37 Million* historical French–Canadian names launch online: Drouin Collection

Ancestry.ca logo.bmp346 years of Quebec vital records searchable online for the first time – largest collection

  • Largest collection of French-Canadian records in existence
  • Famous names descended from those listed include Celine Dion, Madonna, William Shatner and John Labatt
  • Original images available

(Montreal, QC – April 8 2008) Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today announced the online launch of the fully searchable indexes for the historic Drouin Collection, which contains Quebec records spanning 346 years from 1621 to 1967.

Starting with 29 million names for the years 1850 to 1967, the indexes will include 37 million names in baptism, marriage and burial records, and also a compilation of church records from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and various New England states, when complete in mid-2008.

Included in The Drouin Collection are the ancestors of some of Canada’s most famous French-Canadians and Quebeckers such as Pierre Trudeau, William Shatner, John Labatt and Henri and Maurice Richard. (original images available)

Family history enthusiasts can also trace their lineage back to the founding families of Quebec and Acadia, which includes that of Zacharie Cloutier, a common ancestor of distant cousins Celine Dion, Madonna and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. (Cloutier family tree / original images available)

From the early 1600s, the Catholic parishes of Quebec kept meticulous records of their members’ baptisms, marriages and burials. The Quebec Government soon required the Catholic Church to provide it with copies of all its records and in doing so became the central holder for Quebec’s vital records. 

In 1899 a lawyer named Joseph Drouin founded The Drouin Genealogical Institute, using Quebec’s vital records to research and sell family genealogies. His son Gabriel assumed stewardship in 1938, dedicating himself to microfilming and indexing Quebec’s vital records; this important work formed what became the Institute’s principal reference collection.

The collection remained the property of the Institute until Gabriel’s death in 1980, after which it was sold to the genealogist Jean-Pierre Pepin who created The Drouin Institute, which was dedicated to preserving the collection intact and in Quebec.

Recognising its historical significance, Ancestry.ca secured the right to host the collection online.  It launched the original images – more than 12 million in total – in 2007, and in partnership with The University of Montreal has now indexed the collection to make it searchable online for the first time.

The Drouin Collection can be searched in French or English language by name, date, place, church or institution, and religion.

Ancestry.ca senior vice president Josh Hanna comments: “As an estimated five million Canadians have French ancestry, The Drouin Collection is of huge national relevance, and especially to French-Canadian family history researchers.” 

“It is important that the exceptional work of Joseph and Gabriel Drouin be made widely available for all to use and enjoy, whether they be French-Canadian family history enthusiasts or those from the U.S. and elsewhere in the world with French-Canadian cousins.”

Ancestry.ca user Gail Mamers comments: “One piece of critical information that I discovered through The Drouin Collection on Ancestry.ca is that my grandparents were married, something that was not confirmed before this.”

“My aunt was so happy to hear this information that she cried. Having the Collection indexed will allow more people to make interesting discoveries about their own past because it will take a fraction of the time and effort.”

Ancestry.ca user Desmond Ireland comments: “I have studied genealogy for more than a decade and by indexing this incredible collection of records, Ancestry.ca has enabled me to search more easily and effectively for my family history. They’ve taken genealogical research out of the library and brought it to my personal computer.”

* At launch the indexes will contain 29 million searchable names. The remaining eight million names will be live on Ancestry.ca by mid-2008. Click here to search the Drouin Collection.


Media Profile
Erin O’Reilly / Jeannie Tsang      416-504-8464
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About Ancestry.ca
www.Ancestry.ca, is the largest and most popular online resource for family and social history in Canada.  It has 400 million Canadian names in such collections as the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 Censuses of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia Vital Records from as early as 1813 and U.S. / Canada Border Crossings from 1895 to 1956.

Ancestry.ca is part of the global network of Ancestry sites, which offers members 7 billion names: www.Ancestry.com  in the US, www.Ancestry.co.uk in the UK, www.Ancestry.com.au  in Australia and www.Ancestry.de  in Germany,  www.Ancestry.it in Italy, www.Ancestry.fr in France and www.Ancestry.se  in Sweden.



5 thoughts on “37 Million* historical French–Canadian names launch online: Drouin Collection

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Twelve years ago when I began researching my French Canadian ancestry, I had to view one film at a time, tracking my ancestors from one parish to another through the centuries. While I believe I eventually found them all, there are many baptisms and burials I was never able to locate. For over a year I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the Drouin records indexes. At last! Thank you!

  2. I too am very happy that most of the Drouin collection has now been indexed. However, researchers with family roots in Quebec should be aware that the records are not exclusively French Canadian or Catholic. ALL churches in Quebec were required to file their records annually with the government. So, I have been able now to trace a number of records of my English Protestant ancestors who lived in Quebec.

    As well, researchers should be aware that some records turn up twice. I finally realized that many of the church records were at some point indexed by hand, one record to a file card, and that these index cards have been digitized (usually pinned eight or nine records to a page). Unfortunately, it appears that the religious denominations for these index cards have all been labelled “catholique”, which in some cases is not correct. You need to consult the original record.

  3. Where is this located? When I click the link in the body of the text I get an “HTTP 404” error.

  4. Certain Drouin records are missing from the Ancestry collection. For example: Chelmsford, Ontario (St-Joseph). According to the Drouin Institute website, baptism records were filmed for the period 1896-1918, marriages 1896-1967, burials from 1896-1967. However on Ancestry.com only EIGHT pages of images are available for the period 1901-1967.

  5. I absolutely love this collection. My husband and I take turns every single day to look for my ancestors. We spend every day reading original records in parish registers and looking at my ancestors’ signatures. Awesome is the word that comes to mind. I would never have found these records on my own.And Ancestry makes it so simple.As a subscriber, the records are all mine to enjoy.I’m thankful for having had this happen in my lifetime. Thanks for making this deal.

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