Select Trudeau Genealogy

The Trudeau surname is French in origin, brought to Canada in the 17th century.  Its meaning is uncertain.  Some have speculated that the Trudeau name originated from the Latin trudo, meaning “I thrust.”  Others see Trudeau as possibly a pet form of Thouroude or Gertrude.

The early spelling seems to have been Truteau.  The name had been localized to an area around New Rochelle in western France, but no longer exists there.

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Etienne Truteau, a master carpenter, came to Quebec aboard the Saint-Andrewhich had been commissioned by Jeanne Mance to bring new emigrants to New France.  The ship departed LaRochelle in France in July 1659 and arrived in Montreal two months later.

.  The early spelling in Canada was Truteau.  The family established itself in 1675 at Longueuil, a suburb of Montreal on the other side of the St. Lawrence river (Parc Truteau and Rue Truteau are to be found there today).

Trudeaus remain in Longueuil.  Moses Trudeau donated the land that housed the town’s municipal school in 1860.  His son Victor was a general merchant on Victoria Avenue in the early 1900’s.  Trudeaus there are now in their 12th generation.

But the main later concentration of Trudeau descendants has been in the Montreal suburb of Sainte-Jolie, starting in the mid-19th century.  Jules Trudeau was mayor of the town from 1910 to 1912.  Twelve other Trudeaus were councillors and six churchwardens between 1861 and 1968.

Not all Trudeaus had initially prospered.  Joseph Trudeau – descended from Etienne’s son Pierre - was a semi-literate farmer at St. Remi de Napierville, fifty kilometres south of Montreal, in the mid-19th century.  But his wife Malvina was a strong woman who insisted that her sons be well-educated.  Charles-Emile, known as Charley, was trained as a lawyer and grew rich in the 1930’s by building up a chain of gas stations in the Montreal area.  His offspring did even better:  
  • his son Pierre Trudeau served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, from 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984.
  • and his grandson Justin became the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada in 2015.
America.  The forebear of the Trudeaus in Louisiana was Etienne Trudeau in Quebec.  His grandson Jean initially studied for the priesthood, but then had a change of heart and departed in the 1730‘s with some military colleagues for what was then the French territory of Louisiana.   He worked as an Indian agent there.

The Trudeau line
from his fourth son Zenon Trudeau descended to:
  • Dr. James de Berty Trudeau, a distinguished Louisiana physican and surgeon and also a general commanding the Louisiana Legion in New Orleans in 1861 during the Civil War.
  • his son Dr. Edward Trudeau, a pioneer in the treatment of TB at his Saranac sanatorium in the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York.
  • and Edward’s great grandson Garry Trudeau who grew up around Saranac Lake.  He is the cartoonist best known for his Doonesbury strip. 
Jean Baptiste Trudeau of the Etienne Trudeau line was a trapper and fur trader who moved across the border and was one of the early settlers, around 1780, in St. Louis, Missouri.  His son Louis settled in Fremont county, Iowa.  His grandson Edmond Trudeau was a police officer in Montana who was shot and killed in 1904 in the line of duty.

Alexis Trudeau, also a descendant of Etienne Trudeau, crossed the border into Minnesota in the late 1870’s.  His line was traced in Robert W. Trudeau’s 1988 book Trudeau Family Tree.
  Meanwhile Francois Trudeau left Quebec with his family for Middlebury, Vermont in the early 1870’s.  His grandson Arthur, born there in 1902, was a distinguished US General during the Korean War.

Select Trudeau Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Etienne Truteau, a carpenter who came to Quebec from France in 1659, was the forebear of most Trudeaus in America.
Dr. Edward Trudeau
was an American physician who pioneered the study and treatment of tuberculosis in the late 1800’s.
 Trudeau, the great grandson of Edward Trudeau, is an American cartoonist, best known for his Doonesbury comic strip.

Pierre Trudeau
served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, from 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984.
Justin Trudeau
, the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau, became the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada
in 2015.

Select Trudeaus Today
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)