Thursday, January 29, 2009

Canada: Quebec Jewish Cemetery online

In Canada, Quebec City's Jewish Cemetery records are now online at ShalomQuebec, under the Families tab, along with a plan of the cemetery and lists of family names.

There's also a very nicely done timeline of Quebec's Jewish history.

Period 1 – New France (1608-1759)
First presences
Since Jewish immigration was not officially encouraged in New France, there is no proof today as to the existence of a Jewish community in Québec City during that period. Nevertheless, we can still make the hypothesis that some Jews came to Québec City under the French regime without necessarily declaring their origins.


There is proof that in 1738, a young Jewish woman arrived at the port under a false identity, named Esther Brandeau. She was sent back to France the following year after an attempt at conversion.

At around the same time, in 1748, a shipowner of Sephardic origin living in Bordeaux, Abraham Gradis, formed a company aimed at ensuring a supply of soldiers and arms for New France, the Société du Canada. He continued his work until Québec City fell, but without ever coming to the colony. His merchant ships were the only ones to make it to America during the last days of the French colony.

Gradis was the last person to personify France's determination to maintain its American colony.


To see the cemetery plan, click on the Families tab, and see cemetery plan (as a PDF) at the bottom right. Scroll all the way down. The cemetery plan and photos are indexed by surname.

There are some tombstone photos - not every family listed has photos of the stones - and see them by clicking the family name and personal name. Click on the photo of either people or stones to see an enlarged view.

Thanks to Merle Kastner of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal for the link to this resource. For more information on Shalom Quebec, see Tracing the Tribe's post here.

Guy W. Richard did the original research for this, and his book, Le Cimetière juif de Québec Beth Israël Ohev Sholom, is published by Septentrion.

Un cimetière juif à Québec? L'existence d'un tel lieu a de quoi éveiller la curiosité, car il témoigne de la présence à Québec d'une communauté juive aujourd'hui dispersée. Guy W.-Richard, gouverneur de la Société de généalogie de Québec et maître généalogiste agréé, s'est prêté au recensement des stèles de ce cimetière. Le résultat de ce travail de moine est un livre vivant et envoûtant qui ressuscite la vie de la communauté juive à Québec. Peu connue, cette dernière n'en fut pas moins la troisième en importance au Canada au milieu du XIXe siècle, derrière Montréal et Toronto.


L'auteur présente une retranscription des épitaphes gravées sur les pierres tombales. Il y ajoute des détails biographiques sur les personnes inhumées, leur conférant une personnalité qui les rend attachantes. Dans les premières pages du livre, une brève histoire de la diaspora, de l'implantation des Juifs au Québec et de la communauté juive de Québec replace le lecteur dans un contexte plus large. Ce dernier peut alors pénétrer dans l'univers enchanteur du cimetière de Beth Israël Ohev Sholom et découvrir un aspect fascinant du patrimoine québécois, reconnu par la Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada.

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