Surnames in Quebec

Focus on the Lévesque

Christiane Laurin

Recommended reading in a recent FFSQ newsletter, the publication "Surnames in Quebec: statistical aspects and spatial distribution" is presented here. The emphasis will obviously be on the statistics of the surname Lévesque, all accompanied by geographical data on our members to identify avenues of research and recruitment. Introduction Already in Roman times, surnames existed but disappeared with the decadence of the empire. They appeared again in thethirteenth andfourteenth centuries in several European countries. When they arrived in New France, the settlers therefore bore surnames, a compulsory transmission at least for Catholics since the middle of thesixteenth century. Here, as in many cultures, the patronyme is usually synonymous with a surname. The demographic study data were taken from statistical birth registration files in Quebec from 1986 to 2000: 1.3 million children born during this period of 2.5 million parents. Of the 152,000 names listed, 28,000 names were retained because they were listed at least five times. The 5,000 most common surnames, present at least 30 times, received more attention. Statistical portrait of The Lévesques For all of Quebec, the surname Lévesque ranks 14th after Tremblay, Gagnon, Roy, Coté, Bouchard, Gauthier, Morin, Lavoie, Fortin, Gagné, Ouellet, Pelletier and Bélanger. The Lévesques make up 0.41% of Quebec's population. Before 1800, the name Lévesque was ranked 32nd with a frequency of 0.27 while it reached 12th place with 0.38 in the 1881 census. Our name came close to the "top 10" at the beginning of the last century and has always been on the list of the "top 50"! By comparison, the Tremblays ranked 19th before 1800 are now in1st place. A reverse case is the example of the Renauds: this rather popular name in 1800 – in 13th place – is now only in 113th place. The first name that is not French-consonant is Nguyen at 130th, the second being Smith at 178th. There are six factors explaining the importance (or not) of a surname:

  1. Presence of several immigrants of the same name – only 1 Tremblay vs 30 Roy and yet1st!
  2. Differential reproduction – number of children per couple that survive and reproduce
  3. Moment of arrival of the pioneer – can have 2-3 generations more than others
  4. Random sex of children – girls not perpetuating the surname
  5. Use of nicknames before 1870 – e.g. Lévesque dit Sansoucy becoming Sancoucy or Lévesque modified into Rompré or Dusablon
  6. Regional Differential Fertility – The Tremblay and Bouchard Shambles in Saguenay/Lac St-Jean

The surname Lévesque ranks 1135th in France with a small frequency of 0.01%. It is the name Martin that occupies the1st rank there and here the 34th rank. Regional data – 102 RCMs – 17 administrative regions Before going on a statistical galley, let's remember the adopted territory of each of the Lévesque ancestors who still have descendants today:

  1. Pierre Lévesque (born 1641) and Marie Croiset m. 1677 → Ste-Anne de la Pérade
  2. Robert Lévesque (born 1642) and Jeanne Chevalier m. 1679 → Rivière-Ouelle
  3. Jacques Lévesque dit Sansoucy (born 1666) and Marguerite Lair m. 1698 → Repentigny
  4. Jacques Lévesque dit Lafrance (born 1720) and Madeleine Gosselin m. 1748 + Josette Jobin m.1775 → Quebec
  5. Jean Lévesque (born 1740) and Françoise Bouillon m. 1763 → Rimouski

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Institut de la statistique du Québec According to legend, the darker it is, the higher the frequency, which is recorded in each of the RCMs. The strength of the Lévesques is in the thumb of Quebec, the whole territory being one hand! However, it must be remembered that these territories are purely geographical and that they are by definition heterogeneous in terms of their population. Let's go with a few broad outlines. For more information see the document