Man! This story grows and grows everytime I hear it.
Here's the short, but true, version:
Urbain dies, land goes to Marie and their children. Marie's father also dies and part of his land passes to Marie. But the kids are spreading off of the island and few stick around to farm. Eventually the island becomes urbanized (no pun intended) and the land is put into a trust for the benefit of the descendents. But no one lives there and Marie instructs that the land be given to the use of the Sulpicians to expand their young parish.
The Sulpicians signed a lease which expired in the early 1800s. By now the French are long gone from the governance of Quebec and the British are in power. French Commonlaw is now replaced by British Commonlaw. The trust has a provision that if the heirs don't claim the land by the expiration of the lease, then the Sulpicians get to keep the land.
A few of the heirs learn of this after the expiration of the trust and try to make claims based on French Commonlaw in the 1820s/30s. This is when there are claims made that the trustees did not give proper notice of the expiration...or in some cases even the existence of...the trust and the lease. The British Crown adjudicated and found in favor of the Sulpicians, since they were in continuous possession of the land for the previous 100+ years and not a single heir ever made an effort to lay claim to the land.
The issue seems dead and buried for the next 80+ years. But then the economy crashed and a lawyer contacts a few of his friends who are "legitimate heirs" to stir up some business. The Corporation Tessier-Lavigne is created and shares are sold to the "legitimate heirs" for $1 each in order to pursue the case. The case seems too good to be true (hint hint), and everyone flocks to buy his/her share.
By 1930 the case makes it to court and is promptly dismissed...afterall, the British Crown already settled the issue many years earlier. The time to appeal was long over. Some found the temptation of reclaiming the Basilica and the Bank of Montreal building too tempting to just let go. That's when the cries of "missing documents" surfaced. For just a few more dollars each, one could pursue the case again. This cycle continued through the 1940s. Finally it died...or so we thought.
But then there were some in the 1970s who thought it worth repursuing in the 1970s. It just keep coming back, like a very bad penny. Money is always sought in order to pay for new lawyers.
THERE IS NO CASE TO PURSUE. THERE ARE NO MISSING DOCUMENTS. THERE IS NO MONEY TO BE HAD. THE CASE IS CLOSED, FINITO, CERRADO. DONE, DONE, DONE!!!!
I keep getting messages from some of the readers on this board volunteering family lawyers and the such in order to reopen the case. THERE IS NO CASE TO REOPEN. There just is no way that the government of Quebec or Canada is going to turn over the Place d'Armes to the multitude of descendents of someone who died 300 years ago...especially when there is no cohesive bond between any of us. The Archives is having a hard time even figuring out where they put the records when they moved. This is great family folklore and a good lesson on knowing where you're entrusting your money. For those suffering through the Depression, it was a good way of keeping their hopes up...but that's about it.