Searching for Birth, Marriage and Death Records in the Canadian Province of Quebec
Birth, marriage and death records extend over many years and are usually maintained by more than one regional organization. This is true for the Canadian province of Quebec, where the search for these important documents may be further complicated by a language barrier, since French, rather than English, is the most prevalent language in the province. This tutorial seeks to address these potential difficulties by providing a step-by-step guide to locating and requesting birth, marriage and death records issued in Quebec between 1621 and the present day.
Older Birth, Marriage & Death Records
Records relating to births, marriages and deaths taking place in the province of Quebec between 1621 and 1899 inclusive are in the custody of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (the National Library and Archives of Quebec). Some of these records have been converted into databases that are searchable online. The online databases are:
· Marriage contracts from 1737 to 1920 in the Charlevoix region
· Marriage contracts from 1840 to 1911 in the Haut-Saguenay area
· Marriage contracts in the Quebec City region during the 1761 to 1946 period
· Non-Catholic marriages from 1766 to 1899 in the Montreal area
· Non-Catholic burials from 1768 to 1875 in the Montreal area
· Register of Protestant burials in Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec City, from 1848 to 1904
Here is the procedure for searching any of these databases, online and free of charge:
1. Go to this webpage: http://www.banq.qc.ca/
2. Scroll down the page until you find the database you wish to search
3. Click on ‘Search form.’
4. Fill in the online form with one or more search terms. The online form is in French. English translations of the most common words are as follows:
· Nom de l’epoux – name of husband
· Nom de l’epouse – name of wife
· L’homme – man, husband
· La femme – woman, wife
· Lieu de residence – place of residence
· Année – year
· Nom – Surname, family name
· Prénom – First name, given name
· Année de sepulture – year of burial
· Paroisse – parish
· Confession – religion
· Profession – occupation
· Métier – occupation, job
· Lieu de naissance – place of birth
· Lieu de décès – place of death
· Date de décès – date of death
· Cause de décès – cause of death
· Date d’inhumation – date of burial
5. Select whether you wish the results to appear in ascending or descending order by selecting the ‘ascendant’ or ‘descendant’ button as appropriate.
6. Click on the ‘chercher’ button to search. The ‘effacer’ button enables you to clear the form.
7. A list of search results will appear on screen. Scroll down the list until you find the marriage or death that you are looking for.
If the information you are seeking does not appear on the online databases, you may consult the registers of births, marriages and deaths that are held on microfilm at the nine Archives Centres throughout the province of Quebec. A list of these centers, together with the information that they contain, can be found on this webpage: http://www.banq.qc.ca/portal/ The Montreal Archives Centre, for example, offers access to microfilms of all birth, marriage and death registers for the Catholic and non-Catholic areas of Quebec dating from the 17th century to 1899. Go to http://www.banq.qc.ca/portal/dt/ for the contact details and opening hours of each of the Archives Centres.
If you are unable to visit one of the Archives Centres in person, the Société généalogique canadienne-française (French Canadian Genealogical Society) offers a research service. It will provide photocopies of entries from birth, marriage and death registers dating from 1621 to 1941. If you have precise information on the record of which you wish to receive a photocopy, the fee is C$3 per photocopied record. If you do not have the exact information, the society will carry out research for up to one hour based upon the information you can provide for a fee of C$10 per record. Mail your enquiry, together with the fee and as much information as possible (names, dates, places, etc) to:
Société généalogique canadienne-française
3440 rue Davidson
Further information, in French only, can be found on this webpage: http://www.sgcf.com/services/recherches.php
More Recent Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates
Birth, marriage and death records dating from 1900 to the present day are held by the Directeur de l’état civil of the Ministère de la Justice. In Quebec, it is possible to register a civil union, which is a legally recognized partnership of two adults who are living together. Therefore, records of civil unions, as well as marriages, are available from the Directeur de l’état civil.
Two main types of document are available: a copy of act or a certificate. The copy of act is a legal document containing all of the information in the original register, including the document number. The certificate is the document originally issued to certify the event and contains specific information. Birth certificates are available in abridged and full-length formats. Marriage, civil union and death certificates are only obtainable as full-sized documents.
In order to apply for a copy of act of birth, marriage, civil union or death or a certificate issued in the province of Quebec, follow these steps
- Verify whether or not you are eligible to apply for the document in question by consulting the information on this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/conditions.htm
- Download the appropriate form: the request form for a birth certificate is located at: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/publications/DEC-150-Birth.pdf the marriage or civil union form can be found at: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/publications/DEC-150-Marriage-Civil%20Union.pdf and the death certificate application form is on this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/publications/DEC-155-Death.pdf
- Print out the form and complete it in either black or blue ink
- Determine which type of document (e.g. an abridged or full-length birth certificate or a copy of act of marriage) you require by consulting the overview of the different types of document available on this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/howtoobtain.htm You may also wish to look at the information on this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/usefulness.htm which describes the occasions on which certain documents are required.
- Decide whether you wish to opt for the standard service, which takes three weeks or more to process with delivery by standard mail; or the express service, which takes at least six business days with delivery by Xpresspost within Canada and standard mail for destinations outside Canada.
- Consult page 3 of the application form for a list of fees. Arrange for the appropriate payment to be paid by MasterCard or visa credit card, money order or check. Money orders and checks should be made payable to ‘Directeur de l’état civil.’
- Photocopy two of the identity documents listed on this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/Conditions.htm One of the documents must include a photograph and the other document has to mention your current address.
- Mail the photocopies of the identity documents, together with the completed and signed application form and the fee, to:
Le Directeur de l’état civil
2535, boulevard Laurier
- If you wish to apply in person, take the application form, photocopies and fee to the office of Le Directeur de l’état civil in either the city of Quebec or Montreal. The addresses of these offices are given at the foot of this webpage: http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/howtoobtain.htm
- If you are paying by credit card, it is also possible to send your application by fax to (418) 646-3255. However, if the fax is difficult to read or illegible, your application will not be processed.
With the plethora of online and offline resources available, it should not be long before you locate the documentation you are seeking in the province of Quebec.