Canada Church Records

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The Value of Church Records in Canadian Family History[edit | edit source]

  • Church records are a valuable source for proving the dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths and the identity and relationships of family members.
  • They are particularly important prior to the start of keeping government birth, marriage, and death certificates. Since civil authorities did not begin registering vital statistics in most provinces until after 1867, church records are the major information source before this date.
  • To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content by reading the Wiki article, What Can I Find in Canadian Church Records? An understanding of content will guide your research strategy.

Prepare by Collecting Background Information[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by gathering in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor from other record sources as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

Where Did Your Ancestors Worship?[edit | edit source]

Knowing the denomination of your ancestor is an important part of church records research. Start by learning how to search a variety of records for clues to the denomination, locality, and possibly even the specific names of churches where your ancestors worshipped.
Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngFollow the tips in the Wiki article, Determining the Church Your Ancestor Attended in Canada.

Two Important Ways to Search for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Searching for Church Records by Denomination[edit | edit source]

In these articles, for each denomination, you will find: The links below for each denomination will take you to a Wiki articles with:

  • Lists of online record collections
  • Descriptions of typical records for that denomination
  • Directories for addresses and instructions for writing to local ministers
  • Addresses for denomination archives, with
    • collection descriptions,
    • notes on services available,
    • finding aids, and
    • search engine links.
Wiki Articles for Records of Major Churches in Canada

Smaller Denominations[edit | edit source]

There are, of course, many denominations with smaller member numbers and only a few congregations. Generally, the most efficient way to find their records would be to contact the local church. Usually, their records are kept locally. If they are elsewhere in archives, they will be able to advise you.

Searching for Church Records by Canadian Province[edit | edit source]

These links will take you to Wiki articles for each Canadian province, where you will find:

  • Lists of online record collections
  • A brief history of major religions in the province
  • Instructions and links to the FamilySearch Library catalog to search by locality for records
  • Contact information, website links, collection descriptions, and services available for
    province, university, society, and local church archives within the province

Wiki Articles for Church Records for Each Canadian Province
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon
  • Websites[edit | edit source]

    For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

    The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has provided detailed informative articles on different aspects of looking for Canadian church records.

    Methods[edit | edit source]

    Records (including examples)[edit | edit source]

    Denominations[edit | edit source]