The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Library & National Archives of Québec, or BAnQ,) recently introduced a powerful new online search engine. Known as Advitam, it replaces the previous search engine, Pistard. It points to documents, files, photos and other holdings in the BAnQ’s archives, some digitized, others only available in the BAnQ’s 10 branches across Quebec.
You can access this online search tool at https://advitam.banq.qc.ca/
Advitam (ad vitam means to life in Latin) offers online researchers two search options: Reherche simple (Regular online searches) and Recherche avancée (Advanced online searches.) Unless you are familiar with the French language and the way archives are organized, the regular search is probably easier to use.
Type in the name of the person, place or topic you are searching for. The results will come up in two parts: on the right are the photos, maps, documents, collections, etc. stored at the BAnQ, while on the left is a list to help you filter your results. The filter choices are written in French, but they are not difficult to figure out. If you have difficulty, try using an online translation tool such as Google Translate or DeepL.
You can also use the bar at the top left to focus on the time period you are interested in. New France existed 1604-1759, the British period was 1760-1790, and Quebec was known as Lower Canada 1791-1841.
You can also filter your searches to look for Quebec civil registers, judicial registers or notarial records. You can search for the names of cities, towns, townships, seigneuries, villages, counties and even modern-day MRCs (regional municipal regions or districts.) You can look for events (baptisms, marriages, deaths, divorces, legal proceedings, judicial inquiries and judgments, etc.) and find out about institutions such as religious orders, military regiments, government appointees, etc.
Here’s an example of how this search tool can help you find the record of an ancestor who lived in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and who was baptized in the Catholic church there. An online search on Advitam for Pointe-Claire, (a suburban municipality on the Island of Montreal) brings 823 results addressing the city or village of Pointe-Claire from about 1713 to 2002.
The fourth result from the top refers to the Catholic Parish of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire – Content 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal – État civil. BAnQ Vieux-Montréal Id 477622. This dossier addresses Parish Registers of this Catholic parish from 1713 to 1918, kept on five microfilms at BAnQ – Vieux-Montréal.
These church registers can also be found online through BAnQ Numérique – Registres de l’état civil, or on Ancestry.com, on FamilySearch.org and on Généalogie Québec, however these sources may not contain all of the church registers from 1713 to 1918. If you haven’t found your ancestor’s name elsewhere, try Advitam.
The BAnQ’s repositories are: BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, BAnQ Québec, BAnQ Gaspé,BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles,BAnQ Sherbrooke and BAnQ Trois-Rivières. If you do not reside in Montréal or near another BAnQ branch, try contacting the BAnQ to ask a question.
BAnQ Ask a Question https://www.banq.qc.ca/formulaires/formulaire_reference/index.html?language_id=1
BAnQ Poser une question https://banq.qc.ca/formulaires/formulaire_reference/
You can use these links to make a request for digitized material. A BAnQ clerk or librarian will help you download the material for free, but you need to facilitate the research process for the archivist. You should indicate the approximate year of an event (baptism, marriage, death) and be sure to specify the ‘’cote #’’ (dossier # or shelf #) as in the above example, 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – ID-477622. Each file at BAnQ is identified by a similar description which can be found through your initial online search on BAnQ Advitam
Email requests can be written in French or English, and your reply will be in the same language.
In most cases, if the above basic conditions to your request are respected, you should receive a reply within days by email. If your request is more complicated, contact the regional specialist librarian at the appropriate branch of the BAnQ.
Please note: Due to Covid-19, all branches of the BAnQ are closed at this time. (2020-04-19)
BAnQ Vieux-Montréal 514 873-1100 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 1 514 873-1101 # 6260 email@example.com
BAnQ Québec 418 643-8904 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 2 firstname.lastname@example.org
BAnQ Gaspé 418 727-3500 plus option 6573 – 1 800 363-9028 plus option 6573 email@example.com
BAnQ Gatineau 819 568-8798 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 7 firstname.lastname@example.org
BAnQ Rimouski 418 727-3500 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 3 email@example.com
BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda 819 763-3484 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 8
BAnQ Saguenay 418 698-3516 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 4
BAnQ Sept-Îles 418 964-8434 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 9
BAnQ Sherbrooke 819 820-3010 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 6
BAnQ Trois-Rivières 819 371-6015 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 5 firstname.lastname@example.org
Researched and compiled by Jacques Gagné email@example.com