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Genealogy and Family History   Tags: family history, genealogy, history  

Explore your roots at VPL and beyond: resources and services for genealogists
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Civil Registration Print Page


Birth, marriage and death records can provide a wealth of information for the genealogist. Varying amounts of information about parents, occupation, birthplace, place of residence, etc. are available depending on the type of record. Death records are often the most comprehensive.

Government registration of births, marriages and deaths is usually referred to as civil registration and the records as vital records. In Canada, the responsibility for all aspects of civil registration falls to the individual provinces and territories. Availability and access vary from province to province.

The Vancouver Public Library holds microfilm resources relating to British Columbia and Ontario records. These include a complete set of available British Columbia registrations and a set of indexes to the Ontario registrations. For the other provinces you must contact the specific provincial Vital Statistics office.

Please visit our Civil Registration booklist for a list of books related to this topic.


Civil Registration


The following years have been released by the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency:

  • Births: 1854 - 1903
  • Marriages: 1872 - 1940
  • Deaths: 1872 - 1995

Indexes to historical British Columbia civil registrations are available online using the Vital Events Search. This database can also be used to search for baptisms (1836-1888) and colonial marriages (1859-1872).

Records are available in two formats - microfilm and online digitized images. The Vancouver Public Library has the complete set of publicly released microfilms (*). These are on Level 6 at the Central Library. In addition to the indexes, the Vital Events Search currently hosts digitized images online; new digitized images will be loaded on a regular basis. The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes and over 1 million digitized images to British Columbia births, marriages and deaths. While records are being digitized, it is recommended that you search both these databases to determine if a digitized copy is available.

If a digitized image is not found online, the Vital Events Search can be used to find the appropriate B.C. Archives microfilm reel number and the registration number of the record that you are looking for. For detailed instructions about using the index and locating the records, see our guide to Finding B.C. Civil Registration Records.

Access to restricted B.C. civil records may be available under certain conditions from the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency.

NOTE: There has been no general release of the marriage and death registration microfilm reels since 2009. The 1934 to 1940 indexes to marriage registrations and the 1989 to 1995 indexes to death registrations are available online, but the corresponding marriage and death registrations are not publicly available on microfilm. If a digitized image is not found online, copies of individual registrations not available on microfilm can be ordered directly from the BC Vital Statistics Agency - See Order a Certified Copy for more information.

* NOTE: The following death registration reels have gone missing from the collection.

  • B13355 (1976)
  • B13375 (1941-1944) - Aboriginal registrations
  • B13377 (1950-1956) - Aboriginal registrations


Consult our Civil Registration booklist for two index books covering records up to 1905.

Service Alberta - Family and Life Events

Genealogical Search - Provincial Archives of Alberta

  • Birth records
  • Marriage records
  • Death records


Saskatchewan Vital Statistics Office

Saskatchewan civil registration records are held by the provincial Vital Statistics Office.

Saskatchewan: Genealogy Index Searches

  • Births more than 100 years ago.
  • Marriages are not yet available. When added, the database will include marriages more than 75 years ago.
  • Deaths prior to 1917 (in due course, the database will includes all deaths more than 70 years ago).


Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency

Manitoba civil registration records are held by the provincial Vital Statistics Agency.

Manitoba: Vital Statistics: Genealogy Searches for Unrestricted Records

  • Births more than 100 years ago
  • Marriages more than 80 years ago
  • Deaths more than 70 years ago

Access to some Ontario civil registration records is limited due to privacy regulations. The following records are open to the public without restriction:

  • Births - 97 years ago or earlier
  • Marriages - 82 years ago or earlier
  • Deaths - 72 years ago or earlier

Vancouver Public Library

The Library has birth, marriage and death microfilm indexes to vital records held by the Archives of Ontario for:

  • Births - 1869-1914
  • Marriages - 1873-1929
  • Deaths - 1869-1939

Using the information provided by the above indexes, you can request the microfilm containing the actual record from the Archives of Ontario. For more information on Ontario civil registration records, see the Finding Ontario Civil Registration Records section.

Ancestry Library Edition

Access to indexes and digitized images of many Ontario birth, marriage, and death records is available at the Vancouver Public Library through Ancestry Library Edition.


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes and digitized images of Ontario birth, marriage and death registrations, although the website may not include one or two of the most recent years.


Beginning in 1926, births, marriages and deaths in Quebec could be reported directly to a civil office, but it was 40 more years until significant numbers were reported only to such an office. The modern Quebec civil registration system was not fully established until 1994.

Before the formal civil registration registry was established, baptisms, marriages and burials were often recorded in church or parish registers. Until 1994, copies of parish records were sent to local courthouses where they served as civil and vital records.

Copies of parish registers submitted to local courthouses prior to 1900 have been deposited in the 9 regional centres of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Records from 1900 to present are in custody of the Directeur de l'état civil Quebec.


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes and digitized images to many Quebec births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.


New Brunswick

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick: Vital Statistics from Government Records

Indexes and digitized images for some records are available on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website. View their Record Series Introduction page for more information about the index entries and digitized records available in the Vital Statistics Search Engine.
  • Births from 1800 - 1921
  • Marriages from 1847-1965
  • Deaths from 1815- 1966


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes to New Brunswick births, baptisms and deaths.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics

  • Births: 1864-1877, 1908-1915
  • Delayed births: 1830-1915
  • Marriage bonds: 1763-1864
  • Marriage registrations: 1864-1940
  • Deaths: 1864-1877, 1908-1965
  • City of Halifax deaths: 1890-1908

Access Nova Scotia Vital Statistics

  • Births: 1917-present
  • Marriages: 1942-present
  • Deaths: 1967-present


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes to Nova Scotia births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths.


Prince Edward Island Vital Statistics

Civil records of birth, marriage and death records are kept by the provincial Department of Health and Wellness - Vital Statistics. Additional details can be found on their Public Archives and Records Office - Births, Marriages, Deaths page.


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes and digitized images to many Prince Edward Island baptisms, marriages and deaths.


Newfoundland and Labrador Vital Statistics Division

The Newfoundland and Labrador Vital Statistics Division registers all vital events – births, adoptions, marriages and deaths and provides certificates regarding some of these vital events to the public.


The FamilySearch website includes searchable indexes and digitized images of many Newfoundland and Labrador birth, marriage and death registrations.



Yukon Vital Statistics has records of births, marriages, and deaths from 1896, when civil registration began in the Territory. Early records are incomplete. By the 1940s, records are more complete. Requests should be directed to:

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories' Vital Statistics office in Inuvik has birth, marriage, and death certificates staring in 1925. Due to the remoteness of many of the communities, many of the early records are not complete. There are restrictions on access. Contact the Vital Statistics office for information.


1925-March 31, 1999

Nunavut was part of the Northwest Territories up until April 1, 1999. Civil registration records from 1925 to March 31, 1999 for events that occurred in the present Nunavut Territory are held by the Northwest Territories' Northwest Territories' Vital Statistics office in Inuvik.

After April 1, 1999

Births, marriages, and deaths that occurred on or after April 1, 1999 are registered with Nunavut's Department of Health.


Featured Booklists

Cover Art
Civil Registration
Birth, marriage and death records can provide a wealth of information for the genealogist, and the Library has resources that can help you discover where to search for these records.



Websites of Interest

Electronic Resources


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