Alberta Land and Property Records

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Alberta Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Alberta Background
Local Research Resources

What’s Available on the Internet[edit | edit source]

Websites of Interest[edit | edit source]

Map of Alberta[edit | edit source]

Alberta Land Title Districts Map.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Like Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Alberta was also originally part of Hudson’s Bay Company’s holdings from 1670. The first North West Company post was built in the Peace River District in 1788.

In 1870 this land was acquired by the Dominion of Canada and in 1882 the North West Territories divided into 4 districts:

1. Alberta
2. Assiniboia East, Assiniboia West
3. Saskatchewan
4. Unorganized Territories

In 1905 the Province of Alberta was created.

Provincial Archives of Alberta[edit | edit source]

Homestead Records - Homestead records are deposited with the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

These records have been microfilmed for the period prior to 1930 and are arranged in 4 sections:

1. Alphabetical lists of applicants.
2. Township registers which show who settled on a particular township.
3. Microfilms of applications for homestead.
4. Index to the microfilm reels containing files.

The Register of Water Rights also has an alphabetical index. Land records indexed by land description are:

1. School Land Registers.
2. Timber Registers
3. Parish and Townsite Registers
4. Others.

The Alberta Genealogical Society offers several searchable databases on the Internet. These include:

  • Index to Applications for Alberta Land Patents 1885-1897
  • Index to Alberta Homestead Records 1870-1930
  • Index to Alberta Homestead Records post-1930
Provincial Archives of Alberta
8555 Roper Road
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1
Telephone: 780-427-1750

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives[edit | edit source]

Please refer back to the section in Manitoba regarding the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
130 - 200 Vaughan Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1T5
Telephone: 204-945-4949

Glenbow Museum - Library and Archives[edit | edit source]

The Glenbow Museum’s Library and Archives are the one of Canada’s largest non-governmental repositories and house a great collection of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) land records. There is a searchable database online for both CPR records and Métis research. The Métis database is for surname searching in order to obtain the call number needed to order the microfilmed records. Your librarian can order these for you but you must pay fee per request directly to the librarian.

Glenbow Museum
130 - 9th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 0P3
Telephone: 403-268-4100
Telephone - Library Reference Desk: 403-268-4197
Library Email:
Telephone - Archives Reference Desk: 403-268-4204
Archives Email:

Land Title Offices[edit | edit source]

Edmonton Land Title Office
John E. Brownlee Building
10365 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Telephone: 780-427-2742

Calgary Land Title Office
Service Alberta Building
710 - 4 Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 0K3
Telephone: 403-297-6511

Alberta Genealogical and Family History Societies[edit | edit source]

Alberta Family Histories Society
712 - 16 Avenue NW
Calgary, Alberta T2M 0J8
Telephone: 403-214-1447 (voice mail)

Alberta Genealogical Society
162, 14315 - 118 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4S6

Numerous branches of the Alberta Genealogical Society exist. Please check with them for their contact information.

Land Records[edit | edit source]

The Dominion Land Act of 1871 provided for the surveying of the Canadian Prairies in an orderly and precise manner, thereby making the land available for settlement. Using the U.S. Homestead Act of 1862 as a guide, the federal government proposed that settlers could homestead a quarter-section of land, 160 acres, for the sum of $10. The requirements for gaining ownership of this land were three years residency, construction of a dwelling and clearing of a stipulated amount of land (usually 15 acres).

The Dominion Land Survey was started in 1873. Using the township survey method, the Canadian West was systematically portioned into townships of 36 square miles and sections of one square mile. Each section was divided into four quarter sections. Within each township section, 8 and 26 were reserved for the Hudson’s Bay Company and 11 and 29 for sale to finance public schools. In addition, the Canadian Pacific Railroad was given every other unclaimed quarter section (odd numbers) as part of their agreement to make the prairies accessible to the new settlers.

Using the meridian passing through Fort Garry as the ‘1st Meridian’, surveyors numbered the ranges west, with the fourth meridian marking the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the townships north from the U.S.-Canadian border. Each quarter section within the 36 mile square was marked with iron stakes which soon became the symbol of freedom and hope for a better future as immigrant settlers sought out their own 160 acres of land.

Township Survey[edit | edit source]

Alberta Township Survey Example.jpg

The Federal Government retained responsibility for the distribution of homestead land until the provinces were formed in 1905. As the survey crews moved west, making new land available, land offices opened in major communities. Whether moving into the area as part of a colony or as an individual seeking a better life, the new settler had to study the surveyors’ maps, consider the lay of the land, the availability of water, transportation routes, accessibility to a community. He would then pay the $10 filing fee and be given the description of his homestead i.e. NW16.12.4.W4—the northwest quarter of section 16, township 12, range 4, west of the 4th meridian.

Homestead Records[edit | edit source]

The granting of homesteads generated paper records which can provide a limited amount of information for the family genealogist. An application for a homestead had to be completed and will give such data as age, place of birth, dates of entry, construction of residence, breaking of land and crops and livestock. It also asks where the applicant lived if not on the land, and members of his family (but not their names). To qualify for a homestead grant, the applicant had to:

  • be a male, 21 years of age; women could qualify if they were the sole support for their family
  • live on the homestead at least 6 months in each of their first three years
  • crop at least 30 acres, build a house and a barn for farm animals, become a naturalized British citizen

If, after three years, the applicant had fulfilled all conditions of the Homestead Act, he was recommended for patent and would receive title to the land. After filing for a homestead, the applicant could also file for a ‘pre-emption’ and would be allowed to purchase adjacent land from the government if it was available. The land was then registered in the Lands Titles Office, then records were kept up to date of all changes on the land, new owners, mortgages or other liens, etc.

Original homestead records (1885-1930) have been deposited at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Name indexes will provide the legal land description and an index of these land description will give the file number. Note the date of entry. Families generally arrived in the country within three months of this date.

Homestead registers for Alberta from about 1885 to 1930 are available on microfilm at the Provincial Archives and online at:

The records are arranged by land location. There is an index to these records. The township registers list the name of the applicant, the application date, and the date the patent was granted. There are related files which contain actual applications for homestead and give the name, marital status, citizenship, and previous residence of applicants and the number of ages of their family members.

Microfilm copies of the homestead records are held by Glenbow Archives, Calgary Public Library and some FamilySearch Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Transcribed Application for Homestead Patent[edit | edit source]

Used with permission of the family.

Alberta Application for Homestead Patent.jpg

School Land Records[edit | edit source]

Sections 11 and 29 of each township were set aside as ‘school land.’ The sale of this land was to finance public schools. Records of school land sales, which includes applications, testimonials and land patents are at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. A guide is available with an alphabetical name index which will provide the legal description of the land. To obtain a file number, check the legal land description index.

Canadian Pacific Railroad Land Sales[edit | edit source]

Although the early settlers were more interested in receiving a ten dollar homestead, later arrivals often had to look at buying their land. The Canadian Pacific Railroad held nearly every second section on the prairies and were able to guarantee transportation to major towns along their routes. The original contract documents no longer exist, but other records related to Canadian Pacific Railroad land sale, both rural and within townships, are held by Glenbow Archives.

Municipal Land Records[edit | edit source]

The land within a city, town or village is subdivided into lots, blocks and plans. The Provincial Land Record Offices holds the records for each transaction concerning the land. Municipal offices are responsible for setting tax rates and keeping tax rolls. Check with the local office first: some municipalities have transferred their records to archives.

Alberta Department of the Attorney General
Land Titles and Surveys, Historical Department
J.E. Brownlee Building
10365 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 1W7
Telephone: (780) 427-2742
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:15 am-4:00 pm

This office contains records for all land from the 35th Township (Innisfail) to the northern border of Alberta.

For Land Records South of Innisfail[edit | edit source]

Alberta Department of the Attorney General
Land Titles and Surveys
620 - 7th Avenue, South West
Calgary, Alberta T2P 2R4
Telephone: (403) 297-6511
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:15 am-4:00 pm

When soliciting information from Land Titles Offices it is absolutely necessary to have the legal description of the land being searched. There is a fee per title. It is requested that a telephone number be included when writing.[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Alberta Land Records (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),