MY story, the story of my roots in France

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Your story,
your roots start with your family name

Many Canadians come from an unique stem-family, meaning that the pioneer who settled in New France is the source of many North American surnames.

Thus, your family name gives clues to your origin. For example, if your name is Tremblay, there is a good chance that your unique ancestor came from the Perche region of France to Normandy in the 17th century. Similarly, this phenomenon is seen in regions of France that sent settlers. 

On the other hand, it is easier to find one's patrilineal lineage, because unfortunately, through successive marriages, we lose track of the patronymic of the wives who arrived in New France. Nevertheless, with some research, and thanks to the work of genealogists, these lineages are not lost.

Normandy and particularly the province of Perche sent many settlers as soon as the conditions were right and Quebec was freed from English influence in 1632.

Tremblay and Gagnon are the two most common family names in Quebec, but they are not the only ones. Many surnames come from a single source in Western France: Drouin, Archambault, Boucher, Cloutier, Gravelle, Bélanger, Bouchard, Pelletier, Bergeron, Trudelle, Fortin and many more...

Your ancestor lived in France

It is in these towns and villages that your ancestor began his life before leaving... Some towns in particular provided settlers to New France, these are located on a Great Western area of France, along a line Soissons-Bordeaux. Other regions of France provided more sporadic contingents of emigrants.

In Normandy, The towns and cities of this period were obviously centres of departures: Caen, Rouen, Le Havre. The villages in contact with the recruiters also participated in this emigration across the Atlantic. In the Perchethe installation of a Museum of French Emigration is not insignificant. Indeed, from Tourouvre and more generally from the Province of Perche, there started the "engagés", i.e. the pioneers with a contract of engagement. Their role: to clear the land of the St. Lawrence with the ambition of establishing a lasting colony. Under the strong power of conviction, close family and social ties and the impetus of the recruiters Giffard and Juchereau. They left as early as the 1630s, in a network, with their families and for the most part, decided to settle there after the end of the period of the departure contract, which was generally three years. It was therefore around Tourouvre, Mortagne-au-Perche and Igé that these emigrants left. The nearby villages of Ventrouze, Randonnai and Bresolettes bore the Gagnon, Tremblay and Pelletier families. Just over 300 people left the Perche during the 17th century and their footprints are lasting in North America.

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From Tourouvre to Verneuil, the Avre flows quietly, spreading with it the spirit of adventure of those who live alongside it.

Several inhabitants of Verneuil or the Avre region are mentioned in various ways as having worked in New France. François de Montmorency-Laval, born in Montigny sur Avre, was ordained a priest and devoted himself to caring for the sick and teaching children; he dreamed of becoming a missionary. In 1665, Louis XIV presented him to the Pope as a candidate for the bishopric of Quebec. Monseigneur Laval, 1st bishop of Quebec, embarked for the new France in 1659. He is found on the baptism, marriage and death certificates of the emigrants; he worked a great deal in the service of New France and was twice appointed governor on a temporary basis. The most famous person from the banks of the Avre to cross the Atlantic is Paul Bertrand dit Saint-Arnaud. He left Verneuil to embark as a soldier at La Rochelle around 1693. He settled in Batiscan where he married Gabrielle Baribeau born in Quebec City and whose parents were originally from Poitou. From their union were born 8 children from whom today more than 25,000 people are descended.

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In New Aquitaine, a land of exchange and departure, the proximity of ports and naval infrastructures has facilitated this phenomenon.

One thinks of La Rochelle, which had a monopoly on the fur trade, Brouage and other ports along the Seudre which excelled in the salt trade and cod fishing to Newfoundland, and Rochefort, from where troops, equipment and goods were shipped to North America. This proximity of emigrants and departure points facilitated embarkations. One is in contact with the seafarers, accustomed to the crossings, one is more likely to be reassured by the stories of the sailors who regularly return at the mercy of the armament of commercial or military fleets. More than 1,000 departures for New France have been recorded. From Brouage left the Miville family, Pierre the pioneer and Aimée, his daughter, who married Robert Giguère le Percheron. The large Perron family came from Daniel Perron, a merchant in La Rochelle. Pierre Bergeron and his son André came from the commune of Saint-Saturnin-du-Bois, the latter founding a family in 1673 after his marriage to Marguerite Demers. Ozanne Achon left Savarit in 1657, south of La Rochelle, as a "Fille à marier", a courageous pioneer whose crossing was not paid for by the French crown. She married Pierre Tremblay of Randonnai (in the Perche region of France), in Quebec City, thus becoming the maternal line of all the Tremblays of America.

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Your story went from France to Canada

If you are looking for your roots in France, do not hesitate to browse this site to find the best tracks to retrace your family history and especially to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors in our numerous root tourism tours.

The ports of Normandy, Brittany and the Atlantic were the departure points for New France.

People embarked at Dieppe, Honfleur, Saint-Malo, Bordeaux or Rochefort. Little by little, La Rochelle became the port of choice for Canada. From 1630 onwards, half of the departures to Canada were made from La Rochelle. In fact, this port was considered the largest and most suitable for trading and developing a colony across the Atlantic. It was the one that could, by its capacity, promote trade between the colonies of New France. Products from Canada were exchanged (dried fish, furs, wood, etc.), while foodstuffs (flour, lard, wine) and manufactured goods (tools, glasses, crockery, draperies, etc.) were sent in the opposite direction.

Typically the pioneers for Canada had a common story. Recruited by a shareholder of the Compagnie des Cents-Associés, they left everything, crossed their region and reached a port of departure. They crossed the roads of France and waited for the ship that had been indicated to them, from a few days' walk to over a week for some.

In Dieppe, the memory of those who emigrated has been preserved in the church of Saint-Jacques, and the chapel of the Canadians houses plaques commemorating the memory of the Fortier and Hamel families... During his first journeys, Samuel de Champlain left from this port in Normandy. Other cases exist: spontaneous departures, the regiments sent, such as that of Carignan-Salières, the sending of the King's Daughters in the 1660s.

The Archives of Charente and the Service historique de la Défense make it possible to consult the crew and passenger rolls, which makes it possible to reconstruct the conditions and ports of embarkation to New France. Thus, thanks to the years of arrival in Canada, historians and genealogists can determine on which ship your ancestor may have left.

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Just like these valiant pioneers, you can walk through the territories that are marked by this adventure in North America.

They left a reassuring territory that they knew well, crossed towns and villages on foot or on horseback, and reached the ports of Normandy or the Atlantic.

Finally, for some, they decided to settle and start a new life, far from France, in a new country, where much remained to be done. They left with their languages, their customs sometimes, their way of life, in sum: a legacy from France that is part of your history.