Friday, September 07, 2012

Follow Friday: Confirmation Records

About a year ago, I was searching for baptism records of my grandfather’s cousins, but wasn’t getting very far in locating them in the parish where I thought they might be. I decided to look elsewhere in the diocese, that is, at Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in Hull, Quebec, but was disappointed to see that its parish registers for 1871 to 1886 were lost in a fire.

These ecclesiastical records were lost not only once, but twice. The original registers perished in June 1888, when the church and its rectory and numerous other buildings in Hull were reduced to ashes. The duplicate registers, which had been placed at the courthouse (civil archives), were destroyed in April 1900 in a conflagration that was known as the Grand Feu [the Great Fire] that raged through most of Hull and part of Ottawa, which lay on the opposite side of the Outaouais River.

Court House and Jail, Hull - Ottawa Fire of 1900.
(Photo source: Library and Archives Canada / PA-023233. Online MIKAN no. 3193233.)

I thought the situation was hopeless and that I’d never be able to find information about these families. That is, until one day when I came across a genealogy resource that I didn’t realize existed: “Les confirmés de la paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Hull (Gatineau) 1888-1895” [The Confirmed of the Parish Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Hull (Gatineau) 1888-1895], compiled by Nathalie and Raymond Ouimet. (The Confirmation registers escaped both fires.) With this newly found information, I was able to determine the names and ages of some of the children I was looking for.

This genealogy resource is important to those who wish to “reconstituer une partie de la population hulloise des années 1870” [reconstitute a part of the Hull population of the 1870s]. There are lists from 1888 through 1895. Each of these yearly lists features the names and ages of the individuals receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, the names of their parents, the names of the godparents, and the godparents’ relationship to the confirmed. Most of the confirmed are children (they tend to be about 10 or 11 years old), but there are some adults. As well, most of the surnames are French-Canadian, with occasional English surnames.

For more information, see the Centre régional d’archives de l’Outaouais. Click on the tab “Expositions/Bases de données”, then on “Les confirmés de la paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Hull (Gatineau) 1888-1895”.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff

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