The Anglican Church of Canada
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]
The Church of England (Anglican) had always been the state church and remains so. This meant that the activities and office-holders of the church were determined by the government, and this included the record-keeping. The C of E (as it was known) kept marriages, baptisms and burials because they were legislated to do so by Parliament, and the custody of the records was also a legal matter.
The first Anglican churches in Canada were in Newfoundland at the time of the early settlements there. As each British settlement was established elsewhere, there were also Anglican churches with rectors trained in England. At the time, all Anglican priests were graduates of the universities at Oxford or Cambridge. This was even true in Québec after the conquest of 1763. There are always Anglican churches in settlements of any size throughout English Canada and their tradition of record-keeping means that researchers should, when in doubt, look in the Anglican registers for their relations. English priests kept good records because they had been trained to do so, and they also accepted their responsibility to marry and baptize anyone who came to them for those sacraments. The records are usually in good condition and may be held by the local church or in diocesan archives.
The official name of the C of E in Canada is now The Anglican Church of Canada. People who are listed in Canadian censuses as ‘Church of Ireland’ are Anglicans from Ireland. ‘Episcopal’ or ‘Episcopalian’ are the American terms for Anglican; if you find your relations listed in this way, you may suspect they are of American origin or have spent time in the USA. Do not confuse this with ‘Methodist Episcopal’ which is something else entirely. Scottish Anglicans belong to the Episcopal Church of Scotland; the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian.
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]
Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:
- 1621-1968 - Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, index and images ($). Can be used free-of-charge at a Family History Center.
- 1642-1967 - Quebec index to civil copy of church records, 1642-1902, digitized, browsable index.
- 1763-1967 - Quebec, non-Catholic parish registers, 1763-1967, images only.
- 1661-1959 - Canada, Births and Baptisms, 1661-1959 Index only.
- 1661-1949 - Canada, Marriages, 1661-1949 Index only.
- 1664-1955 - Canada Deaths and Burials, 1664-1955 Index only.
Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]
- 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 the province or a town.
- 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.
- b. Click on Places within Canada and a list of provinces will appear.
- c. Click on your province.
- d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- e. Or click on Places within Canada, [PROVINCE] and a list of towns will appear.
- f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
- g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. . 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.
Addresses[edit | edit source]
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.
Archives of the Anglican Church of Canada
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden Street
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3G2
Phone: (416) 924-9192
- Directory for Canadian Anglican Archives across the country, including General Synod archives and archives for dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces. Contains contact information and chief archivist for each. Each Diocesan archives is responsible for retaining records created by the respective diocese and they also hold the historical parish records for each diocese which includes the parish birth, marriage and death records. Where noted some archival records are accessible at the local university or provincial archives. Genealogical enquiries requiring baptismal, marriage, or burial parish registers need to be addressed to the diocese in which the event took place. If you don’t know what diocese the event took place e-mail the General Synod Archives at email@example.com
- Parish Registers Inquiry Form Send to the diocese where the baptism, marriage, or burial took place.
Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)
TTY: 613-992-6969 or 1-866-299-1699 (toll-free in Canada)
- Genealogy and Family History
- Aurora: Library Search
- Voilà: Library Search
- Archives Search Select "Textual material" to limit your search. Keywords: name of place or religious denomination with "church records," "registres de paroisses," "registers of births," "marriage records," "registers of marriages," "death registers," "burials," "baptisms," "baptêmes," "mariages," "sépultures".
Library and Archives Canada holds only a small collection of parish registers, none of which are comprehensive for any region. Most are transcripts rather than originals, available on microfilm and listed in our Checklist of Parish Registers (ISBN 0660538636). Due to the heavy volume of inquiries we receive, we are unable to conduct searches in parish registers.
Canadian Council of Archives / Conseil Canadien des archives
130 Albert Street, Suite 1201
Toll free 1-866-254-1403
Fax (613) 565-5445
- ArchivesCanada.ca Archive Search You can search the holdings of more than 800 archives across Canada through this portal, formerly known as CAIN (Canadian Archival Information Network).
In 2018, CRKN merged with Canadiana.org, an organization dedicated to the preservation and access of Canada’s documentary heritage since 1978.
Canadian Research Knowledge Network
411 - 11 Holland Avenue
Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois, 61201
Toll-free phone:800-798-8100 Phone: 309-794-7000
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:
Contact local libraries.[edit | edit source]
Churches sometimes donate their records to local libraries. Call or write to the libraries in the close vicinity of the church your ancestors might have attended and the towns where they resided.
Look for published books with transcripts of church records.[edit | edit source]
Many early records, especially from the 1600's and 1700's, have been transcribed and published in books.
These books can be digitized and available online. Check these online digital libraries:
- Google Books
- Internet Archive
- Digital Public Library of America
- HathiTrust Digital Library
- FamilySearch Digital Library
Consult the PERSI index for records published in journals.[edit | edit source]
- PERSI is the Periodical Source Index and is available at FindMyPast.com:PERSI., ($). It can be searched for free at any Family History Center. PERSI is an index to family and local history periodicals from 1847 to the present. Many of these periodicals publish church records. If you locate an index entry for a church, you will then need to find the periodical. Use the WorldCat.org search engine to find a library near you that carries the periodical. Library reference desks can be contacted to request a copy of articles, or you may need to hire a researcher.
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
- military service details
Carefully 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]
- Merriman, Brenda Dougall. "Canadian Denominational Background Church of England, Mennonites, Amish, Congregationalist, Baptist (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canadian_Denominational_Background_Church_of_England,_Mennonites,_Amish,_Congregationalist,_Baptist_%28National_Institute%29#Church_of_England.