Category Archives: Quebec
Ismael Bruneau wanted a biblical family, one child for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. His wife Ida didn’t share that ambition, but still, they had 10. When one of her daughters was getting married she asked her mother what she could do to prevent the arrival of so many children and Ida answered, “If I knew, do you think I would have had all of you?”
Ida herself came from a very large family. She was born in 1862 in Les Convers, Switzerland, to Gustave Girod and Sophie Balmer, the sixth of 16 children. Her favourite aunt, Celine Balmer was teaching at a private girl’s school in Baltimore, Maryland and arranged a job for Ida at the same school. In 1882 Ida sailed to the United States for the teaching position.
After a particularly bad year, with many deaths in the family, her parents decided to emigrate to America. Another son tragically died on the voyage and was buried at sea. The Girods were farmers and settled in the French community of Kankakee, Illinois. When Ida went to visit, she met the Minister, Ismael Bruneau. He was taken with her and they were soon married.
Ismael and Ida then lived in Green Bay Wisconsin where their first three children, Edgar, Beatrice and Hermonie were born. A French Protestant minister moved frequently and the next charge was in Holyoke Massachusetts, where Helvetia was born. Next was a move back to Canada. Sydney, Fernand, and Edmee were born in Quebec City and Renee, Herbert and Gerald in Montreal. All the children survived except Fernand. My Grandmother Beatrice said it was his name that killed him but we didn’t understand why as we thought the other siblings had stranger names. They played funeral with him and pulled him around in a wagon covered with flowers.
Although a minister’s salary was meagre the family survived and flourished. The first two sons went to McGill. One became a doctor and the other a lawyer. All the girls finished high school, went to Normal school and became teachers except Renee who attended Business school. The two youngest boys were still at home when their father died. There wasn’t the money to send them to university but they both became successful businessmen.
Ismael’s death was a shock to Ida. He had preached at an earlier service in Portneuf and ran uphill from the station in Quebec City, as the train was 50 minutes late. He arrived at the end of the service and died of a heart attack. Her heart was broken, “ I must realize that my dear husband of nearly 32 years has left me forever.” She moved to her daughter Helvetia’s home in Lachute, a town Ismael had felt would be a good place to retire. She went back to Switzerland because her aunt Celine had returned, but Celine was suffering from dementia and with all other friends and family gone Ida decided her life was in Canada.
One of her husband’s brothers-in-law, Emilien Frechette, whose wife Emilina Marie Bruneau had died, proposed that as they were both alone they get married. He had built himself a large house in Iberville south of Montreal and wanted company. My Aunt Aline remembered hating her mother’s visits to Iberville because she would come back with large baskets of gooseberries, red and black currents, which had to be cleaned for jam and pies. Aline’s other memory of her grandmother Ida was teaching her to play rummy and seven up. Aline said, “ She liked the little games they played and thought the ‘Devil’s plaything’ was a misnomer.” It was fine to play cards, just not on Sunday.
Ida developed cancer and spent her last days in the Montreal General Hospital. She was buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in the Frechette plot with Emilien’s first wife Marie. After Ida’s death in 1927, he married Emilie Beauchamp Bruneau, the widow of Napoleon Bruneau, Ismael’s brother. Emilien certainly looked after the women in the Bruneau family. My mother remembered him as a nice old man. She didn’t remember her grandmother who died when she was five but she did remember visiting Monsieur Frechette in Iberville, going to the toilet and thinking, “My grandmother sat here!”
Bruneau, Ida. A Short History of the Bruneau – Girod Families. 1993.
Bruneau, Ida. letter to Mes Frere et Soeur. February 5, 1918. Quebec City, Quebec. A copy in the author’s possession.
Aline Raguin Allchurch. Letter to Mary Sutherland. 2002. Author’s possession.
Dorothy Raguin Sutherland’s Stories. Personal interview. 1998.
Ancestry.com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008. Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
Posted by Jacques Gagné
Quebec’s Church Registers are a happy fact for anyone researching ancestors in that Canadian province.
From the early days of New France in the 17th century, a record was kept in a register for every Catholic birth, marriage and death. Priests kept a religious copy of the register at the parish and filed another state copy with the tribunal serving the relevant territory.
After the British Conquest in 1760, the right to keep registers of civil status was gradually extended – over the next century – to non-Catholics. At present, BAnQ’s Church Register collection contains the digitized records of births, marriages and deaths for Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical, Jewish and Lutheran churches.
Today, these records can be accessed from the Drouin Institute on Ancestry.com, as well as through the BAnQ (the National Library and Archives of Quebec) http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/ecivil/as
and familysearch.org: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1321742
The BAnQ website is available in French, but the above link will take you directly the Church Registry page. Records can be accessed in three ways: by the place where the act was established (parish, congregation, synagogue, etc); by the judicial district, according to the list established by the Territorial Division Act (L.R.Q., chapter D-11); or by region.
To consult the registers, select one of the headings on the left side of the screen. To display the pages in large format (PDF format, image mode) click on the headings for the desired pages.
What will you find at the BANQ Online Church Registers 1768-1912?
Protestant churches – English – 686 churches
Jewish Synagogues – 20 synagogues
Protestant churches – French – 28 churches
Catholic parishes – French & English – 1,027 churches
Catholic parishes – Italian & others – 15 churches
Catholic missions – French & English – 8 missions
Catholic Religious Communities – 18 convents
Hospitals (French & English) – 12 medical centers
Hospices – (French & English) – 5 institutions
Psychiatric hospitals (Asylums) –3 institutions
BAnQ and Family Search
Civil Registers (Parish Registers)
Catholic & Protestant Churches
Civil Registers (Parish Registers)
1621 to 1916
Births (baptisms), marriages, deaths: http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/ecivil/
BAnQ Catholic & Protestant Church Registers & Jewish Synagogue Registers: http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/ecivil/
Consult the following PDF document to see a list of all the churches (Catholic and Protestant) and synagogues in the BAnQ online collection.
Genealogists tend to visit a lot of cemeteries, so if those are beautiful places, the experience can be a pleasure. Anyone with Montreal ancestors in either Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (Catholic) Cemetery or in the non-denominational Mount Royal Cemetery can consider themselves lucky: both cemeteries are located on the slopes of Mount Royal, both are filled with trees and wildlife, and both have services to assist genealogists find their relatives.
These cemeteries were opened in the middle of the 19th century after the city’s population expanded, putting earlier burial grounds too close to residential areas. Hygienic concerns became particularly important when cholera epidemics swept the continent.
In fact, because of epidemics, poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water, many of the city’s dead were children.
Since Mount Royal Cemetery opened in 1852, more than 300,000 people have been buried there. To check the location of a grave in Mount Royal Cemetery, go to https://mountroyalcem.com/index.php/en/our-services/genealogy-menu.html. The Quebec Family History Society (QFHS) sells a book of 4600 monument inscriptions from Hawthorn-Dale, Montreal’s second-largest Protestant Cemetery and an affiliate of Mount Royal Cemetery. See http://www.qfhs.ca/forsale.php.
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, the largest graveyard in Canada, has been in operation since 1874. To find a grave there go to http://www.notredamedesneigescemetery.ca/en/research/locate.htm and click on locate deceased.
When the older cemeteries were closed, people were told they could move the remains of their relatives, but that did not always happen. Every now and then, human remains turn up when repairs are done to Dorchester Square, a former cemetery that is now a park in the heart of downtown. And in addition to proper cemeteries, there are some unusual burial places in the city. Priests and nuns were buried in the crypts of Catholic churches and other religious buildings. Some 6000 Irish immigrants who died of ship fever in 1847 are buried in a mass grave, marked with a commemorative stone, near the Victoria Bridge.
Because so many of the city’s old cemeteries were closed and eventually built upon or used for other purposes, anyone who comes to the city looking to find the grave of an ancestor who died before the mid-1800s will probably be disappointed.
For a list of 110 Montreal cemeteries, current and closed, including crypts and military cemeteries, see http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/ListerCims.asp?MP=E3&TY=M&SS=52
To find out about Jewish burials, see the following article posted on the Jewish Genealogy Society of Montreal website: http://jgs-montreal.org/burials.html
The QFHS has a number of publications related to cemetery histories and monument inscriptions in its library. Go to http://www.qfhs.ca/libraryRecords.php and put cemetery in the keyword space.
Following is a list of old cemeteries primarily used by the city’s English-speaking community. Most of them no longer exist. The links will tell you their locations and other information.
Montreal General Old Cemetery http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=2148
Montreal Old Negro Cemetery – St-Jacques Street at St-Pierre Street in Old Montreal http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=826
Dufferin Square Cemetery – Dorchester Boulevard at St. Laurent Boulevard http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=828
Montreal Old Military Cemetery – Papineau Street at Lafontaine Street in Southeast Montreal http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=831
St. Mary’s Anglican Burial Ground – Malo Street and Bordeaux Street in Southeast Montreal http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=837
St-Hélène Island Old Military Cemetery http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=846
St. Stephen’s Old Anglican Cemetery Lachine http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=2081
Goose Village Ancient Irish Cemetery http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=2717
Field of Honor Military Cemetery Pointe Claire http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=858
Lakeview Memorial Gardens Pointe Claire http://www.leslabelle.com/Cimetieres/AfficherCim.asp?MP=E3&CID=861
Research: Jacques Gagné
Additional writing: Janice Hamilton
Between the early 1600s and 1755, a community of French-speaking farmers known as the Acadians thrived in Nova Scotia.
In 1755, war between France and Britain spilled into North America. When the Acadians refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the king of England, the colony’s British governor ordered the Acadian people deported. By the fall of that year, some 1,100 Acadians had been forced to board ships and were being transported to the American colonies including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. By 1758, most of the Acadians who lived on Île St. Jean (now Prince Edward Island) had also been deported. Some of the Acadians who escaped deportation died of starvation or disease.
Over the following years, the Acadians scattered. Some ended up in Louisiana and the Caribbean. Others sought refuge in New France, settling mainly in the Quebec City region, including Île d’Orléans and along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Today, some of their descendants are still living in the province of Quebec while others have scattered across North America and around the world.
You can read an overview of the Acadian deportation, including a list of suggested books in English and French at http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-deportation-of-the-acadians-feature/
The best place to research the Acadians who settled in Quebec is at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). You can make telephone or email inquiries in English to the BAnQ in Montreal and to regional branches. For contact information about the Montreal branch and other regional branches, see: http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/entrez_archives/centres_archives/
You should get a reply in English within a week to 10 days. These are free services available to anyone anywhere, in Canada or elsewhere. Similarly, you can email or telephone your question in English to the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal (the main branch of Montreal’s public library) or to the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal.
Here are two lists of books available on the subject, mostly in French, some in print, others digital:
Here are some other resources available at the BAnQ:
Here are some other links to information about the Acadians:
For each of the towns and villages of Quebec in which Acadians settled between 1755 and 1775, you will find posted below the web address of the regional repository of BAnQ, the address of the local Catholic parish and a listing of local cemeteries.
The regional repositories of BAnQ contain documents about the Acadian families who settled nearby. Some of the content of files stored at various branches of BAnQ across the province are listed within the Pistard search engine at www.banq.qc.ca however, most family lineage researchers are intimidated by the complex research process involved.
>> Bastiscan – Champlain
>> Bécancour – Nicolet
>> Becquets (Saint-Pierre les-Becquets) – Nicolet
>> Berthier – Lanaudière
>> Cacouna – Lower St. Lawrence
>> Champlain – Champlain
>> Gentilly – Nicolet
>> Îles-de-la-Madelaine – Gaspé
>> Joliette – Lanaudière
>> Kamouraska – Lower St. Lawrence
>> L’Acadie – Upper Richelieu
>> L’Assomption – Lanaudière
>> Louiseville – Maskinongé
>> Maskinongé – Maskinongé
>> Montcalm – Lanaudière
>> Nicolet – Nicolet
>> Pointe-du-Lac – St-Maurice
>> Rivière-du-Loup-en-haut (Louiseville) – Maskinongé
>> Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu – Lower Richelieu
>> Saint-Esprit – Lanaudière
>> Saint-Jacques-de-Montcalm – Lanaudière
>> Saint-Ours – Lower Richelieu
>> Saint-Sulpice – Lanaudière
>> Trois-Rivières – Trois-Rivières
>> Yamachiche – Maskinongé
Etiennette Alton, the ancestor of Genealogy Ensemble contributor Tracey Arial, was married to Marin Hurtubise in Montreal on January 7, 1660. Their union is among the earliest Catholic marriages in Montreal that are detailed on the French-language website Fichier origine (www.fichierorigine.com). Established under an international partnership between the Quebec-based Fédération québécoise des sociétés de généalogie and the European-based Fédération française de généalogie, it has been available for free on-line since 1998.
The list of 900 people who married in the early days of Montreal is available at http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?nom=&commune=&pays=&mariagerech=Montr%C3%A9al
You can find a wealth of information about each person within the couple, including the name of the conjoint (the husband or wife). Fichier origine tells us Etiennette’s date of baptism in 1635, her place of origin in France before she came to Canada, the names of her parents and siblings, and her date and place of death (Montreal, 1722) (http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?numero=240043). The information about her husband is equally revealing.
To read more about this particular couple, refer to Arial’s story at: https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/10/03/etiennette-alton-a-marriageable-woman/.
Fichier origine includes the very first marriage celebrated in Montreal: that of Mathurin Meunier and Françoise Fafard on March 11, 1647. (http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?numero=242904). It also has information on more than 5000 other people who immigrated to Quebec from France, from the founding of New France until 1865.
In those times, marriage was probably more of a partnership and an agreement to start a family than it was about romantic love. Nevertheless, on Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to recognize these weddings. These couples are the ancestors of thousands of people spread today across Quebec, Canada, the United States and the world. Perhaps your ancestors are among them.