Ontario Church Records

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Church Records

See: Sources for Religious Records in Ontario for complete, up-to-date listings of church records repositories and descriptions of their holdings.

Overview of Church Records

Consult church registers for records of baptisms, marriages, and burials before 1869—the year civil vital registration began in Ontario. These registers may be useful to 1930, when complete civil vital registration was finally achieved. Religious affiliation can be determined from family sources or census records beginning in 1851.

You should search the registers of all denominations in the area where your ancestor lived, since many baptisms were performed in the nearest church, regardless of the family's religious affiliation. At certain periods of Ontario's history, only some denominations were allowed to perform marriages. In many cases an individual had to be married by a priest or minister of a religion other than his own. The following history traces these changes:

1793: Before 1793, only Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy could legally perform marriages.

1793-1798:  Marriages could be performed by Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy and district clerks if the couple resided more than eighteen miles from an Anglican minister. Despite legal restrictions, a few Lutheran and Presbyterian ministers performed marriages before 1798 and recorded them in church registers.

1798-1831:  Anglican, Calvinist, Church of Scotland, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic clergy could perform marriages.

1831-1858:  All denominations mentioned above as well as Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians could perform marriages. Only non-Catholic and non-Anglican clergy were required to keep marriage registers for the inspection of civil authorities, separate from regular parish records.

1858-1869:  Clergy of all denominations could perform marriages. Clergy of all faiths were requested to transcribe information into county marriage registers; many did not comply.

The Family History Library has many parish records of the Roman Catholic Church and some church records for smaller denominations, notably minutes of various Baptist conferences. 

Many denominations have collected their records into central repositories. Some national church headquarters or archives are described in Canada Church Records. Addresses of many church archives in Ontario are in Brenda Dougall Merriman's Genealogy in Ontario, pages 243-46.

You can write to the following churches to learn where their records are located.

Anglican

The Anglican Church in Canada, sometimes called Church of England or Protestant Episcopal Church, has published an inventory of church records and their locations at diocesan archives in Ontario:

Guide to the Holdings of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. Agincourt, Ontario: Generation Press, 1990. (Family History Library book 971.3 K23g.)

Further information is available from the Diocese of Ontario Archives website.

Diocese of Ontario
Contact Information:
90 Johnson St.
Kingston, ON K7L 1X7
613-544-4774
Diocese of Ontario Website

Using the Archives: The Archives page of the Anglican Diocese of Ontario gives the following information: The current fees for entrance, genealogical research, photocopies and Certificates of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage or Burial. The page also includes information on the Parish Registers, Guides and Indexes, their Research Policy and the Reading Room Procedure.

Diocese of Algoma

The records of this diocese are held at Algoma University in the Archives and Special Collections.

Contact Information:
Arthur A. Wishart Library
Algoma University
1520 Queen St. East :
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2G4
Phone: 705.949.2101
Diocese of Algoma Website

Using the Archives: The Archives page of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma gives the following information: The policy on accessing parish records, accessing the Archives, search requests and fee schedules.

Diocese of Huron

The records of this diocese are held at Huron University College.

Contact Information:
Diocese of Huron Archives
Huron University College
1349 Western Road
London, ON  N6G 1H3
Phone:  519-645-7956
Diocese of Huron Website

Using the Archives: The Archives page of the Diocese of Huron gives the following information: Contact information, fee schedules, Privacy Act information, and the research policies of the Anglican Church.

Diocese of Moosonee

The records of this diocese are held at Laurentian University Archives.

Contact Information:
J.N. Desmarais Library
First Floor
935 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury :ON P3E 2C6
Telephone: 705.675.1151 ext. 3306
Diocese of Moosonee Website.
The Moosonee Archives website notes that there are 69 parishes in the Diocese of Moosonee for which parochial records are available. Links are provided to a list of record locations, policies and conditions for accessing the parochial records, a search request form, and an online catalog.
Diocese of Niagara

The records of this diocese are held at Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University, under the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

Contact Information:
Mills Memorial Library, Lower Level
McMaster University
1280 Main St. W.,
Hamilton, ON,
Canada  L8S 4L6
Phone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 22789
Diocese of Niagara Website

Using the Archives: The Archive page has the following information: The records of the diocese and individual churches, maps of the diocese, a list of churches with records that pre-date 1869, and a list of clergy before 1991.

Diocese of Ottawa

The records of this diocese are located in the lower level of Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.

Contact Information:
Anglican Diocese of Ottawa,
71 Bronson Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1R 6G6
Phone: 613-232-7124 Ext 234
Diocese of Ottawa Website

Using the Archives:
The Archives page includes information on record types, hours for research, acquisition policy, and fee schedule.

Diocese of Toronto
Contact Information:
The Anglican Diocese of Toronto
135 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, ON
M5C 1L8
Phone: 416-363-6021 or 1-800-668-8932
Diocese of Toronto

Using the Archives: The Archives page includes links to information for researchers, guide to using the Archives. and the fee schedule.

Baptist

Many Baptist records for Ontario are at the Family History Library. For further information write to:

Contact Information:
The Canadian Baptist Archives
McMaster Divinity College
1280 :Main Street West  Room 152
Hamilton, ON   L8S 4K1 :
CANADA
Fax:  905-577-4782  
Phone: (905) 525-9140 :x23511 or x23512
Canadian Baptist Archives Website

Catholic

Records from several Roman Catholic parishes in the province of Ontario are available in the FamilySearch collection of Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923. A description of the collection can be found in the corresponding Wiki article.


The Drouin Collection, which includes records from 1621-1967, is available online as five separate databases at Ancestry.com ($). This French-Canadian collection, written mainly in French, has over 15 million genealogical and vital records. The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church. For more details see the Wiki article: The Drouin Collection: Six Databases.

Most pre-1910 records of Catholic parishes in Ontario have been microfilmed and are available through the Family History Library and its Family History Centers.

Exceptions are listed below.

Contact Information:
Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall (Stormont and Glengarry Counties)
220 Chemin Montreal
P.O. Box 1388
Cornwall, ON K6H 5V4
CANADA
Phone: (613) 933-1138
Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall Website
Contact Information:
Diocese of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
CANADA
Phone: [905] 528-7988
Diocese of Hamilton Website

Lutheran

Contact Information:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
302-393 Portage Avenue
Winniped, MN R3B 3H6
Phone: 888-786-6707
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Website


Contact Information:
Lutheran Church-Canada
3074 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MN R3K 0Y2
Phone: 204-895-3433
Lutheran Church-Canada Website

Moravian

Contact Information:
The Moravian Archives:
41 West Locust Street
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18018
United States :of America
Phone: (610) 866-3255

For information concerning missions to the American Indians visit Moravian Missions Among American Indians. For a map and list of missions visit Early Moravian Missions in Eastern Pennsylvania and Surrounding Areas 1740-1773.

Mission records are also available in the FHL Collection. The records are indexed in the FHL Collection Book 970.1 F642i.

Presbyterian

Only a few pre-1925 Presbyterian records are available through the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Some of these are on film at the Family History Library.

Contact Information:
Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives
50 Wynford :Drive
Toronto, ON M3C 1J7
CANADA
416-441-1111 ext. 310
Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives Website


Most Presbyterian records are at archives of the United Church of Canada. 

Contact Information:
United Church of Canada Archives
40 Oak Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2C6
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 1101
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 1101
Fax: 416-231-3103 attn: Archives
E-mail: archives@united-church.ca
United Church of Canada Archives Website

United Church of Canada

United Church records include Methodist, most Presbyterian, and Congregational church records dating from before the 1925 merger which formed the church. Many records are still in the hands of local clergymen. Others are at:

Contact Information:
United Church of Canada Archives
40 Oak Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2C6
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 1101
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 1101
Fax: 416-231-3103 attn: Archives
E-mail: archives@united-church.ca
United Church of Canada Archives Website

Archives of Ontario Collection

"The Church Records Collection consists of original and copied records for more than 60 Ontario churches which existed at some time in our history. The records within the collection include sessional minutes, annual reports, deeds and financial records, communion rolls, birth/baptismal records, marriage and burial records. Some newspaper clippings are also included. The Archives of Ontario is not responsible for collecting Church records. This responsibility rests with the individual religious denominations in the province. Try our Sources for Religious Records in Ontario page for a list of archives holding Ontario religious records. [1]

FamilySearch Collection

In addition to the FamilySearch Catholic church records collection noted above, the FamilySearch Ontario Births and Baptisms, 1779-1899 collection includes indexed Ontario church records.