Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
 
   

Canadian Flag

Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths

The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not become the general practice in Canada until it was undertaken as a provincial responsibility late in the nineteenth century. Before that time, the only likely source for such information is local church records, provided the denomination and parish are known.

Church Records
Civil Registration (birth, marriage and death records by province)
Marriage Indexes
Marriage Bonds
Cemetery Records
Adoption Records
Divorce

Civil Registration

The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths is a provincial and territorial responsibility. Inquiries concerning access and fees should be addressed to the appropriate office.

Newfoundland  Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island  New Brunswick
Quebec  Ontario
Manitoba  Saskatchewan
Alberta  British Columbia
NorthwestTerritories  Yukon Territory

[ top ]


Newfoundland

In Newfoundland, records date from 1892 and are in the custody of Vital Statistics, Government Service Centre, Department of Government Services and Lands, 5 Mews Place, Box 8700, ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland, A1B 4J6. 

For earlier years, the only source is church records, which are numerous for the period 1860-1891, with a few returns as early as the 1820s. Inquiries concerning records prior to 1892 should be addressed to the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, Colonial Building, Military Road, ST. JOHN’s, Newfoundland, A1C 2C9. 

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, records of births and deaths from 1 October 1908, and of marriages from 1906-1918 (depending on the county), are held by Vital Statistics, Department of Business and Consumer Services, P.O. Box 157, HALIFAX, N.S., B3J 2M9.

For information about the availability of earlier records, please contact Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management (Public Archives of Nova Scotia), 6016 University Avenue, HALIFAX, N.S., B3H 1W4.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


Prince Edward Island

In Prince Edward Island, civil registration began in 1906, but there are some marriage records (civil) and some baptismal records (church) dating from 1886. These are in the custody of Prince Edward Island Vital Statistics, Health and Community Services Agency, P.O. Box 3000, CHARLOTTETOWN, PE, C0A 1R0.

Baptismal records prior to 1886, death records prior to 1906 and some marriage records 1832-1923 have been transferred to the Public Archives and Records Office, P. O. Box 1000, CHARLOTTETOWN, PE, C1A 7M4.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, birth records from 1888 to 1905, marriage and death records from 1888 to 1950, and some incomplete church and civil records prior to 1888 are in the custody of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 6000, FREDERICTON, N.B., E3B 5H1. Some on-line databases are available on their Internet web site. 

Birth records after 1905, and marriage and death records after 1950 are still in the custody of the Vital Statistics Office, Health and Community Services, P.O. Box 6000, FREDERICTON, N.B., E3B 5H1. 

For official certificates of births, marriages and deaths from 1888 to the present, contact the Vital Statistics Office.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Quebec

Civil registers have been in existence in the Province of Quebec since the early seventeenth century. Two copies of these registers were required to be kept, one in the parish, the other in the office of the district protonotary. Pre-1900 records are in the custody of the nine regional offices of the Archives nationales du Québec (ANQ).

As the ANQ requires exact dates and places before certificates can be issued, you might wish to hire a researcher through the following society to search for and obtain copies of the appropriate records on your behalf:

 Quebec Family History Society
P.O. Box 1026
POINTE CLAIRE, Québec
H9S 1N9 Records dating from 1900 are in the custody of the under-noted office: Ministère de la Justice
Direction de l’état civil
Service à la clientèle
205, rue Montmagny
QUÉBEC, Québec
G1N 4T2

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Ontario

In Ontario, civil registration dates from 1 July 1869. Records of births 1869-1903, marriages 1869-1918, and deaths 1869-1928, are held by the Archives of Ontario, 77 Grenville Street West, TORONTO, Ontario, M7A 2R9. Incomplete marriage records from the 1830's to 1869 are also available. Due to the large demand, staff at that office are unable to undertake genealogical searches in their vital records. However, microfilm copies of the nominal indexes and the original registrations, and also the incomplete 1830's to 1869 marriage records, are available through interlibrary loan from the Archives of Ontario and through your local LDS (Mormon) Family History Centre. Should you prefer to hire someone to search through those records on your behalf, the Archives of Ontario can provide a list of researchers.

For births after 1903, marriages after 1918, and deaths after 1928, requests should be addressed to:

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Manitoba

In Manitoba, Vital Statistics, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, 254 Portage Avenue, WINNIPEG, Manitoba, R3C 0B6, holds birth, marriage and death records from 1882, together with some incomplete church records prior to that date (searched when the denomination is known).

A small collection of church records is also held by the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, 200 Vaughan St., WINNIPEG, Manitoba, R3C 1T5.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, the Vital Statistics Unit, Department of Health, 1942 Hamilton Street, REGINA, Saskatchewan, S4P 3V7, holds records dating from 1895. Few records exist prior to that year.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Alberta

In Alberta, records from 1898 to 1905 are in the custody of the Provincial Archives of Alberta, 12845-102 Ave., EDMONTON, Alberta, T5N 0M6. Transcripts of records can be obtained for a small fee. That office also holds incomplete indexes and registers for the period 1898 to 1983, which can be viewed on-site.

For certificates from 1906 on, provincial residents should apply at their local Registry Agent. Out-of-province requests can be forwarded to a Registry Agent or directly to Alberta Registries, Vital Statistics, 3rd floor, Box 2023, EDMONTON, Alberta, T5J 4W7. 

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


British Columbia

In British Columbia, records date from 1872, although those for the earlier years are not complete. There are also some baptismal records as early as 1849. Requests should be directed to the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency, P.O. Box 9657, Stn. Prov. Govt., VICTORIA, B.C., V8W 9P3.

Microfilm copies of original birth registration documents (1872 to 1899), marriage registration documents (1872 to 1924) and death registration documents (1872 to 1979) are available for on-site consultation at the British Columbia Archives, 655 Belleville Street in Victoria and through the LDS Family History Centres Nominal indexes to the above records are available on-line on the British Columbia Archives web site. Please note that all inquiries and requests for copies should be addressed to the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]

Divorce - British Columbia had originally been two colonies, Mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island, that united in 1866. After the union an ordinance passed by the Legislature of British Columbia enacted that the civil and criminal laws of England that existed on the 19th of November 1858 should be in force in all parts of B.C. except for those laws that were modified in B.C. between 1858 and 1867. The Supreme Court of British Columbia assumed the jurisdiction to excerise all the relief and powers given under the English Divorce Act. When British Columbia entered confederation in 1871 the Supreme Court of B.C. continued to have jurisdiction to grant divorces. The first divorce granted by the B.C. Supreme Court was in 1877 and to 1900 a total of 47 were granted.

Index to Victoria Court Divorces, 1877 - 1931

SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Victoria Court Registry

Orders Issued in Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, 1877-1931
BC Archives, microfilm, B07088


 Northwest Territories

In the Northwest Territories, incomplete records date from 1925. Requests should be addressed to the Registrar General of Vital Statistics, Department of Health and Social Services, Bag #9, INUVIK, NT, X0E 0T0.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


Yukon Territory

In the Yukon Territory, incomplete records date from 1898. By the 1940s, records are more complete; however, some events may not have been registered. Requests should be directed to Vital Statistics, Government of the Yukon Territory, P.O. Box 2703, WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory, Y1A 2C6.

[ Civil Registration ] [ top ]


 Church Records

There is no central repository for church records (parish registers) in Canada. Many are in the custody of individual churches, church archives and provincial/territorial archives, or they have not survived.

For addresses of church archives, consult published sources at your local library, such as almanacs and directories, or visit the Canadian Council of Archives’ web site and consult the Directory of Archival Repositories.

The National Archives of Canada holds only a small collection of parish registers, none of which are comprehensive for any region. Most are transcripts rather than originals, available on microfilm and listed in our Checklist of Parish Registers 1986. That checklist is not yet available in electronic format. Due to the heavy volume of inquiries we receive, we are unable to conduct searches in parish registers; however, microfilm copies may be borrowed through the inter-institutional loan arrangement.

You may wish to make a telephone inquiry to see if we hold church records for the place, period and religious denomination of interest to you. If you are doing extensive research, you might wish to purchase your own copy of our checklist.

 The Genealogical Society of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, holds microfilm copies of church records of various religious denominations from countries around the world. In particular, they hold an extensive collection of Roman Catholic parish registers for the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

[ top ]


Marriage Indexes

Some genealogical societies, mostly those in the Province of Quebec, have undertaken projects to index marriage entries from parish registers. The National Archives holds a number of these publications, in particular, indexes to Roman Catholic marriages in Quebec and Eastern Ontario. They generally provide the names of the bride and groom, date and place of marriage and the parents' names. Our copies are not available for loan; they must be consulted on the premises.

For families of French origin, further information can often be found in genealogical dictionaries such as Cyprien Tanguay's Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes (1600s to late 1700s) and René Jetté's Dictionnaire des familles du Québec (1600s to 1730). Many libraries hold copies of these dictionaries and indexes.

[ top ]


Marriage Bonds

Marriage bonds were prepared only in the case of marriage by licence. The groom was required to enter into a bond with one or two people who knew him and who were prepared to guarantee to the Crown that no legal impediment to the marriage existed.

These documents offer little genealogical information beyond the names of the betrothed, their place of residence, and the date of the bond. The National Archives of Canada holds a small collection of marriage bonds for Lower Canada (Quebec), 1818-1841, with a few scattered items for 1779, 1842 and 1860, and for Upper Canada (Ontario), 1803-1845.

Microfilm copies of the nominal card index and the bonds themselves may be borrowed through the inter-institutional loan arrangement.

The nominal card index appears on the following microfilm reels:

Index to Lower Canada Marriage Bonds (RG 4 B 28)

H-1125 ABBOTT, Benjamin to WOODHEAD, William
H-1126 WOOD, Matthew to ZELL, Philip

Index to Upper Canada Marriage Bonds (RG 5 B 9)

H-1126 ABBAH, Hester to GRANT, Richard
H-1127 GRANT, Robert to PATTENSON, Thomas
H-1128 PATTERSON, Ann to ZEINS, Charles

The index to the Lower Canada series gives name, date, place, collection number (RG 4 B 28), volume number and bond number. With those reference numbers, you can consult the shelf-list to determine which microfilm reel to request to see the actual bond.

The index to the Upper Canada series gives name, date and place. At the start of each index reel you will find a list of the microfilm reel numbers on which the bonds themselves appear, arranged alphabetically by the groom's surname within each year.

[ top ]


Cemetery Records

Many genealogical societies have undertaken cemetery recording projects. Inscriptions on the headstones are transcribed and compiled in indexed publications. For further information, contact the genealogical society in the relevant province.

[ top ]


Adoption Records

The National Archives of Canada does not hold adoption records because adoptions fall within the jurisdiction of provincial, not federal, authorities. Access to those records is restricted to protect the confidentiality of the information they contain. To trace a biological parent, sibling or child, you are best advised to work through provincial and private associations such as Parent Finders, Mouvement Retrouvailles and the Canadian Adoptees Registry Inc".

If you know the person’s full name, you might try searching the online telephone directories at Infospace and Canada 411.

If your ancestor was adopted:

As a general rule, prior to the early to mid 1900s when provincial authorities became involved in adoptions, children were placed with family, friends or neighbours without documentation by government authorities.

[ top ]


Divorce in Canada

Divorce in Canada prior to the 1960's was handled through a private act of the Parliament of Canada. During the latter part of the 19th century, a person wishing to obtain a divorce was first required to place a notice of intent to petition the government for an Act of Divorce, for a period of six months, in The Canada Gazette and two newspapers in the district or county in which the petitioner resided. Information given in this notice would include the names of both parties, their place(s) of residence and the grounds under which the divorce was being sought. The actual petition would contain more details, including the date and place of the marriage, and events surrounding the demise of the marriage. In the event of adultery or bigamy, a co-respondent was often named. If, after consideration, the petition was allowed, Parliament would pass an Act of Divorce, nullifying the marriage. A transcript of the Act was published in the Statutes of Canada for the current year. The Canada Gazette and the Statutes of Canada are available at the National Library of Canada.

The Senate of Canada should be contacted for information on divorce proceedings for the following provinces and time periods.

 NAME OF PROVINCE

 TIME PERIOD

 Newfoundland

1949 to 1968

Prince Edward Island

1867 to 1946

 Quebec

1867 to 1968

 Ontario

1867 to 1930

 Manitoba

1867 to 1919

 Saskatchewan

1867 to 1919

 Alberta

1867 to 1919

Inquiries to The Senate of Canada should be sent to the following address.

Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel
Room 304
3rd Floor
222 Queen Street
OTTAWA, ON  K1A 0A4

Telephone: (613) 992-2416

After those dates, and for provinces not included in the above table, divorce proceedings were handled by the provincial courts. The addresses for these courts can be located under the section heading "Courts and Judges" in the Canadian Almanac & Directory . Most public libraries hold copies of the almanac.

 [ top ]