In the 1980s I researched my paternal line back to the first European landowner of Canada. There was no internet at the time so all was done with mail, the library and archives. My grandmother gave me the name of her parents, their marriage date and the names of her fifteen siblings. I requested by mail original documents of my great grandparents’ marriage certificate and that gave me their birth province location and approximate year. Once I had copies of their birth certificates, I requested a copy of the original documents for their parents and so on back a few generations. I mailed requests for death certificates and marriage certificates for each generation. I also found copies, written in French, on microfilm of the events.
When researching my French-Canadian ancestors there were two collections which enabled me to research farther back and easier than mailing and paying for each certificate, especially when those were no longer available. The collections are the Drouin Collection and the Tanguay Collection. These volumes of books are a must for anyone researching in Quebec, [Lower Canada] Canada. The Drouin Collection contains vital and church records from 1621 – 1968. The Tanguay Collection, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian families, 1608 – 1890 is a genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families from the Foundation of the Colony to the Present Day to 1890. I was researching in the eighteen hundreds before my family tied into these wonderful databases so do not get discouraged if your family does not appear at first. At each generation, search to see if you have tied into them yet or not. I had to live in the capital of Canada to have access to them in the 1980s. Now they are available on Ancestry.ca for easy access.
The following is the description of each of these databases from the Ancestry.ca website. I have added the information that is listed for each person and the direct link to the database, at the end of both.
Drouin Collection Vital and Church records, 1621 – 1968
Until the late 1900s, church registers in Quebec served as civil and vital records in that province. Throughout the years a second copy of church records, from all denominations, was sent annually to the appropriate courthouse. During the 1940s the vital record collections in courthouses throughout Quebec were filmed by the Institut Généalogique Drouin. The filming of vital records continued for some areas up through the 1960s. Consequently, this filmed set of records became known as the Drouin Collection.
Areas and Churches Included
While the entire Drouin Collection also includes records from French Catholic parishes in Ontario, Acadia, and the U.S., this database only contains church records from Quebec. The majority of the records in this database cover the time period 1621-1947, as most of the filming was done in the 1940s. The records that were filmed up through the 1960s are also included in this database, although they are very few in number. These records that were filmed later cover the years 1948-1967.
The majority of the records in this database come from Catholic parishes. However, since all denominations were to send copies of their records to the courthouses, other churches whose records are contained in this database include:
- Christ Church
- Christian Brethren
- Christian Missionary Alliance
- Church of Christ
- Church of England
- Church of Scotland
- Free Church
- Greek Orthodox
- Holiness Movement
- Orthodox Romanian
- Russian Orthodox
- Salvation Army
- United Church
Most of the records in this collection include baptisms, marriages, and burials. However, several other types of church records are also included. These records may be confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, etc. These records include:
- Baptism date
- Event Place
- Church name
- Image of the recoding document page
- In French
Language of the Records
The majority of the records are written in French, but some are written in English, Latin, or Italian.
Search the Drouin collection at: https://www.ancestry.ca/search/collections/drouinvitals/
Tanguay Collection, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian families, 1608-1890
Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families from the Foundation of the Colony to the Present Day, or the “Tanguay Collection”, is the premier genealogical dictionary of French-Canadian families. This large, seven-volume collection was published by the French-Canadian priest and genealogist Father Cyprien Tanguay from 1871 to 1890.Fr. Tanguay devoted much of his life to researching archive and parochial records throughout Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, Ontario, the old French settlements in the United States, and France. Through his original research, he successfully traced the ancestors of many early French-Canadian colonists back to Normandy and other parts of France.
Entries detail family pedigrees, with baptism, marriage, and burial dates and places (as applicable) for husbands, wives, and children. Although the dictionary does contain some errors and occasional speculations, it has proven to be a fundamental reference work and one of the most comprehensive resources for French-Canadian genealogy. Volume 7 contains lists of surname variations and dit names.
Roman numerals represent the generation distant a person is from the family’s original immigrant ancestor. Entries also include the following abbreviations:
- b = baptism or christening date
- m = marriage date
- s = burial date
- III, IV (etc.) = generations away from immigrant ancestors
- superscript numbers = these represent a place within the family record; for example if a superscript 3 follows Quebec at the beginning of the record, whenever a superscript 3 appears in that record, it means the event took place in Quebec. Note that this is only applicable within the particular family record and not throughout the book. In another family record, a superscript 3 might stand for another place. These represent a place within the family record; for example if a superscript 3 follows Quebec at the beginning of the record, whenever a superscript 3 appears in that record, it means the event took place in Quebec. Note that this is only applicable within the particular family record and not throughout the book. In another family record, a superscript 3 might stand for another place.
Entries are organized alphabetically, by husband’s surname. The dates in large, bold type mark the beginning of a new family record. That date is the date of the husband’s first marriage. The entries may contain the following details as applicable:
- Husband’s name, baptism or christening year and place, year and place of marriage, year and place of burial, parents’ names
- Wife’s name (if there were multiple marriages, each wife will be listed in order), wife’s baptism or christening year and place, year and place of marriage, year and place of burial, parents’ names
- Children’s names (these are in italics), baptism or christening dates and places, marriage dates and places, spouse’s names, years and places of burial
Search the Tanguay collection at: https://www.ancestry.ca/search/collections/tanguayfamilies/.
For more blog posts on these databases, Ancestry, Quebec and Canadian records see my blog at http://ifamilyhistory.blogspot.com.
Lianne began researching as a teenager in front of a microfilm reader. After University she researched her paternal line back to the first European landowner of Canada and since then has continued to help others with their family history for the last 30 years.
She has taught Family History at the Weber State University Institute and spoken at many genealogy conferences and online on topics including Canadian and United States Homestead Records, Filles du Roi, South Africa, and combining family history with her love of teaching technology, Maps & Satellite, Social Media, YouTube, and blogging. Her blog iFamilyHistory.blogspot.ca includes a variety of technology techniques to help with genealogy.
Lianne served as 1st Vice President of the Alberta Genealogical Society for six years and was a board member, VP, President and Past President of the Central Alberta Historical Society. She has written articles for BYU Studies Quarterly, FamilySearch, Tree Climber, and Relatively Speaking on a variety of Canadian and technical topics.