Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada, e010952219
I have spent most of the last ten years focusing on Irish and Irish-Canadian research. This year I finally turned my attention to my French-Canadian roots. I had erroneously assumed that French-Canadian research would be more difficult because of the language barrier. (While I have quite a bit of french language, especially in reading, I am by no means fluent.) Very quickly, I came to realize that French-Canadian research is much simpler because of the excellent church records that are readily available. Not only did the priests take it upon themselves to write a small essay about each vital event, they referred to women by their maiden names, even after marriage, and actually specify other family ties in their documents so there is usually little question of which individual they are talking about. What a breath of fresh air this is! No more wondering if I’ve found the right John Murphy out of the dozens alive in a certain area at a certain time!
There is still the challenge of difficult handwriting, which is harder to decipher when it is in a different language. However, a lot of the language recurs in record after record, so with time and practice it gets much easier. There are also several compilations available, such as the Tanguay Collection or La Masculine- Répertoire alphabétique des mariages des Canadiens-Français 1760-1935, that were made up by early genealogists combing over the same records. This is helpful to indicate if you are on the right track when you transcribe a difficult or unfamiliar name. There are errors in these collections, however, so it is best to use the records themselves to do the research.
Very quickly, and using original (digital) records, I have brought my research back to the 1600’s on two of my lines. (Additional supporting research from other sources is of course necessary before coming to firm conclusions.) With both of these lines, I have made very interesting discoveries. But I will leave those stories to another post!
.....TO BE CONTINUED...!