je me souviens (frustration)

I am now convinced that getting a UK Visa – hell, LIFE ITSELF – would be a thousand times easier if only I wasn’t from Quebec.

Don’t get me wrong – I am proud to be from Montreal and of my heritage; I am just ENDLESSLY FRUSTRATED at how complicated it is to get any official information out of the Province of Quebec. What evil deeds could I possibly do with a marriage certificate from 1910? What havoc could I wreak with a century-old death certificate? How will my figuring out where I came from lead to the ruination of all of Quebec? Obviously, it won’t – but judging by the number of hoops you have to jump through to get anything at all out of the government, one might start to think they’re some sort of sleeper agent with as-of-yet undiscovered powers that could end the world.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I can’t find a marriage certificate for my grandparents. Hell, I don’t know if they ever made it official. I can trace Edith’s family (the right Edith, or at least closer to being right than Fake Edith) from the UK to their immigration to Canada in 1893 via the 1901 census, then nothing until she shows up listed as “Mrs. Edith J Wangzilla” on my granddad’s war records. I literally have no idea what happened to her between 1901 and 1914 (when my dad was born), and after 1917 when my grandfather died.

“But Kimli”, you say. “Surely you can just request the information from the government! Each province has a department that deals with this exact thing!”

This would be where the whole “being from Quebec” thing gets really fucking complicated.

Like most provinces, Quebec allows you to request copies of official documents for a fee. It’s all very simple, really: set up a verified user account, and away you go!

To set up an account, all you need is:

  • Your Social Insurance Number
  • Your Revenu Quebec Access Code
  • Your Notice of Assessment Number

.. yeah, you need to be living and working in the province of Quebec in order to request copies of documents. Because no one would ever leave Quebec, right? Not at ALL. For ANY REASON.

My only option appears to be to fill out a form and mail it off with copies of my personal information and a wad of money and hope that something happens. Unfortunately, this is where my overall lack of knowledge comes back to bite me in the ass: the form wants me to provide the date and location this marriage took place. I don’t KNOW that information. I was hoping they did, which is why I’m requesting it. They can deny me for any reason – spelling a name wrong, missing a date, cheering for the wrong hockey team, Tuesday, a bad mood (they’re allowed to veto genealogy research as a valid excuse for wanting this information) – and it’ll cost me $45 for each stab in the dark I attempt. If I was in Quebec, I could go to an office and get some help, but I’m far away so I can’t. And no one can go for me; they won’t allowed a lawyer or notary to request info on someone’s behalf. Has to be me, and since I’m not the direct child of someone I’m requesting info on, I can be veto’d. But they’ll keep my money!

This is so frustrating. I keep finding awesome things that are no help to me whatsoever – for example, I found the burial announcement for my aunt, who died when she was 3. I had her name wrong the whole time (thanks again, dad’s foggy memory – I don’t care that you were barely two when she died, you’re supposed to know this) – Muriel Hazel Wangzilla was born in December 1913 and died in February 1917 (which was a terrible year for poor Edith Jane – lost her daughter and husband in the same year, then seemingly vanished herself). I found my dad’s marriage record to his first wife, which lists both his parents as deceased. Cool find, but doesn’t help me at all: I specifically need the marriage record of John James Wangzilla to Edith Jane Corn(e)s, and I CAN’T FIND IT. I can’t find my dad’s birth record either, but I’m less concerned about that – mom has the original. I’m working on Edith’s birth certificate, but I also need one for John James .. and getting records out of Nova Scotia is a whole other ranting blog post that I just don’t want to get into.

I now understand why it was so hard to get a copy of my birth certificate out of Montreal. I was correct in my assumption that no one got one – when checking in with other wayward Quebec babies, we all received an official non-official baptismal certificate (or nothing at all if you were a heathen) which is good for exactly squat. I don’t know if I’d even be able to get another copy of my birth certificate if I needed it, so I should probably relocate mine from it’s current hiding spot and into a vault or something.

Quebec, why you gotta be so complicated.

I do not feel so hot. I hope my cold isn’t morphing into something deadly and terrifying, because it would be fucking impossible to get a death certificate issued in my name.

5 thoughts on “je me souviens (frustration)

  1. In Quebec which I am also from, if they were not Catholic the records are harder to find. I know this is a stretch but also scour the Jewish records. As far as I knew the UK required it to be a direct relative, i.e. parent or grandparent, if it is further off they are less likely to offer a heritage visa. I got mine whenever I want it because my mum’s mother and father were both UK citizens.

    • They were Anglican .. I’m nosing around churches for records, but no luck yet.

      My paternal grandmother is definitely from the UK, as is my paternal great-grandfather. My mom is a question mark, due to that whole British Malaya thing. Basically, I totally qualify .. I just have to PROVE it. :)

  2. Now it’s actually pretty painless to get your birth certificate form Quebec, because year, those “certificates” are useless, even in Quebec now. I had to get a new birth certificate so I could get my passport a couple of years ago. Easy peasy if you ever need to get one now. Download a form, fill it out, give them your credit info, and voila! Fancy new birth certificate, official even.

    And now a dumb question: have you asked any local librarians for help? I know here in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Public Library does a lot of genealogy research at the Spring Garden Road branch. There is also our Public Archives. You might have to pay them some money for your time depending on the institution, but they might be able to help you out.

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