A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? The “Secret” Germans of Quebec And Their Part in Repelling the American Invasion of Canada

German immigrants

German Immigrants, Quebec, 1911

Non-Quebeckers often presume that just about everyone in Quebec has their roots in France.

In a way they’re right. Historically, Quebec has been more homogeneous than its nearest neighbours such as the province of Ontario or the American state of New York just to our south. It’s also true that most Quebeckers are of French origin and settled here hundreds of years ago when Quebec was known as La Nouvelle France.

However, succeeding waves of European immigration in the first half of the 20th century (including Italians, Greeks, East Europeans, Germans and German speakers) followed in the second half of the the 20th century by waves of immigration from Haiti , the Caribbean Islands and various Asian countries, have created a Quebec that is much more pluralistic in the year 2009 than it was in the year 1909.

What is not so well-known outside of Quebec, however, is that there was also an earlierwave of German-speaking immigrants more than 200 years ago.

Germans Helped Defend Quebec From Invading American Forces

At the end of the 18th century – after the United States of America BRUNBRUNhad gained its independance – Canada was still part of the British Empire and naturally became a prime target of the American military. The British (under King George III) were determined to keep Canada but they knew that 45,000 British troops would not be enough to hold all corners of their far-flung empire so they decided to enlist the help of new mercenary units. They found more than 30,000 recruits among the followers of several independant German princes. Nine regiments came from Brunswick, two from Hesse-Hanau, one from Anhalt-Zerbst and three from Hesse-Cassel. These Germans fought at the side of the British and Canadians from 1776 to 1778 and were a key to repelling the invasion from the United States.

At the end of hostilities, thousands of these soldiers decided to remain in Canada and many settled in Quebec. You can find out more about these Germans in Jean-Pierre Wilhelmy’s book Les Mercenaires Allemands Au Quebec. Wilhelmy provides mounds of detailed information including maps and military information but he also provides a list of hundreds of German surnames associated with these regiments, many of which are still present in Quebec today.

So, what’s the big secret?

The big secret is that many of these German settlers assimilated into local French-speaking populations, and translated or francized their surnames. Two examples are Dahler which became Dallaire and Eyberts which became Hebert. In some cases, later generations emmigrated to the United States or English-speaking parts of Canada and their descendants today are no longer aware that they once carried the surname of one of these German mercenaries!

If you have what you believe to be a French Quebec surname AND you’ve hit a block in your genealogy you may be interested in this list of Quebec French equivalents of German Surnames.

Finally, in honour of these early settlers I’ve started a little research project listing those surnames that appear in both Wilhelmy’s list of German mercernary surnames AND in Quebec records.



Surnames (A-F) that appear on

German Mercenary Lists AND Quebec Church Records or Census


* * * * *


CC=CDN Census CQ=CDN Census, Quebec

IC=Index BMS, Canada IQ=Index BMS, Quebec


* * * * *

Abraham [CQ/IQ/M] – Achilles [CQ/IQ/M] – Ackermann [CQ/IQ/M] – Adel [IC/M]

Adlon [IC/M] – Adolph [IC/M] – Ahrenns [IC/M] – Albert [CQ/IQ/M] – Alberti (Albertie) [CQ/IQ/M]

Albrecht [IQ/M] – Albus [IC/M] – Alle [CQ/M] – Alter [IQ/M] – Amaringer(Marenger,Maringer) [A/IQ]

Amberg [IC/M] – Amman(n) [IC/M] – Ammon [IC/M] – Angerer [IC/M] – Appel [IC/M] – Arens [IC/M]

Armbrecht [I/M] – Arnold [CQ/IQ/M] – Asmus [IC/M] – Aul [C/M]

* * * * *

Bach [CQ/IQ/M] – Bader [CC/IQ/M] – Bahr [CC/M] – Baier [CC/IQ/M]

Bail [CQ/IQ/M] – Baker (Boulanger) [IQ/M] – Barth [CQ/IQ/M] – Barthel [CQ/IQ/M]

Bartram [CQ/IQ/M] – Batz [CC/M] – Bauer [CQ/IQ/M] – Baumann/Bowmann [CC/IQ/M]

Beauclair [CQ/IQ/M] – Becker (Blondin) [CQ/IQ/M] – Behr [IQ/M] – – Behrens [IQ/M]

Bender [IQ/M] – Benecke [IQ/M] – Benedict [CC/IQ/M] – Bengle [CQ/IQ/M]

Berg [CC/IQ/M] – Berger/Nunberger/Nunrberger [CQ/IQ/M] – Bessette/Beyssert [CQ/IQ/M]

Besner [CQ/IQ/M] – Beust [CQ/M] – Beyer/Payeur/Payer [CC/IQ/M] – Beyssert/Bessette [CQ/IQ/M]

Bickell [CC/IQ/M] – Bicker [CC/M] – Biehler [CC/M] – Bielstein [CC/M]

Biller [CQ/IQ/M] – Binder [CC/IQ/M] – Bischoff [CC/M] – Bleck [CQ/M] – Block [IQ/M]

Blum(e) [CC/M] – Blumberg [CC/M] – Blumhart [CQ/IQ/M] – Boehm(e) [CC/M/

Boetger [CC/M] – Bohle [CQ/M/ – Boland [IQ/M] – Bollmann [CC/M]

Bonde [CC/M] – Bonte [CQ/M] – Boos [CC/M] – Boss [CC/IQ/M] – Boormann [IQ/M/

Bosse [CQ/IQ/M] – Braatz [CC/M] – Brandan [CC/M] – Brand(t) [CQ/IQ/M]

Braun/Brown [CQ/IQ/M] – Breitenbach [IQ/M] – Brendel [CC/IQ/M] – Bruckhof [CC/M

Bruckner [CC/M] – Bruder [CC/M] – Bruns [CC/M] – Buckell [CC/IQ/M] – Buhler [CC/IQ/M]

Burchard [CC/M] – Burgy [CQ/M] – Busch [IQ/M]

* * * * *

Carl/Karl [CQ/IQ/M] – Caux [CQ/IQ/M] – Koch [CQ/IQ/M] – Cheffer [CQ/IQ/M]

Chenaille/Schenaille [CQ/IQ/M] – Chink/Schink [CQ/IQ/M] – Claude [CQ/IQ/M] – Cleing/Kleing [CQ/M]

Coache/Kuwatsch/ De Kovadchy [CQ/M] – Colling(e) [CQ/IQ/M] – Collon [CQ/M] – Conrad [CQ/M]

Cramer/Kramer [CQ/IW/M]

* * * * *

Dandoff [CC/M] – Dauth [CQ/IQ/M] – David [CQ/I/M] – Decker [CQ/IQ/M] – Degen [CC/M]

Dell [CC/IQ/M] – Demuth [CC/M] – Dengen [CC/M] – De Pencier [CC/M – Dettmer [CC/IQ/M]

Dickner [CQ/M – Diehl [CC/M – Dietrich [CQ/M – Dietzel/Tittsel [CC/M – Diller [CC/M] – Dillman [CC/M]

Discher [CC/M] – Ditzel [CC/M] – Doren [CC/M] – Dorge [CQ/M] – Doring [CC/M]

Dorsch [CC/M] – Dreyer [CQ/M]

* * * * *

Ebacher [CQ/IQ/M] – Eberhard [CC/M] – Ebert/Hebert [CQ/IQ/M] – Eckhardt [CQ/IQ/M]

Ehlers [CC/M] – Eichelmann [CC/M] – Eidam [CC/M] – Eidman [CC/M] – Elsner [CC/M]

Emmerich [CC/M] – Engel [CQ/IQ/M] – Engelhard(t) [IQ/M] – Eppinger [CC/M] – Erdmann [IQ/M]

* * * * *

Fail/Faille [CQ/IQ/M] – Fausse [CQ/M] – Faust/Fost [CQ/IQ/M] – Ferries [CC/M] – Fetter [CC/M]

Fiedler [CQ/IQ/M] – Fiffre/Pfeiffer [CC/M] – Fink [CQ/M] – Fischer [CQ/M] – Fluhrer [CC/M]

Fohr [CQ/M] – Foser [CC/M] – Francisca [CC/M] – Franck [CQ/M] – Francisco [CC/M] – Frantz [CQ/M]

Franz [CC/IQ/M] – Frazer [CQ/IQ/M] – Frederic/Friedrich [CQ/M] – Freel [CC/M] – Freund [CC/M]

Frey [CQ/IQ?M] – Friser [CQ/M] – Fromme [CC/M] – Fuchs [CQ/M] – Fuhrmann [IQ/M]

* * * * *

Related Links:

Home – Portraits Gallery of Canada

Canadian Military Heritage

Patrimoine génétique – Du sang allemand chez des Québécois


Les Mercenaires Allemands Au Quebec, Jean-Pierre Wilhelmy. (1984)Maison des Mots. ISBN. 2-920414-10-0


The 23rd edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy

September 19, 2009 - Posted by | .


  1. Evelyn,

    I really enjoyed this post and found it extremely interesting. I never knew that many German mercenaries left America for Canada. It’s even more fascinating that they changed their surnames to sound less “German”. Great article!


    Comment by Al Wierzba | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. Evelyn,

    I am looking for more on my German-Quebec roots. Our surname is Franck but I have seen it written as Frank and Franc. I have a transcription from the Register of Baptisms and Marriages from the Paroisse de Notre-Dame de Liesse de la Riviere-Ouelle, 1787 which describes the marriage of Michel Franc of Germany, son of Andre Franc and Catherine Cauneum and Marie Francoise Gauthier of Riviere-Ouelle, daughter of Pierre Gauthier and Marie Francoise Bilodeau.
    I descend from Michel Franc’s second marriage to Marie-Appoline Dick-Gresse (?). I wonder if you are able to provide further direction on where I can search further for Michel’s origins and why he came to Quebec.
    Thanks for your help.

    Replied here:


    Comment by Deborah | October 16, 2010 | Reply

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