BMS2000 is a pay site if you don't belong to a member society and want to see details about the records (though in most cases, not the records themselves), but it is very inexpensive. For me, it was cheap at twice the price.
Anyone can do a search on the site, and without vouchers you'll get a result like this (click to expand for detail):
Searching for Maggie Dean as the Child in a baptism in Waterville, Quebec with no year entered gave me the result above. To see more, I would have to pay. For $20 Canadian (current rate is about 80 cents on the US$ I believe), you get 200 vouchers, so basically ten cents per record viewed. I've searched for many records here now and am still on my first $20.
Once I paid and searched for Maggie again, I was able to see this:
So, could I get an actual record or record image? I think if you can identify the society who is responsible for the record (as circled above) you can contact them. The codes seem to correspond to the societies listed on the site's home page. Except for this one. I had to email twice to find out who that might be. So, in the meantime, I took another route. While I was looking at a search result for the marriage of my Smith great-grandparents in that elusive church in Buckingham, I saw something that wasn't on Maggie's record:
"Complete listing at the ANQ in Qc. The index of licenses on sale at the SGQ."
So what were the ANQ and SGQ? The more accurate acronym for the ANQ is BAnQ, Bibliotheque et Archives Nationals du Quebec, the National Library and Archives of Quebec. The SGQ is the Societe de genealogie de Quebec, the Quebec Genealogical Society. I chose to explore the former.
A few points about this site before we proceed:
Keep in mind that this index is being created by volunteers from twenty-four different local historical societies in Quebec. I think that is why there is more detail on one record, less on another. Just something to keep in mind in terms of accuracy.
Also, make sure to print or otherwise save your search results. If you want to print, from inside the pop-up with the record details, choose "Retain this record". Then, from the left of your screen you can print individually, by retaining only one record at a time, or from everything you've retained during that session, by waiting to the end. The next time you log on, the records may not be there, so be sure to save your records before logging out. Otherwise you will have to pay again. I may have missed something, but I don't think I saw that spelled out clearly on the site.
So, as I said, my next step was to visit the BAnQ website. This website is in french as you would expect and their translate button won't work for everything, but it isn't too difficult to get past that.
After clicking on the English option in the upper right, the image above is what the BAnQ homepage looks like. From here, click on Explore Our Contents which will give you a large drop-down menu (that I couldn't capture). In the center column is an item "Digital Collection", choosing that will bring you to this page:
The third row has two collections, the "Lovell directories of Montreal and its suburbs" and "Quebec registers of civil status, from the beginnings to 1913" - these are the church records - images from the civil copies of the church books. Choosing that option will bring you here"
This screen illustrates why you may still need or want to visit BMS2000 before coming to BAnQ. There is no index for these records here. In order to use this site effectively you need to know the name of the church, or the region or district, or be willing to dig in for a longer search. I've had luck finding regions and districts for towns in my research on Wikipedia. Searching by parish (paroisse) can be tougher unless you know the name of the church.
Entering Maggie's information from BMS; Waterville Congregational Church and the year 1872, led me right to her record.
And next for the Smiths - would I find records here from St. Andrew's Presbyterian church in Buckingham? My heart was beating out of my chest and I swear I was hardly breathing.
It was disappointing to see that only records from 1900 - 1914 were available since most of the events in my family took place before that and one after, but, oh, Norman Parker, I thought to myself, and clicked on 1903. It seemed to take forever to scroll through to events in November, and then there he was:
I was so grateful to find this record and I'm looking forward to a visit to Montreal and BAnQ (who have suspended digitization efforts for the time being due to budget cuts) to find more records.
Next time, another record collection at BAnQ and my conclusions about Norman Parker's short life.