Researching in Québec has many advantages: church records, census records, and notarial records are all at one’s disposal. But as with any kind of research, we can inevitably hit a brick wall. At this juncture, newspapers may offer some clues.
The Province of Québec has a rich collection of newspapers, and The Québec Gazette was the first newspaper published in the province, beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. A bilingual publication, The Québec Gazette often published marriage notices, obituaries, and more.
I find newspapers especially useful when researching immigrants to Québec, like the Irish, Scottish, and English, particularly those of non-Catholic origin. Sometimes, our ancestors seem to appear out of thin air, and traditional records, like marriage and death records, do not reveal their origins. Here, newspapers can offer important clues.
A visit to the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, or BAnQ, website is a must. Here, you will discover a large collection of digitized newspapers. Google News has also digitized many collections of newspapers, including The Québec Gazette. And be sure to search the catalog of the Family History Library or your local library. You may find published indexes or newspaper transcripts, like the very helpful Index to the Québec gazette, 1764-1823, published by the Public Archives of Canada.
Of particular use is The Québec Mercury, an English language newspaper that was printed between 1804 and 1903. A Margaret Ferguson married John Bryson at St. Andrew’s Church in Quebec City on 31 January 1806. Margaret Bryson died at Québec 12 December 1841, but neither record gave any hints to her origins or parentage. It is not until the 14 December 1841 edition of The Québec Mercury that we encounter the death notice of Margaret Fergusson. Here she is listed as a native of Renfrewshire. In short, if you have a brick wall in Québec, check newspapers!
 John Bryson–Margaret Ferguson marriage, St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City, 1805–1807.
 Margaret Bryson burial, St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City, 1841.
 Died, The Québec Mercury, 12 December 1841, p. 3.
About Sheilagh Doerfler
Sheilagh, a native of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, received her B.A. in History and Communication from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her research interests include New England, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Westward Migration, and adoptions.View all posts by Sheilagh Doerfler →