Surnames tell a story?

The family name, or surname, helps to define us as individuals. It includes members of the same family and characterizes us outside our family networks.

But why are some surnames more common than others, to the point that a meeting between two Tremblays does not necessarily mean a family party? At the beginning of European settlement, there were few surnames: for 651 individuals who married between 1640 and 1660, 531 different surnames were recorded. Some of them will stand out because of a strong descendance and will become typical Québecois surnames like Pelletier, Boucher and Gagnon, while others will eventually become rarer, like Guyon or Sevestre. Couples giving birth to many boys are favored because the surname is passed down from father to son. On the contrary, some surnames, including those carried only by female immigrants, have not survived time [1]. And for those who have crossed close to 4 centuries, it is not without distortion, for example, Shumph became Jomphe and Thibault became…



From 1700, some surnames stand out

Is your surname shared by many Quebecois?

The table 100 surnames by period lists the 100 most common family names in various periods, as well as the percentage of the population with this surname

top 15

Did you know that…

The Gagnons are in the top 4 of the most
popular surnames in Quebec since 1650?

The surname Tremblay did not appear until 1750
and it was finally enthroned at the top of the chart
150 years later, in 1900?

The Houdes entered the top 15 in 1750
and dropped to the 96th rank in 1800?

Surnames are both diverse and common

From 500 at the beginning of settlement, the number of surnames peaks near 44,000 for a little over a million individuals married around 1950. Despite this diversification of the patronymic pool, nearly one person in 10 carries one of the 15 most common surnames, and 3 in 10, one of the 100 most frequent.graph patronymes english




SAMPLE| To produce the results, 1,052,055 marriage certificates (2,064,541 married individuals) were consulted, which represents all Catholic marriages celebrated between 1640-1660, 1690-1710, 1740-1760, 1790-1810, 1840-1860, 1890-1910 and 1940-1960 and contained in the BALSAC population database.

[1] See the capsule on matronyms.