New Brunswick Ancestors: The Genealogical Files of Mgr Robichaud

If you have north eastern New Brunswick ancestors, as I do, then you\’ll want to check out the Mgr Donat Robichaud Genealogical and Historical Research Collection at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. This collection is the product of many years work.

Monseigneur Robichaud was a Catholic Priest who was born in Shippegan, New Brunswick 24 October 1924. His main genealogical focus was the north east area of New Brunswick. He authored many books, helped found the Societe historique Nicholas-Denys, and was a active member of it until his death on 8 August 2009.

His collection at the Archives contains two databases: the Genealogical Files, and the L\’Evangeline Database. What is impressive about this collection is the fact that the research was done long before we have the online tools we have today. He did it \”the old fashioned way\”.

Genealogical Files
According to the Introduction, this section is a compilation of more than 3,000 pages of research on the families of this area of New Brunswick. It is also one of the best sourced collections I\’ve ever seen. Among the source citations are churches, newspapers, wills, and deeds. Mgr Robichaud scoured several Archives of all kinds to find any documentation he could on these families. The collection is sorted alphabetically by surname. As you can see below, each set of PDF pages are grouped by letter. Though some of the entries are in English, the majority is in French. Copy and pasting into Google Translate can give you a pretty good translation of the entry. The basic setup for each surname is first some notations of the family surname as a whole. Then it lists first names in the family alphabetically, and lists all documentation relating to that person.

The nice thing about PDF files is that by pressing the F3 button, you should get a search box up in the top right. You can also press and hold the Ctrl button and press F. Type in your surname and it should take you to the right spot. My Grannie was Marie Anne MALLAIS. The MALLAIS, or MALLET, family were one of the founding families of the Shippegan area. I went to the PDF for the letters M to O, and searched for Mallais. Information on the Mallet/Mallais family starts on page 11 and goes to page 45! Here is what is listed for Jean MALLAIS, the \”founding father\” of the name in Shippegan:

Just look at the variety of sources and how well they are cited. Not all people listed will have as in depth a timeline, of course. But this is just an example of Mgr Robichaud\’s work. If your family surname from the area was not French, don\’t despair. There are many Anglo surnames in the collection as well.

L\’Evangeline Database
This database consists of short summaries of articles from the newspaper L\’Evangeline, and cover the years 1887-1957. In the explanation of the database, the PANB states that to see the orginal of the article, they are \”…available on microfilm at a number of provincial institutions (libraries and archives)…\”. They also state that a search of Google\’s Newspaper Archives may get you results. Each summary has the date of the newspaper and the page the original article is found on.

You can search the database by People, by Place, or by Subject. As far as I could see, the summaries are all in French, which makes sense, as L\’Evangeline is a French newspaper. Again, Google Translate will be your friend.

When searching by people, make sure you are looking at name variations. Continuing with the MALLAIS surname, I found these variations in spelling:

  • Maillait
  • Maillet
  • Malais
  • Mallais
  • Mallet
  • Mallette
  • Malley – Don\’t forget that over the years some French names became Anglicized. My own line of Mallais people have been in various government records as Malley.
remember to do the same when searching by place. Shippegan was listed as Shippagan, Shippagan Gully, and Shippagan, Ile de.

The subject index is a fun one. You can search by a subject, and then further search by a secondary subject. For instance, one of the subjects listed is Acadian. By clicking on the radio button Expand index by including secondary subjects, you can look at about 50 subsections. Included in the subsections are the headings \”Grand Pre\”, Deportation\”, and several on the \”Convention nationale acadienne\”. 
It\’s a huge blessing to those of us researching from distance that the PANB was able to gain permission to put Mgr Robichaud\’s work online. And that the Monseigneur gave it. He was a truly generous man with all his research. Along with these databases, he is also the author of several books and articles. After his death, his body of research was donated to La Societe Historique Nicolas-Denys Inc.

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