Birth, marriage and death records

 Tracing birth/marriage/death records of early to middle 1800's can be a real challenge because there were no legal requirements to maintain official records. In Ontario, July 1869 marked the beginning of official records. Prior to this, you'll have to reply on church records and need to know where your ancestor lived and their religious affiliation (Census records will useful here since people didn't move around much back in the day). Browsing hard copy books at the archives can uncover some real gems too. See image below. This was found in an old dusty hardcover Methodist church book. It was a quite a thrill to find as no official record existed at the time. Old clippings are always rich in detail.

Start withFamily Search

FamilySearch is a great place to start. They've scanned a massive amount of records. Login to your free site to SEARCH.  Lots of easy to follow options.  Many images are available to view or download. FamilySearch has partnered with third parties and you might be able to find an image that way.   It's well explained at their site.  

For Ontario birth/marriage/death records, go HERE.   Ontario Archives records are not yet fully available at FamilySearch online. You may have to visit the Archives at York University and use the reels and binders. The staff there are very helpful so just ask them to steer you in the right direction.  

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) includes genealogy records from a few source records. It's worth a look.  Check out LAC here.   

Or go directly to LAC birth/marriage/death records SEARCH.  

Keep your name search loose

Sometimes ancestral names on official birth/marriage/deathrecords don't match.  I know of a situation where a baby was offically named Charles but was know socially as Harold. His kids and descendants had no idea.  Add parents names and dates to your search if you can't find your 'Harold'.  

Death records are registered in the location where the person died, not where they lived. This might be why you are having difficulty finding a record.  If they died in Hospital, this list of Canadian Hospital Directories might help you narrow the possible location where your ancestor died.  

If still no luck, try death notices newspapers of the day.  You can browse by last name at the Ontario Community Newspapers Portal.   

Some Genealogy Societies and Ancestry sites offer paid access to records and some provinces have pay-per-view and download as well.  Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics is the best.  

Ontario (Upper Canada) and History Databases has tons of ancestry information in their searchable database.  Registration is required but access is free.

Library and Archives Canada database includes only genealogy records from a few collections as described at the site.  They also talk about other sources of  records so it's worth a look.  

Check out LAC here

Search -  LAC online for Marriage Bonds, 1779-1858 - Lower & Upper Canada

Willy Jackson death certificate 1869

You can browse by last         SEARCH


Ancestral names on birth, death or marriage certificates may be quite different from the every-day name of your ancestor.  A birth certificate may list the child's name as 'Charles' but he may go through life and death as 'Harold'.  Keep this in mind if you come across a head scratcher or elusive ancestor.  

Be sure to use other ancestryinformation such as parents names to confirm the birth registration is actually your ancestor. Sometimes birth dates are different as well. You may need to expand your range of dates in your search.

Deaths are registered by location where ancestors died, not where they lived.  This might be why you're having trouble finding a death record.  If they died in a hospital, this list of Canadiian Hospital Histories might help.  Go here

Some Genealogy Societies offer paid access to birth, marriage and death copies. Check with your local society as they may have pay-per-view online service. 

Ontario Genealogy has tons of ancestryinformation in their searchable database. They require a registration, but it's free.  SEARCH 

Other sources of  records

Historical birth, marriage and death documents are a provincial jurisdiction and the rules of access vary for each province or territory. Check the relevant jurisdiction (below) for more specific information relating to fees, online access and years available.  

Rootsweb had published an excellent guide related to ancestry  birth, marriage,baptism and death records prior to 1869 when mandatory registration was introduced.  Checkout Rootsweb  HERE.

Knowing your ancestor's religion will help you focus on early church records for years prior to mandatory civil registration . Read more on old church records at Family Search . Estate files  are useful as well in determining dates of death. Archives of Ontario research guide 206 will help you with looking up a will in court records that are stored on microfilm at the archives.

At FamilySearch you can explore the online records by collection type or location.  SEARCH

Ontario GenWeb offers a treasure trove of free information relating to Ontario genealogy.  Visit  their site for more information and guidance on finding birth, marriage and death records.

St. James Cathedral Museum and Archives has BMDMrecords dating from 1800 that are available for research and reference for members of the congregation and the public. Access is free but they do ask for a modest $20 donation to help with expenses.  For more information or to arrange access, email the archives: