french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Bulletin des Recherches Historiques

If your ancestors lived in Quebec between 1640 and 1940, you may find them mentioned in a periodical called Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, published by one of the province’s senior archivists and his sons. Searching this publication takes a little effort, and it helps if you can read some French, but your time may be well spent.

Archivist Pierre-George Roy and two of his sons did their research over several decades and published the Bulletin between about 1920 and 1943. In 1920, Roy was the first archivist at the Archives de la Province du Québec, the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and he later became senior archivist at the Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City. His two sons were also archivists.

Roy obtained the majority of his material from notarial documents. His father, Joseph-Edmond Roy, was a notary in Québec City from 1880 to 1911, and other Roy family members were also notaries.

The Bulletin includes a variety of articles including family genealogies, profiles of individuals, amusing anecdotes and accounts of historical interest. Some articles focus on high-profile people such as land owners and civil servants in the days of colonial New France. Others look at Catholic religious orders, laws and the courts, but there do not seem to be many women mentioned.

The articles are not exclusively about French Canadians; they also include Acadian, British, Scottish, Irish, Germanic, American, Jewish, Loyalist and Huguenot families and individuals. Ancestors of at least four members of Genealogy Ensemble are covered in the pages of the Bulletin.

When the BAnQ copied these periodicals, it named the database Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques 1895-1968, however, it appears that the articles cover the period 1642 to 1942, not 1895 to 1968.

To find out whether any of your ancestors is mentioned in the Bulletin, start by scrolling through the 818-page PDF of the index. The volume number is underlined and the second number is the page number. Here is a link to the index: http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

Once you have found your family’s name in the index, the next step is to go to the database that includes the actual volumes of the Bulletin. Open http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/ and, on the right hand side, put in your search terms: Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, as well as the volume number in roman numerals and the name of the month the issue appeared in French.

For example, according to the index, the name Bagg appeared in volume 49, page 59, so the search term is “Bulletin des Recherches Historiques XLIX Fevrier” You may have to guess the month, depending on the page number. Then scroll down to find your ancestor. You can also find hard copies of this publication at la Societé généalogique canadienne-française (https://www.sgcf.com/) in Montreal.

The language level of the magazine is not difficult, and you can use Google Translate or a similar online tool to help with the translation.

Here are links to a few samples of the Bulletin that I found interesting:

http://collections.banq.qc.ca/jrn03/dn2087/src/1935/02/164865_1935-02.pdf

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656964

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657360

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656957

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657519

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657338

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657205

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657534?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657523?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Seigneuries of the Charlevoix and the Saguenay

Beginning in 1535, long before the establishment of Nouvelle France by Samuel de Champlain, Europeans traded goods for furs with the indigenous people in the region referred to as the Royaume (kingdom) du Saguenay (1535-1842).

For centuries, the fur traders had complete control of the Saguenay River and the Lac-Saint-Jean regions of Quebec. Because the fur industry was so dominant, farming was forbidden in the Lac-Saint-Jean area until the 1850s.

The Charlevoix refers to the area of boreal forest along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, northeast of Quebec City, including present-day towns such as La Malbaie. The Saguenay River, which flows south from Lac Saint-Jean, enters the St. Lawrence near the village of Tadoussac.

 

Mouth of the Saguenay River at Tadoussac; Janice Hamilton photo

The attached research guide lists the fur trading companies that operated in Nouvelle-France and Québec, from the first such company established in France in 1614 to the Hudson Bay Company in 1854.

In 1835, 1,830 young farmers from the south shore of the St. Lawrence and the Charlevoix region signed a petition sent to Governor Archibald Acheson of Gosford, requesting access to lands in the Lac-Saint-Jean region. When Acheson and later governors did not react to the petition, many young Quebecers moved to the New England States and other parts of the United States in order to seek jobs.

In the late 1850s, the fur trade declined and the fur trading companies lost their political influence. Finally, the Lac-Saint-Jean and upper Saguenay areas were opened to agriculture, however, by this time, the seigneurial system had been abolished across Quebec.

This 23-page PDF includes a list of the seigneurs and business leaders who controlled the Charlevoix and Saguenay areas for almost two centuries. It lists regional cemeteries and briefly describes the counties and towns in the area. It includes a list of the fur trading companies that operated in the region and a list of the notaries who prepared documents such as business contracts and wills. At the end of the guide you will find contact information for the archives and historical societies found in these regions.

See the research guide here: seigneuries of charlevoix, chicoutimi and saguenay

 

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Online learning, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Jacques Gagné’s Research Interests in 2018 and 2019

2018 was a busy year for genealogy researcher Jacques Gagné, so if you missed any of his posts, here is a recap of his work and a look ahead to 2019.

For many years, Jacques was a volunteer researcher at the Quebec Family History Society, so he has a broad knowledge of genealogical records in Quebec. He is particularly knowledgeable about resources at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), finding notarial records, searching for ancestors in France and anything to do with the Huguenots.

He is now on the far side of 80 and his eye sight is not what it used to be, so the amount of research he has accomplished for Genealogy Ensemble is all the more impressive. He is passionate about what he does and he just keeps pushing ahead. The list of projects he would like to do in the future is almost as long as the list of his past achievements.

                 Jacques Gagné

Jacques’ work is actually a collective effort. He does all the hard work of exploring the Internet and putting together the research guides, while Claire Lindell and Janice Hamilton (me) revise them, edit the introductions and post everything online. I took a year off between the spring of 2017 and April 2018, which is why there is a gap in his posts.

The major research guides posted in 2018 focused on one main theme: the seigneuries of Quebec. From the time New France was created in the 1600s until the mid-1800s, most land in Quebec was owned by a few individuals known as seigneurs. They were usually French aristocrats, wealthy merchants or military leaders. Most ordinary Quebecers were tenant farmers living on the seigneuries. Jacques identifies the seigneurs and seigneuries in each region, and the notaries who practised there. He also includes a list of cemeteries in each area and repositories for archival material and other resources.

Another post from 2018 was a list of notaries who practised in the years after Quebec came under British rule, between 1760 and 1848. He also put together research tips for finding Huguenot ancestors in France, tips for searching at the BAnQ and French municipal archives, and a heads up on a wonderful online resource, the New France Archives from Library and Archives Canada, nouvelle-france.org.

Jacques has been hard at work for several months on a new series of guides for 2019 on the merchants, ship owners and fur traders of New France. This series looks at the men who did business in New France. Many of them were born in France but married and died in North America, and some were also notaries or played other important roles in the new world. The series includes a post about their ports of departure and their trading partners back in France, as well as background on the trading companies they were associated with.

He is also working on a new series of posts updating his old research guide to the Irish Catholic churches of Quebec (https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/05/20/irish-catholic-churches-of-quebec/). Meanwhile, guides to ancestors in the Charlevoix and Gaspe regions, and more tips on searching in France are coming soon.

If you missed some of Jacques’ past compilations, or are having trouble finding something you noticed several months ago, our blog has several features that makes searching easy.

On the right hand side of the screen, under the Geneabloggers logo and before Categories, there is a Search box. Enter any terms that you might think will take you to a post you are trying to find, such as the name of a region, as well as Gagné. (It will work without the accent.) If you find an article of interest and open it up to its full length, you will find suggestions for related articles at the bottom of the page.

You can also look down that column on the right of your screen until you come to Jacques’ name (it is the fourth name in the list) and click on it. You can then scroll backwards through all his posts. When you get to the bottom of a page, click on Older Posts.

Finally, below all the authors’ names on the right is a search function called Archives. It brings up all our posts from each month.

Thank you for following us since 2014, and good luck with your research in 2019.

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Townships of Pontiac, Gatineau Counties, plus the Township of Hull

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the area around the Gatineau hills of Quebec, north and west of Ottawa, was the home of the Anishnabe Algonquin First Nations people. Between about 1800 and 1900, western Quebec was settled by British, American, Irish Protestant, Scottish, Irish Catholic, French Canadian and Germanic families. The Germanic settlers had a strong presence in this region. To my knowledge, there were few Loyalists or Huguenots.

Prior to 1845, people and goods were transported primarily by barge along the Ottawa River, which separates Quebec and Ontario. The steamboat that operated on the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa could not manage the rapids between Carillon and Grenville, so in 1854, the Carillon and Grenville Railway, a short 12-mile-long portage railway, was organized.

Prior to 1845, when they purchased land, finalized business deals or wrote their wills, the settlers of western Quebec likely dealt with notaries from Montreal, and perhaps those in Vaudreuil and Rigaud. The section of this compilation that lists notaries begins in 1845, since the Judicial District of Hull was a late-comer among judicial districts across the province.

Today, this region is well served by two superb archives and four regional genealogical societies. Contact details for all these places can be found in the attached compilation.

BAnQ Gatineau – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

LAC – Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa

OGS – Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

SGO – Société de généalogie de l’Outaouais

Gatineau Valley Historical Society

Pontiac Archives (genealogy society, located in Shawville, QC)

See: Townships of Pontiac and Gatineau Counties plus the the township of Hull

The contents of this 23-page compilation are as follows:

Page 1  the settlers (including farmers, businessmen, militia officers, politicians)

Page 3  the counties in 1791

Page 4  the townships in chronological sequence

Page 11 regional cemeteries

Page 13 Outaouais region (a list of cities, towns, villages)

Page 14 description of notarial records

Page 15 the notaries

Page 22 area archives and genealogical resource centres

 

 

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal, United States

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

french-canadian, Genealogy, Military, Quebec

Seigneuries of Lanaudière, including Regional Notaries and Cemeteries

This region, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River between Trois-Rivières and Montreal, is unknown to most North Americans except for those who had ancestors there.

The Elliotts were one well-known Lanaudière family. Through Grace Elliott Trudeau (1880-1973), Robert Elliot was an ancestor of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Robert Elliott was born in Scotland in 1762 and settled in the Lanaudière area. His funeral service was held on April 17, 1810 at the Anglican Church in Trois-Rivières, and he was buried two days later in Maskinongé County, in the Protestant Cemetery of Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon.

The Lanaudière region was settled by French Canadian, Acadian, British, Irish Catholic, Irish Protestant, Germanic, American and Eastern Europe families, including a few Loyalists in the Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon, Louiseville and Yamachiche regions.

The Acadian families who came here had originally been deported to Massachusetts. In August 1766, they accepted the offer of Governor James Murray to come to Quebec. A large number of these Acadians were assigned pristine lands in the Lanaudière region.

One has only to review the list of seigneurs at the beginning of this research guide to realize the importance of the military in this region. Senior and junior officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Régiment Carignan-Salières (1665-1669), as well as officers and soldiers of the 28 Compagnies Franches de la Marine en Nouvelle-France (1622-1761) were granted lands in Lanaudière. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was common for officers and soldiers to request land in New France after their tour of duty was completed. In 1665 about one third of the 1,200 soldiers and officers of the Régiment Carignan-Salières requested lands in various regions of New France.

Here is a link to the PFD research guide: Seigneuries of Lanaudière

In this compilation, you will find:

  1.  p. 1 Seigneurs and military regiments
  2. p. 11 Seigneuries in the current counties of Berthier, Joliette, L’Achigan, L’Assomption, Maskinongé, Montcalm
  3. p. 39 Cemeteries
  4. p. 40 Notaries practising in the area, 1712-1916
  5. p. 76 Articles and resources on the Acadians, Irish, Germans and Loyalists.
  6. p. 77 Repositories in Quebec and France

(corrected and updated Nov. 26, 2018)

french-canadian, Genealogy, Quebec

Patrimoine Québec — a Genealogical Library

If you are interested in learning more about the history and people of New France, Acadia and Québec, a collection of more than 300 digitized books on these subjects might be of interest to you. There are two problems with this collection: all the books are in French, and it is not easy to navigate the site. Nevertheless, it is worth persisting, especially if you are a genealogist or have a background in history or archives.

This free virtual library is continually growing. The books, available as PDFs, can be found at www.patrimoinequebec.ca/bibliotheque/propos.php

The online collection focuses on genealogy. It includes family biographies, dictionaries in alphabetical order by various authors addressing families of Nouvelle-France and Québec, genealogical dictionaries, historical men and women from the 16th century onward of Nouvelle-France and Québec, family lineages, and descriptions of online collections, historical villages, towns and cities of Quebec.

A collection on the site that is of special interest to genealogists is called Registre Cadastrale (cadastral registry). These volumes list the seigneuries and their owners, the rangs (roads) in each seigneurie, the names of the censitaires (tenants), the amount of land each tenant held and the annual rent.

Two unique online dossiers address the content of the various fonds (collections) at BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) and their 12 repositories, namely: Rapport de l’Archiviste du Québec and Collectif des Archives de Québec.

To explore the collection and search the Patrimoine Québec (heritage Quebec) website, go to http://www.patrimoinequebec.ca/

The home page is available in English translation at http://www.patrimoinequebec.ca/library/.

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, Quebec

Seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley

The PDF research guide linked below explores the seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley, south-east of Montreal. This compilation includes the seigneuries, cemeteries and notaries of the area, including present-day Chambly, Iberville, Napierville, Longueuil, Lacolle, St. Hyacinthe, Yamaska, La Prairie and Sorel.

This region was established by officers and soldiers of the Carignan-Salières regiment. French Canadian, Acadian, Loyalist, British, non-Loyalist American, Scottish, Irish, Germanic and Dutch families were present in the Richelieu River Valley from about 1636 to 1899.

After the British Conquest of New France and the American Revolution, large numbers of Loyalists sailed north in Lake Champlain and along the Richelieu River to settle in Missisquoi Bay, the Upper Richelieu near the Vermont-New York State border, St. Johns (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Chambly, Sorel and Saint-Ours. They also crossed the St. Lawrence River from Sorel and put down roots in Machiche (Yamachiche), Louiseville, Saint-Cuthbert, Maskinongé and Trois-Rivières.

Between 1669 and 1899, many notaries established careers in the Richelieu River Valley. They recorded land transactions and rental agreements, wills, marriage contracts, protests and other legal documents for the residents. As of 2018, about 70 percent of the notarial records made in this region can be found online, either on the Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec site (BAnQ.qc.ca), Ancestry.com with two online databases (1647-1942 & 1637-1935), Genealogy Quebec (Drouin Institute), or FamilySearch.org.

On the last page of the attached research guide, I have listed research assistance services offered by BAnQ Montréal under the heading BAnQ Ask a question. If you fill out the detailed questionnaire in English, you should receive a reply in English within 48 hours. Downloads of Notarial Acts at the BAnQ are free.

Here is the link to this PDF: Seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley

This research guide includes:

p. 1 Introduction to the area and the Carignan-Salières regiment

p. 1. Seigneurs of the area

p. 3. The seigneuries including Beloeil, Carignan, Chambly, Lacolle, Longueil, St. Hyacinthe, Yamaska, La Prairie, Sorel.

p. 23 Regional cemeteries in Chambly, Iberville, Napierville, Monteregie, St. Hyacinthe, St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Yamaska

p. 24. The notaries: the locations and years they practiced, from 1669 to 1957.

p. 80. Links to archives.

Genealogy, Quebec, Writing

Thinking about my Filles du Roi Ancestors

 

mapancestry

Filles du Roi: Mothers of Millions. According to a map on my Ancestry DNA page, these orange dots are where French Settlers of the St. Lawrence ended up by 1900. 1

 

“Women’s work consists of household work and feeding and caring for the cattle; for there are few female servants; so that wives are obliged to do their own housework; nevertheless, those who have the means employ valets who do the work of maidservants.”

 

So, begins and ends the one paragraph devoted to women’s work in Pierre Boucher’s seminal book Canada in the 17th Century. 2 In fact,  Boucher spends more time in his book describing native women and their unusual ways than he does describing these pioneering French women. He either thought women’s work too obvious to detail or he didn’t actually know much about it.

This is a problem for writers like me who desire to write a story about their filles du roi ancestors. There’s little information out there about them that is not statistical, transactional, or speculative.3 In my case, I wanted to write about Francoise Boivin, whom I have at least twice in my mother’s tree. According to Nos Origines, Francoise, who gave birth to eight children, has around 700,000 to one million descendants.

Boivin is especially interesting because there appears to be some question as to whether she was, indeed, a genuine fille du roi; whether she married her husband Louis Lamoureux twice, once in France and once in Quebec, and whether she was an orphan, like so many of these women, or she came to New France with both her parents.

So, fun stuff.

Suzanne Desrochers, a York University scholar, used her 2007 Master’s thesis to explore the challenges involved in researching background about the filles du roi.  Desrochers, too, wanted to write an historical fiction piece about such an ancestor, but was stymied by the lack of evidence.

“In Quebec,” she writes, “ the 17th century belongs to religious figures or saintly women such as Marie de l’Incarnation, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Jeanne Mance while virtually no biographies of lay women exist.”4

Also, no records were kept in France  side with regard to filles du roi emigrations, and the story of women in France in that era is undocumented, too.

Historian James B. Collins*5 investigated this issue in an article he wrote in 1989. By digging through wills and notarial records he uncovered a paradox of sorts: French women had fewer public rights in the 17th century compared to before and afterwards but some of them had economic clout in the private sphere.

This is because wives’ sidelines were often what kept a poorer family afloat. These sidelines often involved the producing of alcoholic beverages like cider and wine, activities Boucher doesn’t describe in his book. One wonders, did some of these women transfer these lucrative skills to New France?

In her thesis, Desrochers suggests that women in New France, by virtue of their rarity, probably enjoyed higher status than their equivalents back home where women outnumbered men, but nothing can be proved. It would be nice to think it was so, wouldn’t it? This would be a perk, perhaps, to make up for the fact that Canadian women back then gave birth on the cold floor, even in the dead of the  winter, so as not to soil the family bed.

Whatever the humble origins of most filles du roi in France, 6 these female pioneers produced more progeny and were longer lived than their sisters back in Normandy and the Ile de Paris. This fact alone suggests that life in the New World was better than in France. Or at least the food was better.7

And, it is unlikely that these filles du roi had been prostitutes prior to emigration, despite all the longstanding rumours to the effect. Prostitutes were afflicted with venereal disease that leads to infertility – and these filles du roi, mothers of millions of North Americans, were anything but infertile.8

_

Notes and Resources

(Thanks to Claire Lindell for lending me her books on Les Filles du Roi)

 

  • 1. According to Peter J. Gagné in King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers, a true fille du roi is one of the ‘girls, women, or widows who went to Canada at the expense of the King in convoys recruited and conducted by French authorities, who were established in Canada by the Intendant and who received at marriage a King’s gift of 50 livres for commoners and 100 livres for demoiselles and sometimes, (but rarely) even more.’ P. 42.  Gagné’s meaty two volume set contains extensive bios about each fille du roi, and a lengthy introduction revealing, for instance, the clothing in the ‘trousseau’ given each King’s Daughter and the conditions of the ocean voyage they had to endure. (All information is gleaned from bits and pieces of evidence out of New France.) It is said that while waiting for husbands in New France, these fille du roi were taught cooking, needlework, knitting and how to make home remedies. Still, there is only speculation as to the truth of these women’s  lives: their particular origins, circumstances, hopes, fears and motivations.  These females are spoken of, for the most part, as commodities. An example: the introduction contains an anecdote claiming that the future husbands preferred, for practical reason, fatter girls over the thin pretty ones, rural girls over city girls. At the same time, it is assumed any fille du roi was in the driver’s seat with respect to courtship, because, by contract, she could turn down any marriage proposal.  One line in Gagné’s book is especially irksome. An observer who has met two young filles du roi claims that their personal stories are such, they would fill novels, but he gives no further details. What a missed opportunity! This is exactly what everyone today is looking for!

 

  • 2. Boucher, Pierre, Canada in the 17th Century. Translated by Edward Louis Montizambert. Archive.org.

 

  • 3. Nos Origines at nosorigines.qc.ca has Francoise (born 1646) marrying Louis Lamoureux, Quebec born, in New France, although it is indicated that no record of their marriage can be found. Other sources claim that the couple married in France. Could the Boivins have been Protestants from Rouen? Protestants hid among the emigrants to New France and converted to Catholicism upon arrival. (Leslie Choquette)

 

  • 4. Desrochers, Suzanne. Women of their Time: Writing Historical Fiction on the Filles du Roi of 17th Century New France. York University, 2007. Electronic thesis available at the Theses Portal, Library and Archives Canada.

 

  • 5. Collins, James, B. The Economic Role of Women in 17th Century France. French Historical Studies. Volume 16. No. 2 Autumn. 1989.

 

  • 6. According to Desrochers, it is estimated that 1/3 of the filles du roi came from La Salpêtrière, a Jesuit-run Paris hospital/workhouse for orphans and widows and other unfortunates including young and older women ‘of good moral character’ who  were trained in the household arts and likely forced to emigrate to New France and other French colonies like Martinique. Desrochers wonders whether the fille du roi immigration was voluntary. Records indicate that many French men of similar backgrounds who emigrated to New France in the 1600s did not stay, but the filles du roi mostly stayed. Gagné claims that around 50 filles du roi returned to France.

 

  • 7. Choquette, Leslie. Frenchman into Peasants: Modernity and Tradition in the Peopling of French North America. (Copyright American Antiquarian Society) includes a 1684 quote from army officer La Hontan. “The peasants here are very comfortable and I would wish such a good cuisine on the whole petty nobility of France…They hunt and fish freely. In a word, they are rich.”

 

  • 8. Landry, Yves. Les Filles du roi au XVIIe siècle. Bibliotheque Quebecois. This is a topic of great debate among historians, whether these ladies were filles du roi or filles de joie. Desrochers says there is no way to tell. The VD theory is postulated by Yves Landry in his book, where he cites statistics about fille du roi fertility and longevity. It is important to note that families in New France were offered financial bonuses for having a slew of children.

 

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Census Results for New France Online

If you think the census is a modern invention, think again. The Nouvelle-France.org collection of archival treasures includes a number of censuses taken in New France. They can be found on the New France Archives site http://nouvelle-france.org by searching for recensements (censuses). The search brings you to this page: http://nouvelle-france.org/eng/Pages/list.aspx?k=Recensements&

This database includes 265 population census returns of New France (Nouvelle-France) and Acadia (Acadie). All are digitized versions of the original documents. Beyond 1760, the census results include pockets of former French citizens in small regions of Quebec or in the Maritime Provinces. The 1756-09-27 census (database item 12496) addresses the Acadian refugees on Ïle-St-Jean, which is present-day Prince Edward Island.

These documents have not been indexed so you will have to browse through them to find your own ancestors, but they are fun to look at. It helps if you have at least a rudimentary French vocabulary, and the beautiful old handwriting is an additional challenge, or bonus, depending on how you look at it. If you have difficulty reading it, try this website on paleography, the study of handwriting: https://paleography.library.utoronto.ca/

For example, database item number 30692, is a census of Canada, including the Quebec City area, Montreal and Trois-Rivières, taken in 1666, and stored today at the Archives nationales d’outre-mer (the Overseas National Archives) in France.

 

On the first page of this document, you will see an entry for a habitant family. The heading reads Quallitez et Mestiers, or quality (meaning discerning) and trade or occupation. The first family is that of Estienne Racine (Estienne or Etienne means Steven) habitant (tenant farmer), age 59, his wife (sa femme), his sons (fils) and daughters (fille.) and a hired domestic. Many of the other people counted in this census were members of religious orders.

The New France Archives project brings together digitized results from four archives in France and Canada: Library Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, A.N.O.N Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France), Archives nationales (France) and BAnQ Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.