Tag Archives: Laurent Charles Charbonneau

Charbonneau breakthrough: Hooked on family history

Letter C: Third of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

If every journey begins with a single step, then mine was entering an archive in Montréal, Québec, Canada seeking information about my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau.

By: Blok 70
Street scene in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Discovering the baptismal record of my paternal gg grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau in a Montréal archive got me hooked on family history research. By: Blok 70

My brother Jeff was already researching our Charbonneau ancestors and had narrowed down where I should look.

So on a vacation in August 1991, I stepped to the archive’s information desk and — in rusty, high school French — managed to explain what I was looking for.

“Très bien,” said the archivist and led me to a cabinet filled with cards listing family names and birth dates. I needed the year 1832, so she looked it up and said to check all names on the card — they might be relatives. Amazingly, I understood her French, but like a young child I could only nod in return.

The card led to microfilm, and soon I was in a darkened room viewing undecipherable cursive records — from what I later learned was Québec’s Drouin Collection of vital and church records (1621-1968). I wanted to cry. I had come all this way and couldn’t read any of it!

Hooked on genealogy

But as I scrolled along I started to recognize months, then surnames, then I remembered I was looking for my own surname. And when I reached October, there he was — my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau. Well, how exciting was that!

I ran to get the archivist. She printed and embossed a certified copy and patiently wrote out what the document said (since I still could not read it). And with that Charbonneau breakthrough, I was hooked on family history research!

Have you ever wondered about your ancestors? Or considered researching them? If not, you should give it a try! You might get hooked, too — just like my Dempsey cousins, who you will meet in the next post.

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