Ontario Probate Records

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Archives of Ontario Research Guides[edit | edit source]

This pathfinder explains how to find wills (usually within estate files) that were filed with the Court of Probate and Surrogate Courts between the years 1793 to 1970.

History[edit | edit source]

  • Probate records have been kept at the district or county level in Ontario by Surrogate Courts since 1793.
  • Between 1793 and 1858, a central Probate Court of the province dealt with estates valued above a certain amount of money. When the Probate Court was abolished in 1858, the Surrogate Courts took over its functions.
  • Registers are court order books recording petitions and grants of probate and administrators' bonds.
  • In estate files you may find wills, inventories, and letters of administration.
  • The original probate records are at the Archives of Ontario and at district land registry offices. The Family History Library and the Archives of Ontario have microfilm copies of many probate records for most Ontario counties. These include wills and indexes to 1930.
  • As county and district boundaries changed, surrogate Court records from the original districts were taken over by one of the successor counties.

Wills in Land Records[edit | edit source]

Wills involving land transactions were often not recorded with the court; but they were copied into deed books or general register books filed with registrars of deeds at land offices. See Ontario Land and Property.

Finding an Estate File[edit | edit source]

Finding an estate file is usually a two stage process:

  • First, examine the INDEX microfilm in order to find an estate file number.
  • Second, find the correct ESTATE FILE microfilm that contains the will and other documentation that you are seeking.

Before 1859[edit | edit source]

Before 1859, wills were probated either by the province-wide Court of Probate or the local Surrogate Courts.

  • The Court of Probate handled estates with property valued over £5 or that extended over two or more Districts.
  • The Surrogate Courts handled smaller estates with property within one District.

With the abolition of the Court of Probate in 1858 the Surrogate Courts assumed complete responsibility for estate actions.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Search both indexes:

Finding the Microfilm of Estate Records[edit | edit source]

1859 to 1970[edit | edit source]

At the Archives of Ontario[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Digitized Microfilms[edit | edit source]

Many county probate records, microfilmed and digitized, are available online. To see whether records are available online:
1. Click on FamilySearch Catalog.
2. In the Place search, type in "Canada, Ontario [county name]". Click "Search".
3. Scroll down to the "Probate records ".Click on the title, which is a link.
4. Find the collection entry appropriate for the time period you need. Click on the link.
5. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right the listing for each microfilm. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.
6. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.

After 1970[edit | edit source]

The Archives of Ontario does not hold these estate files. They are available only through the courthouse in the County or District where the will was probated or the estate administered.

How to Access Microfilmed Records at the Archives of Ontario[edit | edit source]

Once you find out there is a microfilm you should search for probable probate records, there are several options: