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Home: Surnames: Tessier Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: Tessier land in downtown Montreal
Posted by: Jan Nearing Date: August 19, 1999 at 20:37:29
In Reply to: Re: Tessier land in downtown Montreal by Jerry Lesperance of 1315

Funny how these stories go, isn't it? I have a copy of the lawsuit, filed back in 1930. The whole thing was a scam, and admittedly a big one. What happened was that through the years, the land originally granted to Urbain was passed to the Sulpician priests who built the Basilica de Notre Dame at 424 Rue Saint-Sulpice. The land was divided in redivided in each succeding generation. The premise of the suit was that the series of wills which passed this land out of family hands were improperly executed, and therefore the "legitimate heirs" of UTdL were entitled to remuneration.

What ended up happening is that each and every known descendent of UTdL who could be found was contacted. For the princely sum of $1 you too could become a shareholder in the Corporation Tessier dit Lavigne. The more shares you purchased, the bigger the share of the promised recovered money you could enjoy. The attorneys who perpetuated this scam were able to enjoy a handsome profit throughout the Depression. They brought suit against the Sulpician priests, the Banc du Montreal and the Archdiocese.

Well, it obviously was all about getting money out of these organizations, since you couldn't very well tear down the buildings and divide the property amongst the more than 250,000 known descendents who bought into this fiasco.

Long and short is, the wills were deemed properly executed. An attorney who reviewed it for my family laughed at the very premise that there was enough clout--especially when most of the descendents had never set foot in Quebec--to sue the Catholic Church and the largest bank in Canada. No one ever saw any money. There was some activity on this case, though, through the 1970's (so the one posting was partly correct). The hard-nosed descendents who either were too stubborn to admit defeat or swore that there really was something to this took the case to: a) The World Court, b) The Vatican (twice), c) Her Majesty the Queen (like she's really going to have anything to say...and if she did...could she really make the British Parliament reverse these series of actions for a bunch of French-Canadian descendents 300 years after the fact?!?!?)

From what I understand from a cousin, in case you ever make it up there, stop in at the Rectory. The priests are well versed on the whole story and will give you a "token" (commemorative) coin in reparation if you tell them you're a descendent.

And at least from a genealogy standpoint, this case was a treasure-trove, as every person joining the corporation had to file their genealogy with the court to prove their "legitimate heir" status. The records are available at the Canadian National Archives for review and copying.

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