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Church Registers: A Wonderful Resource for Researching Quebec Ancestors

APR 2

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.

BAnQ Online Collection of Church and Synagogue Registers

Montreal’s Black Market Babies

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, 1,000 babies were sold to adoptive parents through a black market baby ring that operated in Quebec. Most of the babies were born to unwed French Canadian mothers, most of the adoptive families were Jewish. Some of the children went to homes in Quebec and Ontario, and many grew up in the United States.

In 1984, my husband found out he had been adopted and that his parents had paid about $2,000 for him. About 15 years later, he found out about the black market baby ring that had arranged his adoption. Ever since then, he has been sharing his story with friends, with community groups and through the media. Several years ago, Global television told the story of Harold’s search for his birth mother on the program Past Lives.

This week, the Montreal CTV station aired a news feature about the black market baby ring. It puts Harold’s story in context, explaining how most of the mothers who gave birth out of wedlock had no choice but to give up their babies. Harold counts himself lucky that he ended up in a good home and not in an orphanage.

The ring was broken up 60 years ago this year. Some of the birth mothers have no doubt died, and many of their children are probably still trying to find them. The story is still fascinating.

Here is a link to that six-minute CTV feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNKTqkZmIGE

Karen Balcom of McMaster University has written a book that addresses this topic: The Traffic in Babies: Cross-Border Adoption and Baby-Selling between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972 Studies in Gender and History, University of Toronto Press, 2011.

You can learn more about Montreal’s black market baby ring on the Parent Finders Montreal website, http://www.pfmtl.org/BMB/index.html. At the bottom of the page, there is a list of dates, pages and titles of old newspaper articles about the case. Paste in the url for one of these stories from The Gazette, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=Fr8DH2VBP9sC&dat=19540215&printsec=frontpage&hl=en, and from there you can easily browse the newspaper to find the other articles.

There is a Montreal Black Market Baby Facebook page.

Feb. 23 2016, this post has been updated. The link to the CTV feature now works.

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