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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 ($).
Monumental Inscriptions and Burial Records
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.
Death Date... Newspaper... Obituary...
The Sherbrooke Record is still my favourite Québec newspaper for obituaries, and for the better part of the 20th century it is a genealogical treasure. It now serves most of the “English” Townships which once had papers for almost every large community. It sometimes takes the local correspondent several weeks to write up the achievements of some regional notable, so an obituary hunt may be a long one. The big city newspapers are usually quicker to print their story, but know less about the individual. As the “English” population in Québec cities declines, so does the number of newspapers.
- 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).
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
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