Quebec Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 Index Wiki

+8 votes

For awhile now I've been creating indexes for the Quebec Catholic Parish Registers on When I come across something of significance, like the start of a year or an index, I add a link and the image number to a spreadsheet. I've finally gotten around to importing one of these into a freespace page and would like to know if this is something that others would find useful. I have partial indexes for about 30 parishes in spreadsheets which I can convert to freespace pages over time (no offers of assistance will be refused!) and hopefully others will contribute once they get going. I imagine many hands could create some fairly complete indexes over a short time.

If you're interested have a look at the main page Quebec Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 Index. The only working links now are to Batiscan which has a few years indexed, and another to Becancour to show a city/town with more than one parish. In the case of Batiscan and other city/towns that have only one parish I'd link directly to the index but if there is more than one parish I'd link to an intermediate page with links to the individual parishes. Not very pretty but it works.

Any feedback is much appreciated.

asked in The Tree House by Paul Chisarik G2G6 (9.4k points)
Paul - This seems like a monumental task, but we all may benefit from the efforts for building our ancestral profiles. I will be following your discussions.


Dave Charbonneau

2 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

Hello Paul,

Quite the task you have set yourself there.  Hats off to you.

One problem is, you appear to be using the parish names as entered in FamilySearch, which are often wrong in fact.  And they hyphenate everything, which is an error.  For example, Saint-Pierre-de-Sorel should actually read Saint-Pierre de Sorel, Sorel being the municipality.  I think they do the hyphenation bit due to computer search functions, so the computer sees it as one name.  cheeky

For Berthier-sur-Mer which you have entered data on, the name of the parish is Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption.  No -de-Bellechasse at the end of the name.  And Berthier-sur-Mer is the modern name of the location, it was formerly called Berthier-en-Bas, distinguishing it from Berthier-en-Haut (modern-day Berthierville).

Your list appears to include all sorts of levels, like Comté, MRC, city, parish, all mixed up together.  Skip the comté and MRC ones, which for the first change a lot, and for the other are quite recent.

For a good reference on parishes, presuming you read French sufficiently for the purpose, see Originis, who give the name of the parish, dates, brief overview.

For a map of parishes up to 1912, see which is the map from Drouin institute, also used by PRDH now

Also, list of parishes by name from PRDH

Note that Ange-Gardien and L'Ange-Gardien .both exist, they are 2 separate places, not to be confused together, they are both in your list; which is good.  Also note that Ancienne-Lorette is named L'Ancienne-Lorette.

Just a few details I spotted, as long as you have undertaken such a task, more power to you.  Suggest you set up your structure by municipality, with parishes listed below each when there is more than one, like


:   Notre-Dame de Montréal

:  Christ-Church cathedral

etc.  Will make thing easier for others to navigate through.

All that said, I think this is a great idea.  Should probably get linked to other pages once you are further along, just so people can find it.

answered ago by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (177k points)
selected ago by Jerry Baraboo
Thanks Danielle,

I was hoping you'd join in the discussion. It seems I have something of a penchant for opening worm cans, eh? The list on the main index page is straight from Familysearch, which I realize has some issues. Since this is the way they structured their data it will almost certainly cause major confusion if I use a different structure to link to their records. That said I think there is a good opportunity here to help people find records and possibly to standardize place names at least a bit. What I'd like to try is to convert the list of place names to a table format and then add columns for alternate names. I actually began a sort of cross reference between PRDH and Familysearch (though it has a whopping one entry at this point) since my search usually begins at PRDH which only provides only a year for a given event. I then use that year to search for the original record at Familysearch. I discovered that some of the parish names at PRDH have no equivalent at Familysearch (St-Jean-sur-Richeleu (Cathedrale) at PRDH is Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-l'Evangeliste at Familysearch). This may seem obvious to some people, but to me as someone who speaks essentially no French and whose knowledge of Canadian geography is mostly limited to the province level it's not obvious at all. I think it may also help to have another column for a Wikitree standard name and another for a link to a description page that can be used to present any additional information about the place such as changes to the name over time. I'll have to rely on the Wiki spirit to complete such a table as the task is way out of my league, but I can at least try to present a format that allows others to share their knowledge on this complicated and often perplexing issue. This will probably even take me a little while as I'm working pretty much blind here and am still trying to figure out the wiki markup language but I'll see what I can come up with as soon as I can. Thanks as always for the advice.

Any ideas on the best places to link to this once it's presentable?
As far as the list from FamilySearch, for structural purposes, we don't really care how they do theirs, when you include links to the appropriate section over there it bypasses the whole issue.  But we really should have parishes named correctly here.

Standardizing place names is something of a problem by itself, since some place names changed over time.  Thus for example Berthier-en-Bas became Berthier-sur-Mer, was also referred to as l'Assomption-de-Bellechasse, seigneurie de Berthier, seigneurie de Bellechasse......  .

You might use Originis to base your names on, they do have an alphabetic listing by city, or region or diocese etc.  And you can put a link to the relevant article of theirs on the parish page.

St-Jean-l'Évangéliste is an aka for St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which is the cathedral of the city of same name, also known as St-Jean-l'Évangéliste-de-Dorchester, which name was abandonned.  Also sometimes called St-Jean-d'Iberville.  There is another parish named St-Jean-l'Évangéliste, but it is way over on the east coast not too far from Carleton, so would be confusing to use that name.  The city of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu has shortened its name to St-Jean more recently.

As far as the extraneous listings FS has like comté and MRC, don't know if they have parish records linked directly to them or not, but you can link to the correct place namess instead if they do.

Places to link to once it's done, I would suggest linking each individual page to its location categories, thus Berthier-sur-Mer would link to both Berthier-en-Bas, Canada, Nouvelle-France and to Berthier-sur-Mer, Québec.  The Canada, Nouvelle-France categories are pretty much all created, so that's not an issue, the modern place names for the province are far from all done, so may take a while.  Still working out some details on category tree structure for this place, with the additional parts of Québec Province 1763-1791 and Bas-Canada 1791-1867 to fill in also.

a penchant for opening worm cans, eh?  lol, now for sure I know we're cousins.  laugh


Many thanks for your input helping with this huge effort for WikiTree. I look forward to learning more about the accurate records of several generations in Quebec.


Dave Charbonneau
+2 votes
HI there Paul!  Your post grabbed my eye right away, because I've been doing something similar while tracking my French Canadian ancestors.  I have a Google spreadsheet where I record details of the various registry entries (and use a very long formula to assemble them into consistent posting style for wikitree)

I haven't been tracking necessarily the beginning of each year range, but I can sort my sheet chronologically, so if I'm looking for a new date, I can interpolate between the two closest dates to it, and get a fairly good estimate.

Your approach, however, is a little more strategic and systematic, and would be very helpful!

However, here is what I'm wondering about.

Organizing information like this is most naturally done using a shareable spreadsheet  - for me Google spreadsheets that can allow others to join in on the fun make the perfect sense.  That to me seems to be the natural habitat for this type of information to live - and certainly the easiest for us as creators to add new data on an ongoing basis.

I'm wondering if the Freespace page you've setup be the starting point, here in WikiTree, with the indexes jumping out to the live spreadsheet, which will always be up to date with our latest entries, and wouldn't require extra work and time and effort from us to copy and paste back and forth.

Also, in the Freespace, could be links to a How To guide about navigating, to help people out who might not be as comfortable using the spreadsheet (or new to Family Search  - Quebec register records in general)

IF we were to go with the live spreadsheet (and if you don't like Google, I'm open to other platforms, as long as they are free, and accessible by all, like wikitree) - then I would suggest that there are two other columns that would make the index even more useful!

For each Year - you have a Starting Image #.  For some years, in some registers, there are also  Repetoire pages that summarize all the events for that year (sometimes at the beginning, sometimes at the end of the range, and sometimes in other locations).  A reference to the Repetoire Image # would also be useful for the cases when you just need a quick scan of all the names in a given year.   I like how you hot-linked the year in your Batiscan example to the first image of that year - that makes sense in the spreadsheet, I'd also include a hot link to the Repetoire page.  (I'm using the word Repetoire because that's how I've seen it referred to sometimes - but is Index a better  / more common word to describe it?  Yearly Index? I'm flexible)

I'd be quite happy to work with you on setting something like this up - it would help me in my future research, and hopefully others too.

 - Greg
answered ago by Greg Clarke G2G2 (3k points)
Hi Greg, thanks so much for your response. I actually first considered just posting my spreadsheets in Google docs but for some reason decided to try the Freespace page idea first. I must say that now that I've tried it I'm not very excited about converting everything and maintaining it in Wiki markup, it's just a lot of extra formatting work. So I'd be all for Google Docs spreadsheets. I'd prefer to separate the sheets for each parish as I think one spreadsheet will eventually become too large if all the parishes are added. I was actually already having trouble with mine performance wise which is why I split it up into individual spreadsheets for each parish. So I'm thinking the main index page could stay in freespace and the city/town links could link to individual spreadsheets for each parish on Google docs where there is only one parish and to a page with links for each parish where there is more than one.

I do actually have links to indexes or repertoire pages for some of the parishes as well. I've just been using the word index rather than start in the item column in those cases. So I'd just have two entries for a given year one would be for the start and the other for the index (which I've usually found to be at the end of the year when they exist, though sometimes they're in a completely different part of the register). This also raises the question of whether the docs should be bilingual which would certainly make sense. I'd need help on that because my French is terrible.

If you want to try a test parish out with a Google doc feel free to link it right to the existing freespace index page for the city/town, or if you'd rather I can give it a try when I get a chance. Let me know.
Thanks Paul.

I will have a look through my spreadsheets later tonight, and see if there's one that's got lots of dates already so that I can setup a sample one for our collection.  I'll also try to keep in mind Danielle's suggestions about naming (though I think most of those refer to the FreeSpace page content)

- Greg
Sounds great. I'll send you a PM so I can send you a copy of one of my spreadsheets if you want. It's pretty simple but might inspire some ideas.

Would the Google sheet allow for version tracking like a wiki? I'd just barely started my own version at but it certainly is a bother working in Wiki markup. With shared editing we'd want to account for user error.

Perhaps we could work in Google Sheets for a while and then slurp it into wikitable format with an import tool.

Yes Karen - Google Sheets definitely has a History that you can see where changes were made, and revert them selectively if need be.  There's also the ability to add comments too.

I'm going to start working on a prototype for Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan which I'll share for feedback when I'm ready.

Are you interested in helping out as well?

- Greg
I'd like to be able to contribute as I search, but wouldn't have much time for pure data entry.
Thanks Karen, I think if even a few of the people here at Wikitree who search the registers regularly enter index points when they come across them it could create a pretty decent index in a reasonable amount of time. It's what makes Wikis wonderful! I imagine I could write a sed script or something to convert spreadsheet data to Wiki markup but after working with the stuff a bit I think it's prohibitively complicated for most people and would probably limit the contributions pretty severely. And I definitely agree with your concern for user error, one of the reasons I think having a spreadsheet per parish is better than one big one. At least if one of the parish spreadsheets gets messed up it won't impact the whole thing. IME entry errors are pretty much unavoidable on shared spreadsheets like this but hopefully they can be kept to a minimum. I've done data entry tools for Excel and Libre Calc before but never in Google Docs. That might be an option but it's a bit more sophisticated than I was thinking at this point. It's also been quite awhile since I've done anything like that so I'd be more than a bit rusty...
I'd love to see this linked to the FamilySearch Wiki when we get a bit further. That will increase the number of interested contributors, and of course the rate of error. : )

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