Trudeau Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Trudeau Surname Meaning

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.

Trudeau Surname Resources on The Internet

Trudeau Surname Ancestry

  • from France (La Rochelle)
  • to Canada (Quebec) and America (Louisiana)

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

Canada.  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.

However, 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 counsellors and six churchwardens between 1861 and 1968.

Not all Trudeau descendants prospered.  Joseph Trudeau was a semi-literate farmer at St. Remi de Napierville, some fifty kilometres south of Montreal, in the late 19th century.  But from him came:

  • Pierre Trudeau who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, from 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984.
  • and his son Justin Trudeau who 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 physician 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.

Justin Trudeau’s Family Ancestry

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes from a family line which goes back to Etienne Trudeau in 1659.  But his branch was in decline in the 1800’s before its revival under his grandfather in the early 1900’s.

Just click below if you want to read more about this history:

Trudeau Surname Miscellany

Etienne Truteau’s Early Years in New France.  In June 1659 Etienne Trudeau signed a contract to do five years military service in New France. He left La Rochelle on July 2, 1659, aboard the Saint Andre en route to support the struggling little French settlement up river from Quebec. During the crossing a plague was declared to have been present and those who died aboard were immediately thrown into the sea with all that was used or touched by them.

The Saint Andre finally arrived at Quebec on September 7, 1659, and those aboard were encouraged to settle rather than go to the danger of the wilderness beyond.  But the new settlers could not be dissuaded.  They arrived at what is now Montreal on September 29.

After his arrival Etienne registered in the sixth squadron of the militia of Sainte-Famille, under the command of Corporal Gilbert Barbier.  In May 1662 he and two other workers were caught in the open by fifty Iroquois who lay in ambush. Fleeing to the redoubt, Etienne led the small party in defense until reinforcements could arrive.  Although the Indians had fired over 300 shots, the only damage was a gun broken when struck by a bullet. A marble plaque now commemorates his act of bravery.

Marriageable females were scarce in New France.  Although nearly twice her age,  Etienne Trudeau married Adienne Barbier, the fourteen year old daughter of his former commander Gilbert Barbier, in 1667.

Early Trudeau Marriages in Montreal

Date Location Husband Wife
1667 Montreal Etienne Truteau Adrienne Barbier
1698 Montreal Pierre Truteau Marie-Charlotte Menard
1699 Montreal Etienne Truteau Marie Bleau
1705 Longueuil Toussaint Truteau Barbe Garvou
1710 Montreal Charles Truteau Marie-Madeleine Loisel

Jean Baptiste Trudeau’s School in St. Louis.  St. Louis had been founded initially as a fur trading station and this brought Jean Baptiste Trudeau there.

In 1774 he started a French school at the trading post of Laclede, the first such school in St. Louis, Missouri. Among his early pupils were the children of Zenon Trudeau, the Louisiana Governor and a distant cousin.

The first school house lacked any degree of prestige, being just but a one room log cabin. Later Jean Baptiste had a stone structure which dignified his place of learning.  All the leading families of the settlement went to Trudeau’s school where the French language was used.

Trudeau was noted as a stern disciplinarian not adverse to administering frequent raps across the knuckles of wayward pupils.  He must have been successful at this profession for he remained at it in St. Louis for fifty years.

He also probably had a flare for poetry. In 1770, when a force of British soldiers and Indians attacked St. Louis, Trudeau wrote a song entitled Chanson de L’annee du Coup. Enemy raids were part of life in those times.

The Trudeau Louisiana Line

  • Jean Trudeau (1705-1770), Indian agent in Louisiana, m. Marie Anne Carriere
  • – Jean Trudeau (b. around 1740), planter at Butler Kenner, m. Felicite de Breuil de Villars
  • – Carlos Levaux Trudeau (1743-1816), surveyor general of Spanish Louisiana, m. Charlotte Peyraud
  • – Zenon Trudeau (1748-1813), Commandant Governor of Upper Louisiana, m. Eulalie de Lassize
  • — Rene Trudeau (b. 1784), a planter in Jefferson parish, Louisiana, m Adele Sauve
  • — Dr. James de Berty Trudeau (1817-1887), distinguished Louisiana physician, m. Cephise Berger
  • —- Dr. Edward Trudeau (1848-1915), distinguished TB physician in upstate New York, m. Lottie Beare.

The Death of Special Deputy Edmond Trudeau.  On February 14, 1904 Special Deputy Trudeau of Missoula county, Montana was shot and killed after ejecting and intoxicated man from a dance hall. The man had gone home, obtained a rifle, then returned to the scene and opened fire.  Edmond Trudeau was fatally wounded in the exchange of gunfire.  The suspect was later sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder.

At the time of Edmond’s death, his father Louis – at the age of 85 – was still living at his home in Iowa.  Edmond had moved from there, first to Colorado and then to Missoula county, Missouri around 1890.

Reader Feedback – Trudeau and Tredeau.  There is a branch of the family whose name was misspelled to Tredeau when immigrating from Canada to America. I’m not sure what year it took place exactly but it was my great-great-grandfather (I believe).  Aimee Tredeau (

Trudeau Names

  • Etienne Trudeau, a carpenter who came to Quebec 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. 
  • Garry 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.

Trudeau Numbers Today

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

Trudeau and Like Surnames

These are French-originated names, French Canadian surnames that were brought by French settlers to what was then New France.  Many are found in Louisiana after the Acadian exodus from the Canadian maritime provinces in the 18th century.  Here are some of the French surnames that you can check out.


Written by Colin Shelley

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