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Surname DNA testing is the newest tool available to genealogists!

  • Surname tests allow genealogists to verify their father's father's father's (etc.) paternal ancestry.
  • Surname DNA information can be very powerful when combined with traditional paper trails.

The following surnames are currently included in this project:

Fortier, Forrester, Forestier

The Fortier DNA Project is open to all Fortier families (including spelling variations) with origins in France.

Project Background & Objectives

This project was formed in order to explore the relationships of the various Fortier families with origins in France. The origin of the name is Forestier (forester), as it appears in France in the 1600s, but Fortier is more commonly used in Québec and the USA. Since this project is based on a particular surname, it uses the y-chromosome DNA test ("y-DNA") to determine direct paternal lineage.

Accompanying this project is the Fortier Genealogy web site (, which focuses on the family of Antoine Fortier, who was baptized 26 June 1644 in the parish of St-Jacques, Dieppe, Normandie, France. He was one of at least four children born to Noël Fortier (Forestier), shipwright, and Marie Marthe Golle, who were married 26 May 1638 at the parish of St-Rémy in Dieppe. Antoine Fortier came to Québec in the early 1660s, married Marie Magdeleine Cadieu at Beauport in 1677, and settled at Île-d'Orléans. They are the direct ancestors of many of the Fortiers in Canada and the USA.

Antoine Fortier's family was not the only Fortier family in early North America. There were several others, particularly around Montréal. See There were also Fortiers who settled in Louisiana, a former French colony in what is now the USA. The relationship of these other Fortier families to Noël Forestier of Dieppe has not yet been established, but this surname DNA project should help to shed some light on these questions.

There are two important metrics of y-DNA that are useful for genealogy: haplogroup and haplotype. Haplogroups show how all humanity is related from an ancient perspective, while haplotypes are useful from a more recent (historical) standpoint to establish relationships within a particular family or closely related groups of families. Haplogroups are based on a mutation known as a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP, (a substitution at a base pair that occurs very infrequently) and are represented by a tree structure, while haplotypes are shown as the number of "repeats" (a numerical value known as a Short Tandem Repeat, or STR) at specific y-DNA markers (often in groups of 12, 25, 37, or 67, if using the FamilyTreeDNA testing service).

We know from y-DNA testing of his direct male descendants that Noël Forestier of Dieppe belongs to haplogroup R1b1a2a1a1b3c. This designation is a very specific location on the y-DNA haplogroup tree, a branch off the R1b haplogroup family. R1b is the most common y-DNA haplogroup in western Europe. (Since this is a rapidly evolving field of study - pardon the pun, the haplogroup nomenclature frequently changes. For example, R1b1b2 was recently changed to R1b1a2. Keep this in mind when reading the literature.) Knowing this to be Noël Forestier's haplogroup will allow us to determine how closely other families of the Fortier/Forestier surname are related to his family. The age of the last mutation defining R1b1a2a1a1b3c is probably in the thousands of years, while surnames in western European came into common use in the 1300s and later. Therefore, any Fortier/Forestier with French origins who is closely related to Noël Forestier would belong to this same haplogroup.

A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics developed the following distribution map of individuals living in Europe today with the mutation U152, to which Noël Forestier's haplogroup belongs. The birthplace of the man with this mutation, from whom all R1b1a2a1a1b3's are descended, is likely within one of the darkly shaded areas on this map.

 Distribution Map of U152 Mutation

How closely related any two individuals are (with the Noël Forestier family) can be determined by comparing their y-DNA haplotypes. This comparison is known as the genetic distance. If two known direct male descendants of Noël Forestier differ at one of more of the haplotype markers (known as Short Tandem Repeats, or STRs), then each of those mutuations (insertion or deletion of a repeat) must have occurred in a specific individual (a descendant of Noël Forestier). All direct male descendants of that individual will carry that same mutation in that haplotype marker. If we get participation from direct male descendants of each of the sons and grandsons of Antoine Fortier, we may eventually be able to determine a person's location on Antoine's descendants tree based on the mutations within their haplotype. A minimum of 37 or 67 markers is preferred for genealogical purposes.

I've used the family of Noël Forestier and his son Antoine (of Québec) as an illustration of the use of haplogroups and haplotypes. The same concepts apply to the other Fortier families from France. It is my hope that many different North Americans and Europeans of French descent (with the Fortier surname and its variations) will join the Fortier DNA Project, so that we can determine (1) which families are related to each other, and (2) learn more about their origins in France.

Important Links

To view the y-DNA test results and haplogroup/haplotype comparisons for current members of the Fortier DNA Project, select the y-Results link at the top of this page. Where known, the earliest known Fortier ancestor of each member is shown, with common descendants grouped together. The Patriarchs page provides more details on each member's descent from the earliest ancestor, including where they fit within the tree of descendants.

To order a y-DNA test to join this project, select the Order Test link at the top of this page.

Another way to support this project (especially for those of us not fortunate enough to carry the Fortier y-chromosome) is to contribute towards the Group General Fund to help offset the cost of tests for project members. Be sure to click on the letter "F" and specify the Fortier group. You may contribute anonymously or by name, and you can specify that your contribution of funds be used for a particular family or branch.

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