A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

Finding Your Pioneer Ancestors in Quebec Cemeteries: A Word From Gilbert Beaulieu

From time to time I get queries such as this one from Arlene Burgie: ”My lineup goes back to Marin Boucher who was buried in Chateau Richer, right? What were the burial practices in the 1600′s? Are we to assume they were buried on private property? If I come to QC looking in cemeteries what will I find?”

I respond to these privately but yesterday Gilbert Beaulieu left such a great answer that I thought it might interest many of you.


Unfortunately, you cannot expect much if anything for that period.

At the earliest and for a long time, people were buried in a consecrated lot next to the church with a simple wood cross for identification. You can guess those have disappeared.

Some people of importance in the community were buried under the church with or without an engraved stone. Some cemeteries have been moved to a new emplacement as the cemetery had become fully occupied, oftentimes the old cemetery being put to other use.

The custom of gravestones came much later, most of them carved out of soft limestone, cheap and readily available. The older ones, mid 19th and on are mostly defaced now totally or partially. Granite or marble stones were for richer people but they’ve become popular and common in the early 20th century.

Thus coming to Quebec only for the gravestones of the early ancestors would be a worthless.  For a more contemporary period it could be valuable. Nevertheless, a trip to Quebec to see where your ancestors lived and get more information on site through the local historical societies, family associations, etc., could be a boon to you.

As the land was early surveyed, you might be able to walk the same soil your ancestors worked.

Gilbert Beaulieu

February 6, 2011 - Posted by | .


  1. Thank you so much for the cemetery info….and I do plan a trip just to walk where the family lived and walked.


    Comment by Arlene Burgie | February 6, 2011 | Reply

  2. What a great answer concerning Cemetery markers. We too, plan to visit but the court houses, Churches, Libraries are on our list of places to visit…Thanks for your hard work, very much appreciated. Regards, Dave


    Comment by Dave Migneault | February 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. Good day, trying go discover information about my great grandfather cleophas beaulieu who married helene raymond. Would appreciate even a sentence or two. Thanking you in advance, russell r. Beaulieu


    Comment by Russell r. Beaulieu | December 16, 2016 | Reply

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