Nova Scotia Vital Records

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Background

In 1864 an attempt was made to register vital statistics in Nova Scotia. From 1867 to 1874 these records are fairly complete. In 1877 birth and death registration was discontinued and in 1908 it began again.

For Nova Scotia, many kinds of vital records of marriages were kept:

  • Township books began in 1760. Some ended when the townships were discontinued after 1860. Marriages recorded in the books may be as early as 1702 and as late as 1920.
  • Provincewide records of marriage bonds were kept between 1763 and 1864. There a few for later years to 1871.
  • County marriage records of licenses and bonds began in 1849.
  • Provincewide records of marriages began in 1864 and are still being kept.

Nova Scotia was settled by the French in 1605. The French did not keep vital records. Instead, they recorded similar information in Catholic Church records. Very few church records of baptism, marriage, and burial for the French settlers exist before 1702. Church of England records for British settlers began in Halifax in 1749.

Births, marriages, and deaths began to be recorded in township books about 1760, when settlers from New England came to Nova Scotia. Townships were never established on Cape Breton Island, and the township books covered only part of the rest of the province. The township books were discontinued beginning about 1860.

Marriage bonds began in parts of Nova Scotia in 1763. Marriage licenses began in most Nova Scotia counties in 1849. Gradually other records were added. Just because a bond or license exists does not mean the marriage took place. You should look for proof of marriage in church records and other records if possible.


Birth and Death

Indexes Birth and death records from 1864 to 1877 are indexed by and within the family name by county.

Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management has put many vital records online. To see these go to:


The Family History Library has the following birth and death records:

  • Nova Scotia. Board of Statistics of Marriages, Births, and Deaths. Births, 1864–1877. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1983. (On 37 Family History Library films beginning with film 1318341) The records organized are by county, then town, then year.
  • Nova Scotia. Board of Statistics of Marriages, Births, and Deaths. Death Records 1864–1877. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1980. (On 38 Family History Library films beginning with 1293436) The records organized are by county and then by year.


Marriage

While there are many Nova Scotia marriage records, the two basic kinds of government marriage records are:

  • Marriage intentions: records that show a couple intended to marry.
  • Marriage returns: records that show a couple actually married.

The terms intentions and returns are not always the terms used in the records. These terms are ways to describe the records. Marriage intentions and marriage returns for your ancestor may be found in several groups of Nova Scotia government vital records. See Tip 2.

Marriage intentions may include bonds and licenses to marry, which show the government allows the marriage to take place.

Marriage records from 1864 to 1908 are indexed by county and (within the county) by the family name. The Family History Library has the following records:

  • Nova Scotia. Board of Statistics of Marriages, Births, and Deaths. Marriage records, 1864–1875. Salt Lake City; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1982–1983. (On 17 films beginning with 1317402) The records organized are by county and then by year.


The Public Archives of Nova Scotia also has marriage licenses from about 1849–1851 to the county cutoff dates. These are available at the Family History Library on the following microfilms:

  • Nova Scotia. Board of Statistics of Marriages, Births, and Deaths. Marriages Licenses, 1849–1918. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1981–1982. (On 535 Family History Library films beginning with 1301853). The records are organized by county and then by year.
The cutoff dates for the above records are:
  • Annapolis 1908
  • Antigonish 1910
  • Cape Breton 1912
  • Colchester 1914
  • Cumberland 1913
  • Digby 1909
  • Guysborough 1906
  • Halifax 1916
  • Hants 1916
  • Inverness 1908
  • Kings 1909
  • Lunenburg 1908
  • Pictou 1917
  • Queens 1910
  • Richmond 1918
  • Shelburne 1908
  • Victoria 1918
  • Yarmouth 1908

Records of marriages after these cutoff dates (as well as of births and deaths after 1908) can be obtained from:

Vital Statistics Offices
Department of Business and Consumer Services
P.O. Box 157
Halifax, NS B3J 2M9
CANADA
Telephone: 902-424-4381 Fax: 902-424-0678
Internet: http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/vstat/history.asp

Marriage bonds exist for 1763–1863 (specifically for the years 1763, 1765, 1770–1780, 1782, 1784–1799, 1801–1850, 1854–1856, and 1858–1863). They are arranged in chronological order, and no index is available. They are located in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and are on the following microfilm at the Family History Library: