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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 ($).

Other Records

Census Records

Since the beginning of New-France, many small or regional censuses were taken. A good reference book for a list of the various censuses recorded is Histoire des Canadiens français by Benjamin Sulte (Montreal: Wilson and Sie, Editerurs, 1882).

The same frustrations regarding census recording all over the world were also evident in census recording in Québec. Some information was omitted to decrease numbers and some information was fabricated to increase the numbers, both for political reasons. Some information was simply recorded incorrectly; some is not legible, etc.

Census information is a valuable tool to enable you to find not only factual information about your ancestors. Census information will help you complete your family history with general information to breathe life into your ancestor’s stories.

Here are a few highlights regarding census records in Québec:

  • 1666 - this census has 400 names missing
  • 1667 - sickness caused 100 names to be omitted as well as the names of soldiers from many regiments
  • 1681 - the most complete census. This census contains the name, age, location of residence, number of agricultural acres, number of firearms and the number of animals
  • 18th century - no general census but many regional ones were taken
  • 1825 - list head of the household and age of those living in that house, but not exact location of the house
  • 1831 - a little more information is available
  • 1842 - Census of Lower Canada, heads of families only
  • 1851 - names of all residents, location of birth, age, sex, religion, details regarding the house of residence, etc.
  • Every ten years following 1851 a new census was taken

The 1825, 1831 and 1842 census records are available for free on the FamilySearch website. The databases are searchable by name and the census images can also be viewed and accessed.  This allows research of French-Canadian ancestors in early census records prior to 1851.  These census records are not complete and researchers need to be familiar with the Lower Canada county names of the early 19th century.

Notarial Records

When information is incomplete in civil or church registration, or when the information cannot be found because it was lost or destroyed by fire, the genealogist can turn to notarial records for help. Notarial records are also very useful when writing biographies of an ancestor.

There were 166 notary publics in the French Regime. When they ceased practicing, their records were transferred to the Archival Centres in Montréal, Québec and Trois-Rivière.

There were many different types of records kept in these Greffe de Notaire, as they are referred to in French.

  • Marriage contracts were usually signed the day before or sometimes the same day as the wedding. The usual information found: the first and last names of the couple, their age and location of residence, the name of their parents, the bride’s dowry, the responsibility of each for any debts incurred before and after the marriage and the division of communal property should the marriage be dissolved.
  • Wills can sometimes help to identify the children of a union as the relationship of the people listed will be indicated. Other information which can be found in wills is descendants of the deceased, the economic situation, the size and content of the estate, etc.
  • Donations to Heirs were usually recorded when elderly parents divided their property among their children before their death. They usually include the names of children, their parents, sometimes grandparents, residences and conditions for the division of this property.
  • Inventories provide a list of all the belongings of a deceased person.
  • Indentures were recorded for immigrants from France who promised to serve individuals in Québec for a certain length of time in exchange for certain remuneration. These records were usually filed in various areas of France where the immigrant was from. Many are on microfilm at the Public Archives of Canada.
  • Various other records:
    • Lease agreements
    • Purchase agreements
    • Employment agreements
    • Share agreements
    • Sales contracts
    • Guardianship or trusteeship records

Notarial records are an invaluable source of general information to add to the history of the life of your ancestors. The National Archives of Québec have published 26 volumes of notarial records for most notary publics practicing in Québec, Montréal and Trois-Rivières from 1634 to 1760.

Volunteers have also indexed and published other notarial records. And the National Archives of Québec has also made available on microfilm unpublished notarial records. A terrific tool available on CD-ROM is called ‘Parchemin’. You will easily find notarial records from 1635 to 1779 and sometimes up to the 19th century. It is available in certain libraries. The following are some of the titles of books published for notarial records:

  • Martel, Jules, Index des actes notariés du régime français à Trois-Rivières, 1634-1760 (Trois-Rivières, Québec: J. Martel, 1975).
  • Laliberté, J.M., Index des greffes des notaires décédés (1645-1948) (Montréal: Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, 1995).
  • Archives du Québec, and Pierre-Georges Roy, Index des jugements et délibérations du Conseil souverain, de 1663 á 1716 (Québec: Les Archives, 1940).
  • Québec (Province) and Pierre Georges Roy, Inventaire des contrats de mariage du régime français conservés aux Archives judiciaires de Québec (1937). Covers 1937-1938 in 6 volumes.
  • Archives du Québec, Inventaire des greffes des notaires du Régime français (PRDH). Covers 1942-1975 in 27 volumes.
  • Québec (Province) and Pierre-Georges Roy, Inventaire des testaments, donations et inventaires du regime francais: conservés aux Archives judiciaires de Quebec (Pawtucket, Rhode Island: Quintin Publications, 1989. (3 volumes)
  • New France and Pierre Joseph Oliver Chauveau,Jugements et délibérations du Conseil souverain de la Nouvelle-France: publiés sous les auspices de la Législature de Québec / Judgments and deliberations of the Sovereign Counsel of New France: published by the Québec legislature (Québec: Impr. A. Coté et cie, 1885). Covers 1885-1891 in 6 volumes.
  • Lettre de noblesse, Généalogie, Élections de Comtés et Baronnies Insinuées par le Conseil Souverain de la Nouvelle-France / Letters of nobility, genealogy, elections of the counties and Barons installed by the Sovereign Counsel of New France (2 volumes).
  • Archives de la province de Québec, Rapport de l’archiviste de la province de Québec (Québec): Ls-A. Proulx, 1921).
  • Archives nationales du Québec, Les rapports des Archives nationales du Québec, 1920-1975 (Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, Archives nationales du Québec, 1997). 54 volumes.

Notarial Records
Inventaires des greffes des notaires du Régime français( 1942 à 1975).


Parchemin - Sample page


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

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  • This page was last modified on 24 November 2014, at 21:05.
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