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Research guide: civil registration

Birth, marriage, and death dates are the cornerstones of any family history, and government vital records are the first place you will look for them.  “Civil registration” refers to the government registration of all births, marriages, and deaths. In Canada, civil registration is a provincial or territorial responsibility.  Access to and availability of records varies from province to province.

Birth, marriage and death records (usually called “vital records”) can provide a wealth of genealogical information. Depending on the record, you may find not only dates but important clues about parents, occupation, birthplace, residence, religion etc.  Death records are often the most informative.

Many vital records have been digitized and are available online.  Ancestry Library, FamilySearch, or Généalogie  Québec  are good places to start your search.

Where to find vital records

Library Resources

Online Resources

Ancestry Library  (In-Library use only) 

  • Vital records from Canada, United States, and many other countries

Généalogie Québec (In-Library use only)

  • Quebec baptism and death certificates (1621-1849); Fonds Drouin registries (1621-1967); and marriage and death certificates (1926-1997)

PRDH (Programme de recherche en démographie historique) (In-Library use only)

  • Quebec  baptisms, marriages, and burials, 1621-1799


Marriage Registers of Upper Canada / Canada West

  • Includes some marriages prior to 1858.  Anglican and Catholic marriages are not included.

County Marriage Registers of Ontario, 1858-1869

  • Includes all denominations

Répértoire alphabétique des mariages des Canadians-français,  1760 – 1935 (Drouin)

Alberta, formerly Northwest Territories, Index to Registration of Births, Marriages,  Deaths, 1870-1905



Website of LDS Family History Center, with billions of genealogy records that can be searched for free.  Includes vital records from Canada, United States, and many other countries.

Provincial sites

 Newfoundland:  The Rooms

  • Records not available online

New Brunswick Provincial Archives

  • Birth, marriage, and death records 1800 – 1965

Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics

  • Births to 1914; marriages to 1939; deaths to 1964

Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Record Office

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec : généalogie

  • Digitized records are available on Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Généalogie Québec.

Archives of Ontario

  • Archives of Ontario hold vital statistics records on microfilm.  Most records are also digitized and available on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Manitoba Vital Statistics

  • Index to births over 100 years ago; Marriages 80+ years; Deaths 70+ years

Saskatchewan Vital Statistics

  • Index to births over 100 years ago; deaths over 70 years ago

Alberta Provincial Archives

  • Online indexes only

British Columbia Archives

  • Index and digitized images; births 1854-1903; marriages 1859-1940; deaths 1872-1993