In the wet of spring, the heat of summer, or the chill of autumn, dedicated genealogists get down on their knees and push aside prickly shrubs, pull up grass, and scrape away moss or even earth, to decipher and transcribe the inscriptions on gravestones. They have been doing this throughout much of the 20th century: hand-written on foolscap, mimeographed typescripts, and now sophisticated computerized databases.
Not many people realize that the Archives of Canada has a large holding of such work, both the published booklets and some original typescripts and manuscripts, some original documents, some only available on microfilm. As well, almost anything officially “published” by a Society is held by the Library, though perhaps only a single “preservation copy” to be consulted in their reading room. At the Library, use a Subject search and enter the actual town or township. Cemetery transcripts and indexes usually come up under “Genealogy”. The Archives tends to hide their material in “Manuscript Groups”, but enquire about a card file index that used to be beside the Genealogy Desk.
The Québec Family History Society, Pointe Claire has published A Directory of Monumental Inscription Lists: In and Near the Province of Québec, which lists transcripts and where they are located. Many are held in the Society Library and you should check their website, or write to them directly for the price and availability of the latest issue. The Society has also published a number of transcripts, and those lists are also on the website.
Burial Registers or Cemetery Records maintained by local burial grounds are often helpful. In the larger cities these are sometimes available, even computerized, but you must know which religion—for this determines which cemetery—and be precise as to names and dates. In Montréal, for example, though records for the huge cemetery complex on Mount Royal are computerized, they are divided by denomination: Cimetière Notre- Dame-des-Neiges (Roman Catholic) and Mount Royal Cemetery for all the ‘Others’. (It includes a Jewish section.) The separate Cemetery offices will search for one or two names but will charge for further work. Both have websites. Gerry Schroder, speaking at the OGS Seminar 2000, made an important point; Always find out who else is buried in the same plot. There may not be a stone for everyone, but they are usually related. If I had remembered to do this, it would have saved me both time and trouble for several clients - when they wanted information on another branch or generation, I would have had it instead of having to process another query. The two on the Mountain are not the only cemeteries on the Island of Montréal. Where small communities have grown together, in the areas surrounding the city, cemeteries may remain beside local churches. There are cemeteries in the west island suburbs as well as in the eastern end, and in Laval there is the large St-Laurent Roman Catholic cemetery, whose records can be accessed.
Family History Library Collection
The Family History Library has copies of some Protestant cemetery records from Québec, especially for areas settled by English-speaking people. These areas include Argenteuil County and the Eastern Townships. Since Catholic church records of burials are extensive and detailed, very few Catholic cemetery records have been published. A major exception is the sexton records for the cathedral church Notre-Dame de Hull, 1890–1940, in:
- Cimetière Notre-Dame de Hull (Cemetery of Notre-Dame de Hull). Four Volumes in Five. Vanier, Ontario, Canada: Albert Quesnel, [1984?]. (Family History Library Q book 971.4221/H1 V39c; film 1698133 items 1–5.) Text in French. Indexed.
GraveMarkers site has photographs of some cemeteries. They are listed by County and Town.
- A directory of monumental inscription lists: cemeteries in and near the Province of Quebec (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, 1997).
- Among their publications are: Lancaster, Shirley E., Cote St. Charles United Church Cemetery (formerly Wesleyan Methodist), Cote St. Charles, Hudson, Quebec (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, c. 1996). Pope, Douglas, and Gary Schroder, The Philipsburg Protestant Cemetery, Philipsburg, Missisquoi County, Quebec: memorial inscriptions (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, c. 1995). Schroder, Gary, and Carol Truesdell, The Sorel Anglican Cemetery, Sorel, Richelieu County, Quebec, Canada memorial inscriptions (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, c. 1995). Simmons, Marlene, Sutton, Quebec area Cemeteries: an index to gravestones ... (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, 1996). Woods, Raymond, St. George's Anglican Church and cemetery, Drummondville, Quebec: grave stone transcriptions (Pointe-Claire: QFHS, 1994). The compilers names above are hard workers, so check your library catalogue for other and newer work by the same people. Look also for work by: Broadhurst, Ralph Neil, Shefford County cemeteries: tombstone inscriptions from the Protestant burial grounds (Calgary: Kintracers, c. 1991), Tombstone inscriptions, Rawdon, Quebec (Calgary: Kintracers, c. 1993).
- Douglas, Althea. "Québec Cemeteries and Obituaries (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Qu%C3%A9bec_Cemeteries_and_Obituaries_%28National_Institute%29.