Sharing genealogical data in the electronic age: the GEDCOM application

You have just met relatives who share your passion for family history and you are looking forward to gathering data about your “new” relatives. In order to share the genealogical records you already have, here’s how you can exchange genealogical data, no matter what software your recipient is using
The GEDCOM file format specification was designed to transmit and receive genealogical data such as location and date of birth, marriage and death information in a standard format. Welcome then to the equivalent of an online family reunion!

About GEDCOM

Developed by  Family Search, GEDCOM text files contain information and links for exchanging genealogical data between two parties regardless of the software. Files can also be downloaded from a website, imported into genealogical software, and added to Family Tree. The files can also be transmitted as attachments to emails. You can recognize a GEDCOM file by its extension, “.ged”.

War Brides of the First and Second World Wars

Wars are tragic events but they sometimes have an unexpected silver lining. During the First and Second World Wars, Canadian soldiers often found love overseas, got married and brought back their loved ones to Canada.

We are happy to advise you that we have added a new page to our Military Heritage section about the foreign women who married Canadian soldiers, the war brides. They shared a common experience of leaving their country and heading for Canada on long journeys, first by ship and then by train. They faced many challenges as they settled into a new country, a different culture and sometimes even a new language.

War brides, en route to Canada aboard S.S. Letitia, waving goodbye to families and friends.

War brides, en route to Canada aboard S.S. Letitia, waving goodbye to families and friends. (Source Mikan 3352285)

On this new page, you will find records from a variety of sources. The majority are found in the records of National Defence, Department of Employment and Immigration, Department of External Affairs, the Directorate of Repatriation, and the Canadian Wives′ Bureau, but many also come from private organizations.

Visit the War Brides page to explore the printed and archival resources available at Library and Archives Canada.

Notarial Records

Would you like to know more about the daily lives of your New France and Quebec ancestors? Then you might be interested in looking at notarial records, where you can find a wealth of information about your ancestors’ goods and properties, and any transactions they may have entered into with others. The oldest known notarial record dates back to 1635.

A notarial record is a private agreement written by a notary in the form of a contract. Some of the most common ones are marriage contracts, wills, estate inventories, leases, and sales contracts.

Notarial records are held by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), but Library and Archives Canada holds copies of some records in the collection, Fonds des greffes de notaires du Québec. You can also use the advanced archives search to look up the name of an individual or a notary.

Sale made by Nicolas Réaume and Charles-Noël Réaume to their brother Alexis. Notary F. Le Guay, May 9, 1781. Library and Archives Canada, MG18, H-44, vol. 8, 4 pages.

Sale made by Nicolas Réaume and Charles-Noël Réaume to their brother Alexis. Notary F. Le Guay, May 9, 1781. Library and Archives Canada, MG18, H-44, vol. 8, 4 pages. (MIKAN 2313614)

How to search for notarial records

You can use a variety of tools to search for notarial records. For the oldest records from 1635 to 1784, consult the Parchemin database, developed by the Archiv-Histo historical research society (French only), which provides an abstract of each notarial record (date of the record, name of the notary, names of the parties, etc.). Parchemin is available at BAnQ, and in some public libraries, and archives.

You can also consult several name indexes (French only) for various regions in Quebec. Through a large-scale digitization project, you also have access to online directories and indexes of notaries from all regions of Quebec up to 1933 through BAnQ’s Archives des notaires du Québec (French only).

Once you have found a reference, you can consult the original record on paper or on microfilm. You may even be able to consult it online as BAnQ, in collaboration with FamilySearch, will eventually have all the records available online.

A paradise for genealogists: Quebec’s civil registers

As any genealogist will tell you, researchers whose ancestors lived in Quebec are fortunate. The sheer volume of surviving civil registers and the manner in which both Catholic and Protestant registers were kept make them a valuable resource. In fact, Quebec has been called “a genealogist’s paradise!”

The careful recording of vital statistics in Quebec is largely due to a series of religious and civil ordinances and regulations originating under French rule.

The historical influence of France

The year 2014 marks the 475th anniversary of the Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts [Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts] (in French only), signed in August 1539 by the King of France, Francis I, in what is now the department of Aisne. Under this edict, priests were required to register baptisms and burials. In 1579, another ordinance signed at Blois required that marriages be registered.

With the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and the publication of the Rituale Romanum de 1614, [Roman Ritual of 1614], the Roman Catholic Church further emphasized the importance of civil registration, specifying how to record the names of the godfather and godmother, witnesses, parents, etc.

Finally, in 1667, the Ordonnance de Saint-Germain-en-Laye [Ordinance of Saint-Germain-en-Laye] introduced the practice of keeping duplicate copies; one copy was kept by the priest and the second was filed with civil authorities at the end of the year. This ensured the preservation of innumerable registers that could have been destroyed or lost forever had only one copy existed.

Applications in New France and modern Quebec

These regulations took effect in New France in 1621 and were enforced by local authorities. Following the Conquest of 1760, the British authorities chose to retain it, recognizing the value of this system.

In Quebec, civil status registers have the following characteristics:

  • There are three types of acts: baptism, marriage and burial.
  • The acts are drawn up by parish priests.
  • They are presented chronologically, usually within a single register.
  • They are subject to two separate regulations: ecclesiastical and civil.

See Vital Statistics: Births, Marriages and Deaths to learn more about these documents and how to consult them.

Happy searching!

Major Update to the 1861 Census of Canada Database

Following the release of the 1861 Census of Canada database in 2013, a number of missing records and misplaced images were reported by Library and Archives Canada clients and staff. We corrected over 133,000 entries! Following is a list of improvements to the database.

Canada West and Canada East Issues

In Canada West, the records for the cities of Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa and Toronto were previously reported missing but the records did exist. The five cities, although enumerated separately in 1861, were tucked away amongst their neighbouring rural districts. For example, the city of Ottawa was listed under the district of Carleton and the city of Kingston was listed under Frontenac. The five cities are now correctly identified as districts and their respective wards are identified as sub-districts.

Additionally in Canada West, the rural districts of Renfrew and Russell were also reported as missing. The records for those two districts and their sub-districts can now be searched. In the rural district of Kent, the sub-districts of Camden and Gore, the town of Chatham, and the district of Chatham have been correctly identified. The images in the districts of Brant and Dundas are now correctly linked.

In Canada East, several image linking errors were corrected, particularly in the districts of Argenteuil, Montcalm and St-Jean.

Census Databases Online

Library and Archives Canada’s website currently contains 15 census databases. While conducting your family research, perhaps you have found an entry for an ancestor whose name was transcribed incorrectly or his/her age was misread by the transcriber. We can fix that!

To request a correction, click on the link, “Suggest a Correction” on the item page and provide your email address and an explanation. Once we have confirmed that the suggestion reflects the content of the original census record, the revised transcription will appear on our website. Remember that spelling variations are common and that a surname may have changed over time. Therefore, playing around with different spellings of a surname increases your chances of finding your ancestor. Using Soundex — a way to find phonetic variations of your name — can also be helpful.

Enjoy your time travels in the last census before Canada’s Confederation!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

 

The 375th anniversary of the arrival of the Ursulines in Quebec City

Quebec City is celebrating a number of significant anniversaries in 2014, including the 350th anniversary of the founding of the parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, and the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the Ursuline Sisters—pioneers in education in Quebec — and the Augustinian Sisters.

The origins of the Ursulines in Europe

The Company of St. Ursula was founded by Angela Merici in 1535, at Brescia, Italy, to promote Christian values within the family, society and the Church. After the Council of Trent, the Company was restructured to become a cloistered order, devoted primarily to educating young girls. Ursuline convents soon sprang up across Europe, in particular throughout France.

The establishment of the Ursulines in New France

In 1639, Madame de La Peltrie financed the founding of a convent and the first school for girls in New France. She left France aboard the St. Joseph with three nuns from the Ursuline convent at Tours: Marie (Guyart) de l’Incarnation, who was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014, Marie de Saint-Joseph and Cécile de Sainte-Croix. They, along with a group of Augustinian nuns, endured an arduous crossing that took three months.

Earliest Ursuline sisters with Amerindian pupils at Quebec City

Earliest Ursuline sisters with Amerindian pupils at Quebec City. (MIKAN 2895625)

The first Ursuline school, established in Quebec City’s Lower Town, received about 18 French and Amerindian boarders. Like their Augustinian counterparts, the Ursuline Sisters moved to the Upper Town in 1642, to a site their order still occupies today. The Ursulines provided accommodation for the Filles du Roi when they first landed in Quebec City, as well as for English captives in the early 18th century. One of those captives was Esther Wheelwright, who would eventually become the community’s superior. From Quebec City, the Ursulines expanded to found convents and schools around Quebec and New Brunswick, as well as in Japan and Peru.

To learn more

Library and Archives Canada has a number historical documents on the Ursuline community, mainly in the Fonds de la Congrégation de Sainte-Ursule and the Marie de l’Incarnation Fonds. You can also do an archives search to find other documents or images. For a definitive history of the Ursulines (in French only), we recommend Les Ursulines de Québec 1639–1953, by Dom Guy-Marie Oury.

The 375th anniversary of the arrival of the Augustinians in Quebec City

Quebec City is celebrating a number of significant anniversaries in 2014, including the 350th anniversary of the founding of the parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, and the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the Augustinian Sisters (in French only)—pioneers in health care in Quebec—and the Ursuline Sisters.

The establishment of a hospital in New France

In 1637, the Duchess of Aiguillon, niece of Cardinal Richelieu, agreed to finance the founding of a hospital in Quebec City to care for the Aboriginal population and the colonists. On August 1, 1639, the first three Augustinian Hospitaller Sisters arrived in Quebec City after a long and arduous three-month crossing on board the Saint-Joseph. Those three Sisters were Marie Guenet de Saint-Ignace, who was the first superior of the community, Anne Lecointe de Saint-Bernard and Marie Forestier de Saint-Bonaventure-de-Jésus.

They founded a first hospital in Sillery, on the outskirts of Quebec City, near the Jesuits. However, with the Iroquois threat, the Sisters felt it best to remain within the walls of the city, and opened the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec in 1646, in Quebec City’s Upper Town. The Augustinian Sisters not only took care of the sick at the hospital, they also took in abandoned children between 1800 and 1850, and welcomed and cared for immigrants upon their arrival at the port of Quebec City.

Among the women who joined the order was the first nun of Canadian birth, Marie-Françoise Giffard (daughter of seigneur Robert Giffard), and Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin (beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1989).

Hôtel-Dieu, Quebec City, ca. 1822–1832

Hôtel-Dieu, Quebec City, ca. 1822–1832. (MIKAN 2898815)

The Augustinians today

The work of the Augustinians forms the basis of today’s health care system in Quebec. The nuns founded a total of 12 monastery hospitals throughout Quebec, acting as administrators, nurses and pharmacists. Today, all of those hospitals form part of Quebec’s public health network and are still in operation.

To learn more

Library and Archives Canada has a number of records relating to the Augustinian community and their first hospital, in particular the Fonds de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. You can also do an archives search to find other documents or images. For a definitive history of the Augustinians, we recommend La croix et le scalpel : histoire des Augustines et de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 1639–1989 (in French only), by François Rousseau.

Are we related? Discover your French-Canadian roots through a family association

A family association is an organization formed of people who share one or more ancestors with the same surname. In most cases, these are French-Canadian families. The main goal of a family association is to perpetuate the memory of these ancestors and preserve the cultural heritage associated with them, such as the land that was granted to them in New France, or the ancestral house, if it still exists.

The association members organize meetings and reunions, small or large, and publish newsletters; many also have a website. A grouping such as this of people sharing the same surname can be very helpful when doing genealogical research. Many associations have published the findings of their searches in their newsletters or in the form of a “genealogical dictionary.” If you are having trouble tracing one of your ancestors, we strongly recommend that you contact an association.

The first family associations

The Trudel-Trudelle family appears to have been one of the first to create a family association, in 1909. In the early 1940s, numerous family associations were created to mark the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the ancestors of the Poulin, Gravel, Bellemare and Gagnon families, among others. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Île d’Orléans in 1979, 19 family associations were created and the phenomenon really began to spread. In February 1983, the Asselin, Cloutier, Dion, Langlois and Lemieux family associations founded the Fédération des familles souches du Québec, now known as the Fédération des associations de familles du Québec, a service co-operative with over 200 member associations. Certain family associations have not joined the Fédération.

To find out more

To find out whether a family association exists for your surname, visit Centre de généalogie francophone d’Amérique or do an internet search using keywords like your surname combined with the words “association” and/or “family.” For Acadian families, visit Fédération des Associations de familles acadiennes.

350th Anniversary of the Notre-Dame de Québec Parish

The year 2014 marks the 350th anniversary of the Notre-Dame de Québec parish, the oldest Catholic parish in North America. Monsignor François de Laval, who arrived in Quebec City in 1659 as the vicar apostolic, signed the decree for the establishment of the parish on September 15, 1664, in honour of the “Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” However, the common name “Notre-Dame,” in reference to the Virgin Mary, was quickly adopted by the inhabitants of the city. The church, located on the Cap-aux-Diamants promontory, was opened for worship in 1650. Over the years, it has undergone many alterations, including renovations, expansions and reconstructions.

Notre-Dame Cathedral and Market Square, Quebec City, 1850

Notre-Dame Cathedral and Market Square, Quebec City, 1850 (MIKAN 2896974)

The Diocese of Quebec was created in 1674. Monsignor de Laval was appointed bishop of the enormous diocese, which covered a large part of North America. The parish church became a cathedral and was the base of the Catholic Church in North America until 1817, when the Halifax and Kingston dioceses were created.

The 350th anniversary is being celebrated in a special way with the opening of a Holy Door, a symbol of humility and a rare privilege granted by the Holy See. The Holy Door is the seventh in the world and the first in North America. It will remain open until December 28, 2014.

Library and Archives Canada has historical records on the Notre-Dame de Québec parish, including many iconographic representations of the church in different eras. The Notre-Dame Catholic parish fonds (Quebec City) contains baptismal, marriage and burial records, as well as various parish censuses conducted in 1744 and between 1792 and 1815.

I say Bennett, vous dites Benoit. Soundex: How to find spelling variations of a surname

You are deep into your genealogy research and coming across documents that show a code like T650 instead of a surname? What does the code mean? Well, it’s a code from the Soundex phonetic system, used to index surnames.

Many American archival records have been indexed using this system. It’s a way to search surnames while ignoring minor differences in spelling. The code uses the first letter of the surname, followed by three numbers associated with the sound of the name. Letters of the alphabet are assigned a number (0 to 9). Vowels (A, E, I, O, U and Y) and the letters H and W are ignored. Also, if the same letter occurs twice in a row in the name, it is counted only once (e.g., Lloyd becomes Loyd). If there are fewer than 3 letters in the name, 0 is used for the last digit.

Letter

Code

B P F V 1
C S G J K Q X Z 2
D T> 3
L> 4
M N 5
R 6

Examples:

SMITH = S530
TREMBLAY/TROMBLEY/TRIMBLE/TRUMBLE = T651

To help you identify different spellings of surnames, we suggest that you use the following Soundex indexing site: Avotaynu Consolidated Jewish Surname Index. It can also be used for non-Jewish surnames. To help you identify the Soundex code, you can use the JOS Soundex calculator.