Online Databases for French-Canadian Ancestry

Château Frontenac hotel, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Alan Marsh / Getty Images

People of French-Canadian descent are fortunate in having ancestors whose lives have likely been well documented due to the strict record-keeping practices of the Catholic church in both France and Canada. Marriage records are some of the easiest to use when constructing a French-Canadian pedigree, followed by research in baptism, census, land, and other records of genealogical importance. 

While you will often need to be able to search in and read at least some French, there are many large databases and digital record collections available online for researching French-Canadian ancestors back into the early 1600s. Some of these online French-Canadian databases are free, while others are only available by subscription. 

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Quebec Catholic Parish Registers, 1621 to 1979

Search Quebec parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials online for free at FamilySearch

FamilySearch.org

Over 1.4 million Catholic Parish registers from Quebec have been digitized and placed online for free browsing and viewing by the Family History Library, including christening, marriage, and burial records for most parishes of Quebec, Canada, from 1621 through 1979. It also includes some confirmations and some index entries for Montréal and Trois-Rivières.

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The Drouin Collection

In Quebec, under the French Regime, a copy of all Catholic Parish Registers was required to be sent to the civil government. The Drouin Collection, available on Ancestry.com as part of their subscription package, is the civil copy of these church registers. The Catholic Parish registers are also available for free on in the previously mentioned FamilySearch database.

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PRDH Online

The PRDH, or Le Programme de Recherche en Démographie Historique, at the University of Montreal has created a huge database, or population register, encompassing the majority of individuals of European ancestry residing in Quebec through about 1799. This database of baptism, marriage, and burial certificates, plus biographical data and records extracted from early censuses, marriage contracts, confirmations, hospital sick lists, naturalizations, marriage annulments, and more, is the most comprehensive single database of early French-Canadian family history in the world. Databases and limited results are free, although there is a fee for complete access.

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Online Databases of the National Archives of Quebec

Most of the genealogy portion of this website is in French, but don't miss exploring its many searchable genealogy databases.

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Le Dictionnaire Tanguay

One of the major published sources for early French-Canadian genealogy, the Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes is a seven-volume work of the genealogies of early French-Canadian families published by Rev. Cyprian Tanguay in the late 1800s. Its material begins about 1608 and extends to the material at and shortly after the Exile (1760+/-).