Tag Archives: french-canadian

Researching French Canadian Ancestors through the Drouin Institute

Institut Généalogique Drouin




 If you are researching French Canadian ancestors, the best place to look is the Drouin Institute, www.drouininstitute.com. The institute can help you find a great deal of information about your ancestors, but only some pages are in English and you may become confused because there are several different ways to access the site’s information.

In addition to the subscription database at https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/, the institute has a vast selection of publications for sale through its bookstore.

You will find the link to subscribe to the institute’s online database, Quebec Records, at the top of the page www.genealogiequebec.com/en/ or, if you are on the French-language page, click on abonnement.

The Quebec Records collection, updated as of February 2016, includes more than 42 million files and images. Take a look at the About Us page (https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/about) to get an idea of the scope of information available. It includes the Lafrance Collection of Catholic baptisms, marriages and deaths starting from 1621, and some Protestant marriages, 1760-1849. The online Drouin Collection includes a variety of genealogical records from Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. Scroll down the About page to see the listing of additional databases, including notarized documents and obituaries.

The Quebec Records page has a link to the PRDH project, or Research Program in Historical Demography, http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/home. This huge undertaking by the University of Montreal put together all Catholic baptisms, marriages and burials, as well as Protestant marriages, in Quebec from 1621 to 1849.

According to the project’s website (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/LePrdh) the result is “a computerized population register, composed of biographical files on all individuals of European ancestry who lived in the St. Lawrence Valley. The file for each individual gives the date and place of birth, marriage(s), and death, as well as family and conjugal ties with other individuals. This basic information is complemented by various socio-demographic characteristics drawn from documents: socio-professional status and occupation, ability to sign his or her name, place of residence, and, for immigrants, place of origin.” The PRDH site includes an extensive bibliography. Subscription rates depend on whether you live in Quebec, the rest of Canada or elsewhere.

The Drouin Institute sells a number of products through its online boutique. For example, you can buy family histories on CD through https://institut-drouin.myshopify.com/collections/patrimoine-familial (search for your family’s name in the naviguer box on the right), or you can purchase published family history books at https://institut-drouin.myshopify.com/collections/patrimoine-familial. Almost all of these products are in French.

The page http://www.drouininstitute.com/index.html links to the online boutique. On that page (https://institut-drouin.myshopify.com/search) you can put your family name into the search box and it will tell you what products, including CDs, books, spiral binders and PDFs, can be ordered.

Another way to search this resource is to go to www.institutdrouin.com/neufs. This page will lead you to a long list of product numbers. Click on each selection to see what titles are available.

Here are some of the spiral binders you can buy from the institute containing records that Montreal genealogist Jacques Gagné says are not available through commercial databases:

Item # N-0076 –RawdonSt. Patrick Catholic Parish – Montcalm County – Marriages, baptisms, deaths (1837-1987) – Parish later renamed Marie-Reine-du-Monde de Rawdon > Spiral binders $55. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0278 – Iberville County – Protestant & Catholic Marriages (1823-1979) – Towns of: Henryville – Iberville – Mont-St-Grégoire – St-Alexandre – St-Athanase – Ste-Anne-de-Sabravois – Ste-Brigite-d’Iberville – St-Grégoire-le-Grand – St-Sébastien – Ste-Angèle-de-Monnoir – 802 pages – 2 volumes > Spiral binders $75. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0327 – Trois-RivièresSt. Patrick Irish Catholic ParishMarriages (1955-1981) > Spiral binders $10. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0504 – Terrebonne Judicial District Civil Marriages – (1969-1991) – 8,900 marriages – 684 pages > Spiral binders $69. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0578 – St. Lawrence River’s Mid North ShoreMoyenne Côte-Nord du St-Laurent Judicial District of Sept-IlesMarriages (1846-1987) – 10,342 marriages – Towns of : Sept-Iles – Port-Cartier – Clarke City – Godbout – Gallix – Baie-Trinité – Rivière-Brochu – Franquelin – Moisie – Rivière-Pentecôte – Pointe-aux-Anglais – 607 pages > Spiral binders $43. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0579 – St. Lawrence River’s Lower North Shore &  Southern LabradorBasse Côte-Nord du St-Laurent et du Sud du LabradorProtestant & Catholic marriages, baptisms, deaths (1847-2006) – 6,470 marriagesRegion of Minganie – Aguanish – Baie Johan Beetz – Hâvre-St-Pierre – Anticosti Island – Longue Pointe de Mingan – Mingan – Natashquan – Pointe-Parent – Rivière-au-Tonnerre – Rivière-St-Jean – Region of Lower North-Shore – Aylmer Sound – Blanc Sablon – Chevery – Harrington Harbour – Kegaska – La Romaine – La Tabatière – Lourdes de Blanc Sablon – Musquaro – Mutton Bay – Pakua-Shipi – Rivière St-Paul – St-Augustin (St. Augustine) – Tête a la Baleine – Region of Southern Labrador – Capstan Island – Clear Bay (L’Anse-au-Clair) – East St. Modest (e) – Flower’s Cove – Forteau – L’Anse-au-Loup (Woolf Cove) – L’Anse-Amour – Pinware – Red Bay – Sheldrake – West St. Modest (e) – Catholic Parishes (17) – Anglican Church (4) – United Church (2) – Methodist Church (1) – Congregationalist Church (1) – Plymouth Brethern (Gospel Hall) (3) – Pentecostal (1) – The church records of the Presbyterian Church in Harrington Harbour were destroyed by fire in 1973 – 330 pages > Spiral binders $28. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0585 – St. Lawrence’s River Upper North Shore –  Haute-Côte-Nord du St-LaurentMarriages (1668-1992) – 17,689 marriages – Towns of: Baie-Comeau – Forestville – Les Escoumins – Tadoussac – Chutes-aux-Ouardes – Ragueneau – Pointe-Lebel – Betsiamites – Bersimis – Les Bergeronnes – Les Ilets Jéramie – 576 pages > $40. + taxes-shipping

Item # N-0613 – Gardenville Presbyterian Church & United Church of LongueilGreenfield ParkLongueilMarriages, baptisms, deaths (1905-1925 & 1926-1941) – 77 pages > $35. + taxes-shipping

Researched and compiled by Jacques Gagné gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca

Huguenots – Index of Names


The Cross of Languedoc

Part 1. 

Huguenot Trails

 Is an Index of family names appearing in “Huguenot Trails”, the official publication of the Huguenot Society of Canada, from 1968 to 2003.

“Huguenot Trails” publications are available in the periodicals section of the Quebec Family History Society in Pointe-Claire, Quebec

While many family histories are given at length, and others are mentioned only briefly.

 Part 2

 Huguenots in Nouvelle France – Québec (New France – Quebec)     1604-1763

 Family listings –  2nd compilation

Fichiers huguenots

Michel Barbeau Author, researcher, compiler and consists of

 Huguenots from France (319 pioneers)                 http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/

Calvinists from Switzerland (21 pioneers)    http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/suisses.htm

 Part 3.

 Huguenots in Nouvelle France Québec (New France Quebec1600-1765

Family listings  – 3rd compilation

 Listing of family names obtained from the writings of many authors and  Various Online Sources

Click on the links below to open in  new windows

Part 1

Trails – Family Names

Part 2.

 The Huguenots 2 in Nouvelle France

Part 3.

The Huguenots in New France #3

The French Canadians in the U.S.A 1840-1930

French Canadian Emigration to the U.S. 1840-1930

compiled by Jacques Gagné

“The Archives nationales du Québec in Montréal on Viger Avenue are the repository of a wonderful and unique collection of books of marriages, baptisms, deaths of French Canadian families who left the Province of Québec between 1840 to 1930 for destinations south of the border. For it is estimated that during that 90 year period, 900,000 French Canadians left the regions along the shores of the  St. Lawrence River, the Richelieu River, the Chaudière River for the U.S. ”

As part of this research guide, Jacques Gagné has also included the exodus of Acadians to the same New England States, New York State and other points within the United States of America including the Acadian families who were deported to Louisiana.


Click here to open the pdf file : French Canadians in the U.S.A. 2014

Amarilda Desbiens, Scottish adoptee in Baie-St-Paul? a road-trip up dead ends


Amarilda Desbiens



It is easy to look up a French-Canadian catholic lady for three main reasons:
1. The documents are centralised in the archives: no need to know the church or village name.
2. Women always use their birth family name in records, from birth to death. There may ‘’wife of’’ or ‘’widow of’’ also included.
3. Parents are listed on the marriage record.
You can use the Drouin collection of books, one for men and one for women, with marriages 1760-1935, or online Drouin or Ancestry or Family Search at home or at the Quebec family History Society.

Beginning of the Journey

When I started my research, I had my mother in law’s parents and their wedding. Her grand-father Benjamin Simard’s wedding I found : to Amarilda Desbiens, August 17th 1887 in Baie-St-Paul .

SimardXDesbiens 1887 StPaul1

SimardXDesbiens 1887 StPaul2

Amarilda was the daughter of Joseph Desbiens and Louise Bouchard, and on I went in an afternoon, all the way up the tree to France.

Then, with different resources I found birth and death certificates, but no birth date for Amarilda. Even in books where they would list her whole family, ancestors and descendants, there was a marriage and a death, but no birth for her.

At the Société d’histoire de Charlevoix, her card was in a collection of funeral cards. I got an approximate date of birth of 1866 from the information: died May 11th 1944, at 77 years and 9 months.


All her sibblings were baptised at Les Eboulements and her father in Ile-aux-Coudres. At the local Quebec Archives Depot of Charlevoix I look at the microfilmed birth registers for 1865, 1866, 1867. No Desbiens birth .

At Baie-St-Paul and Les Eboulement cemeteries: no tombstones for the family.

Digital Camera

Les Éboulements

First turn up a mountain road

A friend told the family that Amarilda was adopted and from Scotland. She was supposed to be a Donaldson or Danielson, but I found that her sister married one, nothing about Amarilda.
My mother in law said Amarilda was a really cold and distant grand-mother, sitting very upright in her chair, a cameo at her neck and a blanket on her knees. She only had three kids.
When she was young, my mother in law’s sister was so blond with blue eyes, she was told she was Irish by the neighbours.

At BAnQ: census on microfilms:
1871, She is not listed with her family. She probably hasn’t arrived yet:

DesbiensMA-Potvin et DesbiensJ REC 1871

1881, still not there:

DesbiensJf REC 1881 BStPaul

1891, she is married and with her husband:

SimardBf REC 1891 BStPaul

So she must have been adopted when she was older than 15 years old.

I started looking up immigration history books, lists… To no avail.

Even now, when I look up online Ancestry, Drouin or Family Search : marriage records only for dear Amarilda.

Now I knew she was laughing watching me go in circles. Every place I went, every book I got my hands on, I looked her up. Not a word on her birth.

Final sretch

I finally tried at Baie-St-Paul presbytery. In the filing cabinet, the individual’s cards are grouped by family. With husband Benjamin and kids, Amarilda’s card, with three dates: birth, marriage and death! I then looked up her parents, Jospeh Desbiens and Louise Bouchard cards as a group, with their children: there she was, born not in Les Eboulements, but in Baie-St-Paul: MARIE DESBIENS. ONLY Marie! Baptised 9 aout 1866

DesbiensMarieAmarilda B 1866 BaieStPaul

Baie-St-Paul register, 1866

Before she was five, she was adopted by the neighbour Charles Potvin, a baker and merchant, and wife Marie Filion.
She married Benjamin Simard August 17th 1887 in Baie-St-Paul.

Benjamin Simard

Benjamin Simard, merchant

They had 10 children:
7 died young or at birth, Ambroise died at 18, Florence and Charles became adults.

H11 1
Back L. to R.: Daughter Florence, Amarilda, X. Son Ambroise sitting in front

Amarilda’s eldest son, Charles, took his name from his godfather: Amarilda’s adoptive father.


Charles Simard with mother Amarilda

Charles Potvin being a merchant, maybe Benjamin Simard even took over his store.

X, Amarilda, Florence
The store of Benjamin then Charles Simard, across from the church in Baie-St-Paul

Looking in the rearview mirror

All those little clues at first could not be taken for proof, but I did keep them on the back burner.

No Scottish, no Irish, not adopted INTO Desbiens family but adopted OUT to a Potvin family. Still I learned a lot even if side tracked.
I find her birth and death dates in Death Index Quebec 1926-1997 but no place of birth.If I had looked up the 1866 Baie-St-Paul register, page by page, I would have found a baby girl born to those parents in August 1866.

1. Census: 1871 she is not there, not because she has not joined the family, but because she has already left it, for…the neighbour: Charles Potvin and who will not children of their own.
When you look at the ditto signs before her name on the census, there is a very nicely formed beginning of a D for Desbiens ( just like her Desbiens family above), it stops, and dittos are put in, saying she’s a Potvin.

DesbiensMA-Potvin et DesbiensJ REC 1871

2. On the baptism certificate of Marie Aurélie Amarilda AKA Florence, Amarilda Desbiens Potvin is the mother

SimardFlorence B 1894 BStPaul

3. At Amarilda’s wedding, Charles Potvin is her witness.
If you look at the line where he is mentioned, ‘’friend of bride’’ is written over a few words that were already written. Father? Adoptive father?

SimardXDesbiens détail

4. Charles Potvin and Marie Filion are godfather and godmother of Charles Simard, first surviving son of Amarilda and Benjamin.

SimardCharlesB N 1890 StPaul

The road up ahead
Why was she adopted?
The first of Amarilda’s siblings was born in 1850, they were 10 children in total, and twins were born in 1863. Maybe mom was getting tired and needed help. Maybe she was sick. Or the twins were a lot to take care of, and she was pregnant with her last child who was born in 1869. Or they took her in when her mom gave birth to the last one? Charles Potvin, no kids, baker and merchant he was probably better off than his neighbours. In the area, in those days, many well off families would pay for less fortunate children’s education, or adopt them. Charles, once a father, paid for education for quite a few children of Baie-St-Paul also.
Eventually, Zoe Potvin, Charles’ sister, even married Eusebe Desbiens, Amarilda’s brother.

Life in New France Was Fraught with Danger

Montreal,  originally known as Ville Marie was founded in 1642 by Paul Chomedy Sieur de Maisonneuve. At the time there were very few inhabitants. Within the next several years ships arrived and the population grew.

In 1663 the company of Saint Sulpice became the owner of the Montreal Island. They built their Seminary in 1684 and starting in 1685 Montreal became more and more of a military stronghold surrounded by a wooden palisade

In 1665 my 7th great Grandfather Claude Jodouin, born in Poitiers, France,  arrived in Ville Marie,  New France. He was a master carpenter and worked for the Sulpicians. Shortly after his arrival1 on March 22,1666 in Notre Dame Church he married Anne Thomas, a King’s daughter. Over the years they had ten children.

Saint-Henri  des Tanneries  was an non-populated wooded area far removed from the walled section of the settlement which is now referred to as Old Montreal. There the workers would tan hides. The odor from the tasks was most unpleasant, to the point of being quite unbearable. This was the reason for establishing the tanneries far from the population. The area today still bears the name Saint Henri.

While working at the tannery Claude Jodouin’s life came to a fateful end. He was fifty years old.

In the Bulletin des Recherches Historiques2 the following describes his death.

“Le sudit document nous apprend encore que, le 16 octobre 1686, un charpentier nomme Claude Jaudouin employe a la tannerie fut inopinement tue par un autre ouvrier. Nicolas Martin dit Jolycoeur. Celui-ci, ignorant que son compagnon etait au bois entendant un froisement de branches imagina qu’un ours venait a lui. Pris de peur, il dechargea son fusil dans la direction de bruit avec le regrettable resultat que l’on sait.”

Translation:        It was in a wooded section outside the tannery, that a fellow worker thought he heard a bear rustling in the bushes, took aim and shot. So ended the life of Claude Jodouin, the master carpenter.

In the Dictionnaires de genealogies des familles du Quebec3  it indicates that Claude Jodouin was killed accidentally. Little did I know that my first trip to La societe de genealogie canadienne francaise in the east end of Montreal would reveal the manner in which he died.

Anne, Claude’s wife was still a young woman with the responsibility of their ten children.  From all accounts she was sought after by many eligible bachelors. Within a short period of time she remarried.4


1      POULIN, JOSEPH-PHILIPPE. “Premiers colons du debut de la colonie jusqu’en 1700.” In Programme Souvenir, Sixieme Congres de la Societe Genealogique Canadienne Francaise, Quebec (Oct. 8-10, 1960), pp. 13-22.  Arrival


1      L’Abbe D Tanguay, ADS, Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes Depuis la Fondation de la Colonie Jusqu’a Nos Jours, Cinquieme Volume, Depuis 1608 jusqu’a 1700, Eusebe Senecal, 1888.

2       Bulletin des Recherches Historiques Vol 41: p 39

3      Dictionnaire degenealogie des familles du Quebec, Jette

4       Ibid

http://www.memorablemontreal.com › accessibleQA



Facebook to connect on and on and on.

Yes, we are all connected with our trees, and the web makes it so you can get lost as one page connects to the next and to the next…  We genealogists are so curious, we can lose entire days brousing.  But sometimes at the end of a treck, you hit what you didn’t know you were looking for but needed anyways.

Fumbling around Facebook today, I found lots I wasn’t looking for. On the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan Facebook Page, I discovered Katherine R Willson’s social media genealogy page  as I was following a lead historical and genealogical Facebook pages.  YES!  Browse throught the list and you may mingle with the right crowd gen-buffs on Facebook: the ones that can help you, the ones where cousins may be hiding, and the ones to keep on getting lost through genealogical maze on the web.  You may download the Facebook list but please keep the credits on each page.

Want to know more about genealogy, art and military family support?  Those are KATHERINE R. WILLSON’s favorite topics and she is writing a book about the use of Facebook as a genealogical research tool.  Member of many historical and genealogical societies, she is also a mixed media artist.  To know more about talks she gives, go to her social media genealogy page .

The French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan page helps us take walls (brick or other) down between Canada and USA to help our searches, and yes, there is a brickwall Facebook page

Facebook nous permet de rejoindre bien des gens, mais Katherine R. Willson nous aide a trouver ceux qu’on cherche: ceux qui peuvent nous aider ou des cousin.  Vous pouvez rencontrer cette conférencière sur sa page social media genealogy page .  La généalogie, le support de familles militaires et les arts sont ses sujets préférés.

Pour rendre Facebook encore plus utile, elle a compilé une liste de sites Facebook historique et généalogique que vous pouvez télécharger.  Elle nous prie de garder les crédits sur chaque page si nous diffusons cette liste.

C’est justement en me promenant sur Facebook, sur la page French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan que j’ai été référée a sa page.  Un autre lien Canada-Usa qui fait tomber des murs, de brique ou autres, page de Brickwall Facebook