Category Archives: Research tips

The Protestants of Anjou, Beauce, Bretagne, Maine, Normandie, Perche, Poitou, Touraine of the 16th and 17th centuries

 France Région du Grand-Ouest

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the north-western region of France contributed the greatest number of immigrants to New France, Acadia and the Great Lakes Region of Upper Canada.

Most of these immigrants were Catholic, however, some were Protestant.

The Protestant presence in the north-western region of France began in 1523-1527 in the cities of Angers, Le Mans, and Rennes. From 1553 to 1560, Protestant churches were organized in Anjou, Aunis, Bretagne, Poitou, Saintonge, and Touraine within this region of France.

The following research guide will help you navigate the morass of resources available to genealogists researching Protestant ancestors from Normandy, Poitou and beyond. It contains information in both English and French.

Click on this link to read the 116-page PDF research guide:

The Protestants of North-West France

This guide includes: France Huguenot Family Lineage Searches in various archives in France; French Protestant records on FamilySearch.org; a description of Protestant Church Registers at various regional archives in France; the region; the authors (books about Protestants in north-west France, including collectif, or various authors); Protestant historical societies (national); Protestant historical societies (regional); Online resources including theses; Archives (France); Archives départmentales; Libraries; Old Protestant newspapers; Publishers; Protestant genealogy (regional); links to other articles on Genealogy Ensemble.

 Protestant Church Registers at various regional archives in France

(Archives départementales & Archives communales de France)

Protestant pastoral church registers began around 1560 in many regions of France. At the regional archives of the Charente-Maritime, Protestant pastoral church registers began in 1561. At the Archives départementales du Calvados and at nearby Bibliothèque municipale de Caen, fonds contain Protestant baptisms and marriages from 1560 to 1572, in addition to an index of Protestant families and places of residence.

Documents which are normally found among the Collection communale et Collection départementale (archives originating from fonds) were researched and compiled by archivists at various Archives départementales (Regional Archives) and Archives communales (Municipal Archives.) These Protestant church registers can be found among the Parish registers (Registres paroissiaux) of an appreciable number of Archives départementales.

Protestant Church registers are described online at various archives as Actes pastoraux or Registres pastoraux. These are the acts of baptisms and marriages written by Protestant pastors (pasteurs Protestants) during the period described as Période du Désert, between the years of 1665 and 1787.

A second collection of church registers, addressing Protestant families and covering 1793 to 1820, is described as Actes de catholicité because Catholic Priests would baptize the children of Protestant parents. Also available online at most of the 95 Archives départementales de France are the civil registers described as Tables décennales, a regrouping of civil registers by 10-year periods from 1793 to 1912, or later at a number of départements (states).  Among these Tables décennales you will find Protestant families (from 1822 onward) later at most regional archives (Archives départementales) of France.

Many of the regional archives (Archives départementales) will feature online information from fonds referred to as Familles protestantes du 16e et 17e siècles (Protestant families of the 16th and 17th centuries). In most cases these fonds were obtained from regional Protestant museums, historical and archeological societies, municipal archives and genealogical societies.

A few regional archives have listings of Protestant families of their own regions from the Société de l’histoire du protestantisme français (SHPF). This society, organized in 1852 and based in Paris, features a growing online database, in partnership with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, addressing the Protestant families of many regions of France from the 16th century onward. See: https://www.//shpf.fr/collections

Common Terms

The following are French language expressions you may come across as you research the Protestants of France in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Archives des consistoires de France – Protestant archives at the Archives nationales (France) Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)

Assemblée de nouveaux convertis – A description of former protestant individuals who left the faith in order to join the Catholic Church – It does appear that in some rare cases, that the contrary to the above also addressed former catholics who joined the protestant faith.

Assemblée protestante – Protestant church or temple

Assemblée de religionnaires – Protestant church or temple

Chapelle protestante – Protestant chapel

Communauté protestante – Protestant community

Communauté réformée – Protestant community

Culte protestant – Protestant faith

Culte réformé – Protestant faith

Demi-fief de Haubert – A person of the nobility (Bourgeoisie) who was the owner of a Seigniory which dates back to the Knights (Chevaliers) time period of ancient France.

Église réformée – Protestant Church of France

Exercice du culte – Liberty of action in regard to a place or places of worship

Familles protestantes – Protestant families

Familles réformées – Protestant families

Lieu de prière – Place of worship

Lieux de prière -Places of worship

Lieu d’exercice – Faith place name

Lieux d’exercice – Faith place names

Nouveau converti – New convert (Male)

Nouveaux convertis – New converts

Nouvelle convertie – New convert (Female)

Nouvelles converties – New converts

Placet au Roi (roi) – Written directives issued by various kings of France which reflects the will (power) of the Crown of France

Réformé – Protestant individual

Relaps – A person who no longer attend regular church services

Religion réformée – Protestant faith

Religionnaire – Protestant individual

Religionnaires – Protestant individuals

Synode – Synod

Synodes – Synods

Temple protestant – Protestant temple

Temple réformé – Protestant temple

Temples protestants – Protestant temples

Temples réformés – Protestant temples

 

Protestants in Quebec

Recently, the news media reported that Quebec Premier François Legault stated that “all” French Canadians are Catholic. While it is true that, historically, almost all francophone Quebecers were Catholic, today many are lapsed Catholics while others are atheists. There are also those who, for a variety of reasons, switched from the Catholic Church to a Protestant religion.

In my own case, I became a Protestant in my mid-forties. My father, Lionel Gagné, was also a Protestant. At a young age, he lost both his Catholic parents and was placed in a Catholic orphanage in east-end Montreal. At about the age of seven or eight, he was taken in by a Huguenot teacher and his wife, a Presbyterian from Massachusetts, who were teachers at a bilingual Protestant College in Pointe-aux-Trembles. This college was operated and financed at the time by McGill University and the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

Like many people, Premier Legault is probably not aware that a small minority of French Quebecers had Protestant ancestors, many of whom were forced to give up their religion when they settled here. Genealogist Michel Barbeau has estimated that about 320 Huguenots, or French-speaking Protestants, settled in New France between 1634 and 1763. See the database of names he identified as Huguenots: http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/index.htm). You can read more about the history of the Huguenots on Barbeau’s website Our Huguenot Ancestors, http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/huga/index.htm

Many of these people came to North America to escape from persecution in Europe, however, they did not find life much easier in New France. Many were forced to abjure, or renounce, their religion and others became Catholic after marrying in the Catholic Church. Those who remained Protestant were banned from certain trades, while some had their possessions confiscated.

Here are links to two of my research guides to the Huguenots of New France:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/02/huguenot-refugees/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/03/register-of-abjurations/

The following article describes the early Protestant churches of Quebec City:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/02/03/the-protestant-churches-of-quebec-city-1629-1759/

In addition to being a list of French-language Protestant churches and their ministers, the research guide below includes an excellent article by Réne Péron about the lives of Protestants in New France, a list of books and authors who have written on the subject, and contact information for the archives of Protestant churches where you can find church registries:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/22/french-protestant-churches-in-quebec/

The following research guide is a list of villages, towns and townships across Quebec where people from a variety of origins, including Huguenots, settled:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/04/08/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-huguenot-families-in-lower-canada-and-quebec-1760/

In 2020, I will be posting a series of articles about the Huguenots in Europe. The first will focus on the Protestants of Paris and surrounding region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Researching Quebec Loyalists at the BAnQ

Loyalist families settled in Quebec following the end of the American Revolution in 1783. At that time, Quebec was under British rule.

For a complete listings of United Empire Loyalists fonds which can be viewed at various repositories of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), go to the catalogue search page https://cap.banq.qc.ca/fr/ and search for the word Loyalist.

The collection includes books, theses, essays and papers. Some of the items in this collection have been reproduced on microfiche from old documents originating in other archives, libraries or historical societies in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. A fair number of these papers were first published in the 19th century by historians, scholars, archivists and lecturers.

Between 60% to 70% of the material regarding the Loyalists stored at the various repositories of BAnQ in Montreal address Loyalist families who settled in Upper Canada (Ontario), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. I am mainly interested in Loyalists who settled in Quebec

The compilation attached here, “Researching Quebec Loyalists at the BAnQ,” lists 168 books, historical documents and other material available at the BAnQ in Montreal concerning the Loyalists who settled in what is now the Province of Quebec. Quebec Loyalists at the BAnQ

Please note: In order to borrow books or CDs from the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, one must obtain a BAnQ membership card. It is free to all residents of the Province of Quebec. For researchers residing outside of Quebec, temporary memberships can be issued with limited borrowing options. See my post Genealogy Ensemble dated Nov. 17, 2019, Exploring la Grande Bibliothèque.

Only at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal can a visitor borrow a book or CD.

The other repositories of the BAnQ in the Montreal region are:  the Collection nationale (du Québec) housed within the same building as the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal; BAnQ Vieux-Montréal (Archives nationales du Québec on Viger Avenue in Old Montreal); BAnQ Rosemont La Petite-Patrie at 2275 Holt Street and, opening in 2020, the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice at 1700 St. Denis Street near Sherbrooke Street (east). At these repositories, material can only be viewed on location.

   Contents of the compilation

Page 2   Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal

Page 3   Collection nationale

Page 10 BAnQ Vieux-Montréal

Page 11 BAnQ Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie

 Page 11 BAnQ Online Digitized Books

 Page 12 BAnQ – Sir John Johnson and the British Governors during and following the great Loyalist migration.

 

The Fur Trade: A Wealth of Resources

Over the last few weeks, Genealogy Ensemble has posted a series of research guides on the merchants, ship owners and others who were involved in the lucrative fur trade based in New France. This week, I have put together a list of archives, web site addresses and other resources that you may want to consult as you dig deeper into your research on these merchants.

The first repositories on this list are Quebec’s provincial archives, la Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The links I have included will not only help you find the main archives in Montreal and Quebec City and other regional branches, but show you how to e-mail a question to an archivist.

Other archives with collections related to these merchants include Library and Archives Canada and various archives in France. I have written guides to several French archives in the past. See https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/10/21/researching-the-new-france-archives/ https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/01/27/the-national-archives-of-france/ https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/12/16/bnf-gallica/ and https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/.

To better understand the Canadian-based resources, see my posts https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/11/18/patrimoine-quebec-a-genealogical-library/ and https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/10/21/researching-the-new-france-archives/

Other resources on the list include university libraries and museums. I have also included links to various genealogy and history societies in North America and Europe. Several of these, such as the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, provide a great deal of background information on the fur trade era. Don’t forget that the merchants of New France were scattered from Acadia (in Canada’s eastern provinces) to Louisiana. Finally, I have included the names of several publishers and booksellers that could prove of interest.

Click here to see the list of repositories and publishers: Repositories of Documents Booksellers Publishers

This is the last post in the series. Previous articles in this series on the merchants, ship owners and fur traders of New France can be found at:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/05/the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-1-a-g/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/10/the-merchants-and-fur-traders-of-new-france-part-2-h-to-z/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/05/26/the-trading-companies-of-new-france/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/06/02/french-seaports-and-new-france/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/06/09/books-and-articles-about-the-merchants-ship-owners-and-fur-traders-of-new-france/

 

 

 

Royal Notaries of New France and in Quebec under the British

For family researchers looking for ancestors in Quebec, notarial acts are much more than marriage contracts or wills. A notarial act can offer a detailed overview of all the members of a particular family through documents such as notarized after-death inventories.

In order to pinpoint where and when an ancestor settled within a particular region of Quebec, notarized land grants and land purchases, sales and leases can provide family lineage researchers with answers to their research stumbling blocks.

If your ancestor was a business person, notarial acts can describe the types of business activities your ancestor carried on, and the names of his partners or competitors.

All types of transactions that seigneurs carried on with their tenants in New France, between 1612 to 1760, and under British rule, from 1760 to 1854, were recorded by notaries. These records are a must for those with ancestors in rural districts of New France and British Quebec up to 1854.

In order to find the notarial documents relevant to your family’s activities, you first need to know the name of the notary who prepared these documents. Unless the notary’s acts have been digitized, you will need to scroll through his index to find the dates and act numbers so you can find the documents themselves.

In New France, there were three types of notaries: public notaries, also referred to as regular notaries; seigneurial notaries, appointed by the owners of vast territories called seigneuries; and royal notaries. In most cases, royal notaries were well-educated individuals who were considered to be of high integrity, and to have exemplary behaviour in family relationships and with business associates.

This is the group of notaries we wish to introduce to family history researchers in Canada and in the United States.

Royal notaries were appointed by representatives of the French Crown in New France, known as indendants. An intendant was an administrator appointed by either Louis XIII, Louis XIV or Louis XV, kings of France from 1621 to 1760, and by the kings of England during the reigns of George III and George IV.

The French intendants who appointed royal notaries were Louis Robert (1663-1665), Jean Talon (1665-1668 & 1670-1672), Jacques Duchesneau (1675-1682), Jacques de Meules (1682-1686), Jean de Champigny (1686-1702), François de Beauharnais (1702-1705), Jacques Rondot (1705-1711), Michel Bégon (1712-1726), Claude Thomas Dupuy (1726-1728), Gilles Hocquart (1731-1748) and François Bigot (1748-1760).

Following the British conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, the authorities who appointed royal notaries in British Quebec were: Governor James Murray (1760-1768), Lieutenant Governor in Montreal Thomas Gage (1760-1763), Lieutenant Governor in Trois-Rivières Ralph Burton (1760-1766 and 1763-1766 in Montreal), Governor Guy Carleton (1768-1770 & 1774-1778 & 1786-1796), Lieutenant Governor Hector de Cramahé (1770-1774) and Governor Frederick Haldimand (1778-1784).

One of the best experts on royal notaries was André Vachon, a university professor, author and archivist. Born in Quebec City in 1933, he was archivist at the Archives de la Province de Québec (the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec) from 1956 to 1961. For nine years, he was a professor at Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke, and from 1971 to 1976, he was curator at the Archives nationales du Québec. He was also historian and managing director of Les Presses de l’Université Laval.

From 1967 onward, Vachon wrote 15 books, one of which should be considered of exceptional value to family lineage researchers. It is called L’Histoire du Notariat Canadien (The history of the Notaries in Canada)

In addition, Vachon contributed a series of excellent articles that were published over many years by the Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française. These are available online through Erudit, the largest French-language research platform in North America. Many of his texts addressed the subject of notaries in New France from 1621 to 1759, as well as notaries under the British regime.

For more details on Vachon’s career and the Andre Vachon Fonds at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, see http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/description_fonds?p_anqsid=201402101331371539&p_centre=03Q&p_classe=P&p_fonds=840&p_numunide=835866

The following articles, researched and compiled by Vachon and his associates, describe most of the royal notaries of New France and those who served as royal notaries under the British regime in Québec.

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1955/v9/n3/301728ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1956/v9/n4/301791ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/cd/2013/v54/n1/1014289ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n2/301835ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

If you want to find out which notaries served your ancestors in Quebec, the websites of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) are the best places to look. These sites list notaries who were described as royal notaries or as public notaries (regular notaries) or as seigniorial notaries.

Archiv-Histo (Parchemin) (https://archiv-histo.com/assets/publications/2015-Notaires-liste-Chrono-Tablo.pdf ) provides a research tool on the notaries who served in New France. There were 206 notaries working in New France from 1634 to 1759, and 2,086 notaries served in Quebec from 1760 to 1899.

 Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/) offers readers a tool to research notaries by regions of Québec who served during the 19th century and a few within the 18th century in all regions of Quebec. These regions can be found on the left side of the front page under the heading of Par region.

These regions were:

>> Montreal Region

Island of Montreal plus Saint-Hyacinthe – Richelieu River Valley – Iberville – Joliette – Terrebonne – Beauharnois – Longueil – Laval – Labelle – Bedford

>> Quebec City Region

City of Québec plus Montmagny – Saguenay – Beauce

>> Central Region of Quebec (Mauricie et Centre du Québec)

City of Trois-Rivières plus Arthabaska County – Drummond County – St. Maurice County

>> Eastern Townships (Estrie)

City of Sherbrooke plus St. Francis Judicial District (Sherbrooke, Stanstead, Richmond, Compton, Wolfe Counties) – Bedford Judicial District (Missisquoi, Brome, Shefford,Counties plus the Upper Richelieu River Valley (Missisquoi Bay)) – Megantic County

>> Western Quebec (Outaouais)

District of Hull-Gatineau plus Gatineau County – Pontiac County – Labelle County – Papineau County under Hull-Gatineau District

>> Lower St. Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent)

Regions of Rimouski and Rivière-du-Loup plus Kamouraska District, Gaspé County, Bonaventure County

>> Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean

Regions of Chicoutimi (Saguenay today) plus Roberval, Alma

>> North Western Quebec (Abitibi-Témiscamingue-Nord-du-Québec)

Abitibi County, Témiscamingue County

>> St. Lawrence Lower & Upper North Shores

Baie-Comeau & Sept-Iles regions from Tadoussac to the Labrador Border along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River

Please note: All articles by André Vachon and his associates on the Érudit site, as well as the content of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the BAnQ are in the French language only. Try using Google Translate, or another online translation service.

See also:

Jacques Gagné, “Finding Quebec’s Early Notarial Records,” Genealogy Ensemble, Jan.1, 2017, https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/

Jacques Gagné, “Notaries of Lower Canada, 1760-1848,” Genealogy Ensemble, April 29, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/04/29/notaries-of-lower-canada-1760-1848/

Compiled by Jacques Gagné

gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

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

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