Canadian Vital Records
Vital records are the best places to look for dates of events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. In addition, they often give information such as parents' or children's names, occupation, place of residence, and age. Civil registration of these important lifetime events didn't begin until the late 1800's, so if you are looking for records before that time, you will most likely find them in the church to which your ancestors belonged.
Canadian Church Records
Church records can be excellent places to look for baptisms, christenings, marriages, and deaths in the family. In general to find church records, you should know the denomination of the church that your ancestor attended, as well as the name of the parish or mission district where your ancestor lived. The most direct way to find the records is to then write to the current priest or minister in the parish or mission district. This person is most likely to know where older records are located.
In addition to the parish or mission district itself, there are several other places where you may find church records. Many of the provincial archives will have church records for their province. For the addresses of the provincial archives, see the list of addresses to the Canadian provincial archives below. The Canadian National Archives has selected church records, including original records, transcripts of records, and microfilm copies of records.
Many religious institutions also maintain archives of church records. For example, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has extensive microfilm collections of church records. Look in your telephone book to locate the nearest LDS Family History Center. You'll also find church records in the archives of the Catholic church and other churches existing in Canada. Contact a church of the denomination of the person that you are researching. The church staff should be able to guide you to the appropriate archives.
Canadian Census Records
The earliest censuses in Canada date from the mid-1600"s. Many of these censuses, however, don't list the names of each individual in the family, but just the name of the head of the household. The first Canada-wide census was in 1851. It included both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Qu˜Obec). Censuses for these provinces are available for the years 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891. As new provinces joined the confederation, they were included in the censuses. Later censuses list the names of each individual, in addition to information such as age, place of birth, sex, race, occupation, marital status, and level of education. These census records can be great places to build up your family tree.
To find a census record, you must know the approximate location of the family's home at the time of the census, because the returns are organized by towns, townships, and counties, with large cities listed independently. To help you locate the microfilm reel that contains the town that you need to look at, you can use the following two books: Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1666-1891, and Catalog of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1901. They are available at many bookstores. Although the National Archives has not created a name index for the census returns, you can find some name indexes through provincial archives and genealogical societies. In general these organizations only have name indexes for the regions in which they are located.
You can peruse census microfilm at the National Archives of Canada, through interlibrary loan, and through some provincial archives and local libraries.
Canadian Military Records
Access to these records is governed by the Privacy Act. However, records of veterans deceased for twenty or more years are open to the public.
Earlier military records are available through the Canadian Archives, beginning in the 16th century. Among the records of the Canadian militia you can find information about servicemen in the Seven Years' War, the War of 1812, the Rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838, the Red River Expedition in 1870, and the Northwest Field Force in 1885. In addition to service records, you can find discharge documents and bounty land records for Canadian and some British soldiers. It is best to contact the National Archives to see what records for a particular period exist.
While the Canadian Archives do have some information about individuals who served in the British military, it is limited.
Canadian Land Records
Land records can be excellent places to find genealogical information. In addition to an individual's name, you can often find the name of a spouse or children, a birthplace, and military service, depending on the type of record.
The Canadian National Archives has several different types of land records. First, there are land patents and deeds for transfers of land from the government to individuals. In general, these patents and deeds do not give much information beyond the location of the land and the name of the individual to whom the land was granted. Land records related to later transfers of land from one individual to another are in the provincial land offices and archives.
Next, and possibly of more interest, are land petitions for Qu˜Obec and Lower Canada, available for the years 1764 to 1841; and Upper Canada and the United Province of Canada, available from 1791 to 1867. Finally, there is a complete list of M˜Otis land claims, as well as claims for losses during the War of 1812 and the 1827-1838 Rebellion in Lower Canada. These sorts of records are more likely to give genealogists the type of information that they are looking for. For information about contacting the Canadian National Archives, see Canadian National Archives below.
For information about locating records of transfers of land from one individual to another, you should contact the Registrar of Deeds, Registrar of Titles, Land Titles Office, or other land office in the province where you need to locate a land record. You may also find land records in the provincial archive appropriate to your research. For information about contacting any of the provincial archives, see Canadian provincial archives below.
Canadian Immigration Records
Immigration records at the Canadian National Archives consist of passenger arrival records. In general, passenger lists are not available before 1865. A few lists do exist, but they are generally for indentured servants and other individuals whose passage was paid by someone other than themselves. Those records that do exist are an excellent source of genealogical information. They contain information such as names, occupations, ages, and destinations.
For passengers arriving in Qu˜Obec, Halifax, North Sydney, Saint John, Vancouver, Victoria, and selected U.S. ports before 1919, check the microfilm at the Canadian National Archives. You will also find information about immigrants who entered Canada from the United States between 1908 and 1919 at the Canadian National Archives. For information about contacting the Canadian National Archives, see Canadian National Archives below.
Canadian Probate Records
To obtain Canadian probate records, you should check the records of the court where the will was probated. The list below gives details about where you can find probate records in each province.
Canadian Provincial Archives
Below is a list of addresses and phone numbers for Canadian provincial archives. Their holdings vary, but in general will include records relating to provincial history, selected church and vital records, provincial census records, and land records. You often will also find specialized guides to genealogical research in that province. For the addresses of other archives in Canada, such as church archives, see the book Directory of Canadian Archives, edited by Marcel Caya.
Provincial Archives of Alberta
Edmonton, Alta., T5N 0M6
Web site: Provincial Archives of Alberta
Telephone: (780) 427-1750
Fax: (403) 427-4646
British Columbia Archives and Records Office
P.O. Box 9419 Stn. PROV GOVT
Victoria, B.C., V8W 9V1
Web site: British Columbia Archives
Telephone: (250) 387-1952 or 1-800-663-7867
Fax: (250) 387-2072
Provincial Archives of Manitoba
200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Man., R3C 1T5
Web site: http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives
Telephone: (204) 945-3971
Fax: (204) 948-2672
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5H1
E-Mail: Email Form
Web site: http://www.gnb.ca/0009/index.htm
Telephone: (506) 453-2690
Fax: (506) 453-2893
Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
Colonial Building, Military Road
St. John's, NF, A1C 2C9
Web site: http://www.gov.nf.ca/panl/
Telephone: (709) 729-3065
Fax: (709) 729-0578
Archives of the Northwest Territories
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife, N.W.T., X1A 2L9
Web site: http://pwnhc.learnnet.nt.ca/programs/archive.htm
Telephone: (867) 873-7698
Public Archives of Nova Scotia
6016 University Avenue
Halifax, N.S., B3H 1W4
Web site: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/
Telephone: (902) 424-6060
Archives of Ontario
77 Grenville Street, Unit 300
Toronto, Ont., M5S 1B3
Web site: http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/
Telephone: (416) 327-1600 or 1-800-668-9933
Fax: (416) 327-1999
Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island
P.O. Box 1000
Charlottetown, P.E.I., C1A 7M4
Web site: http://www.gov.pe.ca/educ/
Telephone: (902) 368-4290
Fax: (902) 368-5544
Archives nationales du Québec
225, Grande Allée Est
Bloc C, 1er étage
Québec (Québec) G1R 5G5
Web site: http://www.anq.gouv.qc.ca/ (in French)
Telephone: (418) 380-2399
Fax: (418) 380-2320
Saskatchewan Archives Board
University of Regina
3303 Hillsdale St.
Regina, Sask., S4S 0A2
Web site: http://www.saskarchives.com/
Contact Form: http://www.saskarchives.com/web/contact.html
Telephone: (306) 787-4068
Fax: (306) 787-1197
Archives, Saskatoon Office
University of Saskatchewan
301 Main Library
#3 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Sask., S7N 5A4
Telephone: +1 (306) 966-6028
Fax: +1 (306) 966-6040
400 College Drive
P.O. Box 2703
Whitehorse, Y.T., Y1A 2C6
Web site: http://www.btc.gov.yk.ca/archives/
Telephone: (867) 667-5321
Fax: (867) 393-6253
National Archives of Canada
Canadian National Archives
Genealogy Unit, Rm. 69
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0N3
Web site: http://www.archives.ca/
Genealogy Reference: (613) 996-7458
TTD: (613) 947-0397
Toll Free: 1-866-578-7777
Fax: (613) 995-6274
Hours: Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for research assistance, reading rooms open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Holdings: The National Archives holds census records, vital records, land records, estate records, military records and immigration records.