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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: French Canadian Ancestors  by Louise St Denis. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Planning A Genealogy Trip to Montréal

by Paul Leclerc

A genealogy trip? Why not?

Why not include a genealogy research trip into your next travelling plans?

  • to consult resources not available in our area, we need to go where the resources are pertinent to the majority of our current research targets
  • to resolve particular problems encountered
  • to obtain details of the lives of ancestors
  • to obtain copies of primary sources
  • to obtain photographs of interest
  • to visit living relatives who might be able to assist
  • to visit the area where our ancestors lived, historical sites, museums, libraries
  • to better appreciate waterways, railways, distances
  • to visit historical societies
  • to obtain historical brochures, local histories, parish books
  • to locate living descendants of our ancestors

In summary, to pursue an elusive ancestor, to confirm our findings, to gather material for a family history.

Why go to Montréal to do genealogy research?

Québec was the first area settled in Canada. While Québec City was founded first and was the place of residence of the governors, Montréal due to its location as the westernmost point before the rapids on the Ottawa and the St-Laurent rivers played an important role first as the capital of the fur trade then as the industrial capital of Canada.

After the merger of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company around 1820, Montréal’s role as the fur trade came to an end. However, furs were replaced in the economy by the export of agricultural goods to Great Britain, and the import of manufactured goods and alcohol. This activity resulted in a population growth and Montréal surpassed Québec city as an economic centre and asserted itself as the first city of Canada. The Bank on Montréal was established by merchants in 1817, and the Board of Trade in 1822. The merchants invested in the maritime transportation system then in the railways. A growing class of craftsmen emerged, producing goods for export and for consumption in the colony. Due to massive immigration beginning in 1815, and also from 1831 to 1866, the majority of Montrealers were of British origins. Many French-Canadians and English Canadians migrated south or west.

Accordingly, many Canadians, French speaking as well as English speaking, will be drawn to Montréal as they research their ancestors.

Montréal offers many great places to research genealogy

The regional archive centre of the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec is the most important of the Québec archive centres. Available in BAnQ centres are government archives, judiciary archives, civil archives, notarial archives as well as private archives. The judiciary archives contain lots of information and are rarely subject to access restrictions, but are difficult to search. Some research guides are becoming available to help search them. For more information, see the BAnQ website at and review the Plan a Visit section.

You will find a PDF of the Guide des archives judiciaires, published in December 2002, written by Evelyn Kolish.

In the Montréal Archives Centre can be found the original documents covering the Montréal municipal area, as well as the Montérégie to the South, from the Ontario border south of the Ottawa River then south of the St-Laurent River up to but not including the Eastern Township and the Drummondville area, and the Laurentians and Lanaudière to the North. About two thirds of the population of Québec lives in this area. It also has microfilms of many of the most popular records (such as birth, marriage, and death records as well as notarial documents) from the other areas of Québec.

BAnQ Vieux-Montréal
535, avenue Viger Est
Montréal, Québec H2L 2P3
Email: archives.montreal@banq.qc.ca

Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec - While the federal government operates the National Library of Canada (La Bibliothèque National du Canada)―now part of Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada―in Ottawa, the Province of Québec operates its own National Library of Québec―now part of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). “The Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ) has a two-fold mission. Using the highest standards, it collects and conserves Québec’s documentary heritage as well as all Québec-related documents published outside Québec.”

Presently, the holdings are spread in three buildings. From a genealogical perspective, the most important one is L’Édifice Saint-Sulpice. You will find 1,053 repertoires, the standard dictionaries, the FamilySearch Québec vital records microfilms (1621-1876), over 2,000 titles in the family histories collection, also over 1,200 titles of monographs of parishes, cities and villages in Québec. In the Saint-Sulpice collections, there are over 75,000 titles on French nobility, heraldic, geography, and French provinces history.

Grande Bibliothèque
475, boulevard De Maisonneuve Est
Montréal,

L’Édifice Holt is the head-office of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It holds a collection of old maps and plans going back to the XVIIth century. The Hopkins atlas of Montréal in 1878 and the insurance plans from 1880 to 1914 are much in demand. They also have on microfiche the Cassini maps of France in 1789. In the private archives, the Gabriel Nadeau collection has interesting documents on Franco-Americans, German immigrants, medical and hospital history. You will also find over 15,000 old postcard from Québec that could illustrate your family history.

Collections spéciales
2275 rue Holt
Montréal H2G 3H1
Telephone: 514-873-1101, ext 3823
Email: collectionspeciale@banq.qc.ca

La Salle Gagnon of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Montréal has one of the finest genealogical collections in North America. It has bought just about every book related to genealogy in Québec in the last 30 years, and thousands that relate to family history outside Québec. It has the largest number of parish répertoires―all Québec Catholic Répertoires prior to 1900 and most Non-Catholic Répertoires. It also has répertoires for francophone churches in other Canadian provinces as well as American states. It has over 15,000 books locally, and 30,000 in an outside warehouse. It also has a very important collection of microforms and CD-ROMs. For example it has all the microfilms made by the ANQ (birth, marriages, death, (up to 1900) notaries…), all the microfilms of the Drouin collection (BMD up to 1940), all the microfilms made by FamilySearch (up to 1876), the BSQ (Bureau Statistique du Québec) 1926-1997 Marriage and Death index and many more. As far as CD-ROMs go, they have Parchemin, PRDH, Thémis I, Thémis II, Chronica II.

BAnQ Vieux-Montréal
Édifice Gilles-Hocquart
535, avenue Viger Est
Montréal, Québec H2L 2P3
Telephone: 514-873-1100
Email: archives.montreal@banq.qc.ca
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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Research: French Canadian Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 25 November 2014, at 18:57.
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