Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Montreal, Quebec

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal

Every year, the city of Montreal hosts a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade that brings people by the thousands to the downtown streets to celebrate their real or imagined Irish heritage. In fact, many Montrealers do have Irish roots that go back centuries.

In 1700, around 130 of the 2,500 families in New France, or roughly 5%, were Irish, and there was massive immigration from Ireland to North America between 1816 and 1860. By 1871, the Irish were the second largest ethnic group in Canada after the French.

The year 1847 was a tragic one as the Irish fled poverty and starvation in their homeland and died of disease before they arrived in Canada. Almost 3900 are buried at Grosse Île, an island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Quebec City; another 5,000 are buried at the so-called fever sheds near the Montreal waterfront. Many children who became orphans at this time were adopted by French families, but kept their Irish names.

The early Irish of Montreal resided in the central part of the city. Over time, they moved westward, eastward and northward into Saint Ann’s, Saint Mary’s, Saint Antoine’s, Saint James’, Saint Lawrence’s and Saint Louis Wards. They were the primary residents in districts such as Griffintown, Point-St-Charles, St. Henry, Verdun and Ville Émard. Other Irish families eventually moved east into the Rosemount and Hochelaga districts.

Prior to the establishment of St-Patrick’s church in 1847 and St-Ann in 1854, the main churches of the Irish in Montreal were Notre Dame de Bon Secours, the Church of the Récollet Fathers and Notre Dame Basilica.

When I identify a church as being Irish Catholic in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. It does suggest that, at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage and death records addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

Especially during the early years, acts of baptism, marriage and death that took place at most of the smaller parishes in the Montreal region were registered in the records of Notre-Dame Church. For example, a baptism or marriage might have been held in Griffintown, but the act would have been included in the Notre-Dame-de-Montréal records.

The attached research guide lists the churches in which the Irish presence was appreciable, or parishes that were inaugurated by members of the Irish community. The years in brackets reflect the year I was able to ascertain as being the beginning of the Irish-Scottish-British presence in these Catholic churches. I reached my conclusions following several years of research on more than 3,000 books addressing marriages and baptisms at the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Old Montreal.

This research guide includes descriptions of the parishes where Irish Catholics attended church in the Montreal region, as well as a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried. It also includes a list of recommended books and articles, and a list of repositories including archives and museums, online resources and other local sources of information. It is part of a series of research guides to Irish family history resources across the province of Quebec.

To access the PDF research guide to Irish Catholic Churches of Montreal, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal from 1815

Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Migration, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches of Arthabaska, Compton, Frontenac, Mégantic, Wolfe Counties, Quebec

The research guide below is part of a series of seven compilations designed to help you find your Irish immigrant ancestors in mostly French-speaking Quebec. It explores Arthabaska, Compton, Frontenac, Megantic and Wolfe counties, the most easterly of the province’s Eastern Townships.

Few Irish people came to this primarily rural area until the late 1800s. The earliest church record I was able to trace in regard to the Irish of these counties was 1829, within the parish of Saint-Jacques in the then village of Leeds, Megantic County.

Parish records can help you find traces of the Irish setters who came to North America by the tens of thousands during the first half of the 19th century. Please note: The inclusion of an Irish Catholic churches in this research guide does not imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent, but implies that at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage, death addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

A good place to start looking for English-speaking settlers in the Eastern Townships is the Eastern Townships Resource Centre, http://www.etrc.ca/. The Eastern Townships Resource Centre preserves the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serves as an archival expertise resource for local heritage organizations. While its Archives Department concentrates on the acquisition of private archives related to the English-speaking community, the Centre’s mission, mandate and on-going activities are meant to be inclusive of all communities present in the Eastern Townships.

Thousands of documents such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material are made available to researchers. Assistance is also provided to genealogists tracing their family roots. You will find contact information for this organization at the end of the PDF research guide below.

Another research guide I prepared a few years ago may also be helpful to your search. See “British, Irish, Scottish, Loyalist, American, German, Scandinavian, Dutch and Huguenot families in Lower Canada and Québec” by Jacques Gagne, https://genealogyensemble.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-in-quebec2.pdf

townships map

This guide mentions a number of books about Quebec’s large Irish population. Two additional articles of interest are, “Pioneer English Catholics in the Eastern Townships” by T.J. Walsh, http://www.cchahistory.ca/journal/CCHA1939-40/Walsh.html  and “A.C. Buchanan and the Megantic Experiment: Promoting British Colonization in Lower Canada” by J.I. Little, https://hssh.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/hssh/article/viewFile/40265/36450

The attached research guide is an expanded and improved version of a similar guide I posted on Genealogy Ensemble in 2014. It includes a detailed list of the Catholic parish churches in these five counties where people with Irish names worshiped. It also includes links to help you find the cemeteries where they were buried, a recommended reading list and a list of archives and other repositories where further records can be found.

Click on the link to open the PDF:  Irish Catholic Churches of Arthabaska, Compton, Megantic, Frontenac, Wolfe counties

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches in Rural Quebec: Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi, Shefford Counties

Between 1815 and 1837, an estimated 200,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Quebec. Many continued on to the United States or Upper Canada, but some settled in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. This research guide is designed to help you find Irish Catholic ancestors who lived in the Eastern Townships counties of Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi and Shefford.

Please note: When I identify a church as being an Irish Catholic Church in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly from of Irish descent. Rather, I mean that, at one point in time, at least 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death within a particular parish addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

If you are researching ancestors in this region, you may find the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ERTC), http://www.etrc.ca/ to be helpful. For more than 30 years, the ETRC has been preserving the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serving as an archival expertise resource for local heritage organizations.

The ETRC Archives preserves collections that illustrate the development of the Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community. Thousands of documents such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material are made available to researchers, and assistance is also provided to genealogists tracing their family roots.

The research guide attached below includes brief histories of the Catholic churches attended by Irish Catholics in these four counties, a list of cemeteries where these people may have been buried, a list of books and articles about the Irish in Quebec, and a list of website and archives you may find useful.

It is an expanded and updated version of a guide to Irish Catholic churches in Quebec posted to Genealogy Ensemble in 2014. Other similar guides that have been posted over recent weeks explore the Irish Catholic churches in Lanaudière, in Quebec City, and in other Eastern Townships counties, with more research guides covering other regions of Quebec to come soon.

Click on the link below to view a PDF of the research guide Irish Catholic Churches in Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi and Shefford Counties:

Irish Catholic Churches in Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi, Shefford Counties

 

Genealogy, Immigration, Quebec, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Stanstead Counties

Introduction

From 1815 to 1824, an estimated 50,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Quebec, and 150,000 more arrived between 1829 and 1837. Many kept going, settling in the United States or Upper Canada, but some moved into the rolling hills of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The region, which is often known by its French name, l’Estrie or Cantons de l’Est, includes Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties.

In order to determine where Irish Catholic immigrants settled in Quebec, I reviewed hundreds of books of marriages, baptisms and deaths in Catholic parishes of Quebec. These books are kept at the Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec in Montreal (BAnQ Vieux-Montréal). I also reviewed microfilms there. I did most of this work between 2006 and 2009, and carried out a further review in 2014.

Please note: When I identify a church as being an Irish Catholic Church in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. Rather, I mean that, at one point in time, at least 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death within a particular parish addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

townships map

If you are exploring your family’s history in the Eastern Townships, you may find useful material at the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ERTC) in Lennoxville, http://www.etrc.ca/ For over 30 years, the ETRC has been a center for the study of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The ERTC preserves the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serves as a resource for local heritage organizations.

The ETRC Archives preserves and gives access to collections that illustrate the development of the Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community. Thousands of documents, such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material, are made available to researchers. It also provides assistance to genealogists tracing their family roots. You can find out how to contact the ERTC at the end of this research guide.

The guide includes a brief description of the churches in Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties that the Irish settlers attended, a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried, a list of authors, articles and books on the Irish communities of the region, a list of repositories and archives where the records relevant to these communities are kept, and websites that may be of use to family history researchers. I will cover other Eastern Townships region counties in separate posts on Genealogy Ensemble.

To explore the PDF covering the Irish Catholic Churches of Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead Counties, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

Genealogy, Immigration, Quebec, Quebec City

The Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec City

During the first half of the 19th century, thousands of immigrants from the British Isles arrived at the port city of Quebec. Most were fleeing poverty, famine, and overpopulation. Although most of the newcomers continued westward, a number, including many of the Irish Catholics, chose to remain in Quebec City.

In response to the sudden growth in population, the authorities encouraged the opening of new townships around the city. The Irish settled in Portneuf, Lotbinière, Dorchester, Lévis and Québec counties, north and south of the city.

In 1819, the Irish population of Quebec City numbered nearly 1000; by 1830, there were an estimated 6000 to 7000 Irish in the area, representing nearly a quarter of the total population. By 1861, 40 percent of Quebec City’s 10,000 inhabitants were English-speaking, largely because of the Irish families who by now made up 30 percent of the total population.

As early as 1817, Irish Catholic priests were tending to the Irish at Notre Dame Cathedral, and also probably at the Diamond Harbour Parish and the Church of the Nativity in nearby Beauport. The first annual Saint Patrick Mass was most likely celebrated in 1819 in the Congregationalist Chapel in Quebec City.

The earliest church record I was able to trace regarding the Irish of the Québec City region was in 1736 in the parish of Saint Augustin in nearby Saint Augustin de Desmaures in Portneuf County. Notre Dame in Quebec City claims to have records of Irish births, marriages and burials as early as 1728. After the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, English-speaking Catholics of Irish-Scottish-British origin were identified as such.

Please note: The use of the term Irish Catholic Churches in this research guide does not imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent; rather, at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage, death at a church addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

Furthermore, especially during the early days following the arrival of the Irish in the Quebec City region, the registers showing baptism, marriage and death can only be found through the church records of Notre-Dame Cathedral, even though these acts may have occurred in another small church in the region.

At the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Montréal and Quebec Ciity, one can find multiple index books of Catholic marriages, baptisms and deaths. I selected the parishes I felt qualified as Irish churches (10 percent or more of baptisms, marriages and deaths) from these records.

For detail on the parishes that served people of Irish descent in and around Quebec City, click on the link to access the PDF:  Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec City

For more background, see,

http://www.irishheritagequebec.net/the-celtic-cross/

https://www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/citoyens/patrimoine/quartiers/vieux_quebec/interet/immigration_au_port_de_quebec.aspx

https://www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/citoyens/patrimoine/quartiers/saint_jean_baptiste/interet/irlandais_origine_quebec.aspx

http://saintpatrickquebec.com/en/quebec-and-the-irish/

http://www.themetropolitain.ca/articles/view/494

 

Genealogy, Quebec

Irish Catholic Churches in Lanaudière and Yamaska

Berthier, Champlain, Joliette, Maskinongé, Montcalm, Nicolet, St-Maurice, Terrebonne, Yamaska Counties

In May, 2014, Genealogy Ensemble posted my research guide to Irish Catholic churches in Quebec. At almost 120 pages, the PDF document is a bit unwieldy, so recently I decided to update the guide and break it into more manageable chunks.

The PDF following this introduction is the first in a series of seven research guides regarding Catholic churches across rural Quebec, Montreal and Quebec City that served the province’s large Irish population.

Irish roots go deep in Quebec. At the end of the 1600s, an estimated five percent of the 2,500 families in New France were Irish. Between 1816 and 1860, a massive number of new immigrants arrived in Canada, and 60 percent of them were Irish. Most of those who were Protestant settled in to Upper Canada or the United States, but most of those who were Catholic remained in Montreal or Quebec City, while others moved into rural areas of Quebec.

The inclusion of a church in this guide does not imply that its parishioners were mostly of Irish descent; rather, it means that, at one point in time, a minimum of 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

This guide focuses on the area that is known today as the Lanaudière, northeast of Montreal on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, as well as the Nicolet-Yamaska region, between the St. Lawrence and the American border. These are the rural counties of Berthier, Champlain, Joliette, Maskinongé, Montcalm, Nicolet, St-Maurice, Terrebonne and Yamaska, There are several small cities in the area including Trois-Rivières, Joliette and Shawinigan, as well as Saint-Jérôme.

At least one prominent individual who helped to develop this vast area had links with the Irish community. He was businessman Edouard Scallon (1813-1864), whose father immigrated to the Yamaska region from Ireland in 1810.

Scallon moved to L’Industrie (now Joliette) as a young man and went into partnership with the local seigneur, or landowner. He worked primarily as a lumber merchant. He was also involved in a plan to build a railroad, he built a sawmill and a flour mill, and he was a land speculator and money lender.

He died suddenly at age 51, leaving much of his fortune to fund the construction of a trade school, and to the Sisters of Providence for the expansion of the hospital built on land he had already given them.

In 18th century, James Cuthbert (c.1719-1798), a Scottish-born army officer, merchant, justice of the peace, and legislative councilor, touched the lives of many Irish settlers and others.

He first came to Quebec as an officer in the British Army, and remained after the French were defeated and Quebec became a British colony. He left the army in 1765, bought the seigneury of Berthier and had a manor-house built there.

Over the next 25 years, Cuthbert acquired several other seigneuries. Eventually, his land stretched about 50 miles along the St Lawrence River. Irish, Acadian, British, American, French Canadian and a few Germanic families were censitaires, or tenant farmers, on the seigneuries belonging to him.

Cuthbert became a very wealthy man, however, he was often difficult to get along with and had many disagreements with government officials. Because of this, he had little political influence.

Around 1787, Cuthbert, a Presbyterian, built one of the first Protestant churches in the colony, St Andrew’s Church at Berthier. His censitaires were nearly all Catholic, so in 1766, he donated land in the parish of Saint-Cuthbert for a Catholic church there. Several years later, he also supplied stone for the church building, a painting of his patron saint and two bells. In the 1780s he donated land and materials for the construction of the Catholic church of Sainte-Geneviève.

Link to PDF document: Irish Catholic Churches Lanaudiere and Yamaska

For a map of the area, see Google maps, Lanaudière

For more information, see the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online,

Edouard Scallon http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/scallon_edouard_9F.html  

James Cuthbert   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/cuthbert_james_4F.html

Genealogy, Quebec

Quebec Guardianship Records can help resolve brick walls

Tutelle et Curatelle (guardianships) of the region de Montréal 1791-1807 and of Quebec City, 1639-1930

Life was often short in our ancestors’ times. Epidemics swept through communities, tuberculosis took many, and accidental injuries killed others at a young age. Not every parent lived to see children grow to adulthood.

In Quebec, there was a system to ensure that children who had lost one or both parents, as well as people who were unable to care for themselves, had guardians to look out for them. When a parent died, male family relatives and friends would meet together with a notary and decide who that guardian was to be. The notary would write a legal document known as a tutelle et curatelle to make the guardianship official.

These documents can be very helpful to family history researchers. They can help us understand how a family got through a crisis, and they can also shed light on family networks by identifying the uncles, family friends and so on who were present.

To actually read these documents, you may have to visit the archives. Meanwhile, in this article, I will explain how to find the tutelle et curatelle records that are online.

Tutelle et curatelle records are filed separately from other notarial documents at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). The BAnQ in Montreal alone has more than 300,000 linear meters of these documents, dating from 1658 to 1974, and other branches of the Quebec archives have many more such records.

Definitions

Today, people think of a tutor as a teacher, not a guardian. In this article, we have to understand that both tutors and curators are guardians: tutors are guardians of children, and curators are guardians of young adults.

There were two types of guardianships in Québec:

Tutelle testamentaire – Guardianship governed by a will (testament) issued by a notary in which the surviving parent (father or mother) of the children would assign the guardianship of his or her young children to an adult family member or close friend.

Tutelle légitime – Guardianship governed by the judicial courts, in which full legal tutorship is accorded to the closest adult relative (uncle, aunt, older brother, older sister.) It appears that the majority of guardianships decreed in Québec were this type.

The use of guardianships dates back to the mid-1600s and the first days of the French colony of New France, where the age of majority was 25. After 1783, under British rule, the adult age was 21.

Around 1791, British Laws were implemented in Quebec. The laws governing various judicial jurisdictions were grouped under the general heading of Laws of Canada and among those was one such law governing the tutorship (guardianship) of children and incapacitated adults. The latter dealt with those who could not take care of themselves and needed supervision by others. In 1865, the Civil Code of Lower Canada basically addressed the same issues with slight variations of content.

Searching for the records

If your ancestors lived in the Quebec City region, you are in luck. Familysearch.org has placed online tutelle et curatelle records from 1639 to 1930. Take a look at the wiki page, https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Quebec,_Quebec_Judicial_District,_Guardianships_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)

You can access the actual records at

https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1399459

There are more than 300,000 images and they have not been indexed, so you will need to browse them. They are separated into numbered files by year.

In another, separate database, the BAnQ in Montreal has placed online tutelle et curatelle notarial records from 1791 to 1807. Even within that short time frame, this database contains 22,879 searchable links. In the future, more such records will likely be made available online.

To access this database, go to http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/ressources/bd/instr_archives_civiles/tutelle_montreal/index.html

This is what you will see on that page:

Tutelle et curatelle (Tutorships and guardianships)

On this page, click on the blue box on the right side of the page that says Consultation de l’instrument de recherche (Access to the searchable online database.)

The next page will indicate: Nouvelle recherche (New Search), and one line below in the colour blue, Chercher par (research by):

Nom (family name)

Prénom (first name)

Titre (title) – Enter Tutelle

Acte (Tutorship Act) – Enter Tutelle

Date – Enter the date of the date of event.

If your family name was not a common one in Quebec, you can simplify your search. Go to the page https://applications.banq.qc.ca/apex/f?p=148:2::::::  Then, next to Nom, just enter the family name you are researching.

The database includes the following information:

Pupille (First name of child)

Date tutelle (Date of Tutorship decreed (judicial order))

Défunt (Deceased person) In most cases, the name of the father or mother

Tuteur (Tutor), the person described on line 1 and line 2

Autre (Other) – In rare cases in which limited information is available in regard to a particular act of Tutorship

The Next Step in Your Research

Unfortunately, the information obtained in this online database is basic at best. By clicking on Détails on the right hand side of each name, you will access another page indicating the family, first name of the child, and the date of the tutorship.

For example, I entered the name of Smith under Nom. This search resulted in 25 results from 1796 to 1807. I picked one, Enos Smith, and the results obtained online under Détails read as follows:

Nom: Smith

Prénom: Enos

Titre: Pupille

Acte: Tutelle

Date tutelle: 1804-02-07

At the bottom of the page, a box will appear:

> Seul le contenu sécurisé s’affiche (Only the secured information will be posted) >> Afficher tout le contenu (Access to content of file)

The results obtained are precisely the same as the previous page. This most likely indicates that you can only see the full content of the original document by visiting the BAnQ.

For the closest branch of the BAnQ, see

http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/entrez_archives/centres_archives/index.html

There are 10 branches of the BAnQ across Québec. The repository in Montréal is listed on the website under Vieux Montréal; the archives in Quebec City under BAnQ Québec, the branch in Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships under BanQ Sherbrooke, and the branch in western Quebec near Ottawa is called BAnQ Gatineau.

Always contact by email the archives branch to confirm whether the record you wish to access is actually stored at that branch. Emails written in the English will be answered in the English language.

I recommend for the initial requests to be sent by email. Once you have obtained the name of the technician assigned to your dossier (file), telephone calls are in order. And once you reach the archives, you may need help locating the tutelle et curatelle files.

Compiled, adapted and researched by Jacques Gagnégagne.jacques@sympatico.ca

french-canadian, Genealogy, Huguenot, Quebec, Quebec City

The Protestant Churches of Quebec City, 1629-1759

Some 15 or 20 years ago, someone asked me to research and compile a document addressing the earliest Protestant churches in Quebec and find out where the church registers are. Listed here are Quebec City region Protestant missions organized from 1629 to 1759. None of the church registers have survived.

A number of Huguenot merchants from La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Rouen, France were present in Quebec City in September, 1759 when the British army conquered the French forces at the BattIe of the Plains of Abraham. More than a century before those events, Huguenot merchants were members of a small Calvinist church in Quebec City.

1629 Lutheran Chapel – It is on record that the Kertk (Kirke) brothers, and a small group of French Protestants (Huguenots from France), who captured Québec in the name of King Charles I of England on the 20th of July, 1629, built a Lutheran Chapel in Nouvelle France at the time. David, Louis, Thomas Kertk (Kirke), their wives, plus two other women and an undisclosed number of men worshipped until 1633 in Québec.

1631 – Temple Calviniste – A small community of Huguenots (Reformed Church of France) established a Calvinist Temple in the old city of Québec in the early 1630s or shortly after. The small temple would have been located near the Couvent des Ursulines. Most of the Huguenots at the time in Québec were traders who imported goods from French ports such as Auray, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Brest, Caen, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Dunkerque, Fecamp, Le Havre, Honfleur, La Rochelle, Lorient, Nantes, Paimboeuf, Port Louis, Rochefort, Rouen, Royan, Les Sables d’Olonne, Saint Brieuc, Saint-Malo and Vannes. These same Huguenots were also merchants, mainly in the purchasing and exporting of fine furs and selected hardwoods in New France. This small but thriving Protestant community was instrumental in opening-up trade partnerships between Nouvelle France and fellow Huguenot associates in France and other European countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the British Isles.

1759 – Chapel of the Ursulines  – First Anglican Church service in Québec on September 27th 1759 – Rev. Eli Dawson, presiding – Chaplain of the British Forces headed by the late General James Wolfe, Commander in Chief of the British Imperial Army – In attendance were French speaking Huguenots from the Québec region.

 

 

France, Genealogy, Research tips

The National Archives of France

The National Archives of France is not the most advanced institution in terms of its digitized holdings, however, if you are researching French culture and history, you should be aware of it, and it may be helpful if your French ancestors were among the upper classes.

The Archives nationales (France) is making efforts to facilitate its online research process. You can find an introduction to the catalogue online in French, English and Spanish, and access it from there. For English, see http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en/web/guest/salle-des-inventaires-virtuelle. Also go to http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en_GB/web/guest/faire-une-recherche

Examples of the archives’ holdings include maps, photographs, documentation from the two world wars, and the records of Paris notaries. In addition, the archives has research centres focusing on topics such as place names and heraldry.

For many years, people with French Canadian or Acadian family lineages who wanted to know more about the research process in France have asked me whether the Archives nationales (France) in Paris was the place to conduct a family search. I have always replied that, if your ancestors in France were considered as nobility (familles nobles), yes, the Archives nationales de France is an online address you should consider. To check out the archives’ holdings on the ”bourgeois families” of France prior to the French Revolution, see https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/consultation/pog/consultationPog.action?pogId=FRAN_POG_05&existpog=true&preview=false

However, if your ancestor was from the working class, you should conduct your online searches in the 95 Archives départementales de France. See my article https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/09/23/finding-ancestors-in-french-municipal-archives/

At the bottom of the following Archives nationales page, you will find links to a number of sites related to genealogy in France: http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/signets-sciences

For many years the navigation process on the Archives nationales site was burdensome, and results posted from an online search would only indicate the dossier numbers (“fonds”) and a brief description of the fonds, followed by the ”série” (category of fonds) and the ”cote” (shelf  number). If you one wanted additional information on the content of a dossier, you had to send an email to Paris.

As of September, 2018, even if you find your family name, in order to access the biographical material of that family, you must visit the Archives nationales (France) in Paris. To further complicate matters, the Archives nationales has more than one repository in Paris, and you must first determine in which repository the records you want to see are kept. You also need to determine the spelling of the family name in France at the time. For example, my name, Gagné, was spelled Gasnier.

french-canadian, Genealogy, Loyalists, Quebec, Research tips

Tips on Researching Gaspé Ancestors

Over the centuries, Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula has been home to a mix of residents including the Micmac First Nations people, French settlers, Acadians and Loyalists. The Gaspé is surrounded by water on three sides — the estuary of the St. Lawrence River, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Bay of Chaleur – so in the past, many Gaspé residents made their living by fishing, however, the fishing industry has changed and suffered in recent years. The interior of the peninsula features mountains, forests and rivers.

If you had ancestors from the Gaspé, the idea of researching their lives might seem daunting. It is a long way from central Canada, and many people in the region do not speak English today. However, there are a number of databases and other resources online, and you can contact the archives there to ask for help.

The attached PDF has links to a variety of resources, including background on the Loyalists who came from the United States after the revolution and settled in the area. The major part of this document lists the notaries who practised in the Gaspé. Their records should help you find your ancestors’ land transactions, business agreements, wills, inventories, and other records.

One of the best researchers to have studied the people of the Gaspé was Michel Émard, a medical doctor, historian and author. This research guide tells you where to find the books he wrote. It also tells you how to contact the main archives serving the area.

Here is the link to the PDF: notaries of the gaspé peninsula guide