Do You Need to Study Genealogy to Make a Career out of It?

The Québec government doesn’t recognize the occupation of genealogist as a profession, so genealogy isn’t taught there. However, when you’re driven by true passion, you have only a single desire: to make it your profession. If there aren’t any genealogy studies in Québec, how do you become a professional genealogy researcher?

Courses at French universities

Most genealogists in France are trained as historians or lawyers, but recently, several programs dedicated to genealogy have been created in France, including:

  • The professional degree “Legal Activities – Estate Genealogy Specialist,” taught at the University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli and at a distance. This curriculum aims to provide minimal training to become a researcher in an estate genealogy company.
  • The university degree in genealogy and family history awarded at the University of Nîmes in person and, recently, at a distance. This is a complete genealogy program.

Workshops in Québec devoted to genealogy

Several Québec organizations, such as the Société de Généalogie du Québec and the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française, offer workshops and courses in genealogy, including:

  • Basic workshops: the different basic genealogy research tools are presented.
  • Intermediate workshops: in these courses, you learn about the sources of information and the various documents that make it possible to perform more in-depth research.
  • Specialized workshops: these workshops focus more specifically on the development of skills, especially paleography.

Recognition of acquired skills

Since there’s no genealogist training, properly speaking, in Québec, genealogy researchers in Québec don’t have a diploma, but can nevertheless validate their achievements. This skills recognition helps give the people looking for a specialist in lineage research or family history a guarantee of reliability. These accreditations can be obtained from the Federation of Genealogical Societies, which organizes an exam and, for several years, has issued certificates of competence. These are divided into three categories:

  • Certified filiation genealogist (généalogiste de filiation agréé [GFA]): The candidate must provide a portfolio describing their training and experience in genealogy as well as the reason for their application. They must demonstrate that they’re capable of processing genealogical data, finding deeds or marriage contracts, identifying and using research tools, and writing fluently in French or English.
  • Certified genealogy researcher (généalogiste recherchiste agréé [GRA]): The candidate must already hold the title of certified filiation genealogist (GFA) or submit both applications simultaneously and provide the portfolio. They are tested on their ability to create the work plan for a research project, to write a genealogical text for publication purposes, to organize their digital and paper archives, to organize the information collected in the form of a table, to identify and use their own research tools, to recognize the information in handwritten documents, and to solve complex problems.
  • Certified master genealogist (maître généalogiste agréé [MGA]): The candidate must hold the title of certified filiation genealogist (GFA) and certified genealogy researcher (GRA) or submit the two or three applications simultaneously and provide the portfolio. During the exam, the candidate is tested on their abilities to give and develop training activities; to write and deliver lectures on topics related to genealogy; to write, publish, and disseminate genealogical works and research instruments alone or in collaboration; and to transcribe word-for-word handwritten documents written in Old French.

While there’s no genealogical training in Québec, it’s possible to attend workshops there and practice to build your experience or take courses at universities. You can then enroll in a Federation-affiliated genealogical society and take exams to obtain a certificate of competence: this is issued for an unlimited duration and allows the genealogist to bear the title of certified filiation genealogist (GFA), certified genealogy researcher (GRA), or certified master genealogist (MGA).

Twenty five children in 27 years: A look at our ancestors’ fertility

Throughout History, idealizing the past has been a common theme. The life of our ancestors is often perceived as having been harsh, but also bucolic and charming, a more “natural” way of living.

But one must know that the French Canadian population of two centuries ago lived under a demographic profile characterized by high fertility as well as high mortality. In the absence of contraception, a couple’s fertility was expressed fully. Let’s look at the case of Joseph Landry and Josephe Coron Dauphinais, married on the 13th of February 1778 in Sorel.

Family File of Joseph Landry Penot and Marie Josephe Coron Dauphinais, from the PRDH database https://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca

Born in March 1761, Josephe Coron was 16 years old on the day of her marriage; she was already pregnant, as she gave birth in May 1778. Twenty four more births followed, the last one in April 1805, 27 years after the first. Josephe had just celebrated her 44th anniversary. This remarkable woman died in 1842 at the age of 81.

Twenty five children in 27 years, with only five making it to adulthood; the twenty others dying before the age of two. Who would exchange today’s living conditions for the ones provided by Nature?

You can learn more about your ancestor’s fertility with a subscription to the PRDH, where you will find all of the Catholic individuals who lived in Quebec between 1621 and 1849. These individuals are listed through their baptism, marriage and burial records, which are linked through individual and family files. These files, such as the one used in this article, give you a detailed overview of the fertility and living conditions of your ancestors.

More information about the PRDH

More information about the PRDH subscription options

 

Bertrand and François Desjardins

September 2017

The Loiselle File

The Loiselle File is a collection of marriage files produced by priest Antonin Loiselle as part of his personal research. In total, this collection contains 1 044 434 marriage files that pertain to about 100 different parishes.

The tool covers all of Quebec as well as Fall River, MA and Manchester, NH from 1621 to the mid 20th century.

The Loiselle File is navigated similarly to the Drouin Collection Records. The documents are organized in a file tree containing over 16 000 folders. Within these folders, the files are sorted by alphabetical order of the husband and wife’s first name. A search for Abraham will be conducted within the first few files, while a search for Zenophile should be done towards the end of the folder.

The marriage files contain the following information: first and last name of the husband and wife, last name of the parents or of the previous spouse. In most cases, a date and location will be given for the marriage. Additional information may also be present, such as the residence of the the spouses or the parents.

You can browse the Loiselle File with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.

The Kardex

The Kardex is a directory of marriage files complementary to the Men and Women series. The files pertain to Catholic and Protestant marriages as well as to notarized documents.

The Kardex covers from 1621 to around 1950 for Quebec, Ontario as well as a small part of the United States.

The Kardex is navigated similarly to the Drouin Collection Records. The documents are organized in a file tree.

The Kardex marriage files contain the following information: the name and first name of the spouses, the name of the parents, or the name of the previous spouse.

In most cases, the date and location of the marriage may also be included. Additional information may also be present in the file.

To better understand the structure of the Kardex files, here is an example:

  1. Bertrand, Joseph Alfred Émile – Husband
  2. (Bertrand), Antoine Wilfrid – Father of the husband
  3. St-Aubin, Rose Anna – Mother of the husband
  4. Michaud, Marie Lise Irène – Wife
  5. (Michaud), Joseph Adolphe – Father of the wife
  6. Bernard, Marie Lise Elisa – Mother of the wife
  7. St Louis de France de Montréal – Parish in which the marriage was celebrated
  8. 12 Juin 1915 – Marriage date

You can use the Kardex with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.

The Connolly File

The Connolly File is one of 16 tools available to Genealogy Quebec subscribers.
It is an index of Catholic and Protestant baptisms, marriages and burials from Quebec covering a period extending from 1621 to 2015.
In total, the tool contains 6,500,000 baptism, marriage and burial files.

Using the Connolly File

The Connolly File is equipped with a search engine specific to each type of record it contains, namely baptisms, marriages and burials. The search fields differ depending on the type of record searched, but the basic name, surname, date and location fields are always present.


Connolly File baptism search engine

To begin your search, fill one or multiple search fields and press on “Search”, which will prompt a list of results.


Result list produced by a search for “Pierre Loiselle”

The records are presented as files which contain all of the relevant information extracted from the original record.

Automatic search buttons

Every record in the Connolly File is equipped with one or several automatic search buttons. These buttons allow you to automatically trigger searches for various records related to the one you are viewing. In the baptism section, the automatic search button allows you to search for the parents’ marriage record.

In the marriage section, there are 6 different buttons per file. These buttons will trigger automatic searches for the parents, the baptism records or the burial records of the subjects.

Finally, the burial section will let you automatically search for the subject’s own marriage, or that of their parents.

Careful! If an automatic search does not yield any results, do not assume that the desired record does not exist in the Connolly File. For example, it is very possible that an individual’s name may be slightly different from one record to the next, or that the Priest committed a mistake when recording the original event. It is strongly recommended to do a manual search if the automatic search produces no results, and to try multiple combinations of first and last names if the initial searches are unsuccessful.

Tips and best practices

The Connolly File allows searching for many variables, which makes it tempting to fill as many fields as possible when using the tool. However, we recommend that you keep your initial search as vague as possible, and clarify it as needed by adding one piece of information at a time. When the name or surname searched is rare or unusual, it is rarely necessary to add more information to the search.

The more precise a search is, the more likely it is to omit the record you are looking for, as every single field must match.
For example, an initial search could start with the surname and first name of the subject. If the number of results is too high, a variable such as the year of the event or the surname of another individual mentioned in the record can be added. Often, the simple fact of adding a third variable is enough to narrow the search down sufficiently.

Finding the original record using the information provided by the Connolly File

You may have noticed that the Connolly File does not provide a link to the original document from which its files have been created. However, as a Genealogy Quebec subscriber, you have access to the entirety of Quebec’s Parish Registry up until 1940 through the Drouin Collection Records.
You can find most of the original documents associated with the Connolly File records via the date and parish name given in each record.

As an example, here is the baptism file of Jean-Louis Girard.

It tells us that Jean-Louis was born in Bagotville on October 10, 1923, and was baptized in the St-Alphonse-de-Liguori parish. To find the original record, we must browse this parish’s register for the year 1923, which we will find in the Drouin Collection Records.

Once in the Drouin Collection Records, you will notice that the various registers are organized in a file tree structure. We will begin by opening the Quebec folder, as the baptism we are interested in was recorded in the province.
Once inside the Quebec folder, we have to find the right parish folder. Some parishes are listed under the name of the city they are located in, while others will be listed under the name of the parish itself. In the case of St-Alphonse-de-Liguori parish, it is listed under Bagotville.

Once inside the correct folder, we must navigate to the right year, which will give us access to all the images associated with that register for that specific year. It is important to know that in general, the images are listed in chronological order.
This means that the first image in the folder will contain the first events recorded in that year, which are usually the ones from January. Similarly, the last few images in the folder will be those from the end of the year.
Since Jean-Louis’s baptism was celebrated in October, it’s likely that his baptism will be found among the last few images. You may have to sift through a few pages before finding the right one, but by starting towards the end, you will save yourself some time.

And with that, we were able to find the original document using the information given to us in the Connolly File record.

Useful links

The Connolly File (subscription required)
The Drouin Collection Records (subscription required)
Subscribing to Genealogy Quebec
What is Genealogy Quebec?
List of the parishes available in the Connolly File (baptism, marriage, burial)

The Petit NBMDS

The Petit NBMDS contains baptism, marriage and burial files. These files are produced from the original parish records. While the original records aren’t directly linked to the files, you may find the original records in the Drouin Collection Records by using the information given in the file; namely, the parish and the date.

The tool extends from 1727 to 2011 and covers the Laurentians, the Outaouais and Bas-St-Laurent regions as well as the city of St-Hubert.

The Petit NBMDS is equipped with a multiple field search engine. As with most of our tools, we recommend that you limit your initial search to only a few parameters; a family name and the year of the event. If this produces too many results to sift through, a first name or a second family name should be added.

On the Petit NBMDS files, you will find buttons that allow for an automatic search for the baptism, marriage or burial of the individuals mentioned in the file. Please note that these buttons are only research shortcuts, not linked data. It is always recommended to do manual searches with the various spellings of the researched name(s) if the automatic search hasn’t produced any results.

You can browse the Petit NBMDS with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec at this address.

Marriages and Deaths 1926-1997

The Marriages and Deaths 1926-1997 tool contains most of the marriages and deaths recorded in Quebec between 1926 and 1997, all religious denominations included.

The records are indexed through files that present the relevant information extracted from the original document. In the case of the marriages, it is also possible to view the original document.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s marriage sources from the Marriage and Deaths 1926-1997 tool

This tool is equipped with a detailed search engine. With that said, the search engine does not come with a search dictionary; it is necessary to search for the multiple variations of a given name manually.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to limit your initial search to only a few parameters; a family name and the year of the event. If this produces too many results to sift through, a first name or a second family name should be added.

As with many of our other tools, you may use the “%” character in order to search for part of a name. For example, a search for “Rog%” will find all of the records where an individual bearing a name that starts with “Rog” is mentioned. This allows you to widen your search even further, if necessary.

Marriages and Deaths 1926-1997 can be browsed with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec here.

The Obituary section

The Obituary section is divided in 4 subsections that contain different types of documents.

Internet Obituaries

This section, covering all of Canada from 1999 to today, does not require a subscription to the website to be viewed. In addition to being updated weekly, it currently contains over 2 million obituaries.

This section is equipped with a search engine as well as navigation categories. The search engine allows for a first name, last name and date search as well as a search for words contained in the notice.

The obituaries are sorted by province, city and publication to provide a more fluid navigation experience.

Newspaper obituaries

This section contains 656 155 obituaries published in Quebec newspapers from 1945 to 2015.  

It is organized through a file tree that sorts the notices by letter and then by name. The section is equipped with a search engine allowing you to search by name, first name and date of death. You may use the “%” character to search for part of a name. For example, a search for “Rog%” will find all the obituaries in which the subject wears a name starting with “Rog”. This allows for more generic searches and is particularly useful for names which tend to be spelled in a lot of different ways.

Death cards

This section, containing 54 000 death cards published between 1860 and today, is equipped with a search engine allowing you to search by name, first name and date of death.

Death card sourced from the tool of the same name

You may use the “%” character to search for part of a name. For example, a search for “Rog%” will find all the death cards in which the subject wears a name starting with “Rog”. This allows for more generic searches and is particularly useful for names which tend to be spelled in a lot of different ways.

Tombstones

This section contains 611 000 pictures of tombstones, indexed by name and text on the stone. 

Tombstone sourced from the tool of the same name

It is equipped with a search engine allowing you to search by family name or by the text engraved on the stone. You may search through a specific cemetery or in all of them at the same time.

Like with the death cards, the “%” character may be used to search for part of a name.

The Obituaries section can be browsed with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec here.

The LAFRANCE

The LAFRANCE is the most comprehensive research tool available on Genealogy Quebec. This database contains all of Quebec’s Catholic marriages up to 1917, as well as all of Quebec’s Catholic baptism and burial records up to 1849.

In addition to these Catholic records, all of Quebec’s Protestant marriages from 1760 to 1849, as well as 68 401 Catholic baptisms and burials from after the year 1862 are included in the database. A link to the original parish document is included with every record.

On the LAFRANCE, you will find these parish registers under two formats:

Original documents – a digitized image of the original parish register, as it was originally drafted.

St-Philippe parish register, sourced from the Drouin Collection

Record certificate – Every record in the database is indexed under what we refer to as a certificate. The certificate contains all the relevant information extracted from the record such as the names, dates, roles, occupations, relationships, marital status, etc.

Record certificate sourced from the LAFRANCE

The LAFRANCE is equipped with an intuitive search engine which allows you to search by surname, first name, time period, parish, role, gender and type of event. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that our users begin their searches by casting a wide net, only searching for a surname and first name. If this search produces too many resultats, a time period may be added to narrow it down. Making your initial search too narrow by filling too many fields isn’t recommended.

Note that you may use the “%” character in order to search for part of a name. For example, a search for “Rog%” will find all of the records where an individual bearing a name that starts with “Rog” is mentioned. This allows you to widen your search even further, if necessary.

LAFRANCE search form

The search engine is equipped with a name dictionary, which associates a name with all of its variations. For example, a query for an individual with the surname Gauthier will prompt the search engine to look through the database for any mention of the name Gauthier as well as any of its variations, such as Gautier, Gaulthier, Gotier, etc. Thus, it isn’t necessary to manually search for multiple variations of a name.

In addition, the Likeness function makes it possible to search for a name as well as any other name that resembles it. The Likeness function differs from the name dictionary because it not only includes all of the variations of a name, but also all of the names that are similar to it in terms of pronunciation or spelling. For example, a search for Gauthier, which will include all of the variations given earlier, will also include the names Gonthier, Vauthier, Gouthier, Authier as well as their numerous variations.

Once a search has been made, you will obtain a list of results.

Search results for any mention of the name Tremblay in records dated between 1700 and 1820
  • Num.: Every record in the database is given a number that is used to identify it.
  • Date: Date on which the record was drafted
  • Type: The type of event described by the record: b (baptism), s (burial) or m (marriage)
  • Parish: Parish in which the event was celebrated
  • Roles: The role that the person(s) carry in the record: P-M (Father and Mother), S-C (Subject and Spouse), S-S (Subject and Subject, used to identify a marrying couple)

To view a record, click on the date associated with it.

Once on the certificate of the record you are looking for, you maybe view the original document by clicking on the “d1p” link which you will find at the top right of the certificate.

Detailed view of a record on the LAFRANCE

The LAFRANCE can be browsed with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec here.

The Drouin Collection Records (1621 to 1967)

The Drouin Collection Records is a collection of parish registers (baptisms, burials and marriages). This massive collection contains, among other things, the entirety of Quebec’s civil registry from 1621 to the 1940s.

Boucherville register sourced from the Drouin Collection

The collection also contains some notarized documents and censuses.

In all cases, these are original documents that have been digitized in the course of the past century.

The collection of parish registers from Quebec begins in 1621 (opening of the Catholic Register in Quebec) up to 1967. Most of the registers were photographed in the 1940s and thus do not extend to 1967. For the other collections in this database, the period covered may go beyond 1967.

The Drouin Collection Records cover all of Quebec (including non-Catholics) as well as French Acadia and part of Ontario, New Brunswick and the United States.

File tree navigation in the Drouin Collection Records

The registers are organized in a file tree. The documents are separated by collection and then by location and by year, or by letter and by name depending on the type of register.

Finally, the images are sorted in the folders by chronological order (from January to December). The trick is to identify the right collection to search in and to find the document using the location and date in which it was drafted.

The Drouin Collection Records can be browsed with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec here.