Founding Families of Québec : A History Lesson on the Origins of Our Ancestors

Each human being is a link in a vast network that represents the past and present population of the planet. If we look back to study the origins of our ancestors, we move through this complex yet fascinating network, and we discover some very interesting historical tidbits along the way. For example, it’s possible to find out who was part of the founding families of Québec and the cities and villages established throughout the province. This research makes it possible to better understand why people settled in certain places and what roles they played in the economic and strategic development of the province.

The founding families who Came to New France

The first founding families in the history of Québec are those of the settlers who remained in New France following several attempts at colonization. During the initial voyages, the settlers had been systematically repatriated due to problems such as illness or a lack of preparation for the winter. It was finally around 1608 that the founding families came to settle here permanently.

The most famous of these families is that of Louis Hébert, who settled with his wife and children in 1617. They decided to settle in Québec only a few years after this city was founded by Samuel de Champlain. Louis Hébert and his family became firmly rooted in the region, taking their crucial role as some of the first permanent inhabitants of New France seriously. In 1626, they were even entrusted with the Saint-Joseph seigneurie.

The First Villages in Québec and Their Founding Families

Other families followed, thanks to the efforts of Robert Giffard and the Company of One Hundred Associates, among others. Giffard, himself the founder of the city of Beauport, returned to France several times to convince families to follow him to the new colony. Only a few agreed, but they decided to stay, then settled in New France and contributed to the growing population.

As the number of families increased, the exploration of the land continued, along with the creation of new seigneuries. Other parishes emerged, populated and organized by the founding families. Québec City and its surroundings developed little by little, and other sectors, such as Trois-Rivières and Montréal, also welcomed new families and were officially founded in 1634 and 1642, respectively.

Discovering Our Ancestors: Better Understanding the Role of the Founding Families

During genealogical research, it’s not uncommon to learn that certain family branches were formed during the creation of a new city or village. Since one of the goals of colonization was to populate the territory, families had the advantage of obtaining land to farm and coming together with other neighbours to form a community, which was also often based on links to the church.

Many cities and municipalities in Québec still celebrate their founding families. For example, as part of the 375th anniversary of Sorel-Tracy, a big party was organized to pay tribute to these pioneering families whose names still adorn many public places in the city. Other places, such as Repentigny, make it a point of honour during the annual city festivals to commemorate those people who came to live in the New World, with all the work and ambition that that implies.

Studying the founding families allows us to better understand the evolution and history of the province of Québec, as well as that of these many municipalities. In everyday life, it’s often the toponymy of the cities that reminds us of this, forcing us to remember. Genealogical research, as well as that done with the historical societies of the regions and municipalities in the province, help us learn more about these people and the reasons that made them settle here.

Genealogy and surnames : What Your Name Says About your Family’s History?

Where does your family name come from? What is its history? How long has it existed in this form? These are questions that many people ask themselves, because in most cases, our surname isn’t a choice, but a family legacy.Whether you come from a family with deep roots in Québec or of foreign origin, your family name says a lot about your past and that of your ancestors. Indeed, genealogy and surnames are closely linked. As a result, the study of surnames – or anthroponymy – is an interesting angle to adopt to get to know your family history in Québec.

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.

Parish Registers : A Reliable Resource for Tracking Down Your Ancestors

The parish registers of Québec are an invaluable resource for finding information about the previous generations. Until the end of the twentieth century, these registers were used to accumulate all the information relating to the civil status of the population. This information was archived in churches as well as courthouses.Starting in the 1940s, a conservation effort was launched by the Drouin Genealogical Institute, which microfilmed the registers. They wound up with a very important database that can now be consulted by anyone seeking to track down their ancestors.

The History of the Parish Registers

It was during the period of the French Regime that the collection of information from the inhabitants of New France took the form of parish registers. This method then continued under the British authorities and following the evolution of the political regimes in Canada. It was only in 1994 that the Registrar of Civil Status of Québec received the full mandate to issue and retain the documents associated with the register.

What Information can you find in a Parish Register?

Parish registers mainly include baptismal records, marriage documents, and burial records. You can also find certain information about the registered people there, such as their place of origin, their family members, their religion, and the places where they lived.

Although the register system is rooted in the French Catholic tradition, information about people from other religions was also collected there.

What are the Reliability Guarantees of the Québec Parish Registers?

The responsibility for keeping the parish registers fell to the priests, who were the only ones authorized to issue the documents and make modifications. Other people could also be appointed by the Chancellery to act in place of the priest. However, in all cases, the person had to sign all the documents that they issued and modified in their own name. In doing so, there was no room for error.

Much more than simple genealogical documents, the parish registers were quickly considered to contain essential information about the populations of the cities and villages. The role of record keeper was therefore taken very seriously.

No one should be surprised to learn that life in Québec was long centred around the church. Because of this, all the documents relating to a person’s civil status could be found there. This practice was very logical, since this was where baptisms, weddings, and funerals were held.

Like the Register of Civil Status that exists today, parish registers were kept rigorously. The currently available archives contain scanned versions of these paper documents, and there’s often a transcript of the contents as well as an image of the original document.

How to Consult a Parish Register in Québec

Faced with this rich collection of documents to which we have access, several organizations and genealogical societies have created tools and platforms where it’s possible to do research. There’s no centralized tool presented by the government, but the information is quite easy to find.

The Genealogy Quebec site itself contains several resources where different registers are collected. The LAFRANCE directory, the Drouin Collection records, the Little BMDs, and the Connolly File all contain information from the registers, including baptismal and burial records as well as marriage documents. To access this, just register on the site and choose the tool that suits you the best.

It’s also possible to perform research with the genealogical societies in your area. Genealogy specialists there can guide people through their process to find information about their ancestors.

Finally, Library and Archives Canada makes certain documents related to the registers available through its website.

LAFRANCE Update and Introducing the New Drouin Institute Blog!

The bimonthly LAFRANCE update was applied earlier this month.
The additions pertain to the 1850-1861 period for Catholic baptisms and burials.

Update figures

Catholic baptisms 1850-1861 : 11922 records added
Catholic burials 1850-1861 : 6335 records added
In addition, the corrections sent by our users over the past 2 months have been applied.
You will find more information about the parishes that have been updated on this document.

About the LAFRANCE

The LAFRANCE, one of 16 tools available to GenealogyQuebec.comsubscribers, is a detailed index with link to the original document of ALLCatholic marriages celebrated in Quebec between 1621 and 1916, ALLCatholic baptisms and burials celebrated in Quebec between 1621 and 1849 as well as ALL Protestant marriages celebrated in Quebec between 1760 and 1849. Baptisms and burials of the 1850-1861 period are added gradually through our bimonthly updates.

Drouin Institute blog

We are happy to announce our new communication and content sharing avenue, the official Drouin Institute blog!
We’ve already published a series of articles that cover the various tools available on Genealogy Quebec as well as the PRDH:

In addition, we are working on a monthly series of articles pertaining to Quebec genealogy and demography. The author of these articles, Bertrand Desjardins, holds a Ph.D. in Demography from the University Lumière-Lyon 2 and is the author of numerous scientific publications centered on the study of the populations of Quebec and Canada.
Here is a sneak peek of this new series!
Twenty five children in 27 years: A look at our ancestors’ fertility


Over 20 000 death notices have been added to our free obituary section since our last update.
This section contains Canadian obituaries ranging from 1999 to this day.
Please note that this section has moved and can now be found under our main domain, here.

Genealogically yours,

The Drouin team

What is the PRDH-IGD?

The PRDH-IGD is a directory of ALL vital events (baptisms, marriages and burials) celebrated by the Catholic church in Quebec and French Canada from 1621 to 1849, as well as a genealogical dictionary of families (Family Reconstructions). The PRDH-IGD database contains over 2 500 000 records.

What makes the PRDH-IGD unique is how these records are connected to one another through genealogical links, which we refer to as Family Reconstructions. In addition to the baptism, marriage and burial files, the PRDH-IGD contains individual and family files.

Any individual mentioned in a BMD record from the database is given an individual file. Similarly, any married couple mentioned in a BMD record gets their own family file.

To better understand the importance and value of family reconstructions, we will explore the database by using the example of François Plouf, who lived in St-François-Xavier-de-Verchères in the 18th century.

Search for the baptism of François Plouf in the PRDH

To begin the search, the information is entered in the search template. In this case, we are searching for any mention of a Francois Plouf in the database, without limiting the search to a specific period or parish.

Search results for any mention of Francois Plouf in the PRDH database

We obtain a list of results for our search.

  • The first column gives us the record number, which is used to identify the record in the database
  • The second column gives us the date of the event
  • The third column gives us the type of record (baptism, burial or marriage)
  • The fourth column gives us the parish in which the event was celebrated
  • The role column tells us what role the individual has in the record
  • The sex, standard name and standard first name columns are self explanatory

We will select the 14th result, which is the baptism of François Plouf, celebrated on the 27th of November 1718 in Contrecoeur.

François Plouf’s baptism file sourced from the PRDH

This baptism file was created from the original record. It extracts all the relevant information from it and presents it in a convenient manner.

In a PRDH-IGD baptism, marriage or burial file, every name is a link to that person’s individual file. By clicking on François Plouf’s name, we are taken to the following file.

François Plouf’s individual file in the PRDH

The individual file centralizes all of the mentions of an individual in the database, such as the person’s baptism, burial and marriage. The individual file also mentions the parents as well as the spouse(s).

Again, every name is also a link to that person’s individual file. Additionally, written dates can be clicked to be taken to that event’s certificate.

Finally, the “First marriage” and “Family” mentions link to the appropriate family file. Let’s explore François Plouf and Marie Ursule emery Codere’s family file.

François Plouf and Marie Ursule Emery Codere’s family file from the PRDH database

A family file is created for any married couple mentioned in a record certificate in the database. This family file centralizes all the information available on the couple as well as all of their children, and provides links to the individual files and record certificates that pertain to the family.

The family file can be seen as the final result of the PRDH’s family reconstruction process.

Ultimately, the PRDH-IGD database can be described as a massive family tree of all Catholic individuals who lived in Quebec between 1621 and 1849.

The database is being corrected and added to on a monthly basis, and we hope to be able to extend the period it covers shortly. integration

Members who are subscribed to both and the PRDH have access to the following exclusive features:

  1. View the original document (parish register) on from any certificate
  2. View the individual file of any individual named in a‘s LAFRANCE certificate
  3. 10% bonus hits free of charge on purchase for subscribers (up to 100 hits)

What are the differences between the and
Period 1621 – 2019 1621 – 1849
Original documents Yes No
Family reconstructions No Yes
Type of documents BMS records, obituaries, death cards, tombstones, notarized documents, censuses, marriage repertories, parish records, postcards BMS records, Individual files, Couple files, Family files
Subscription type Time based (24h, 1 month, 1 year) Purchasable “hits”

How to subscribe to the PRDH-IGD?

PRDH-IGD subscriptions are hit based.

hit is charged each time a page is displayed, except for the list of references obtained from a query, which is not charged. A subscription thus corresponds to the right to view a certain quantity of one or the other of the following elements: a certificate from the Repertory of vital events (record certificates), an individual or family file from the Genealogical dictionary or a couples’ file with their married children from the Repertory of couples.

You will find the various subscription options at this address.

Acadia – Families

This tool contains family files based on original Acadian records. The files usually contain the names of the parents, the name of the child, the parish and the dates of baptism and/or burial. In most cases, a link to the original baptism and/or burial record is available.

In total, this tool contains around 96 000 family files covering from 1621 to 1849.

This tool is equipped with a search engine that lets you search by first name, surname, date and parish.

The foundation of the files in this tool is often the baptism record. Most files will include the name of the parents, the name of the baptized child (the subject of the file), the parish, the date of birth and baptism as well as a link to the original record.

In some cases, additional information is added to the file, such as the child’s marriage. The letter “m” is short for Marriage. The image link that often follows is that of the original marriage record, and the name after that belongs to the spouse of the subject.

Sometimes, the burial of the subject will similarly be included in the file. In some cases, the file only mentions a marriage; no child is named.

We recommend that you begin your search with a surname and a date. If you obtain too many results this way, you may narrow down the search by adding a year or a second surname or first name.

You can browse the Acadia – Families tool with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.


This tool contains around 256 000 postcards from Jean-Pierre Pepin’s personal collection. Most of these postcards were sent for TV contests in the 1980s and 1990s.

The tool extends throughout the 20th century, but most of the postcards are dated between 1980 and 2002.

Postcard sourced from the tool of the same name

Postcards are indexed by the name of the sender and the recipient of the card. A search engine allows you to search by first and/or last name.

You can browse the Postcards tool with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.

Notarized documents

This tool contains about 83 000 notarized documents indexed by the type of document, the names given in the document, the name of the notary as well as the date and location. The original documents have also been digitized and can be viewed within the tool.

Notarized document sourced from the collection of the same name

The collection’s coverage extends to the whole province of Quebec for the 19th and 20th century period.

The search engine integrated within the tool provides multiple fields to help narrow down your search.

Field name : Research type : Explanation :
Type of document Contains Type of document (eg. Sale)
Notaries Contains Name of the notary (eg. Poirier)
Mentioned names Contains Mentioned names in the document (eg. Sébastien)
Mentioned places Contains Mentioned places in the document (eg. St-Lin)
Dates Contains Mentioned years in the document (eg. 1936)

To begin your research, fill the search fields and click on the “Search” button. The results  will appear on the right side of the page. If the search produces too many results, fill more fields. If it produces no results, make it less precise.

To get to the original document, click on the name of the document you want to view.

You can browse the Notarized documents collection with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.

Is It Possible to Find Your Ancestors as an Adopted Child?

The quest for origins is a need felt by many human beings. It’s quite healthy to want to understand where you come from. In the case of an adopted person, this inclination is even stronger. Because even when you’ve been adopted by a loving family, you still have to track down several pieces of the puzzle to learn who you are and where you come from.

The genealogy of an adopted person can help them understand their history better, but also know their genetic predispositions. There are therefore several reasons why they might want to find the ancestors from their biological family.

How to find your ancestors as an adopted person

We’ve all seen shows and documentaries about reunions where an adopted person finds information about their biological family. These portraits depict rather complicated journeys that generally wind up paying off in the end. Most adopted people have access to a few basic documents that were given to their adoptive family. These papers may be useful to them, but often, this is only the basis of the information needed to go further.

You should also be aware that each case is different. Some adopted people stay in contact with their biological parents, while others don’t even know their names. Obviously, the more information and links that remain, the easier the search will be.

In addition, it’s important to make a distinction between adopted people in Québec and those who come from a foreign country. Indeed, the steps are quite different for those who were born here than for those who arrived from another country.

Finding your ancestors when you were adopted in Québec

Due to proximity, it can be easier to trace the genealogy of an adopted person’s biological family when they were born in Québec. However, there are major downsides to this assertion, since, for a long time, the associations and orphanages involved in adoptions issued very little specific information that would make it possible to identify the parents.

Biological parents also have the right to sign a refusal to meet and reconnect with the children they put up for adoption. These two issues can therefore be major hurdles for people in this situation who want to reconnect with their origins.

However, laws are changing to make it easier for adopted people to contact their biological parents, so you should stay on the lookout for these modifications to know the steps to follow during the initial contact. Generally speaking, it’s all about consent and openness on both sides. The Youth Centre of the region where the adoption took place can help in the search for information and guide the person in their quest.

Once the person has access to more information, or if that was already the case at the start, it’s possible to consult the records available online. These records make it possible to construct a family tree by consulting marriage, birth, and death certificates. Regional historical societies can also be very useful places when it comes to finding archives containing information of this nature.

Finally, those who prefer to entrust this work to someone else can call on a genealogy specialist, who will draw on documents and who will know exactly where and how to do the research.

Finding your ancestors when you were adopted abroad

For any adoption from another country, you should check out the Secrétariat à l’adoption internationale (SAI). This organization also offers services for people adopted in Québec – for example, requesting a summary of the sociobiological history, which contains some information such as the date of birth, the circumstances of the adoption, and some basic information regarding the parents. However, this organization may prove particularly useful for procedures carried out abroad.

SAI employees are able to establish contacts with foreign authorities to see if it’s possible to access information on the genealogy of the adopted child. From there, they present the information to the person who requested it. However, this request may sometimes yield no results, since some countries have laws that prohibit reunions, don’t keep records, or are unable to provide the desired information. Once again, it’s case by case, and you should know how to manage your expectations.

How to Explain a Family Tree to Your Child

Genealogy and family history are concepts that may seem both intimidating and fascinating for kids. How can they understand that people they’ve never met have contributed to their presence on earth? How do you describe the links that unite each family member, whether they’re alive or distant ancestors?

We often share family stories with our little ones, and to illustrate these, a family tree for kids may prove quite useful.

Here are some tips for explaining the family tree to a child

There are several types of family trees, including the descending tree and the ascending tree. Since the ascending tree is more common, we’ll use this one in the examples. The difference between the two is that the ascending tree starts from one person and traces their ancestors, while the descending tree takes shape by starting from the ancestor and illustrating the lineages of their descendants.

For a child, the ascending tree is also easier to understand, since they can quickly make connections between people by starting with the ones they already know.

Sparking children’s interest in their family history

The first challenge is to awaken the curiosity of your children, if this isn’t something that they’ve already developed. By telling them stories featuring their ancestors, they’ll feel a pride and a fascination towards this family affiliation. In many cases, this will result in them wanting to learn more. To make things clear, we suggest starting with people they already know, like their grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts. Then, we move up the line by presenting the ancestors that came before them. Being able to associate stories and facts with different family members will help the family tree come to life before their eyes.

Explaining the family ties

A child understands very quickly that they live in a family unit. They know their parents, their brothers and sisters, and all the other family members they see regularly. As this concept is absorbed by the child, it will be rather simple to make them understand the family ties of the people who make up the other sections of the family tree.

Indeed, in the beginning, we recommend looking at each part of the tree separately, so the child can absorb the information at their own pace. From the start, we can look at the whole tree and make a general presentation, but when the time comes to explain more in detail, it’s better to do it little by little.

Introducing the concept of generations and fraternity

Young people tend to live in the present moment. Although they understand the fact that their parents and grandparents are older, they don’t always make the connection that there are different generations of people. On a family tree, the vertical line makes it possible to separate the generations of a family. The horizontal line, for its part, designates the concept of fraternity. By looking at these lines, the child can therefore quickly understand the difference and become better equipped to grasp the idea of the past and the fact that everyone comes from a family unit.

Ask questions and make them play detective

To see if your child has fully understood, it’s helpful to follow up by asking them what – in their opinion – family trees are used for. Their response will let you know if they’ve grasped the concept. To expand their knowledge, you can also turn exploring the family tree into a game. The child then becomes a detective whose mission is to discover the connections and trace the family histories. Ask them to tell you who this person is in relation to them or in relation to another family member.

Even for the youngest children, this type of interaction with the family tree can help make things clearer and easier to understand.