Canadian Church Records

by E.B. Lapointe

Church records—those which document life events such as births, baptisms/christenings, confirmation, church membership, marriages, and death—have been made public on a very inconsistent basis in Canada. Unfortunately, there is not a central registry of church records in Canada, and in some church archival facilities, some of the records are not available for research, and sometimes there is a fee for research. It is highly recommended that one writes for guidelines before visiting to see what the restrictions are on research.

At the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, one can obtain a guide, The Check List of Parish Registers, 1986, and there are scattered registers on microfilm at the archives for researching, but they are not there on a consistent basis, and one would have to consult the guide as a reference to find out which ones are on microfilm. Details about the guide are posted on-line at http://www.archives.ca. If one can visit the archives in person, there are many registers there which have been published, especially from the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, and of course, one can also visit the National Library of Canada right next door in the same building as the archives, and search their catalogues for individual registers.

A directive to the holdings and use of the The United Church of Canada Archives is located at http://www.united-church.ca, while one can find out about the Anglican Church of Canada archives at their website at http://anglicansonline.org/canada. If information is required on the archives of other denominations in Canada, please check the religious archives at the University of Saskatchewan website at http://www.usask.ca/archives/car/relig.html.

Additional places to look for church records is on the Internet is at http://familysearch.org, the website which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains. They have placed on the Internet their International Genealogical Index (IGI), which contains many Canadian church records. It is searchable by surname, and when located, the IGI can tell the researcher in which church, city, or town the ancestor was christened, and the name of the parents.

At their library in Salt Lake City, Utah, they also have a database which can be searched online for church records and then ordered for research through their Family History Research Sites, which are also listed on their website. In the Roman Catholic of Canada church records, many were microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, especially those of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. They also have records of many of the Anglican Church of Canada of the province of Nova Scotia on the website, especially of those with an American Loyalist background.

Cyndi's List at http://www.cyndislist.com/ also has links which can led to church records at various websites, and one must not forget the individual websites of provincial archives, genealogical societies and those resources placed on the Internet by the Canada GenWeb volunteers at http://www.rootsweb.com/~canwgw/. World Connect at rootsweb.com may also lead you to the church record through another researcher who has placed his/her findings at the website.

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A further note on the 1906 census records report on the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta - it has now an icon on the front page of the archives on http://www.archives.ca/ Please note, however, it has not been indexed according to family surname, so one has to search by province, District Number and Sub-District Number of the census.

As far as post-1901 Canadian Census release, there is now a Bill S-13 going through the different readings and committees in the House of Commons to amend the conditions under which the census will be released. It is not known at this time when and if the bill will be passed.

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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