Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why It's Not Surprising Justin, Avril and Ryan Are Related

Have you heard the latest buzz in the entertainment world about Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne and Ryan Gosling all being related? The three famous Canadian-born celebrities are descended from Mathurin Roy and his wife, Marguerite Biré, a couple who lived in the mid-1600's in New France (Quebec, Canada). According to Canadian genealogy expert, Lesley Anderson "Discoveries like this are rare...".

I agree it's kind of cool these three Canadian celebs are related. Researching French-Canadian family history can be challenging. The researchers at did a good job of researching these three family histories, and making the connections. However, I disagree with Ms. Anderson's statement.

According to the research, these Justin, Ryan and Avril all descend from the same couple, Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Biré. Looking at the 1666 Census of New France, there were 3, 215 inhabitants. Of those, 112 were living in the area of Notre-Dame des Anges, Rivière St. Charles, and Charlesbourg, including Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Biré. Fifty-two people were married, and there were no widowed persons. Sixty people were either unmarried or children. Thirty nine of these were male and twenty one were female. Of these, only three were women of marrying age. There were only 26 couples living in this particular area of New France in 1666. I think it's fair to say there wasn't a lot of choice in potential spouses at this time. Many of these families married into each other.

I can trace my lineage back four hundred years to Canajoharie, New York. I think the likelihood is quite high for me to be related to someone else who can also trace their lineage to that same place in that same time period. So, it's really no surprise that among the descendants of my ancestors, Jacques Van Slyke and Grietje Ryckman are Thomas MacEntee of High-Definition Genealogy and Geneabloggers, and Lorine McGinnis Schulze of The Olive Tree Genealogy. We are all distantly related cousins. Is it rare among the 2, 800 Geneabloggers that Thomas, Lorine and I are related?

Another perspective is to look at how many famous Americans are related to each other through one of the first families who sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts. These first families have thousands and thousands of descendants. If you trace back far enough, you're bound to find a common ancestor. Just look at Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

To wrap this all up, I don't think it's rare or surprising that Justin, Avril and Ryan all descend from the same French Canadian family. Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Biré had thousand and thousands of descendants. I think the Ancestry researchers needed to do a bit more research into the history and society of 1600's New France to understand how likely it is for people of New France ancestry, including three famous Canadians, to have the same ancestors.

"1666 Quebec Census Index", Hugh Armstrong's Genealogy Site, 2002.
[ : accessed 13 Oct 2012], entry for Mathurin Roy household, Nostre Dames des Anges, La Riviere si Charles & Charlesbourg.

Cifuentes, Nick. " "Baby, Baby, Baby", - Justin Bieber, Ryan Gosling and Avril Lavigne Are Related," blog,, 2012. [ : accessed 13 Oct 2012.]

Statistics Canada. "Census of 1665-1666 New France," website, Government of Canada, Ottawa, July 2012. Statististics Canada [ : accessed 13 Oct 2012.]

Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2012.