Research Program on French Emigration to Nouvelle-France
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Synergy and Co-operation

In cooperation with the Maison de l'émigration française en Canada, a major genealogical research project has been developed: the Programme de recherche sur l’émigration des Français en Nouvelle-France (PREFEN).

This five-year (2002-2006) research program is funded by the Canadian Government, in partnership with the CNRS, the Université de Caen and the Conseil Général de l’Orne. A number of French and Canadian universities are working together on the project, which is being overseen by a high-level scientific board.


The mission of PREFEN is to create a computerized database that will enable users to learn more about French emigration in the 17th and 18th centuries, a multi-disciplinary subject that brings history, demographics, anthropology and genetics into play.
Two tools have been developed to carry out this program:

- a database establishing the identity of the 14,000 French citizens who settled permanently in Canada before 1760;
- an in-depth study of the Perche region, which will involve going through the archives of the townships of Tourouvre, Mortagne-au-Perche and Bellême: 330,000 notarial acts and 200,000 baptismal, marriage and burial certificates.

This research, drawn from various official documents from that time, will make it possible to more closely reconstruct the possible social and genealogical background of the French emigrants and help shed light on their family and social history, as well as their reasons for leaving their country.


PREFEN is an excellent opportunity to advance scientific expertise in history, demographics, genetics and genealogy in France, in Canada and around the world.

With the creation of an Internet site and a computerized database containing information from thousands of archival documents, the results of the research will be accessible to everyone.

The cooperation that is already in place to carry out this program is expected to spread in the years ahead to French centres for Canadian and Quebecois studies and to genealogical communities from France and other parts of the world, opening up new avenues for research.

PREFEN Internet site: