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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: Quebec Non-Francophone Ancestors by Althea Douglas M.A., CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
The Programme de recherche en démographie historique de l’Université de Montréal, which, to save space and breath, we will refer to as the P.R.D.H. is a major demographic research project at the Université de Montréal, where a computer database has been compiled including all entries in Québec’s Roman Catholic parish registers from the first settlements to 1760, including early census entries and confirmations. It was published in 48 volumes between 1982-1990.
Officially, theP.R.D.H. is the Répertoire des actes de baptême, mariage, sépulture et des recensements du Québec ancien, ed Gaëtan Morin, volumes 1-30, 1621-1749, volumes 31-47, 1731-1765 (Montrèal: Universitè de Montréal, 1980-1991), now also available on CD. A second CD- contains the records for 1766-1799 (not in print). The Indexes can be consulted on the Internet, where those who pay a subscription fee can also access the full data base.
The way it is arranged may seem complex, but remember it was started in the 1970s when computers were very big, their memory very small, every byte counted, and programmers often used code numbers to save memory. Thus every parish has a code number. All baptisms, marriages and deaths etc., by parish, are arranged chronologically, in three period or time blocks, each with an index.
The 1766-1799 material is not available in print, only on a CD. However, all the data can be accessed on the Internet, there is a fee, but you can search all Roman Catholic parish registers to 1799 - many years after the British arrived on the scene. This is where you look for those Highland soldiers or Irish mercenaries, who marriedles Canadiennes. Children and grandchildren were absorbed and blended into the Francophone community, but Scottish and Irish surnames persist across the province.
Beginnings to About 1876
Roman Catholic Parish Registers were filmed some time ago by the Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormon Church) to 1876, on microfilms, available at branches of the ANQ, and by loan through the LDS Family History Library. It helps to know the parish, but there are regional indexes.
Beginnings to 1899
Civil records, i.e. the Prothonotary Court copies of both Catholic and non-Catholic parish records to 1899, have been microfilmed (often only from 1876-1899). Films are available (on site, or by arranged loan by the ANQ). If you encounter duplicate filming of registers, with different cut-off dates, they may be Parish and Civil records filmed at different times; one in the parish, one in the Court. One will be an official copy, so they can differ.
The Archives of Canada holds a series of Lower Canada Marriage Bonds (RG 4 B 28). These were prepared in cases of marriage by license (so are not strictly religious) and while the majority date between 1818 and 1841, a few scattered items for 1779, 1842 and 1860 are included. The nominal index and the bonds are available on microfilm.
Divorce, only possible for non-Catholics, was once a matter for Parliament. Brian Gilchrist’s Index to Canadian Parliamentary Divorces, 1867-1930 (Toronto: privately published) indexes all names, both partners, children etc. Some individual’s petitions or records are held by the Archives of Canada. After 1916 you must apply to the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Council, Senate of Canada.
As well, on the Internet, Hugh Armstrong’s Genealogy Site contains material on “Canadian Parliamentary Divorces to 1946”. Hugh’s Web Page is a semi-commercial site: He offers certain services for a price, but an Introduction gives an excellent summary of the history of divorce in Canada, and it is only one of a number of lists, indexes, and how-to-do offerings.
There is an Index [Fichier Québec] (alphabetical) to Births, Marriages and Burials of non-Catholics in Québec City (c. 1790-1875) available on microfiche. Fichier Montréal (1500-1899) on microfilm, consists of separate Birth, Marriage, and Burial Indexes for Montréal island and the surrounding suburbs for all records, but are separated into Catholic and Non-catholic and into several time blocks. Other Prothonotary Court Indexes are also microfilmed and should be available at the appropriate ANQ branches including in Montréal and Québec City. The only one I have seen (at Hull) is Fichier Saint-François (non-Catholiques), which indexes births, marriages and deaths, from 1815 to 1950. The data is available in print up to 1879, but the index continues to 1950.
The 20th century is not a closed book. In the 1950s in Montréal, the Institute Drouin who were preparing their enormous province-wide marriage index, arranged with the Prothonotarial judiciary to microfilm their holdings up to 1941. Les fonds Drouin includes 2,365 reels of microfilm, and after a couple of American institutions bought full sets, the Québec authorities provided funds for the Salle Gagnon at the Montréal Public Library to also purchase a set. An inventory of these films is published , but the microfilms are only available in Montréal at the Salle Gagnon, not at branches of the ANQ.
Yes, It Is Confusing
Privacy Laws, enacted in the 1990s, constrain the ANQ which is a government agency. Thus the ANQ has decided not to open church or Prothonotary Court records after 1899, even though several had already been microfilmed and distributed to the Salle Gagnon.
On the other hand, the Civil Registers from 1926 - 1999, of marriages and deaths (but not births) are accessible at the ANQ in Montréal and Québec City, with indexes more widely distributed. Sometimes accessibility of 20th century records is the result of a regional ANQ and the local Genealogical Society sharing facilities and library holdings. A private society can still purchase microfilms the ANQ does not hold, but at this time, it is only those acquired before 1993.
Wherever you do your research be sure to ask about the current holdings. If the resources of the Salle Gagnon are unique, nevertheless, it is not the only place to access 20th century material. There is still a lot in print.
- ↑ Pepin, Jean-Pierre Y., Inventaire des 2365 Microfilms Du Fonds Drouin, 5 volumes (Longueuil: Les Editions historique et genealogiques Pepin, 1997).
- ↑ Even in 1900 the list of their holdings is impressive. It was published in Connections, Vol. 13, No. 1 (September 1990) pages 21-22. Alas, even then we were told: The Salle Gagnon is unable to handle research requests by mail.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Quebec Non-Francophone Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.