Quebec Church Records

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Beginning Research
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

  • The largest religious group in Québec is the Roman Catholic Church. The first Catholic parish register was for Notre-Dame de Québec, founded in 1621.
  • From 1679 to 1993, most vital records for Québec were copies of church records. The province required churches to send copies to government archives.
  • On 1 January 1994, the government began to keep separate vital records.
  • Vital records could be registered civilly without a church record as early as 1926. Beginning in the 1960s, many births and marriages were recorded only in civil registers.

Protestant[edit | edit source]

  • The earliest Protestant records are from 1766, when the Church of England (Anglican) parishes were founded in Montréal. Presbyterian records date from 1770 in the city of Québec and 1779 in Montréal. Other non-Catholic groups came later.
  • Protestant church records are not as extensive as the Catholic records. Clergy of legally recognized Protestant groups were required to send duplicate copies of their church records to the civil archives. They did not always do it.
  • Also, baptisms and marriages performed by some non-Catholic clergy were not recognized by civil authorities until 1825 or later. Beginning in 1825, the registers of various denominations were "authenticated" (given legal authority) by the legislative assembly.
  • Many Protestant registers contain less information than the Catholic records. For example, many marriage records do not list the parents of the bride or groom.

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

University of Montreal[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection has six databases:
  1. Quebec Vital and Church Records, 1621-1967
  2. Ontario French Catholic Church Records, 1747-1967
  3. Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954
  4. Acadia French Catholic Church Records, 1670-1946
  5. Quebec Notarial Records, 1647-1942
  6. Miscellaneous French Records, 1651-1941.
For details about this six databases, see The Drouin Collection: Six Databases.

Loiselle Card Index[edit | edit source]

Jacques-Henri Fabien Collection[edit | edit source]

  • 1657-1974 - Jacques-Henri Fabien Collection This collection of microfilm consists of genealogical information over the period 1657 to 1974, distributed on more than 250,000 cards, mostly for marriages, that indicate date and place, names of spouses and their parents. The collection includes parishes in the Outaouais region of Québec and Ontario, some parishes in Eastern and Northern Ontario, counties of Pontiac, Vaudreuil, Châteauguay, Huntingdon, Beauharnois, l'Assomption, Laval, Deux-Montagnes and Argenteuil, in Quebec.

Other Marriage Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexed Databases[edit | edit source]

  • BMS2000 Database, index and images. ($) A database of baptism, marriage and burial records of 14 million records. There is a charge for consulting the BMS2000 database.[1]
  • PRDH Database, index and images. ($) Computerized population register, with biographical files of for European settlers of St. Lawrence Valley.[1]
  • Fichier Origine (Original File) Database, index and images. ($) Index of civil status documents and notarial deeds for French and foreign emigrants. Free-of-charge.[1]

United Church of Canada[edit | edit source]

United Church records include Methodist, most Presbyterian, and Congregational church records dating from before the 1925 merger which formed the church. Many records are still in the hands of local clergymen. Others are at:
United Church of Canada Archives
40 Oak Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2C6
Canada
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 1101
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 1101
Fax: 416-231-3103 attn: Archives
E-mail: archives@united-church.ca


Go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination to find more archives.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources. This is especially important if local archives are not given above.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Churches in Canada

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:


Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details


Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.


It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read French records.

During the reign of Napoleon, a different calendar was used. You will want to translate the dates written in these records back to normal Julian calendar dates. Charts in this article will help you:

Also, see:

  • Alsace-Lorraine: Converting French Republican Calendar Dates - Instruction


There is a three-lesson course in reading handwriting in old French records:

These lessons focus on reading church record and civil registration records:

Another resource is the French Records Extraction Manual, Full Manual. Much more is covered, but these first four lessons are especially useful.

Some Catholic Church records will be written in Latin:




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Genealogy in 8 Lessons", at Quebec Federation off Genealogical Societies, http://federationgenealogie.qc.ca/guide-ressources/8-lecons, accessed 17 October 2020.