Île d'Orléans Seigneury National Historic Site of Canada
Map of the Île d'Orléans Seigneury
© LAC, 1764, (R12601-0-3-F)
1451 Royal Avenue, Saint-Jean-d'Orléans, Quebec
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1636 to 1759
Île d'Orléans Seigneury
Description of Historic Place
Île d’Orléans Seigneury National Historic Site of Canada occupies the entire Île d’Orléans, and includes all surviving built, landscape and archaeological resources from the seigneury that existed there during the French Régime. Located just off the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, near the city of Québec, Île d’Orléans was one of the earliest settled areas of New France. The farmlands are laid out in long, narrow strip plots that extend back from the water, while settlement are linked by the chemin Royal that encircles the island. The surviving houses, outbuildings, windmills, churches, and farmlands illustrate the long-settled history of the island. Official recognition refers to the Île d’Orleans.
Île d’Orléans Seigneury was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1990 because: it has a number of in situ resources surviving from the Seigneurial System during the French Régime and a landscape evocative of that time.
The Île d’Orléans Seigneury was created in 1636 and developed during the 17th century with the construction of a main road encircling the island and the addition of several intersecting roads. The gently rolling land with its many streams provided good farmland. Numerous seigneurs governed the island over the years, with many tenant farmers working under them, leaving a rich collection of managed farmlands, built and archaeological resources. The farms are laid out with fields in long, narrow strips, extending back from the water’s edge and meeting at a point in the centre of the island. Houses with their outbuildings were usually built on the landside of the chemin Royal, looking toward the river. The early division of the island into five parishes (Saint-Pierre, Sainte-Famille, Saint-Francois, Saint-Jean, et Saint-Laurent) reflected its varied geographic characteristics and resulted in the construction of a church to serve each, with processional chapels between.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1990.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location in the St. Lawrence River, northeast of Quebec; the geographic formation of the islands with its rolling and varied topography intersected by streams; the landscape of open fields and woodlots; the long narrow fields extending back from the water; the network of roadways with the chemin Royal encircling the island and secondary roads crossing the island’s width; the concentration of buildings near the chemin Royal and at each parish village; the central location of a church in each parish village; the traditional vernacular form and design of the French Régime churches, notably: the 18th-century Saint-Pierre Church with its original Latin cross plan with semi-circular apse, steeply pitched roofs, fieldstone construction, round-headed openings, single central entry door surmounted by a bull’s-eye window, and interior with vaulted ceiling; the 18th-century Sainte-Famille Church with its Latin cross plan, steeply pitched roofs, twin towers, round-headed openings, centrally placed entry door surrounded by niches, its squared stone construction, and interior tabernacle by the Levasseurs; the 18th-century core of Saint-Jean Church; the traditional vernacular form and design of the French Régime houses with their steeply pitched roofs with dormers and centrally located chimneys, rectangular one-and-a-half storey massing and fieldstone construction, notably the 18th-century Maison Morency-Demers; the 18th-century portions of the Maison Imbeau; the original footprints, design and materials of Maison Poitras; the 18th-century Maison Drouin and Maison Gendreau; the surviving outbuildings and windmills in their form and construction; the heritage character of the Manoir Mauvide Genest National Historic Site of Canada as a remarkable example of a rural seigneurial manor of the 17th century; archaeological resources surviving from the seigneurial regime; the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains relating to the seigneury of the 17th and 18th centuries.