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Overview and Objectives

The purpose of this project is to establish simple and meaningful standards to location names in Québec, Canada, names that can be used consistently within profiles.

The scope starts with the discovery of Canada by Jacques Quartier in 1534 and continues today. (Map of Canada circa 1543)

The territory covered by the name "Québec" has had gigantic fluctuations. The key milestones:

General Naming Rules and Best Practices

This section presents rules that can apply to most locations in most contexts. When deciding the correct name for a location, first apply these general rules followed by special rules defined in the sections below.

  1. For virtually all locations in all time periods, the fields province and country should contain "Québec" and "Canada" respectively.
    1. Purely from the historical view, the province/country fields before 1763 should read "[blank]/Nouvelle-France". (Or perhaps even "Nouvelle-France, France".) Québec was not formally a province before 1763. Similarly, country could be set to "Bas-Canada" between 1791 and 1841. However, culturally, this distinctions brings little insight. The literature of the time clearly show that contemporary people identified themselves with "Québec, Canada" and therefore it is appropriate to use those values with all places and time.
  2. Use the French version of names. For example, "Québec" instead of "Quebec", or "Saint-Urbain" instead of "St. Urbain".
    1. For localities with official English names, use the English version. For example, "Rock Forest".
    2. For localities predominately Anglophones (source 1, source 2), English names are appropriate. For example, one could use "Chichester, Quebec" instead of "Chichester, Québec".
    3. With profiles for living individuals who chose the English names or historical individuals where the English names are more appropriate, as is the case for, per example, Wilder Graves Penfield.
  3. Use dashes between name components. For the vast majority of location names in Québec, the parts of a name are connected with a dash. For example, "Notre-Dame-de-la-Prairie-de-la-Madeleine".
    1. Note: For some places, dahes have been uses sporadically. For example, "Baie Saint-Paul" and "Baie-Saint-Paul". Whicherver form does not add or remove meaning to the location. Therefore, for consistency, dashes should be used.
  4. When entering a parish name in the place field and the name of the parish already contains the name of the city, do not include the city component of the name in the parish name. For example, place="Notre-Dame-de-Québec" and city="Québec": the parish name can be shortened to "Notre-Dame".
  5. For the county field for events before 1855, leave blank. See "1845―Stillbirth of Counties" below.
  6. Entering "QC" or "Québec" in the province field: Let's agree to enter the full name "Québec". The reason: Geni has a global audience and not everybody knows that "QC" stands for Québec.
  7. Entering "CA" or "Canada" in the country field: Let's agree to enter the full name "Canada". The reason: Geni applies ISO 3166-1 to convert codes into country names. By relying on Geni in that way, our data becomes vulnerable to changes with ISO. Every decade or so, ISO publishes new standards. This is too short of a timeframe. Remember, we want our genealogy data to remain meaningful for centuries. Therefore, let's explicitly enter "Canada" and therefore, we don't have to worry about it ever again.
  8. The country field can be used when normally it would be left empty for situations when helping to differentiate between two cities of same name.

Geni Tips

Throughout this section, we provide tips for Geni users about naming of locations in Québec. The tips are also collected here for easy access.

  • Geni TIP #1: There really is no point in using county names before 1855; county fields should remain blank.
  • Geni TIP #2: For events between 1855 and 1981, insert the county name into the county field.
  • Geni TIP #3: For events since 1982, insert the name of the RCM into the county field.
  • Geni TIP #4: For municipalities not belonging to an RCM, insert the municipality name into the county field and the arrondissement name into the city field.
  • Geni TIP #5: Add profiles to associated municipality projects.
  • Geni TIP #6: When a city name can refer to more than one municipality, add a differentiator in the county field, like the region.

Add Profiles to Associated Municipality Projects

Here is the fun part: You can add profiles to the projects with the municipalities/locations associated with that profile. For example, the profile of Stanislas Morel was added to the Saint-Henri-de-Taillon project since he was born and buried there.

By adding profiles to municipality projects, we will be able to rebuild communities through time. This information will become invaluable for Geni users interested in demographics.

Geni TIP #5: Add profiles to associated municipality projects.

The Case for Anthropology with Location Naming Standards

In Geni, locations are captured in profiles for five main events: birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial. Geni offers five fields: place, city, county, province, country. In total, a profile contains 25 location data fields. This represents a significant amount of readily accessible information about a profile; when taking together the location data from an entire family or a communality, locations can reveal some of the most insightful stories. Truly, to enable researchers harvest those stories, special care must be given with each profile to find accurate and meaningful location data.

But what
constitutes "meaningful" location data?

From a religious point of view, all locations would correspond to the parish and diocese where the event took place. For example a birth in 1900 at the "Petite-Rivière" would be in "Saint-François-Xavier, Petite-Rivière, Chicoutimi, Québec, Canada". Note that the diocese "Chicoutimi" would take precedence over the county "Charlevoix". Is the distinction meaningful for Geni? For some users, perhaps; for others, maybe not.

From a history point of view, this would mean location data should report the precise names associated with a place at a precise time and in accordance with the rules of toponymy. Take the different forms of "Baie-Saint-Paul": "Baie St. Paul" (1845), "Baie Saint-Paul" (1964), and "Baie-Saint-Paul" (1969). Are these distinctions in name meaningful for Geni? For some users, perhaps; for others, maybe not.

From a geography point of view, location names would reflect the physical areas where an event took place. For example, take Roberval in 1923 Roberval when it was in the county of "Lac-St-Jean", while, in 1956, Roberval was in the county of "Roberval". For a profile of someone who was born in Roberval in 1923 and died there in 1956, would it be meaningful for Geni to know that he was born in "Roberval, Lac-St-Jean" but died in "Roberval, Roberval"? For some users, perhaps; for others, maybe not.

From a political point of view, location names would follow closely electoral districts. For an event, we would have to determine precisely where it occurred on the electoral map. In Québec, the first electoral map was created in 1792 (it had 27 districts then) and it was amended in 1829 (32 districts), 1830 (32 districts but many different names), 1832 (33 districts), and 1838 (46 districts). Since then, in average Québec gets a new electoral map each two elections. Is Geni the right forum to capture electoral intricacies? For some users, perhaps; for others, maybe not.

This brings us to our proposal: We propose the adoption of standard location names based on a combination of all points of view by selecting the combination that brings the most culturally rich meaning for Geni. Let's call it the "Anthropoly Perspective".

Simply said, one core aspect of anthropology is understanding the cultural context of humans, past and present. Geni gives us the means to explore the culture of communities via its family ties. In practical terms, this calls for flexibility in how we use the fields place, city, county, province and country. We may use "Québec" for province even before the Province de Québec was formally established (in 1763). Or apply "Isle d'Orléans" in county even though Isle-d'Orléans has never formally been a county name. As a parish name, we might use "Saint-François-Xavier" in place instead of the formal "Saint-François-Xavier-de-la-Petite-Rivière", knowing that the city name is Petite-Rivière and therefore avoiding redundant data.

Geni's Strength: Collaboration

To succeed in implementing standard naming for all locations in Québec for all time periods, we, Geni users and amateur genealogists, must collaborate. We can use this project as our forum for discussion and exchange of ideas, and reach consensus on how to name each locality.

If we succeed, the benefits will be considerable. We will have consistent place names between members of families throughout generations. We will be able to better identify communities where different families were living together. Consistent names will give us more chances to infer missing data in a profile, to be better able to determine new family relationships based on where people were living and when. And in the coming years, using Geni APIs, we will be able to create new web applications that can rebuild entire community maps and even observe dynamic changes in demographic regions.

Thinking about meaningful location names is more than just quantitative research, it is creating a map to space and time that brings alive the lives of our ancestors. We hope you will join us in this journey.

1845―Stillbirth of Counties

1845 saw the enactment of "Adoption de l'Acte pour abroger certaines ordonnances et pour faire de meilleures dispositions pour l'établissement d'autorités locales et municipales dans le Bas-Canada", the first attempt in Québec to create, organize and give powers to municipalities. Parishes are incorporated; representatives are given seats. But this attempt has been given a short life.

In 1847, this law was replaced by another, imposed by William Badgley, that divided the Québec map into 46 county municipalities with regional government for all the smaller localities they contain. There were no local goverments.

If applied literally to Geni, with this concept, the "city" field of locations would always remain blank. For a smaller municipality like L'Ange-Gardien We would have: place="L'Ange-Gardien", city=[blank], county="Québec", province="Québec", and country="Canada".

This experiment failed miserably. Everybody hated it. It was superseded in 1855 by yet another law.

Between 1847 and 1854, counties are a mess and mostly meaningless. Before 1847, counties were based on the electoral districts, which have changed over four times since 1792 and were also mostly meaningless for the population of the time.

Geni TIP #1: There really is no point in using county names before 1855; county fields should remain blank.

1854―Abolition of the Seigniorial System

With The Seigniorial Act of 1854 by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, the seigniorial system was over. It will take decades for all seigneuries to disappear, still, for the purpose of Geni, from 1855 and on, seigneuries are history.

Exception: The Seigneurie de Beaupré still remains today.

Now, finally, Québec is ready for implementing an actual municipal structure on its territory.

1855―Counties Are Born for Real

The new law, Acte des municipalités et des chemins du Bas-Canada, was a success. Local municipalities were re-established as pre-1847 with their local governments. In addition, true regional governments at county level were also created and given authority over inter-municipal matters like roads.

Geni TIP #2: For events between 1855 and 1981, insert the county name into the county field.

Those counties were superseded in 1982 by a new law on urbanism.

1982―Regional County Municipalities

Québec replaced its historical counties with 87 Regional County Municipalities, or RCM (Municipalité régionale de comté, or MRC). The new RCMs allow a redistribution of powers more in line with contemporary politics.

Geni TIP #3: For events since 1982, insert the name of the RCM into the county field.

In addition, there are 8 municipalities not belonging to an RCM. These larger cities are divided into arrondissements.

Geni TIP #4: For municipalities not belonging to an RCM, insert the municipality name into the county field and the arrondissement name into the city field.

2002 {in construction}

{2002 was another big phase of changes. To be documented here.}

Naming Rules per Region, County, and MRC

  • Charlevoix:
    • valid in county field.from 1855 to today.
  • La Côte-de-Beaupré
    • valid in county field from 1982 to today.
  • Montmorency
    • valid in county field.from 1855 to 1981.
    • autre nom : Montmorenci

Naming Rules per Location

Click on the municipality link and look for Indiquez les lieux dans Geni // How to Input Locations in Geni.

Légende ~ Legend

  • ✎ = en construction ~ in construction
  • ➽ = lien au projet principal ~ links to the main project
  • ★ = structure minimale ~ minimum structure
  • ★★ = structure complète avec contenue de base ~ structure completed and with basic content
  • ★★★ = structure complète avec contenue avancé ~ structure completed and with advanced content
  • <100> = plus de 100 profiles ~ over 100 profiles
  • <500> = plus de 500 profiles ~ over 500 profiles
  • <1000> = plus de 1,000 profiles ~ over 1,000 profiles
  • etc.





















Pour les seigneuries, voir Les Seigneuries du Québec






























Vos Ancêtres? ~ Your Ancestors?

Avez-vous des ancêtres qui viennent de ces endroits ? Pour le savoir, c'est facile, consultez History Search à HistoryLink

Do you have ancestors from this location? It's easy to find out, see History Search at HistoryLink.


Vous avez une question? ~ You Have a Question? Contact : morel


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