This post is also available in: Français
Where do the Surnames in Québec come from?
Each family name is accompanied by a story, and traditions vary from one country to the next. In some areas, the first names of the father and mother are passed down to the children as a family name, while elsewhere, the professions and social ranks are used for this purpose.
In Québec, the etymology of these names comes from various sources, but we can identify several common roots. Of course, many names come from the settlers who arrived here from France and Great Britain. These names were sometimes kept as they were, or else underwent orthographic or structural changes. Some names come from the professions of the first ancestors, while others refer to the person’s place of origin.
Other immigrant populations have arrived in Québec over the years, bringing with them traditional names from their regions. That’s why we find surnames of Syrian, Chinese, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Spanish origin among newcomers, but also among families who have been living in the province for several generations.
Given that no specific pattern has been adopted over time, the family names used in Québec all have an etymology that’s specific to them. It’s therefore worthwhile for everyone to take the initiative to do some research to find out where their surname comes from and what its evolution has been.
What are the Most Common Surnames in Québec?
You may have already guessed that Tremblay wins the prize for the most common name in Québec. It shares top ranks with the Gagnon, Roy, Côté, and Bouchard families. However, it’s interesting to know that, in Québec, family names are quite varied. Unlike other countries such as China and Denmark, where a large proportion of the population bears the same surname, Quebeckers have a wide variety of names with different roots.
How to Learn more about the History of a Family Name in Québec
Genealogical research allows us to find valuable information about surnames. It’s usually possible to trace the family lines, to see the changes, and to find the different names that have intersected or appeared at a specific moment.
Many tools are available online for those who want to research their ancestors themselves. Among other options, it’s possible to consult parish registers and to gain access to several official documents such as birth certificates or marriage and burial documents.
It’s also possible to rely on the services of a genealogy specialist. They can help you trace the origin of your family name, create a family tree, and do several other searches related to parentage and history.
Finally, researchers and historians have published some very interesting books about the origin of family names in Québec. The book “Votre nom et son histoire” by the linguist Roland Jacob presents anecdotes about the most common names in Québec. These works can therefore aid you in your quest to better understand your surname and its meaning.