Keep­ing the records straight

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

In small towns, some­times peo­ple work­ing in pub­lic ser­vice can be­come like wel­come fix­tures in the com­mu­nity, lo­cal re­sources that are missed af­ter they’re gone. One such per­son is sure to be Jeanne Comeau who has been

work­ing at the Stanstead Registry Of­fice for the last thirty-five years, ex­cept for a brief hia­tus of a few years, and is re­tir­ing this Fri­day.

“Af­ter thirty-five years of help­ing ev­ery­one, not just ge­neal­o­gists, with the search for land records, wills and con­tracts, Jeanne Comeau will take her manda­tory re­tire­ment next week. She has cheer­fully brought out those huge vol­umes of reg­is­ter books and plot maps and plans for ev­ery­one who has called on her both in per­son and by phone. We will miss her,” wrote lo­cal Stanstead his­to­rian and ge­neal­o­gist, David Lepitre.

Jeanne be­gan work­ing at the Stanstead Registry Of­fice, where all the doc­u­ments re­lated to land trans­ac­tions for much of the ter­ri­tory of the Mem­phrem­a­gog MRC are reg­is­tered, in 1976. While giv­ing Claire Cournoyer a driv­ing les­son in her first car, she was told about the job open­ing at the Registry Of­fice and went for it. “I worked with Mrs. Cournoyer un­til she re­tired in 1987. The staff of­ten changed but not the work. We wrote all the trans­ac­tions in the old in­dex, which dated back to around 1892, un­til the in­for­ma­tion was com­put­er­ized in 2002,” ex­plained Mrs. Comeau.

Be­fore 2002, any­one look­ing for in­for­ma­tion re­lated to land trans­ac­tions: ge­neal­o­gists, no­taries, sur­vey­ors, real es­tate bro­kers or fam­ily his­to­ri­ans, went to the Registry Of­fice where Jeanne would help them find what they were look­ing for in the huge vol­umes that lined the walls of the walk-in vault. “I knew all the no­taries, all the land sur­vey­ors be­cause we had all the land plans here, all the bro­kers who came to re­search deeds and check for servi­tudes. Some­times peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed with what they find out,” she com­mented.

“Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how much in­for­ma­tion is pub­lic, like how much a neigh­bour’s prop­erty sold for. Some­times peo­ple just want to find out the his­tory of their hun­dred year-old home,” she added.

Jeanne’s tasks at the Registry Of­fice changed af­ter the records were all com­put­er­ized. “They came with a big truck on a Fri­day to pick up all the books; we had to seal up every­thing. It was all brought to Que­bec, scanned over the week­end, and by Mon­day morn­ing all the in­for­ma­tion, ex­cept for the land plans which were done a lit­tle later, was up on the in­ter­net,” said Jeanne.

From then on peo­ple could do their own re­search on the govern­ment’s new web­site: www. reg­istre­foncier.gouv.qc.ca. “I didn’t have to han­dle the books so much, they were pretty heavy, and peo­ple didn’t come to the Registry Of­fice so much any­more. I missed that con­tact with peo­ple a lot. I had to sit a lot more in front of the com­puter,” she ad­mit­ted. “But there are still some peo­ple who don’t know how to do the re­search on the in­ter­net. I have five com­put­ers here that I use to show peo­ple how to do the re­search or some­times I do it for them.”

Also un­der the roof of the Registry Of­fice, since 2006, is a “Ser­vices Que­bec” desk. “I took a month of train­ing to learn all the Que­bec govern­ment ser­vices. A Ser­vices Que­bec out­let is like the ‘porte d’en­trée’ to the govern­ment of Que­bec, pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion about any Min­istry or or­ga­ni­za­tion within the govern­ment. If we can’t give you the in­for­ma­tion you need, we’ll tell you where to find it,” said Mrs. Comeau.

Asked what she’ll miss most about her job, Jeanne an­swered that she would miss her co-work­ers, in­clud­ing her re­place­ment, Carolyne Tel­lier, who she has been care­fully train­ing since Septem­ber. “I have a lot of projects planned and I’d like to travel and do some vol­un­teer work, maybe find a job of one or two days a week. I had a nice ca­reer and now it’s time to do some­thing else.”

On be­half of the com­mu­nity, thanks Jeanne for over three decades of keep­ing the records straight!

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Jeanne Comeau, seen here with one of the an­cient registry books at the Registry Of­fice, is re­tir­ing af­ter al­most thirty-five years of metic­u­lous record keep­ing.

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