Finding Your French-Canadian Ancestors

by E.B. Lapointe

October is Family History Month, and what better way to commerate the month than to find a new ancestor, or at the very least, find new information about a previously known French-Canadian forefather or foremother?

For instance, you may find your French-Canadian ancestor in the Loiselle Marriage Index (1642-1963). This index contains over 500,000 marriages from 520 parishes. In addition to the marriage, it can also contain the names of the parents of those who were married, as well as the place of their marriage. Original index cards from this work by Antonin Loiselle are held at the National Archives of Quebec at http://www.anq.gouv.qc.ca, as well as microfilm copies at its regional archives. In addition, microfiche copies are available from the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa at http://www.archives.ca.

Or, you may find your ancestor in the Genealogical Dictionary of Our Origins (GDO), started online by Quebec's Internet Genealogist, Denis Beauregard, at the "Franceogene" website http://francogene.com. Started as a collection of corrections to Jette's Dictionnaire genealogique des familles du Quebec, the web version was written in 1997. There are now two volumes to check, Volume 1, which is from 1608 to 1730, and Volume 2, from 1731 to 1799. He also has a very inclusive list of Quebec resources under the heading of "Resources" at the website.

The "Ficher origine", also located at Beauregard's website, contains the names of pioneers to Quebec, along with other information, such as birth dates, although not all entries are French-Canadian.

Of course, there are the great works published by the Institut genealogique Drouin, the Dictionnaire national des canadiens-francaise, 1608-1760 (3 volumes, 1965) or the Repertoire alaphabetique des mariages des canadiens-francaise, 1760-1935 (113 volumes, 1989, 1991).

If you want to see the research which someone else has already done on your family, there is one great resource on the Internet, and that is the "Amoiries de familles" wherein is listed the French-Canadian Family Associations by surname. The website which lists the surnames is http://www.genealogie.org.

The Family Group - a sculpture in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada
Photo Credit: Mario Lapointe CD

Located in the Alymer section of the City of Gatineau in the province of Quebec is "The Family Group," a sculpture by Art Price in celebration of the former city's 150th anniversary. It was dedicated by Mayor Marc Croteau on 8 June, 1997.

The Canadian listing of French-Canadian resources is located at http://www.islandnet.com/~jveinot/cghl/quebec.html, which gives all the Quebec GenWeb listings by counties in the province of Quebec, as well as organizations, societies, and Personal Quebec Pages.

Since there are many different variants among French surnames as to their spellings, and the use of "dit" surnames which did, over time, change the surnames brought over from France into surnames only found in the New World, there is an explanation of how this occurred, plus a very extensive list of surnames themselves at the American-French Genealogical Society at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~afgs.

One place to look is at the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) website at http://www.familysearch.org or at one of their 4,000 Family Centres world-wide. Not only do they have the well-known International Genealogical Index (IGI), but they also have their Family History Library Catalog online, where one can research many French-Canadian resources. Of note to researchers of French-Canadian ancestry is that all church parish records up to 1976 have been microfilmed by the LDS. The full text of the 1881 Canadian census is also onsite.

Finally, if one goes to the Canadian Genealogy Centre at http://www.genealogy.gc.ca and clicks onto the link "Genealogical Research" and then onto "Directory of Resources", and places "Quebec" into the search engine, one will find 214 references to Quebec and its websites, covering all aspects of Quebec genealogy. Explanations for each website are given in English, and with a quick click of the mouse, one will be at the website which has been chosen by the researcher. It is one of the best resources for Canadian websites today on the Internet.

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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