Prince Edward Island, Canada Genealogy

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Prince Edward Island

Guide to Prince Edward Island ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

Prince Edward Island Information

Prince Edward Island is a province in Canada. The province is made up of the major Prince Edward Island and many small islands.
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Getting Started

Getting Started with Prince Edward Island

Links to articles on getting started with Prince Edward Island research.


Prince Edward Island Research Tools

Links to articles and websites that assist in Prince Edward Island research.

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Prince Edward Island Map

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Map of Prince Edward Island

History

  • The first inhabitants of PEI were the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’kmaq have inhabited the area for the last 2,000 years.
  • The first European to record seeing the Island was Jacques Cartier in the summer of 1534.There were no permanent settlements for almost 200 years after his sighting.
  • Settlement of the Island (then known as as Île St-Jean) began in the 1720's. The colony was French and near what is now Charlottetown. Colonization was slow, with the population in 1748 reaching just over 700. When the British expelled the Acadian inhabitants of Nova Scotia in 1755, the population mushroomed to 4,500 in 1758. The British drove all but a few hundred of the Arcadians out.
  • Under the British rule the name of the Island was changed to the Island of Saint John. Surveyor General Samuel Holland was able to provide detailed maps of the Island by 1765. He divided it into 67 townships of 20,000 acres each. Almost all of these were granted as the result of a lottery held in 1767 to military officers and others to whom the British government owed favors. The proprietors were required to settle their lands to fulfill the terms of their grants, but few made an effort to do so. As a result the Island had vast areas of undeveloped land, yet those who wished to open up farms often had to pay steep rents or purchase fees. Most of the land holders never set foot in the colony.
  • The population grew from just over 4,000 in 1798 to 62,000 around 1850. Although there was an influx of Loyalists after the American Revolution, the majority of the newcomers were from the British Isles. Several large groups were brought from Scotland in the late 1700's and early 1800's by landowners such as Captain John MacDonald and Lord Selkirk, and by 1850 the Irish represented a sizable proportion of the recent immigrants.
  • After 1758 the Island was administered from Nova Scotia and later, in 1763, became part of that province. In 1769 a separate administration was set up complete with governor, lieutenant-governor, council and assembly. In 1799 the name of the colony was changed by the assembly to Prince Edward Island to honor a son of King George III stationed with the army in Halifax at the time.
  • In 1851 responsible government was granted to the colony and the first elected administration under George Coles took office.
  • The enticements offered by the Canadians included an absorption of the colony's debt, year-round communication with the mainland, and the provision of funds with which the colony could buy out the proprietors and end the land question. Although few Islanders displayed much enthusiasm, most accepted the union as a marriage of necessity.
  • The province reached a population level of 109,000 in 1891, but the lure of employment in western and central Canada and in the U.S. led to a drain on the population, which had slipped to 88,000 by the time of the Great Depression. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the economy of the province was stable, with only slight changes in both farming and fishing — with the notable exception of the fox-farming industry between 1890 and 1939.

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Boundary Changes

Although the boundaries of Prince Edward Island have remained stable the early records will be found in Nova Scotia and France who held those records.

Record Loss

No record loss has been noted.

Counties of Prince Edward Island

Resources

Biographies

The following are in French


Cemeteries

Cemeteries of Prince Edward Island online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print
List of Cemeteries in the County

Census Records

Church Records

Court Records

  • 1687–1710 The Loppinot Papers, which are important genealogical abstracts of the earliest notarial records for the province of Acadia: Loppinot, Jean Chrysostome. book 971.5 N38L Includes a surname index.
  • 1793–1934 Court Records, [Charlottetown, P.E.I.]: Microfilmed by the Public Archives of Prince Edward Island films 1630150–51

Directories

Genealogy

Land and Property Records

Local Histories

Maps

Military Records

Newspapers and Obituaries

Probate Records

Taxation Records

*1881, 1891 and 1901 tax records are available at Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Record Office. You may search the records by name and date.

Vital Records

Births
Marriages
Divorces
Deaths

Societies and Libraries

Websites

Major Repositories

FamilySearch Resources

Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in resourcing your family.

References

 
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