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Ontario Church Records

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Overview of Church Records[edit | edit source]

Consult church registers for records of baptisms, marriages, and burials before 1869—the year civil vital registration began in Ontario. These registers may be useful to 1930, when complete civil vital registration was finally achieved. Religious affiliation can be determined from family sources or census records beginning in 1851.

You should search the registers of all denominations in the area where your ancestor lived, since many baptisms were performed in the nearest church, regardless of the family's religious affiliation. At certain periods of Ontario's history, only some denominations were allowed to perform marriages. In many cases an individual had to be married by a priest or minister of a religion other than his own. The following history traces these changes:

1793: Before 1793, only Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy could legally perform marriages.

1793-1798:  Marriages could be performed by Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy and district clerks if the couple resided more than eighteen miles from an Anglican minister. Despite legal restrictions, a few Lutheran and Presbyterian ministers performed marriages before 1798 and recorded them in church registers.

1798-1831:  Anglican, Calvinist, Church of Scotland, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic clergy could perform marriages.

1831-1858:  All denominations mentioned above as well as Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians could perform marriages. Only non-Catholic and non-Anglican clergy were required to keep marriage registers for the inspection of civil authorities, separate from regular parish records.

1858-1869:  Clergy of all denominations could perform marriages. Clergy of all faiths were requested to transcribe information into county marriage registers; many did not comply.

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has microfilmed and/or digitized records for churches in the Canada.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under Prince Edward Island, the county, or a town.
  • Because the churches gave copies of their records to the government for civil registration, search under both thhe "Church records" and "Civil registration" topics.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of Canada, Ontario.
b. Click on the "Church records" and "Civil registration" topics. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
c. Or, click on Places within Canada, Ontario at the top of the page, and a list of provinces will appear.
d. Click on your province.
e. Click on the "Church records" and "Civil registration" topics. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
f. Next, click on Places within Canada, Ontario, [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
g. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
h. Click on the "Church records" and "Civil registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
i. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Consult available finding aids.[edit | edit source]

These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.


Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.


Here you will find archive information unique to the province. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Archives of Ontario[edit | edit source]

The Archives of Ontario
134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M7A 2C5
Email Address: reference@ontario.ca
Fax Number: 416-327-1999
Telephone: Your call will be answered by the third ring, and you will have the option of reaching a person. Your call will not be redirected more than once. All calls will be returned within one working day. 1-800-668-9933 Toll-Free Number (Ontario only) 416-327-1600

Toronto Public Library[edit | edit source]

Niagara Falls Public Library[edit | edit source]

Anglican[edit | edit source]

The Anglican Church in Canada is sometimes called Church of England or Protestant Episcopal Church. The Anglican Church in Ontario maintains a regional archives system. Their "Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario" has no relation to the territorial boundaries of the "political" province of Ontario. For example, Northwestern Ontario is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land, based in Winnipeg.


Diocese of Algoma[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Algoma Archives
Arthur A. Wishart Library
Algoma University
1520 Queen St. East
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2G4
Canada
Phone: 705.949.2101

Researchers who require verification of a record from a parish register can submit a request for this information. An individual must complete a Search Request Form and forward it to the Diocese of Algoma Synod Office. Search Request Forms are available on the diocesan website. A money order for the search fee payable to Algoma University must accompany the form.
  • Persons interested in doing extensive research for a family or parish history must arrange to visit Algoma University and do the research themselves. If this is not feasible, university student(s) can be hired to do the research. Arrangements for this can be made through the University Archivist. The person making the request for the research will be responsible for paying the costs of hiring the student.

It comprises the Ontario districts of Algoma, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Manitoulin, and parts of the districts of Nipissing and Timiskaming. The diocese forms a wide band stretching from just west of Thunder Bay on the northern shore of Lake Superior east to the border of Ontario and Quebec.


Diocese of Huron[edit | edit source]

The Verschoyle Phillip Cronyn Memorial Archives
The Anglican Diocese of Huron
Huron University College
1349 Western Road
London, ON  N6G 1H3
Canada
Phone:  519-645-7956


The Archives page (Click on "Huron Archives", then on "The Verschoyle Phillip Cronyn Memorial Archives") gives the following information: Contact information, fee schedules, Privacy Act information, and the research policies of the Anglican Church.

Records for parishes in the counties of Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, Waterloo, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford, Brant, Essex, Kent, Elgin, and Norfolk


Ministry of Mishamakweesh, Indigenous Spiritual (formerly Diocese of Keewatin) Archives[edit | edit source]

Housed at the General Synod Archives
80 Hayden Street
Toronto, ON M4Y 3G2
Phone: 416-924-9199 x279
E-mail: archives@national.anglican.ca

Diocese of Moosonee[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Moosonee Archives
J.N. Desmarais Library
First Floor
935 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury, ON
P3E 2C6 Canada
Telephone: 705.675.1151 ext. 3306
E-mail:archives@laurentian.ca

There are 69 parishes in the Diocese of Moosonee for which we have records. They mainly consist of documents that were produced, received, and accumulated by the parishes. Due to the fragile state of preservation of the parish registers and the nature of the information, these are not accessible to researchers. The archives' employees will do the search for any request of baptism, marriage and burial records.


Archives staff will provide assistance with research services; however, we are unable to commit to more than two hours of our time for such research. As an alternative, we can provide you with names of freelance researchers who, for an hourly fee, can do the research for you. Although we can provide you with names of researchers, it is your responsibility to negotiate the agreement with him or her. The LU archives is not responsible for the research done by these researchers.

Diocese of Niagara[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Niagara Archives
Mills Memorial Library, Lower Level
McMaster University
1280 Main St. W.,
Hamilton, ON,
Canada  L8S 4L6 Phone: (905)905-527-1316 x200


Records related to the Counties of Wellington, Halton, Wentworth, Haldimand, Lincoln, and Welland.


Diocese of Ontario[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Ontario Archives
90 Johnson St.
Kingston, ON K7L 1X7
Canada
Phone: 613-544-4774

The Anglican Diocese of Ontario Archives (ADOA) has extensive holdings of records from the Anglican parishes of this diocese, including parish registers of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials as well as vestry minutes, accounts, land documents, sentences of consecrations, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and more. Please feel free to book an appointment with the ADOA staff in order to do the research on site, or the staff may be hired to do the research for you. See “Services and Fees” section.


Records for parishes in the counties of Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington, Frontenac, Leeds and Grenville.


Diocese of Ottawa[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives
71 Bronson Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1R 6G6
Canada
Phone: 613-232-7124 Ext 234

Records related to the Counties of Renfrew, Lanark, Carleton, Russell, Prescott, Dundas, Stormont, Glengarry, and the District of Nipissing east of North Bay. Fees are charged for certified copies, reproductions, and genealogical research. Photocopying of Parish Registers is not permitted.


Diocese of Keewatin[edit | edit source]

The Diocese of Keewatin was formed in 1902. It ceased to exist as of July 31, 2014 after the creation of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. The territory of the diocese included north western Ontario and Eastern Manitoba. Some parishes in the southern Ontario region were transferred to the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. The Diocese of Keewatin fonds. — 1846-2014 (50 m textual records and other material) are stored dat the General Synod Archives.
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 3G2 Canada
Phone: (416) 924-9192


Diocese of Rupert's Land[edit | edit source]

The Diocese of Keewatin was a diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada. As of 1 August 2014, it no longer had any territorial jurisdiction, but it continued to exist as a legal entity until 30 September 2015, when it was formally closed. The southern parishes in the diocese were transferred to the Diocese of Rupert's Land on 1 August 2014.[1]

Diocese of Rupert's Land Archives
935 Nesbitt Bay
Winnipeg, MB R3T 1W6
Canada
Telephone: 204-992-4203
Toll free in Manitoba: 1-866-693-4418
E-mail: archives@rupertsland.ca
Fax: 204-992-4219

  • Request for Information From Parish Registers Fees required listed in form. Fees may be paid in cash, by cheque or credit card (Visa or Mastercard). Please make cheques payable to The Diocese of Rupert’s Land.nPayment must be received before search begins and is non-refundable.

Diocese of Toronto[edit | edit source]

Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives
135 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, ON
M5C 1L8 Canada
Phone: 416-363-6021 or 1-800-668-8932


Records for parishes in the counties of Simcoe, Peel, York, Ontario, Victoria, Durham, Haliburton, Peterborough, Northumberland, and the east third of Dufferin.


Baptist[edit | edit source]

The Canadian Baptist Archives
McMaster Divinity College
1280 :Main Street West  Room 152
Hamilton, ON   L8S 4K1 :
CANADA
Fax:  905-577-4782
Phone: (905) 525-9140 :x23511 or x23512

  • Several hundred Baptist congregations have deposited their original records in the Archives, which also contains the official records of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, Union d’Eglises Baptist Francaises au Canada, and other organizations.
  • Genealogical Research Policy (1 August 2020): Genealogical researchers have found the Canadian Baptist Archives (CBA) to be of assistance in accessing important information about family members. Genealogical researchers are always welcome to come and use the archives in person at no cost. Before researchers arrive at the archives, the archivist can provide upon request a list of material that may be relevant to their research. All other information relating to fees and services can be found on the Fees Information web page. Starting September 1, 2011, due to our limited hours of operation, the CBA will no longer perform genealogical research for patrons. Patrons that cannot come to the archives in person will need to hire a professional researcher to do this work for them.

Catholic[edit | edit source]

The Drouin Collection, which includes records from 1621-1967, is available online as five separate databases. This French-Canadian collection, written mainly in French, has over 15 million genealogical and vital records. The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church. For more details see the Wiki article: The Drouin Collection: Six Databases.
Most pre-1910 records of Catholic parishes in Ontario have been microfilmed and digitized and are available through the FamilySearch Collection. The microfilming was done so that priests in the local churches did not have to deal with genealogical inquiries.
  • Exceptions are listed below:
Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall (Stormont and Glengarry Counties)
220 Chemin Montreal
P.O. Box 1388
Cornwall, ON K6H 5V4
CANADA
Phone: (613) 933-1138
Catholic Diocese of Hamilton Archives
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
CANADA
Phone: [905] 528-7988

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Wilfrid Laurier University Archives and Special Collections
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5
Canada
Phone:519.884.0710 x3906
E-mail:libarch@wlu.ca

  • Catalog
  • The Archives holds the records of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (and predecessors) and also the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (and predecessors). Holdings include the records of hundreds of Lutheran congregations across Canada.

Concordia Lutheran Seminary
470 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catharines, Ontario L2T 4C3
Canada
Telephone: (905) 688-2362
The East District archives is located here, and the archivist has been able to secure East District churches’ archives which had been housed in the United States and move them here.


Mennonite[edit | edit source]

Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel College
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L 3G6 Canada
Phone:519-885-0220


Essex-Kent Mennonite Historical Association
31 Pickwick Drive
Leamington, Ontario
N8H 4T5 Canada
Phone: 519-322-0456

Moravian[edit | edit source]

The Moravian Archives:
41 West Locust Street
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18018
United States :of America
Phone: (610) 866-3255

Books[edit | edit source]

Metis Nation[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Once the largest Christian denomination in English-speaking Canada, in 1925 some 70 per cent of its congregations joined with the Methodist Church, Canada and the Congregationalist Union to form the United Church of Canada. [2]

  • A few pre-1925 Presbyterian records are available through the Presbyterian Church in Canada:
Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives
50 Wynford& Drive
Toronto, ON M3C 1J7
Canada
416-441-1111 ext. 310
  • Most Presbyterian records are at archives of the United Church of Canada. 
United Church of Canada Archives
40 Oak Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2C6
Canada
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 1101
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 1101
Fax: 416-231-3103 attn: Archives
E-mail: archives@united-church.ca

Quakers (Society of Friends)[edit | edit source]

Canadian Quaker Archives and Library
Canadian Yearly Meeting Archives
Pickering College
16945 Bayview Avenue
Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 4X2, Canada

Phone: 905-895-1700 x. 247
Fax: 905-895-9076
Email: cym-archivist@quaker.ca


Quaker Archives
91A Fourth Ave
Ottawa, ON
K1S 2L1, CANADA

Tel: 613-235-8553
Toll Free Canada & U.S.A.: 1-888-296-3222
Fax: 613-235-1753


United Church of Canada[edit | edit source]

United Church records include Methodist, most Presbyterian, and Congregational church records dating from before the 1925 merger which formed the church. Many records are still in the hands of local clergymen. Others are at:
United Church of Canada Archives
40 Oak Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2C6
Canada
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 1101
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 1101
Fax: 416-231-3103 attn: Archives
E-mail: archives@united-church.ca

Go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination to find more archives.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources. This is especially important if local archives are not given above.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Churches in Canada

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:


Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details


Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Diocese of Keewatin", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diocese_of_Keewatin, accessed 1 August 2020.
  2. "Presbyterian Church in Canada", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada, accessed 26 July 2020.