small flourish

How To Use This Site

This Website is an on-line library of source documents and some interpretive material divided into themes. Our goal is to introduce users to methods of conducting archival research. Within each thematic section, documents are classified as we found them and as they would be classified in archives, under document type and date. These are authentic documents that have been retranscribed or reformatted to facilitate reading; they are identical to the originals in the archives. You will find these documents in the same way a historian searching through archives would, and you will also discover terminology from the 18th century. Some detective work is required in order to gather the facts surrounding the events and to pinpoint the cause and the consequences. As with any good mystery, the documents contain clues, contradictions and even false information by mistaken eyewitnesses.

We have included comments in [brackets] when necessary. When a word could not be understood, we indicated it [illegible word] and if we attempted to guess the meaning of a word, we added [?] next to it. If we extracted a section from a larger document, we indicated the omissions with an ellipsis (…).

Surfing the Website

The Torture and the Truth Website is divided into six main sections shown at the top of this page under the titles: Home, The Burning of Montreal, Context, Trial, Aftermath, and Archives. Click on the buttons to surf through these sections. If you get lost, look at the bar at the top to see which button has a black background. When you click on a button at the top of the page, three things will happen: the top bar will indicate the new section, the menu to the left of the page will change and the content of the page will also change. The Introduction button will be in bold type in the menu to the left, as will be the other options depending on the section you are in; in other words, the bar to the left of the Home section will have six options (and the option “How To Use This Site” will be highlighted while it is being used), as well as an option for language selection. If you click on an option from the menu to the left, the content on the page will change, and you will see a list of sources and documents under titles that indicate which sources are available. When you click on one of the sources, it will appear in the middle of the screen. When you have finished reading the information and want to return to the list of source documents, click on the “Back to the Main Page” button at the bottom of the document.

All documents have a link to the “About this Source of Information” option. This option explains why the source document was chosen, how to understand its meaning and how to find additional information on it. It can also be useful in helping you establish the credibility of the information found. To return to the page you were previously on, click on the “Previous” button. To return to a document other than the “Main Page", click on the “Previous” button.

Reference Material

The reference indicating the source of the document and where to find the original is at the end of each document. For maps, photographs and illustrations, reference material can be seen by clicking on the image.


This story begins with the fire that destroyed a section of Montréal in 1734. In the section Montréal Is Burning, you will find out how people related the events that marked the night of April 10, what people lost, and how some individuals took advantage of the confusion to loot or steal. To give you a better understanding of the events, we did some of the work by creating a Context section in which you will find sub-sections on city life, society and criminal justice in Montréal in 1734. In the sub-section “The City” there are numerous descriptions of life in Montréal in the 18th century, as well as descriptions of the built-up sections of the city, and documents on the impact of fires in cities. The sub-section “Society” has to do with the habits of the citizens of Montréal and a socio-economic aspect of life less known about Nouvelle-France: “Slavery”. In order to better understand how the trial unfolded, it is recommended to first go to the “Justice” sub-section. You will discover how Nouvelle-France was governed with an overview of the rules of law, a description of the roles of the various justice officials, and examples of sentences handed down during that era. In the “Reference Material” sub-section there is a “Chronology” of the events related to the fire, the trial and the changes that took place in the city. We have included brief descriptions of the main “Personages” and of the “Prominent Institutions and Landmarks” mentioned in the documents. Less common words are defined in the “Glossary”. All documents on the trial of Angélique are under the Trial section. The sub-sections subdivide the various steps in the trial that led to her execution.

In the Aftermath section you will find information on the rebuilding of the section of the city devastated by the fire. In the Echoes of History and Culture section you will discover how this event in history has been taken up again by various authors and artists in recent decades. The Interpretation section lists various interpretations of the events by numerous professionals in the field. They have had access to the same documents you have, and in some cases to a lesser degree. It is not surprising to discover that they are not always in agreement regarding this historical event. Access to this section requires a password that your teacher may give you once you have reached your own conclusions.

All of the documents for this site are listed under the Archives section for easy research according to the type of source material and date. You can click on the illustrations to enlarge them.

Document Selection

In order to better manage the Website, we have had to select the documents to be included on the site. In the “Trial” section, we have included all documents that contain unique information, even though some parts might include details already mentioned. We did not transcribe repetitive legal phrases. The Context and Aftermath sections could be endless and so we selected documents that, in our opinion, deal directly with urban life, society and justice, and that provide answers to the questions raised on the Website. In the Trial section, all court documents and correspondence related to the trial are included.