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.
The following years have been released by the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency:
- Births: 1854 - 1903
- Marriages: 1872 - 1941
- Deaths: 1872 - 1996
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 1941 indexes to marriage registrations and the 1989 to 1996 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.
- Registers of births, marriages, and deaths are from Service Alberta - Family and Life Events
- Births: 1870-1897
- Marriages: 1870-1942
- Deaths: 1870-1967
Saskatchewan civil registration records are held by the provincial Vital Statistics Office.
- 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 civil registration records are held by the provincial Vital Statistics Agency.
- 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.
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.
New BrunswickIntroduction 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
- 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
- Births: 1917-present
- Marriages: 1942-present
- Deaths: 1967-present
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Civil records of birth, marriage and death records are kept by the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety - Vital Statistics. Additional details can be found on their Genealogy at the Public Archives page.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
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.
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. Contact the Vital Statistics office for information.
Northwest TerritoriesThe 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' 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.