Place:Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec, Canada

Watchers
NameÎles-de-la-Madeleine
Alt namesMagdalen Islandssource: Family History Library Catalog
Isle de la Madeleinesource: repeated error
TypeHistorical county, Territory
Coordinates47.45°N 61.75°W
Located inQuébec, Canada
Also located inGaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec, Canada     (1982 - )
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The Magdalen Islands (French, Îles de la Madeleine) form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 205.53 square kilometres (79.36 sq mi). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec.

The islands form the territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE).

The islands also form the urban agglomeration of Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, divided into two municipalities. These are Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (population 12,291 as of the 2011 Canadian census), the central municipality, and Grosse-Île (population 490).

Contents

Geography

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

There are eight major islands: Amherst, Grande-Entrée, Grindstone, Grosse-Île, House Harbour, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Entry Island and Brion. All except Brion are inhabited. There are several other tiny islands that are also considered part of the archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux, Île aux Loups-marins, Île Paquet and Rocher du Corps Mort.

The islands' interiors were once completely covered with pine forests. An ancient salt dome underlies the archipelago. The inherent buoyancy of the salt forces the uplift of overlying Permian red sandstone.

Nearby salt domes are believed to be sources of fossil fuels. Rock salt is mined on the Islands.

History

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

In 1534 Jacques Cartier was the first European to visit the islands. However, Mi'kmaqs (a First Nation band) had been visiting the islands for hundreds of years as part of a seasonal subsistence migration, probably to harvest the abundant walrus population. A number of archaeological sites have been excavated on the archipelago.

The archipelago was named in 1663 by François Doublet (1619 or 1620 - approx. 1678), the seigneur of the island, after his wife, Madeleine Fontaine. In 1765, the islands were inhabited by 22 French-speaking Acadians and their families. They were working and hunting walruses for British trader Richard Gridley. To this day, many inhabitants of the Magdalen Islands (Madelinots) fly the Acadian flag and identify as both Acadian and Québécois.

The islands were administered as part of the British Colony of Newfoundland from 1763 until 1774. That year they were joined to QuébecQuebec by the Quebec Act.

A segment of the population are descendants of survivors of the more than 400 shipwrecks on the islands. The islands have some of Quebec's oldest English-speaking settlements. Although the majority of anglophones have long since assimilated with the francophone population or migrated elsewhere, English-speaking settlements are found at Old Harry, Grosse-Ile, and Entry Island.

To improve ship safety, the government constructed lighthouses on the islands. They indicate navigable channels and have reduced the number of shipwrecks, but many old hulks are found on the beaches and under the waters.

Until the 20th century, the islands were completely isolated during the winter, since the pack ice made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. The inhabitants of the islands had no means of communication with the mainland. An underwater cable was installed to enable communication by telegraph. In the winter of 1910, the cable broke and the islands were again isolated. Residents sent an urgent request for help to the mainland by writing letters and sealing them inside a molasses barrel (or puncheon), which they set adrift. It reached the shore on Cape Breton Island, where residents notified the government of the Madelinots' emergency. The government sent an icebreaker to bring aid. Within a few years, the government constructed new wireless telegraph stations on the Magdalens to ensure they had communication in the winter. The puncheon became famous as a symbol of survival; every tourist shop sells replicas.

At one time, large walrus herds were found near the islands but they had been destroyed by the end of the 18th century due to overhunting. In the 21st century, the islands' beaches provide habitat for the endangered piping plover and the roseate tern.

Research Tips

Maps and Gazetteers

French names for places

Because French is the one official language of Québec, WeRelate employs the French names for places within the province. Many placenames will be similar to their counterparts in English, with the addition of accents and hyphens between the words. The words "Saint" and "Sainte" should be spelled out in full. Placenames should be made up of four parts: the community (or parish, or township, or canton), the historic county, Québec, Canada. You may find placenames red-linked unless you follow these conventions.

Local government structure

The Province of Québec was made up of counties and territories. Counties in Québec were established gradually as the land was settled by Europeans. Each county included communities with some form of local governement (often church-based). Territories referred to the undeveloped sections under the control of the government in charge of the whole province at the time. The communities included townships and/or cantons, depending on the English/French makeup of the county concerned, and also included ecclesiastical parishes with somewhat different boundaries which could overlap with local townships or cantons. Ecclesiastical parish registers have been retained and are available to view (online through Ancestry). Since the 1980s many small townships and parishes are merging into larger "municipalities", often with the same name as one of their components.

Beginning in 1979 the historic counties of Québec were replaced by administrative regions and regional county municipalities (abbreviated as RCM in English and MRC in French). Regional county municipalities are a supra-local type of regional municipality, and act as the local municipality in unorganized territories within their borders. (An unorganized area or unorganized territory is any geographic region in Canada that does not form part of a municipality or Indian reserve. There is a list in Wikipedia.) There are also 18 equivalent territories (TEs) which are not considered to be RCMs. These are mostly large cities with their suburbs, but include 4 very large geographical areas where the population is sparse.

The administrative regions (above the RCMs in the hierarchy) are illustrated on a map in Wikipedia. The regions are used to organize the delivery of provincial government services and there are conferences of elected officers in each region. The regions existed before the change from historic counties to regional county municipalities.

The above description is based on various articles in Wikipedia including one titled Types of municipalities in Quebec

NOTE: WeRelate refers to Québec communities as being within their historic counties because this is the description which will be found in historical documents. FamilySearch and Quebec GenWeb follow the same procedure. However, it is always wise to know the current RCM as well in order to track these documents down in local repositories and also to describe events which have taken place since 1980.

Because the former or historic counties and the modern regional county municipalities can have the same names but may cover a slightly different geographical area, the placenames for Regional County Municipalities or "Territories Equivalent to regional county municipalities" are distinguished by including the abbreviation "RCM" or "TE" following the name.

Historic counties (which were taken out of use in about 1982) were made up of townships or cantons. The two words are equivalent in English and French. Eventually all the Québec cantons in WeRelate will be described as townships. Many townships disappeared before 1980 with the growth of urbanization.

If the word parish is used, this is the local ecclesiastical parish of the Roman Catholic Church. Parish boundaries and township or canton boundaries were not always the same.

The WeRelate standard form for expressing a place in Québec is township/canton/parish, historic county, Québec, Canada,
or local municipality, administrative region, Québec, Canada for places established after the changes of the 1980s.

Censuses

Censuses were taken throughout the 19th century in Quebec (or in Lower Canada or Canada West before 1867). Surprisingly most of them have been archived and have been placed online free of charge by the Government of Canada (both microfilmed images and transcriptions). All can be searched by name or browsed by electoral district. The contents vary. Those of 1825, 1831 and 1841 record only the householders by name, but remaining members of each household were counted by sex and by age range. From 1851 through 1911 each individual was named and described separately. The amount of information increased throughout the century, and in 1891 people were asked for their birthdate and the year of immigration to Canada. Unfortunately, enumerators were required only to record the birthplace province or country (if an immigrant). Specific birthplaces have to be discovered elsewhere.

The links below are to the introductory page for the specific census year. It is wise to read through this page first to see what will be provided on a specific census, and what will be lacking. Links to the records follow from these pages.

The 1921 census is available through Ancestry.ca and is also free of charge.

Other Sources

  • FamilySearch Wiki Information for the province and for indivdiual counties, and places within counties.
  • The Drouin Collection: explaining its history and purpose in a FamilySearch Wiki article
  • The Drouin Collection provided by Ancestry.com and Ancestry.ca (pay websites).
  • Genealogy Quebec in French, the website of the Drouin Institute. (also a pay website) with more databases than are on Ancestry.
  • Quebec GenWeb (English version--for the most part)
  • The Quebec Familiy History Society is the largest English-language genealogical society in Quebec. Most of their services are members only, but their Bulletin Board has useful tips for everyone. These may change from time to time.
  • La Mémoire du Québec online. Édition 2017. "Le dictionnaire des noms propres du Québec." In other words, an up-to-date gazetteer of places in Québec organized as a wiki. Each entry is a timeline.
  • Eastern Townships of Quebec Connector. A blogpost with links to many websites dealing with Quebec genealogy, particularly for those who don't speak French well. All parts of Quebec are mentioned.
  • Google "translate French to English" for those words and phrases you can't quite remember from schooldays.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Magdalen Islands. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.