There are two main types of cemetery records in Canada:
Information recorded on gravestones, including transcripts of this information.
Information recorded by cemetery officials or caretakers, including sexton’s records and burial ground records such as plot books and maps.
Cemetery records may give the name of the deceased, age at death, date of death or burial, birth year or date of birth, and sometimes marriage information. Sometimes they may give clues about military service, religion, occupation, place of residence at time of death, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge.
Unfortunately, some people could not afford a gravestone or monument. Some monuments have been vandalized or weathered so badly as to be unreadable. Therefore, also search the sexton’s records, which should list everyone who was buried in the cemetery. These records are especially helpful for identifying ancestors not recorded in other records, such as children who died young or women. Relatives may be buried in adjoining plots, so examine the original record rather than an alphabetical transcript.
Sexton records of some burials may have been lost, and some burials may not have been recorded. In isolated areas, most burials were in family plots on the farm itself. Other than a possible family Bible entry, there may have been no written record. On Canada’s prairies, pioneer cemeteries were often located at a point where several homesteads met. Few written records were kept, and monuments were destroyed as these cemeteries were plowed under.
To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where a person was buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, church records, and death certificates.
You may find cemetery locations on maps of the area. See Canada Maps. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of Canadian funeral directors are in:
National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors. Youngstown, Oh.: Nomis Publications, annual. (Family History Library book 973 U24y .)
Some burial records have been indexed with other material in genealogical indexes. See Canada Genealogy. The Family History Library has copies of many tombstone and some sexton records. See the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
[PROVINCE] - CEMETERIES
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY] - CEMETERIES
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [TOWNSHIP] - CEMETERIES
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [CITY] -CEMETERIES
- Canadian Headstone Photo Project
- BillionGraves - Provides photos and GPS locations of grave markers.
A wiki article describing this collection is found at: