Today, I started my One Place Study of St. François Xavier, Manitoba. I'll tell you right now, this is gonna take a while. This morning I made my first trip to the St. Boniface Historical Society, my goal being simply to find the place (tucked away in the back of the Cultural Centre), sign up for a membership ($35 a year, to avoid the $5 a day to use the research facilities), and familiarise myself with the process of doing research there.
So, I set myself up with my laptop, and asked the archivist for the parish records for St. François Xavier. She returned with two boxes, each of which contained several books, with the records starting in 1834 (way earlier than I expected, since the R.M. wasn't formed until 1880!). It turns out that the copies at the Historical Society are photocopies, not microfilm like they have at the Manitoba Archives, so they might be slightly harder to read, but at least I don't have to miss work to use them (the Archives are only open 9-4 on weekdays, but the Historical Society opens for a few hours on Saturdays).
In addition, the genealogist working there (who was very helpful when the French went beyond my beginner level in the records) found me a book that was published by the Rural Munipality in 1980, called Our First 100 Years. It describes all the families of St. François Xavier, and even has pictures! When I looked under Daigneault, I found a picture of my great grandparents, Alphonse Richard and Bertha Daigneault, and their children, including my mémère! It was very exciting! That book will be helpful for putting together the information I find in the parish records.
Today, I only got through about 10 records. This is a small chunk of 1834. I only had about an hour to spend actually transcribing the records, though. In the future I'll have 3 hours each Saturday if I get there right when they open. If I could get through about a year's worth of records each week, it would only take me about 2 years to finish. And of course during the week I can be working on the census records and whatnot. Probably it will take longer, though, since there are probably a lot more records per year once I reach the late 1800s and early 1900s. I've got a huge project ahead of me, but one that I know will be worthwhile, and that I hope will be helpful to other genealogists.