The Will of Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson

Je Me Souviens – Volume 33 Number 2 – Autumn 2010

I am a new AFGS member.  My first visit was directly related to the Genealogical Research certificate program at Boston University.  One of our many assignments was to visit a repository and view a manuscript.  For the assignment, manuscript was defined as “an unpublished one-of-a kind item not available online, on microfilm, or digitized.”  I was very fortunate to look at the one qualifying document at AFGS – the handwritten will of Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson of Terrebonne, Quebec.

Physically, this is a leather bound book, about 9×12 inches, with gold lettering on the cover.  There are more than 50 sheets of paper.  Every 4 sheets are folded and held together with string stitching.  The paper is thick, with wide lines and a marked margin at the bound edge. The entire document is written with a fountain pen in beautiful script.

The original will is dated Sunday, 27 August 1871.  It was written at her writing desk in her bedroom.  The three codicils were added on 23 June 1879 (17 pages), 29 December 1879 (7 pages), and 1 April 1880 (6 pages).  Each of the four portions are notarized and witnessed.

Not only was it amazing to just view this document, the more I looked through the pages, the more there was to be amazed at!  Each page is numbered.  Each sheet is written on both front and back.  At the bottom of each page is the first word for the next page.  There are a few places were edit marks are inserted with a corresponding mark in the margin along with additional words for the text.  Most amazing was the low number of crossed out words!  I counted six errors made while writing the one hundred pages.

In addition to the excellent penmanship, I was in awe over the organization of the document.  The original will is divided into seven Articles, each of which has specific sections, within which the paragraphs are all numbered.  Between the Articles is beautiful scroll work that is amazingly consistent.  And the thick paper does a wonderful job of keeping the ink from seeping through so the text is very legible and could be photocopied clearly.

The document is in excellent condition.  There are a few finger marks, smudges, and a little dirt close to the binding.  There are a few stains; two of which were most likely ink blots from the time it was written. There are some English translations written in pencil from previous reviewers.  And, there are a few notes that were written in the margin and then erased.

My French being a little rusty, I did not try to read too many of the pages.  However, I did look for the beginning of the bequests and found that the bequests in Article I of the original will totaled almost $18,000.  Several of these were to religious persons or organizations.  Article II included bequests that were to be made annually and totaled at least $2,000 per year.  Between these numbers and the specific terminology used, it was easy to tell that this was a family of means.

A couple of weeks later, another assignment required that we treat our repository document as something a client brought us in an efforts to learn more about their ancestor.  Well, Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson was a remarkable woman!

A Timeline History of Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada:[1]

1673  Title deeds delivered to French citizen, Mr. Andrew Daulia Deslandes, secretary general of the West India Company
1681  Louis Lecompte Dupre bought the lordship of Terrebonne
1707 – 1710 Louis Lecompte Dupre build the first mill in Terrebonne
1720  Louis Lepage de Ste Claire bought the lordship
1734  Louis Lepage de Ste Claire builds the first church in Terrebonne
1832  Joseph Masson[2] acquired lordship of Terrebonne, a vast territory that included the time the lordship of Saint-Anne-des-Plaines and Sainte-Sophie-de-Lacorne, and developed its commerce and industry
1834  The 1st bridge was build between Terrebonne and the city of LaPlaine
1860  The village became the town of Terrebonne
1985  Terrebonne merged with the city of LaPlaine
2001  A three-way merge between LaChenaie, LaPlaine, and Terrebonne

            Terrebonne, Quebec, settled in 1673, is now 59.7 square miles with a population over 94,000.  It is located at the geographic coordinates of 45o42’N 73o39’W.  It is considered a suburb of Montreal in the western area of the province of Quebec.  Terrebonne is north of Montreal, on the shores of the Riviere des Mille-Iles and the Riviere des Prairies.  It remains divided into three sectors which represent the three previously distinct cities.  More information can be found at the city’s website:[3]

A Timeline for Joseph and Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson:

Joseph Masson, seigneur de Terrebonne
Date Age Event
1791 Jan 5   Joseph was born in St. Eustache, Quebec the son of Antoine Masson, and Suzanne Pfeiffer (or Payfer).
1798   Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond was born, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Raymond and Marie-Clotilde Girardin
1818 20 Joseph Masson and Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond are married
1819 March 21 21 Birth of their first child, Joseph Wilfred A. R. Masson
1820 Aug 8 22 Birth of second child, Marie Sophie Hermine Clotilde Masson
1822 Aug 20 24 Birth of third child, Marie Charlote Eliza Masson
1822 Nov 24 24 Death of their child, Marie Sophie Hermine Clotilde Masson
1824 July 15 26 Birth of fourth child, Marie Adelaide Elodie Masson
Oct 17
26 Death of their child, Marie Charlote Eliza Masson
1826 Apr 5 28 Birth of fifth child, Eduoard Masson
1828 Oct 6 30 Birth of sixth child, Marie Angelique Sophie Masson
1830 April 9 32 Birth of seventh child, Jean Masson
Dec 28
33 Death of child, Jean Masson
1832 Feb 6 34 Birth of eighth child, Jean Paul Romuald Masson
1833 Nov 7 35 Birth of ninth child, Louis Francois Roderick Masson
Jan 31
36 Birth of tenth child, Henri Masson
1838 June 2 40 Birth of eleventh child, Louis Hugues Robertine Masson
1840 Mar 27 42 Birth of twelfth child, Marie Sophie Catherine Axelma Masson
1847 May 15 49 Joseph Masson dies ; sometime thereafter Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson lost ½ her fortune because civil law did not recognize women[4]
1848-1854 56 Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson constructs Masson manor, referred to as a ‘castle’
    Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson founded College Masson
May 17
73 Death of child, Joseph Wilfred A. R. Masson
1875 May 8 77 Death of child, Edouard Masson
1880 June 27 82 Death of child, Henri Masson
1882/1883   Death of Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson in Terrebonne, Quebec

            Daughter of Jean Baptiste Raymond and Marie-Clotilde Girardin[5], Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond was probably educated as a young girl.  She married and was biological mother to 12 children, seven sons, and five daughters.  Four of her children died as infants or toddlers.  Three other children pre-deceased their mother, along with some in-laws and grandchildren.[6] Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson lost her only husband when he was 56, but continued her husband’s projects in a time when women were not expected to do such things.

            Joseph’s sudden death left the project of their stately home incomplete.  Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond  Masson took the reins of that project from 1848 to 1854 and took possession of the building at Christmas, 1854.  For nearly 30 years, the ‘castle’ (as it was fondly referred to) was the scene of a brilliant social life for the religious and political elites.[7]

            Another of the widow’s projects was to help Bishop Tache in the mission of St. Boniface.  This eventually became College Masson on rue Saint-Louis.  Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond also participated generously in the construction of a new parish church.

            On-line articles indicate that the mansion was bequeathed to the Sisters of Providence, which opened the Hospice Sainte-Sophie just five years later.  This will be confirmed with a formal translation of the provided document.  The home was closed in 1888 and reopened fourteen years later by the fathers of the Most Blessed Sacrament.[8]

            A strong, determined woman, Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond Masson’s legacy is not as well documented as that of her husband, Joseph.  The couple is memorialized in Terrebonne through buildings, streets, plaques, and parks.

Their descendants remained in the geographic area for several generations and continued to contribute to the local history through public service, military service and commercial pursuits.

Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada would be a lovely place to plan a family vacation and learn much more about these ancestors who made such a momentous contribution to the town, the province, and the country in the 1800’s.

Your facility is extremely rich with resources.  This document may truly be your ‘crown jewel’!

1. Masson, Marie Genevieve Sophie Raymond. Mon Testament. Self published. Manuscript. American French Genealogical Society Library. Woonsocket, Rhode Island. 27 July 2010.

[1]“Ma Ville en Historie, ” ( : accessed 11 August 2010) and “Terrebonne Quebec,” (,_Quebec : accessed 11 August 2010) and “Le College : Joseph Masson,” College Saint  ( : accessed 11 August 2010) ); using on-line translation software to view in English.

[2] Translation software on the Internet will change the name to ‘Joseph Martinez’

[3] “Terrebonne Quebec,” (,_Quebec : accessed 11 August 2010)

[4] “Resurrections dans le Vieux – La Prairie,” MonteregieWeb ( : accessed 11 August 2010).

[5] “Jean Baptiste Raymond,” ( : accessed 11 August 2010)

[6] This information is unverified, merely taken from other people’s public trees on

[7] “Le College : Manoir Masson de Terrebonne,” College Saint (  : accessed 11 August 2010); used on-line translation software to view in English.

[8] “Le College : Fathers of the Most Blessed Sacrement,” College Saint (  : accessed 11 August 2010); used on-line translation software to view in English.