MSS-055-Tracking Your Ancestor Back to Québec

Episode 055-November 1, 2016

MSS-055-header imageOccasionally, one of your lines may end with the immigrant ancestor’s life in American. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to extend that line back to Quebec. In this episode, I’m going to give you some strategies and some sources that might help you break through that brick wall.

Strategies for finding a Quebec birthplace

  • Follow good genealogical practices
    • Educate yourself: read, take courses, attend webinars and conferences, learn what records are available
    • Complete a thorough search in all American records before moving back to Canadian records.
    • Cite your sources every step of the way so you can evaluate your research, your theories, and your results.
  • Conduct collateral research-Record all siblings of all generations, including step-siblings.
  • Conduct research on your ancestor’s FAN club (friends, associates, and neighbors)-Include the witnesses found on marriage records, sponsors for baptisms, naturalization sponsors, business partners, fellow members of fraternal or social organizations, people living in the same town who share the same surname, and neighbors. Use census records, town or ethnic histories, and vital records to track the FAN club. Do your ancestors show up in the same place?
  • Consider immigrant’s circumstances-Keep in mind your ancestor’s age and marital status at the time of immigration and adjust strategies accordingly. Research collaterals and the FAN club to reconstruct the pre-emigration family. Strategies will differ slightly based on whether he/she immigrated as:
    • a child with parents?
    • a single adult?
    • a married adult with spouse and/or family?

Records that might list birthplace

  • Loiselle Marriage Index
    • One million cards which were microfilmed, microfiched, and digitized
    • Found at many research libraries both in America and in Québec and at (see Maple Stars and Stripes episode #1)
    • Covers French-Canadian marriages from the 1600s to the 1950s
    • Includes marriages in Québec as well as a few from American French-Canadian parishes. Loiselle marriage index card
  • Conduct a literature search in journals/books
    • Compiled genealogies
    • Local and Franco histories, like the Histoire des Franco-Americains de Southbridge, Mass.
    • PERSI, the Periodical Source Index- indexes the titles of genealogical and historical journal articles. The older version of PERSI covers journals up to 2009 and can be found on HeritageQuest Online, accessible through many libraries; the newer version is found at You can do a search for surnames, locations, or record type.PERSI home screen
  • Check online trees, online websites, and online mailing lists
  • Census records-Collect every census record for every ancestor, every collateral, and every member of the FAN club
  • Vital records-Collect all birth, baptism, marriage, and death records for all of the above. Don’t forget marriage applications and church records.
  • Printed repertoires-Many have a section called “Marginal Annotations” which may give the parish where the bride and groom were baptized.
  • The local newspaper, especially small weeklies
    • Obituaries
    • Marriage announcements
    • 25th or 50th wedding anniversary announcements
    • Travel or visiting notices

      Newspaper travel announcement

      Newspaper travel announcement

  • Google.caFor a rare surname, Google it to see where the name shows up most today
  • Wills and probate-Your immigrant ancestor who died here in America may have left property back in Québec or wealth gained here in America to sibling, parents, or other children who remained in Québec.

    Portion of will of François Mandeville

    Portion of will of François Mandeville

  • Deeds-With whom did your ancestor exchange property here in America? Research that person.
  • Military records

WWII Draft Registration Card

  • Civil War Certificate of Disability for Discharge
  • Civil War Widows Claim for Pension
  • GAR Personal War Sketches volumes-Local GAR post recorded biographies of local soldiers who enlisted in the Civil War from that town. Look for them at the local town clerk’s office, the local American Legion, the local library, the local historical society, the state archives or Google the name of your ancestor’s town plus “personal war sketches.”
  • GAR Personal War Sketches volume

    GAR Personal War Sketches volume

  • Migration records
  • St. Alban’s border crossing records
  • Naturalization records
  • Voter registration records
  • US passport applications-some will include photos of your ancestor
  • US Consular Registration Applications from 1916 to 1925- applications of US citizens to stay in a foreign country for an extended period of time. This includes not only native-born citizens, but also those who were naturalized. If your ancestor immigrated to the United States, became a citizen, and then went back to Canada for a while, he might be in these records.
  • Consular Registration Certificates, 1907-1918

    Certificate of registration of American citizen

    Certificate of registration of American citizen

  • US Consular Reports of Marriages, 1910 to1949 and US Consular Reports of Births, 1910 to 1949-These were records of marriages and births which occurred outside the United States and were subject to the laws of the country in which the individuals were married by civil or religious officials. Once the marriage took place or the birth occurred, officers at the US Consulate authenticated the foreign marriage document or birth record and reported it.


From the Drouin Genealogical Institute

  • New records: over 20,000 records to the LaFrance database from 1850-1861
  • Corrected records: many LaFrance and PRDH files
  • Adjusted records: PRDH and LaFrance name standardization dictionary

Download your copy of the PRDH Family Reconstructions.

Sale of many Drouin Institute Collections


Results of Survey #54 will be posted in the next episode. To participate, go here.

French-Canadian News

What's Happening HeaderThe American-French Genealogical Society

November 5: Rob Gumlaw will present Acadia to America. Classes are held at the AFGS Library, 78 Earle Street, Woonsocket, RI, and begin at 9:00 AM.

The Franco-American Centre, NH

November 19: 7th annual Beaujolais nouveau wine pairing dinner from 6-10 pm, at Drumlin’s Restaurant, Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown. Black tie is optional, and this year’s theme is “Parlez-moi d’amour.” There will be French music as well as a French carol sing-along to usher in the holiday season.

The French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

November 12, 11 AM, at the Mount Clemens Public Library, the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan will present Cultural Métissage in New France, with a special emphasis on Detroit and the Great Lakes by Diane Wolford Sheppard.

The Quebec Family History Society

November 12, 10:30 AM at the Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Beaconsfield- Deborah Robertson will present Home Children, a look at the creation of the Montreal-based British Immigration and Colonization Association.

The French-Canadian Genealogical Society in Tolland, CT

November 11, at Maneeley’’s in South Windsor, CT- the French-Canadian Genealogical Society’s 35th anniversary Gala Dinner. Join them for a delicious buffet, French Canadian music, and more.

The Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society

November 5: Lynn Johnson will present Using City Directories to Solve Genealogical Mysteries

November 12: Oral History as Discovery Research with Greg Sharrow

November 19: John Fisher will present A Timeline of Quebec Research.

Classes run from 10:30 AM until noon and are held at the Vermont Genealogy Library in Colchester, Vermont.

Worcester Public Library, Worcester, MA

November 13, 2 PM-Jeanne Douillard, guest on the Silent Presence episodes #51 and 53, will be speaking on that very topic at the Worcester Public Library. Jeanne will conduct a book signing after the presentation, and she will have books for you to purchase if you so choose.

Get Maple Stars and Stripes

How to Contact Maple Stars and Stripes

4 comments on “MSS-055-Tracking Your Ancestor Back to Québec

  1. Anonymous


    Religious orders keep detailed records. My father and his siblings did not know where their French-Canadian grandfather, Alfred Deslauriers, was born. However, my father did know that two of Alfred’s daughters became nuns. I found these two sisters in the census data as members of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in Chicago. I found the Order’s website and sent an email asking for assistance. Their archivist responded and provided detailed summaries of the history of these two women and their work — including the names and birth places of their parents! The only stipulation the order has placed on the use of their information is the following: “In your use of this material, please credit the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Chicago Archives, in verbal or printed form.”

    Dorothy des Lauriers
    French Canadian Heritage Society of California

  2. Christine Thiffault

    About research strategies to track your ancestor back to Québec, I would also look for a family surname association in Québec. Many descendants of pioneer ancestors got together to share their research over the last 30 years. Try a Google search with the keywords “association de famille ” or “Les d’Amérique”. There is also a website where some of them are listed. It’s on the Fédération des associations de famille du Québec (FAFQ) website: Most pages on the FAFQ’s website are in French, but they do have an English page where you can learn more about them: Also, a family association might have a website in French only, but if you write to them, they might come up with a member that speaks English. Family associations are a great source of information. And you will find distant cousins more than willing to help you connect to your French-Canadian roots.
    Christine Thiffault
    President of Les Tifault d’Amérique (

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