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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 ($).
Settlements Around Gaspé and the Gulf
Detail Showing settlements around Gaspé and the Gulf from Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and a large portion of the United States by J. Arrowsmith (15 Feb. 1846), author’s collection.
Eventually, however, the south shore of the Gaspé peninsula with the fine harbour at the town of Gaspé, attracted railroad entrepreneurs.
- Two separate railways were incorporated, each starting at the small town of New Carlisle, one eastward to Gaspé, the other westward to join with the Intercolonial at Matapedia Junction.... The Atlantic, Québec and Western …[connected] New Carlisle with Gaspé. The Atlantic and Lake Superior [later changed its name] to the Québec Oriental!
Between them, the two lines covered only 202 miles, but remained separate companies until absorbed into the CNR (Canadian National Railway) system in 1929. However, do not overlook their existence, and the effect train service may have had on the movement of people living along the south coast of the peninsula. From Matapedia Junction a passenger could catch daily express trains to Montréal or Halifax.
Another short rail line runs east from Mont-Joli to Matane, from where a ferry runs to Godbout on the North Shore. Good train service from Montréal made this section of Gaspé a popular summer colony for wealthy Montréalers.
The ANQ and Church Records
The ANQ maintains branches at Sept-Iles (serving the Côte-Nord) and Rimouski (Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspé). Availability of vital records is the same as for any other part of Québec, but the same caveat applies to the Gaspé and Gulf as to the Townships along the border with the USA: always remember to look South.
And never underestimate the range of a coastal schooner; an Acadian Priest based in Chéticamp, Nova Scotia, is thought to have served small communities around the Gulf, including Gaspé. When looking for marriages especially, remember it was often easier to travel by water, and if there is no record “at home”, might they have gone to New Brunswick to find a preacher? From the south shore of Gaspé, check Campbelton, Dalhousie, or even Bathurst; from the North Shore of the Gulf, perhaps St. Anthony or Cornerbrook.
United Church Records
The Gaspé peninsula records of the United Church of Canada (Methodist, some Presbyterian, and Congregational before 1925) fall within the church’s Maritime Conference, consult Guide to Family History Research in the Archival Repositories of the United Church of Canada (Toronto: OGS, 1996). Indeed, you should carefully check Diocesan or Administrative District boundaries when looking for church archives of any denomination in outlying regions like Gaspé.
The Gaspé Genealogy Register, an information exchange page with Gaspé related links, is found at the useful website which you may want to bookmark.
- Legget, Robert F., Railroads of Canada (Vancouver: Douglas, David and Charles, 1973) pages 102-103.
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