Congratulations on having family in Quebec. It is an interesting and rewarding place to do research if your family is of Catholic origin. If it is not, there is less information available, but there is still a great deal to learn about your family. I do my research primarily in the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake which has an excellent collection of records for Quebec and in on-line resources including the Drouin collection of parish records available at www.ancestry.ca
Types of Records Available
There are census records available similar to those in the U.S. for 1851-1921. The 1901 census contains exact birthdates. There are some very early (1600's) census records that name every family member. Extracted information from them is available in several formats. Some localities have additional head-of-household censuses. For further information about these census records, see Census Records on my Ontario page.
I have prepared an index to the 1851 census of Missisquoi County, Quebec which can be accessed Here. Be sure to read the introduction before searching the census index.
There is a publication called The French Canadians which uses some sources not at the library, such as city directories for the 1800's, which might help find a location to start looking for an ancestor. This information is also available in electronic format on a CD called "Canadian Genealogical Index, 1600-1900".
The most important records for Quebec are church records. As in all genealogical research, some records are missing or illegible, but as a whole, Quebec church records are excellent. All parishes were required to make two copies of their baptisms, marriages, and burials and give the 2nd copy to the civil authorities to serve as vital records. It is essential when doing Quebec research to know if a family was Catholic or Protestant so that the proper records can be search. The exact Protestant denomination is less important, though useful. Canadian census records list church affiliation.
Most Quebec records are written in French. Exceptions to this are Protestant parish records, some Irish (or other non-French) Catholic parish records, and records of most kinds that deal with the Eastern Townships. The Eastern Townships is an area just north of the U.S. border which was settled primarily by English-speaking Protestants following the British conquest of Quebec. I provide English complete translations or genealogical extracts, whichever you prefer, with photocopies of the original French-language parish records if you want them.
Microfilm copies of the Quebec Catholic parish records from the beginning of record keeping in the 1600's until about 1900 are available at the Family History Library. These records have been digitized but are not yet indexed. The images are available at Family Search. The Drouin Institute also microfilmed parish records and their copies have been digitized and are now available at www.ancestry.ca. I subscribe to this web site and can now search the parish records from my home computer. The Drouin copies include records well into the 20th century
Compiled Sources and Indexes
Basic printed sources used for Quebec research include Cyprien Tanguay's Dictionnaire Généalogique Des Familles Canadiennes, which lists marriage and many (but not all) christenings and deaths from parish records to about 1780 (but these volumes are known to contain errors, so original records should also be consulted) and Rene Jette's Dictionnaire genealogique des familles du Quebec, an excellent book published in 1983 which lists marriages, births and deaths to 1730 using parish records, census records, notarial records, and others. Jette sometimes lists several generations of a family back in France, also.
Protestant records do not begin until after the conquest of Quebec in 1760. Though Protestant clergymen were required to make duplicate records, many records are still missing. Records begin later and are generally less well indexed and more difficult to search, and usually lack the information on parents found in Catholic marriage records. In spite of these drawbacks, there are still many church records available on Protestant families. Many of the Protestant records are included in the Drouin Institute records available at www.ancestry.ca
Compiled Sources and Indexes
A few printed extracts of Protestant records are available. These are mainly for the Eastern Townships area of Quebec. New compilations appear regularly either in book form or on the internet, though there is much less information available on the internet for Quebec than for the U.S.
Since the Loiselle and the Drouin marriage indexes to Catholic marriages are the only indexes to all of Quebec, it is usually necessary to know the name of a Catholic couple who were married in Quebec or to know a location where your ancestors lived to begin research. I am willing to search U.S. records which might lead to a location in Quebec for your immigrant ancestor or the name of his or her parents (marriage records, death records, county histories, naturalization records, etc.) if you have not already done so. It is usually best to glean all possible information from U.S. records before attempting to make the jump over the border into Quebec.
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