Migration as cause and consequence: Historical demographic perspectives on francophone migration within and outside Québec (1621-1851)

Lisa Dillon (Université de Montréal)

The Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) has traditionally focused on two areas of study: 1) the historical demography of the 17th and 18th-century Quebec populations, and 2) household patterns and aging in the 19th- and early 20th-century Canadian families.  We would like to use this project as an opportunity to bridge these two areas of study, with a particular focus on the first half of the 19th century.  We propose a three-pronged historical study which examines:

The structure of intra-Quebec migration: the extent, direction and nature of intra-Quebec migratory movements from the beginning of colonization up to 1849

On the basis of the places of registration of parish acts over the course of each individual’s life, what can we learn about small or larger migratory movements made from birth to death?  What factors were associated with these movements?  To what extent did the splitting of parishes (to accommodate a growing population) cloud our ability to assess migratory movements, and how can we account for changes which were purely administrative?  A preliminary analysis suggests that women moved frequently in the course of their lives; for example, one-third registered their first-born child in a parish which differed from their parish of marriage.

Profiles of early intra-Quebec migrants

As rural-to-urban as well as out-of-province migration increased in the early 19th century, what kinds of persons migrated to cities or out of Quebec?  The creation of a machine-readable database of the 1831 Census of Quebec and linkage of this database to Quebec Catholic parish register data will enable us to compare the household and economic characteristics of movers and stayers.

La vie transfrontalière / micro-migrations: early Quebec cross-border migrants

Who were the French Canadians who first began to move across the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers into Upper Canada/Canada West/Ontario, as well as Vermont, Maine and upper New York State? (“les paroisses limitrophes”)?  To what extent did families move back and forth across the Quebec-Ontario or Quebec-U.S. border?  How did families compose themselves and then reconfigure themselves over time?  What was the timing of these migrations, the dynamics of this process?  What was the role of relatives in the chain migration process? We note that there is a snowball or feedback effect in this process, and that migrants become less and less selected over time. Do we see this in their outcomes?

This period in French-Canadian history has received less scholarly attention on account of the dearth of available historical data.  Recent advances in data creation and record linkage by the PRDH, BALSAC and IMPQ research groups have made available a digitized version of the 1831 Census of Quebec as well as longitudinal parish register data linked up to 1849. We propose to use these data in conjunction with newly-available 100% Canadian census microdata from The Canadian Peoples Project (TCP) (in collaboration with Ancestry.com) (available for research in 2021). Our research partner, l’Institut Généalogique Drouin (IGD), has made available to the PRDH transcriptions of Catholic parish records for several parishes located in Ontario as well as Vermont, Maine and New York State. The PRDH is also collaborating with FamilySearch to obtain their versions of Canadian census indexes which feature first and last name transcriptions which may prove of better quality than those transcribed by Ancestry in the TCP census databases.

The first part of our study will be based on the RPQA and the IMPQ parish register databases. Then, we will link the data from the 1831 Census of Quebec to parish register data. The final part of our study will be based on a pilot study which integrates a select number of Ontario, Vermont, Maine and New York State parishes with previously-transcribed and linked Quebec Catholic parish records.