Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Getting more from the Dictionary of Canadian Families

Researching Quebec ancestors you undoubtedly use the "Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes" (in seven volumes) by Abbé Cyprien Tanguay.

The easiest way to research a Quebec couple's ancestors is to always start with the marriage record, since most French records give the names of the fathers and the maiden names of the mothers of the bride and groom. Then finding the person's baptism record you are more likely to have the right guy or girl. In many cases you can get your line of ancestor's back to when they arrived from France in Quebec in the 1600 or 1700s with the help of these volumes, Volumes One and Two being the earliest immigrants.

Take the information with a grain of salt, as he did make a few mistakes. Use it as a guide, not a bible. Always try to find the original baptism, marriage or burial record in the parish register. Unfortunately some very old ones have become unreadable with age, even to seasoned readers of old Quebec records. The people at Drouin have tried to transcribe some of the ones more unreadable when scanned.

There are the odd records that do not mention the parent's names and we have to be detectives. One entry in the Dictionary says that Jean and Helen's daughter married Francois. But when you look at the parish registers it is a different same-last-name couple's daughter that married Francois, as her father was deceased, her mother had remarried and the record says the bride's step-father attended the wedding. Aha!

Then again, some of the mistakes are not his, but rather those of the priest or clerk who made the entries.  I found one marriage record where the priest (or his assistant) wrote down the groom's mother's name in place of the bride's!  Oops! 

For the first ancestor of a line that arrived in Quebec the entry gives his parents names, and approximate year and parish of birth in France (as they stated in their marriage record). Some of the places may not be recognized by Google, and I have seen written on family trees variations of where the parish may be, all giving different cities or even provinces!! 

In Volume One if you go to the back of the dictionary there is listed the places names in France as of 1631.

There is also a list of parishes and missions in Quebec, in chronological order of the year established...

List of Parishes in each Diocese in 1871 ....

When making a record of each ancestor, I like to use the spelling of his name on the baptism record including dit names adding a note of variations found in subsequent records, and the original name of the places they were baptized, married and buried adding a note of the name of the place today. 

If you go to the back of Volume Seven there are other lists - names of men's surnames with variations...

.... and names of women not born in Canada, with names of their husbands..

Volume Three tells a different story... one of slavery! 
"On April 13, 1709, New France intendant, Jacques Raudot passed the Ordinance Rendered on the Subject of the Negroes and the Indians Called Panis, legalizing the purchase and possession of Indigenous salves in New France."

There are many websites telling about slavery in Canada, I won't go into it here.
At the back of Volume Three there is a list of persons enslaved with the names of their owners...

Relevant Links

Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes

Vol 1: A - Z

Vol 2: A to Chapuy

Vol 3: Charbonneau to Eziero

Vol 4: Fabas to Jinines

Vol 5: Joachim to Mercier

Vol 6: Mercin to Robidoux

Vol 7: Robillard to Ziseuse   


  1. Found a good deal of info on Sevigny

    1. Lucky to have ancestors in Quebec there is so much online!

  2. I'm sure I will be availing myself of these resources when I start on my dad's side of the family.

    1. Glad to help... have fun in your research! Thanks for visiting.


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