Both by its history and its contemporary structure, the Quebec population presents characteristics that make it an ideal candidate for a population database with a focus on history, demography and genealogy. These features include, for example, the presence of a strong founder effect with immigrants from France starting to settle along the St-Lawrence valley in the early 17th century.
From 1820-1830, as a result of rapid population growth this initial settlement expanded beyond the Laurentian corridor, sparking the establishment of a dozen regions. In the second half of the 18th century, in the aftermath of the English conquest, non-francophone immigrants began to settle in the new British colony. However, the descendants of this new wave of immigrants were concentrated in the western part of the province.
Finally, the 20th century was characterized by a significant diversification of international immigration. As a result of population movements, settlement and internal migration, the population of Quebec has become stratified. Among 8 million inhabitants, we find a predominantly francophone population, heirs of the French regime, and a multiethnic population concentrated in the Montreal area with offshoots in every corners of the province.
Quebec has the advantage of an exceptional documentary resource, the wealth of birth, marriage and death certificates recorded by the Catholic Church since the early days of French settlement in the 17th century, which allows us to trace the history of the population. These certificates have been remarkably well-preserved, and their digitization made the BALSAC database possible.