Ever wonder why French-Canadian baptism, marriage, and death records are usually so complete, and that they go back to the 17th century?
Well, this year marks the 475th anniversary of the signing of the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts in 1539, which stated that priests were required to register baptisms and burials. In 1579, another ordinance was signed which required that marriages be registered.
And in 1667, the Ordinance of Saint-Germain-en-Laye introduced a practice that has proven to be very important to genealogists – that is, the practice of keeping duplicate copies of the baptisms, marriages, and deaths. One copy was kept by the priest, and the second was filed with civil authorities at the end of the year.
Furthermore, in Quebec, civil status registers have the following characteristics -
· There are three types of acts: baptism, marriage, and burial.
· The acts are drawn up by parish priests.
· They are presented chronologically, usually within a single register.
· They are subject to two separate regulations: ecclesiastical and civil.
The Library and Archives Canada has a very good website explaining Vital Statistics: Births, Marriages and Deaths at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/vital-statistics-births-marriages-deaths/Pages/births-marriages-deaths.aspx
Ancestry.ca also has the Drouin Collection online, which contains Catholic baptisms, marriages, and deaths – including some Protestant records, also.
The website is http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091