If you are new to French-Canadian genealogy, you may be surprised by the number of famous relatives you have. My own ancestry is 50% French-Canadian (thanks, Mom!) but I researched my father’s Yankee ancestry first. Sometime later I started on my mother’s side of the family and was soon amazed by the number of interconnected families. I also found French-Canadian family trees to be rather easy to research when visiting a major library dedicated to French-Canadian genealogy.
I have often jested, “I never met a French-Canadian that I am not related to.” That’s a bit of a joke, but it also seems to be true!
Almost all French-Canadian descendants can find family relations to Madonna, Justin Bieber, Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton, Ryan Gosling, Angelina Jolie, Camilla Parker-Bowles, and about half the players and coaches in the National Hockey League!
The French-Canadians lived for many years in small communities, somewhat shut off from the outside world by the politics of the time. They all intermarried. The result is somewhat twisted family trees with lots of cousins, certain ancestors appearing multiple times in a family tree, and more than a few inherited medical conditions.
Here is but one example:
The Perche-Quebec.com web site has explored the ancestry and cousins of Madonna. Like me, her mother was French-Canadian. In her case, however, her father was of Italian descent.
Quoting from the web site at http://www.perche-quebec.com/files/madonna/individus/madonna-en.htm:
“Willard and Elsie Fortin, the maternal grandparents of Madonna, are direct descendants of Julien Fortin dit Bellefontaine, the first Fortin who settled in New France in 1650. He was from the parish Notre-Dame-de-Vair, today part of the village Saint-Cosme-en-Vairais (Sarthe, France). 90% of the American Fortin descend from Julien Fortin. The Fortins are today the ninth largest family in Quebec.”
However, the story doesn’t stop there. The web site displays ALL of Madonna’s maternal ancestors for five generations. That only goes back to the late 1700s/early 1800s in Quebec. If the web page could display a wider pedigree chart, I am sure the researchers could have traced most of those families back to France in the late 1500s/early 1600s!
Now for the fun statistics. According to thePerche-Quebec.com web site, Madonna is related to:
- Justin Bieber via 345 different connections
- Celine Dion via 309 different connections
- Xavier Dolan via 268 different connections
- Jack Kerouac via 188 different connections
- Angelina Jolie via 153 different connections
- Ryan Gosling via 144 different connections
- Justin Trudeau via 76 different connections
- Hillary Clinton via 45 different connections
- Camilla Parker-Bowles via 32 different connections
- Alanis Morissette via 20 different connections
And that’s not unusual! In fact, almost all French-Canadian descendants can find multiple connections to most all–probably all–of the above famous people. Your challenge is to prove your own connections!
I would suggest you plan a visit to one of the following excellent genealogy libraries in the U.S.
American-Canadian Genealogical Society and Library (I have spent many wonderful hours in this library!)
7 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03103
American-French Genealogical Society
78 Earle Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895-3108
French-Canadian Genealogical Society of Connecticut, Inc.
P.O. Box 928
Tolland, CT 06084
Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society and the Vermont Genealogy Library
Physical address: 377 Hegeman Ave. (Across from the State Police)
Fort Ethan Allen
Mail address: P.O. Box 65128
Burlington, VT 05406
La Maison de la Généalogie
3440, rue Davidson
Montréal, QC, H1W 2Z5
Also, the Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane, Inc. is a non-profit genealogical support group for the Louisiana State Archives. While this organization does not maintain a large library of its own, it has published numerous articles of original genealogical and historical articles dealing with topics from around Louisiana. This society can be a big help, especially with information about French-speaking Louisiana residents. For more information, go to: http://www.lecomite.org/.
NOTE: The Quebec Family History Society Library in Pointe-Claire, Québec, also has an extensive genealogy library but specializes in genealogy research for the Non-Catholic, English-speaking population of Quebec throughout the centuries. This is not the best library for French-speaking Canadian ancestors, but it is an excellent resource for English-speaking Canadian ancestry research. Details may be found at: https://qfhs.ca/.