Quebec Cultural Groups

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Quebec Wiki Topics
Quebec Flag.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
Quebec Background
Local Research Resources

Library and Archives Canada[edit | edit source]

First of all, realize that members of different ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures are recorded in all the major record groups used for genealogy in Quebec. For some groups additional specific records were created by the government and churches. For many groups, information has been published by interested authors detailing their histories and identities. For each group below, in addition to a brief history, there is a link to an article prepared by the Library and Archives Canada detailing available records and publications.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

These major records for Quebec contain genealogical records for all of the groups listed in this article. For additional research help and links to even more records, go to the Quebec Record Finder.

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

In Quebec, copies of church records were sent to the government to form its civil registration records.

Acadians[edit | edit source]

  • The Drouin Collection Database, a collection of parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) from Quebec, Acadia, as well as parts of Ontario, New Brunswick and the United States. The collection also contains Acadian censuses from 1673 to 1784. ($)
  • The Acadia Families Tool This tool contains family files based on the Acadian parish records mentioned above. In total, the tool contains 96,000 family files from 1621 to 1849 and is equipped with a search engine which allows searches by last name, first name, date and parish. In addition, the original records are attached to the family files, allowing the information contained in them to be viewed and verified.($)

The term "Acadians" refers to immigrants from France in the early 1600s who settled in the colony of Acadia, in what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The colonization of Acadia by the French started in 1604 at Port-Royal. In the 1630s, about 20 families came from the Loudunais area. Steadily, the population grew and the territory expanded to include Nova Scotia, Cape-Breton Island, New-Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. With the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Acadia was given away to Great Britain.

Due to the threat of a new war in America, about 10,000 Acadians were made prisoners and were deported to the American colonies, Great Britain and France. By 1764, the Acadians were allowed to return on condition of dispersing themselves over the territory and swearing their loyalty to the British Crown. Some returned to the province of Quebec, particularly in the area of Yamachiche and L'Acadie.[1]

Black History[edit | edit source]

In 1793, the Upper Canada legislature passed an act that granted gradual abolition and any slave arriving in the province was automatically declared free. Fearing for their safety in the United States after the passage of the first Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, over 30,000 slaves came to Canada via the Underground Railroad until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. They settled mostly in southern Ontario, but some also settled in Quebec and Nova Scotia. Many returned to the United States to fight in the Civil War and rejoin their families after its end. Many Black people migrated to Canada in search of work and became porters with the railroad companies in Ontario, Quebec, and the Western provinces.[2]

British Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • In 1758, the British mounted an attack on New France by sea and took the French fort at Louisbourg. The capture of the fortress of Louisbourg, followed by Quebec City in 1759, led to the end of the French government presence in New France and Acadia, which further solidified the British presence on the continent.
  • The Province of Quebec was founded in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 after the Treaty of Paris formally transferred the French colony of Canada to Britain after the Seven Years' War.
  • From 1775 to 1783, during the American Revolution, an influx of English Loyalist settlers migrated to Nova Scotia, Lower Canada (Quebec), New Brunswick and Upper Canada (Ontario). The arrival of 10,000 Loyalists at Quebec in 1784, and the swelling numbers of English, encouraged the British to make greater demands for recognition with the colonial government.
  • The creation of Upper and Lower Canada in 1791 allowed most Loyalists to live under British laws and institutions, while the French-speaking population of Lower Canada could maintain their familiar French civil law and the Catholic religion. Loyalists were drawn away from Quebec City and Montreal by offering free land on the northern shore of Lake Ontario to anyone willing to swear allegiance to George III. The Loyalists were thus given land grants of 200 acres per person. Basically, this approach was designed with the intent of keeping French and English as far apart as possible.

First Nations[edit | edit source]

First Nations is a term used to describe Indigenous peoples in Canada (sometime referred to as Aboriginal peoples) who are not Métis or Inuit. Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982 declares that Aboriginal peoples in Canada include First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Bands[edit | edit source]

  • Cree
  • Malecite
  • Mi'kmaq

French Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • The French began to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the mid-16th century to explore the New World and settle there. They arrived in 1604 at Port Royal and colonized Acadia first. The French also settled further west in the St. Lawrence Valley when they founded Quebec in 1608. By 1660, only about 3,000 inhabitants called the St. Lawrence Valley home.
  • In 1665, the régiment de Carignan-Salières arrived on the shores of Canada to fight the Iroquois Nation. As motivation, a married soldier who settled in the colony would receive a sum of 12,000 pounds. It was this colonial policy that prompted 400 soldiers and officers to put down roots in New France.
  • However, to maintain a permanent settlement, these men had to marry and have families. Hence, groups of women started to arrive in New France during two distinct periods: 1634 to 1662 and 1663 to 1673. The first group of women came under the auspices of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés; the second under the authority of the King—where the term filles du roi (Daughters of the King) derives.
  • In the early 17th century, a lucrative fur trade business emerged in New France. To meet the demand, trappers and travellers gradually extended their hunting grounds beyond the St. Lawrence Valley to the interior of the continent.
  • Between 1820 and 1910, a decrease in the availability of tillable land in Canada drove close to 470,000 French settlers to the United States. They settled chiefly in New England and in Michigan.
  • It is estimated that nearly 40,000 French settlers lived in New France during the French Regime and 10,000 of those stayed in New France and became the ancestors of nearly 6 million French Canadians.[3]

German Immigrants[edit | edit source]

The British purchased the services of 30,000 German Soldiers for $150,000, all of which went into the royal coffers of the German princes. These troops came from Hesse Cassel, Hesse Hanau, Brunswick, Anspach, Bayreuth, Anhalt Zerbst and Waldeck. A large migration of Germans to Canada occurred during the period after the American Revolution. A total of 30,000 Germans fought in North America between 1776 and 1783; among them, 10,000 men served in Canada and almost 2,400 settled there after the war, mainly in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.[4]

Greek Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • Greeks did not begin settling in Canada until the early nineteenth century. The major reason for this was the Greek revolution (1821-1836). Most of these emigrants originated from the Aegean islands and the Peloponnesus, most specifically the villages of Arcadia and Laconia. The primary area of settlement in Canada for these early migrants was Montreal.
  • Greek immigration increased dramatically in the early twentieth century, due to poverty and political instability in Greece. The 1911 census recorded 3650 Greeks in Canada, most of them living in Montreal and Quebec (Quebec), Toronto (Ontario), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Edmonton (Alberta) and Winnipeg (Manitoba). Most were businessmen, running their own stores, hotels, bakeries and restaurants.
  • Emigration stopped during the Second World War. After this period, Canada became more open to immigrants from southern Europe. Through family sponsorship and other employment schemes Greeks had easier entrance into Canada. After the end of the War, immigration sharply picked up and over 10,0000 Greeks entered Canada between 1945 and 1971.
  • Over eighty percent of Greek Canadians live in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, with heavy concentrations in the cities of Montreal and Toronto.
  • There was also steady immigration of Greeks from Cyprus to Canada beginning after the Second World War. The largest wave of Cypriot immigrants occurred after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, when over 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled Cyprus and settled in Greece. Many of these English-speaking refugees continued to Canada and settled in Montreal (Quebec), Toronto, Hamilton, and Kitchener (Ontario).
  • There are over 25,000 Greek Cypriots in Canada today, and approximately 250,000 people of Greek descent, originating from various countries.[5]

Inuit[edit | edit source]

Nunavik comprises the northern third of the province of Quebec, Canada in Kativik, part of the Nord-du-Québec region. Covering a land area of 171,307.62 sq mi north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec. Almost all of the 13,181 inhabitants (2016 census) of the region, of whom 90% are Inuit, live in fourteen northern villages on the coast of Nunavik and in the Cree reserved land of Whapmagoostui, near the northern village of Kuujjuarapik.

Irish Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • By far, the largest immigration of the Irish to Canada occurred during the mid-19th century. The Great Irish Potato Famine of 1847 was the cause of death, mainly from starvation, of over a million Irish. It was also the motivation behind the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Irish to North America.
  • Because passage to Canada was less expensive than passage to the United States, Canada was the recipient of some of the most destitute and bereft Irish.
  • Passage was difficult for those making the 3,000 mile voyage from Ireland. Crammed into steerage for over six weeks, these "Coffin Ships" were a breeding ground for many diseases.
  • The primary destination for most of these ships was the port of Québec and the mandatory stop at the quarantine island of Grosse Île.
  • By June of 1847, the port of Québec became so overwhelmed, that dozens of ships carrying over 14,000 Irish queued for days to make landing. It is estimated that almost 5,000 Irish died on Grosse Île, and it is known to be the largest Irish burial ground exclusive of Ireland.
  • Many Irish immigrants played a major role in Canadian society.[6]

Irish to[edit | edit source]

The Irish colonized many areas behind the long-settled French communities lining the St. Lawrence River. They were especially prominent north and south of Montreal and north and south of Quebec City.

Settling on rented seigneurial land and sharing their lives with people who spoke a different language from theirs and in many cases followed a different religion, they formed extensive Irish communities of mixed religion across the region. Most were farmers, though some supplemented their incomes with seasonal employment in the lumber camps to make ends meet.

With the opening up of colonization roads the Irish became well concentrated in the Eastern Townships - especially in the St. Francis Valley.

By 1851 Quebec's Irish immigrant population was twice that of the English and Scottish immigrant populations combined. One third of the Irish lived in Montreal and Quebec City while the remainder were mainly concentrated in the farming districts of the Upper Ottawa Valley, the Beauharnois region, south of Montreal and the Eastern Townships. [7]

Italian Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • The first settlement of Italians in Canada did not occur until 1665 when soldiers from areas of what is now present-day Italy were recruited by the French army to be part of their Carignan-Salières Regiment.
  • Italians also served with the British military in Lower Canada in the de Meuron and de Watteville Regiments during the War of 1812. When the regiments were disbanded in 1816, some of soldiers stayed in Canada, settling in Ontario and the Eastern Townships in Quebec.
  • Immigration from Italy did not increase substantially until after the unification of modern Italy, in 1870. Canada attracted migrant labourers and skilled tradesmen in the railway, mining and construction industries, but by the early 1900s, more and more of the temporary migrants chose to stay permanently rather than return to Italy. They were joined by farmers, artisans and merchants. Italian business districts developed in most urban centres, especially in Montreal and Toronto.
  • There are approximately 1.4 million Canadians of Italian descent today. Many of these people are descendents from the recent Italian immigration in the post-Second World War era which saw Southern Italy as a major source of immigration. More than ninety percent of Italians that entered Canada between 1946 and 1967 were sponsored by relatives in Canada. The majority of these immigrants settled in large and medium-size cities across Canada.[8]

Jewish Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • Jewish immigrants, primarily from Western Europe, began arriving on North American shores by the middle of the eighteenth century. However as proclaimed by law, colonization to New France was restricted to Catholics only. Some Jews circumvented this restriction by converting to Catholicism while others chose to settle further south in British occupied territory. After the fall of New France, Jews began to settle openly in Canada as British rule resulted in more religious tolerance.
  • Many Jewish immigrants to Canada arrived as troops of General Jeffery Amherst who overthrew the city of Montreal in 1760. Several of these men chose to remain and within years Montreal's first Jewish community was established. It was this burgeoning Jewish community that built Shearith Israel, Canada's first synagogue in 1768.
  • Faced with increasing hardship, violence and anti-Semitism throughout Europe, 15,000 Jews immigrated to Canada in the latter half of the nineteenth century. *By the outbreak of the First World War, Canada's Jewish population had grown to 100,000. Roughly three-quarters of this Jewish population was located in the cities of Montreal and Toronto.
  • By 1949 Canada accepted over 40,000 Holocaust survivors. In following years, Canada was again the destination, this time for many French-speaking Jews, seeking refuge from aggression and volatility in several North African nations.
  • Today, Canada's 370,000 Jews make Canada home to the fourth largest Jewish population in the world. Most Canadian Jewry lives in the provinces of Québec and Ontario and particularly in the city of Toronto.[9]

Métis[edit | edit source]

  • The Métis are a multi ancestral indigenous group whose homeland is in Canada and parts of the United States between the Great Lakes region and the Rocky Mountains. The Métis trace their descent to both Indigenous North Americans and European settlers (primarily French). Not all people of mixed Indigenous and Settler descent are Métis, as the Métis are a distinct group of people with a distinct culture and language. Since the late 20th century, the Métis in Canada have been recognized as a distinct Indigenous people under the Constitution Act of 1982 and have a population of 587,545 as of 2016.
  • During the height of the North American fur trade in New France from 1650 onward, many French and British fur traders married First Nations and Inuit women, mainly Cree, Ojibwa, or Saulteaux located in the Great Lakes area and later into the north west.
  • The majority of these fur traders were French and Scottish; the French majority were Catholic.
  • These marriages are commonly referred to as marriage à la façon du pays or marriage according to the "custom of the country."
  • At first, the Hudson's Bay Company officially forbade these relationships. However, many Indigenous peoples actively encouraged them, because they drew fur traders into Indigenous kinship circles, creating social ties that supported the economic relationships developing between them and Europeans. When Indigenous women married European men, they introduced them to their people and their culture, taught them about the land and its resources, and worked alongside them. Indigenous women paddled and steered canoes, made moccasins out of moose skin, netted webbing for snowshoes, skinned animals and dried their meat for
  • The children of these marriages were often introduced to Catholicism, but grew up in primarily First Nations societies. As adults, the men often worked as fur-trade company interpreters, as well as fur trappers in their turn.
  • Many of the first generations of Métis lived within the First Nations societies of their wives and children, but also started to marry Métis women.
  • By the early 19th century, marriage between European fur traders and First Nations or Inuit women started to decline as European fur traders began to marry Métis women instead, because Métis women were familiar with both white and Indigenous cultures, and could interpret.[10]

Scottish Immigrants[edit | edit source]

  • Few Scottish families settled in Canada before the British conquest in 1759. The majority of these early Scottish settlers were Roman Catholics seeking political and religious refuge, fur traders with the Hudson's Bay Company, merchants and disbanded soldiers.
  • Between 1815 and 1870, over 170,000 Scots immigrated, with increasing numbers settling in Quebec and Ontario, notably in Lanark County. They were a widely-varied group, including Highlanders and Lowlanders, farmers, teachers, merchants, clergymen and servants. Many were Presbyterian and English speaking. Many Scots were encouraged and supported by the British government and private companies in their effort to emigrate.[11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Acadia", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 22 Octiber 2020.
  2. "Black History in Canada", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 22 October 2020.
  3. "French Immigrants", Library and Archives Canada., accessed 23 October 2020.
  4. "Internet Listing of Hessian Soldiers of the Revolution",, accessed 23 October 2020.
  5. "Greek Immigrants", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 23 October 2020.
  6. "Irish Genealogy and Family History", library and Archives Canada., accessed 24 October 2020.
  7. "Quebec" at Irish to,, accessed 2 November 2020.
  8. "Italian Immigrants Genealogy Resources", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 24 October 2020.
  9. "Jewish Immigrants Genealogy Resources", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 24 October 2020.
  10. "Métis Nation", Wikipedia,, accessed 25 October 2020.
  11. "Scottish Immigrants", Library and Archives Canada., accessed 25 October 2020.