GenSpotters Book Review: Coquins et débauchés. Les Fils de famille déportés en Nouvelle-France au XVIIIe siècle by Josée Tétreault and Martin Tétreault.

, ,
Page couverture de Coquins et débauchés - les Fils de famille

This book—only available in French—is about naughty single young men born to well-to-do families and who led a debauched life in France during the 18th century. Every time a book title piques my curiosity, I take a look at its back cover. In this case, I was hooked from the very first sentence which turned out to be a simple question: Who were these naughty young men who led a debauched life and who were deported to New France on the King's orders and at the request of their families? Next thing I knew, I was engrossed in the reading of this essay.

This book is made up of two parts. The first one aims at defining briefly this immigrant group with such a unique profile. The authors initially looked at how same were represented in the historiography. After having utterly outlined the subject of their study, the authors depict the social and geographic origins of these individuals. Then, they consider the numerous and various motives behind their deportation while stressing its main objective—to restore the family reputation. Next, they briefly bring out how the families used their connections to execute this "punishment". The authors also relate the travel conditions while crossing the Atlantic en route to Canada through some personal journal extracts of some of the deported. Finally, they summarize how they settled in Canada and demonstrate the correlation prevailing between the profession or occupation they held or had and their social backgrounds.

The second part consists of more than a hundred biographical notes thoroughly documented that tracks their history. Anyone who has done some genealogical research for that period will recognize the names of a few notaries from New France among the list of the naughty young men. Each biographical note is followed by the sources used by the authors.

This work is the first to address this topic in such detail, explaining the idea behind their deportation. It also sets the record straight about certain prejudices conveyed in historical essays about wealthy young men. Moreover, the precise number of these deported individuals given by the authors is a first. The biographical notes based on documented evidence and reliable sources will undoubtedly be of help to both historians and genealogists who wish to further research one of these individuals or their family.

Tétreault, Josée and Martin Tétreault. Coquins et débauchés. Les Fils de famille déportés en Nouvelle-France au XIIIe siècle, Québec, Éditions GID, 2017, 322 pages.

Fichier Origine — An Overlooked Database


Fichier Origine is a database—only available in French—containing mentions of records from pioneers born outside the St. Lawrence Valley who settled in the territory known today as the province of Québec from the origins up to 1865. Included therein are, of course, immigrants who came from Europe but also those who were born elsewhere on the North American continent.

To find your ancestor in the Fichier Origine, his baptismal act or birth certificate—or even his parents’ marriage act—must have been found and validated. Although a team of dedicated researchers is busy working on tracing your ancestors in the archives, it is possible to collaborate by providing the acts you have found yourself.

You can search this database by entering the proper information in one of the four fields, i.e. Nom de famille (Surname), Département, État ou pays (Department, State, or Country), Localité ou paroisse d’origine (Town or parish of origin), and Lieu du marriage (Marriage Place). You can search the Surname field by entering the "dit" name, the latter having in most cases taken over the original surname.

Furthermore, this database singles out immigrants who shared a common socio-historical background. It is possible to identify all those who were part of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, women known as Filles du Roy [King’s Daughters], or even the Montcalm Soldiers for whom the origin has been found. Should you wish to make a more targeted enquiry, you may then restrict your search exclusively to immigrants for whom a baptismal act or birth certificate has been scanned and can be downloaded.

This database is of great use, but there is still room for improvement. It would be convenient to be able to limit the search by setting up a date range field (between … and …). Finally, place standardization would be desirable for any country other than France. As an example, for Italy, entering the word Toscane (for Tuscany) in the Department, State or country field shows no matches, even though immigrants originated therefrom. Using a province’s name would even be more accurate and would be far more comparable to French departments, the former being the archives’ depository.

Fiche Origine remains the sole genealogy database to properly establish a link between an immigrant who came to Québec and its actual place of origin. This database is generally regarded as reliable.

GenSpotters’ Book Review: Beyond Brutal Passions. Prostitution in Early Nineteenth-Century Montreal by Mary Anne Poutanen

, ,

At the outset of the nineteenth century in Montreal, the elites were wondering about the objectives of sending prostitutes to prison. Was it about dissuasion or rehabilitation? According to the prisoners themselves, jail fulfilled a need. First of all, it provided social welfare to destitute and homeless people which, most of the time, were elderly, mothers and their children, as well as prostitutes. For women of this era, running a brothel or living off the avails of prostitution were means to have access to the basics: food, clothing, and a roof. Several historians have studied prostitution—either for Québec or for the rest of Canada—but few actually covered the first half of the nineteenth century.

Poutanen's essay is divided in two parts. The first one discusses women accused of prostitution, the second one emphasizes on the judicial system's procedures related to the lodging of a complaint against the presumed prostitutes.

The first three chapters are about the places where women lived and worked. The author addresses prostitution's social geography, prostitution at home and in brothels, and street prostitution.

As for chapters four to seven, they focus on the relation between the plaintiff, the accused and several authorities from the justice system. Poutanen outlines the administrative complexity related to the filing of a complaint against a presumed prostitute or a brothel keeper. She studies the complicated relationships between policemen, watchmen, and prostitutes, concentrating on court cases. Finally, the author explains punishments and the way they evolved during this period.

This essay sheds light on the complex relationships between the women accused of prostitution and the society in which they were living and working. Beyond Brutal Passions portrays the unknown social environment, yet very real, that was prostitution in Montreal in the early nineteenth century. A relevant essay that is now essential on the subject.

Poutanen, Mary Anne. Beyond Brutal Passions. Prostitution in Early Nineteenth Century Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 409 pages.

GenSpotters’ Book Review: Une petite Cadie en Martinique by André-Carl Vachon


We thought that much had already been written about the tragic event that was the Deportation of Acadians. Many statistics have been put forward as to the number of individuals affected by this tragedy. Historians have often reviewed these figures or have come up with new estimates without mentioning which primary sources were relied upon. During the Grand Dérangement, a number of individuals were deported by the British to the West Indies, more precisely to Martinique. Up until now, only one historian had documented this fact. André-Carl Vachon's essay is filling that gap.

This essay consists of five chapters, the first one briefly relating Acadia's history up to the Deportation. In the next two chapters, the author makes a distinction between the Acadians who were sent to Martinique from New England at the end of the Seven Years’ War from those who came from France. Without a doubt, the first group was deported. As for the second group, people heading out of France were not all Acadians. The author clearly establishes the difference between these two groups by using passenger lists. The information presented in a table gives the following: evidence concerning their Acadian origins, their repatriation request to return to a French territory, the first mention of their presence in Martinique, and the place of settlement after they left Martinique. The identification of the population of Acadian origins required comprehensive research.

The author then turns to the Acadians who settled in the town of Champflore, in Martinique, and explains where they came from, their various occupations and, on a sadder note, how the climate had an impact on the survivors' decision to leave the island of Martinique. Vachon concludes his essay by giving some information about Acadians who went to Martinique many years after the Deportation. The author also shares his Martinican lineage with us in the appendix.

This didactic-approach essay will please any genealogist as it gives precise information on these families. Written in a clear and concise manner, it is definitely a good start for beginners unfamiliar with this often unknown episode of the Deportation, as well as a well-documented reference of the presence of approximately 205 Acadians in Martinique.

After the publication of this book, the author received the Medal of the town of Morne-Rouge, a “link and a symbol of rekindled friendship and of a renewed relationship". —Mayor Jenny Dulys-Petit.

André-Carl Vachon, Une petite Cadie en Martinique, Éditions La Grande Marée, 2017, 137 pages.