the Os, then the PSs, and the CFSs, with volume number increasing. It's a truly awful system. As a consolation, I've made a worksheet to record your information.
Type Vol No Notes
O 41 665 Ideal Dress Co.
O 43 556 Ideal Dress Co. Dissolution
O 50 690 Ideal Dress Co.
PS 18 936 Ideal Dress Co.
PS 24 140 Ideal Dress Co. Dissolution
PS 72 295 Canadian Cleaning Supply Co.
CFS 15 160 Canadian Cleaning Supply Co.
CFS 25 223 Superex Ltd.

Step 2: Find and Request Documents

Log in to any of the computers scattered throughout the building. There are a few right next to the card catalogues of the Index des raisons sociales, and there are some on the 4th floor service desk. To log in, you will need your BAnQ 8-digit card number and password (which, for me, is also an 8-digit number). There is very good wireless service, BAnQ-Public, for which you use the same BAnQ number and password. Internet access is very fast.

Step 2 is to find the records in the BAnQ database, which is online (French only) under Pistard, for which you will want Recherche avancée (Advanced Search): To get there from the BAnQ home page,, under Outils de Recherche (Search Tools), choose Archives and then Recherche avancée.

Some friendly staff helped fill in the form, and it's lucky (or by design) that the search results can be bookmarked: Contenant. Otherwise, you'd need to enter:

and click on RECHERCHER at the bottom. Then, click on TP11,S2,SS20,SSS48 or Déclarations, and then click on Voir les contenants. You will see:

The search terms are not the only obscure aspects of the search. The 63 pages of results are in groups of different types of companies, and are not well-ordered. Let's go back to the index card.

There are five entries in five different volumes. 41-O (ordinaire), 34-O, 18-PS (personne seule), 24-PS, 50-O. The PS (personnes seules - individuals) series starts at the bottom of page 35 of the results, and the CFS (compagnies à fonds social - joint stock) series starts in the middle of page 49.
Type Page Description
O 1 Ordinaire
PS 35 Personne Seule (Individual)
CFS 49 Compagnies à Fonds Social - Joint Stock

On 2015-12-05, I gathered all the abridged contents and stuck them in a file with the page number of the results. Searching through the list, results are even more scattered than I had thought, which makes the list that much more useful to find the page of results to check. Here is the List of Abridged Results, and here is a simple form to search it:

Search Business Records Type:

You can access this form from any of many computers scattered throughout the building. Just open up a new tab and enter the URL: (on the BAnQ keyboards, the / (slash) is above the 3).

Back to the online search, I'm looking in the regular search for Vol. 41, and the volumes are so poorly ordered that I go page-by-page, searching in the page (Ctrl-F) for "Vol. 41" (with the space, and maybe a comma after the volume would be a good idea). On page 3, I find two matches for "Vol. 41,": one has "nos 1-500" (not the number, 665, I want), and one with "nos 501-1025" (bingo!). I can look at the details (Voir détails) or add it to my cart (Ajouter au panier). If I add it to my cart, I need to add notes for me and the staff, so I add "No. 665" and then I MUST click on the floppy disk icon to save. Then I go on to the other items I want, taking care to look for the PS volumes between pages 35 and 49 of the results. Here is my panier (basket) from another session:

When I am done with all my requests, or at a good stopping point (e.g., 5-10 requests), I print my requests (Imprimer les réquisitions), provide my first name (prénom) and last name (nom). I'm given the option to save my request, for which I would need a USB key for storage. Pay close attention to what happens next!

  1. Any notes, other than the No. are mainly for you; the staff will focus on the No. (or Nos. if there are more than one in the same volume). Avoid special characters in the notes because the software can't handle them, particularly single quotes and ampersands.
  2. Printing at the BAnQ prints the request for the staff, NOT for you.
  3. Printing at the BAnQ does NOT initiate a fetch of your documents. You must go to the customer service desk on the 4th floor, and they will ask for your BAnQ card, although they might accept your BAnQ number.
  4. Your documents will be delivered to an area under the customer service counter.
  5. Each time I indicate that I will be photographing documents, the staff review my permission form (which is apparently on file), look perplexed, and let me photograph the documents.
  6. There are signs in the elevators and next to the service desk that say that original documents can only be reviewed on the 4th floor. During one visit, I was told that all photographs had to be taken on the 5th floor.

A printed request looks something like this:

That document might be a single sheet, drawn from a volume that looks like this pile of pages: or it might be an entry in a heavy book of copies de consultation, like:

Step 3: Process Documents

You can request black&white photocopies of the pages, and I think they cost 30¢ each. You must fill out a form (French-only legal-format: PDF - Word) (French-only letter-format with some fields filled: PDF - Word) for permission to photograph the documents. I asked for general permission to photograph documents from "Index des raisons sociales - Montréal", but "Business Records" might do as well. Approval can be obtained in minutes, but only if an authorized staff member is present, otherwise, it can take days! I suggest filling out the form and submitting it via email at least a day in advance of your visit. Although the form is only in French, the staff all seem to be proficient in English. Despite the automated mail response promising (in French) that you should receive a reply within three weeks, I received a helpful response (in English) in just a few minutes. Once you are authorized to take photographs, the authorization lasts six months. For information in books, which could be damaged by photocopying, photographing might be the only option. There are conditions for photography:

Your final result might look like this document from Vol. 18-P.S. No 936 (which shows why colour photography might be preferred over photocopying):

Or, your final result might look like the following document from CFS vol. 25, No. 223. What is interesting about this document is that it provides a previous name for a company, and that company name can be researched.

Packing List

Before going to the BAnQ - Vieux Montréal...


Gary Schroder, president of the Quebec Family History Society, showed me this source of information and how to access it.