User:Rmbackus/sandbox/canada preparation

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Guide to British Columbia ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth, marriage, and death records found in civil registration, census records, church records, and cemetery records.

Original records of vital events—births, marriages, and deaths—are an important element of genealogical research. They comprise primary information about these events, provide evidence about when and where people lived, may include occupation and religion, and define relationships between individuals. Where these records are not available, christening and cemetery records may substitute for birth and death records, and newspaper articles may substitute for births, marriages, and deaths.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

A government civil registration and vital statistics system usually registers all births, marriages, and deaths for citizens and residents, issues certificates for each, and compiles the resulting vital statistics. Also included may be name changes, divorces, and adoptions. In British Columbia, this responsibility lies with the Vital Statistics Agency of the Ministry of Health. British Columbia became a province of Canada in 1871 and began civil registration in 1872. However, Vital Statistics Agency records also include some delayed registration of pre-1872 events, colonial period marriages, and overseas war casualties.

Online Collections with Images[edit | edit source]

The following FamilySearch collections have images of the original registration documents when allowed by privacy laws of the province. For a detailed description of a collection, after opening it click on the "Learn more" link located under the collection description.

The FamilySearch British Columbia, Victoria Times Birth, Marriage and Death Notices, 1901-1939 collection offers newspaper clipping substitutes for original birth, marriage, and death records. The collection is described as follows: "Newspaper clippings pasted onto cards and arranged chronologically. Includes the date (year, month, day) and page number on each card. The newspaper was variously known as the Victoria Times, Victoria Weekly Times, and Victoria Daily Times."

Online Index Collections[edit | edit source]

British Columbia Archives, Royal British Columbia Museum 675 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC V8W 9W2
Genealogy and Family History Web page:

Indexes of births (1854-1903), marriages (1872-1941), deaths (1872-1996), colonial marriages (1859-1872), and baptisms (1836-1888) can be viewed online at the Genealogy search page. A guide for searching the records can be opened by clicking on the help link.

Ancestry index collections are listed below. Information regarding record release periods is noted for those with original vital records. ($)

British Columbia indexes are also found in the FamilySearch Canada Births and Baptisms, 1661-1959 collection.

Ordering Register Copies from the Vital Statistics Agency[edit | edit source]

British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency
PO Box 9657, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC
V8W 9P3
Telephone: (Victoria & Outside B.C.) 250 952-2681, (within B.C.) 1 888 876-1633
Web page with ordering forms and information:

Copies of original registration documents are available on microfilm at the British Columbia Archives, at several libraries in the province, and at the FamilySearch Library (see below). To order copies from the Vital Statistics Agency, click here to open an online fillable Application for Genealogy Certificate. Included with the application are relevant instructions, including the address to which the application is to be sent and the fee. Event records are available when the individuals have been dead for at least 20 years. Attach a copy of the entries you found in indexes to avoid errors.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population. Census records can provide family relationships, age, year of birth, description of property, religion, and place of birth. Recent censuses are generally more complete than earlier ones. They can provide information missing from other records. Use census information with caution because information (which may have been given by any family member) may be incorrect or deliberately falsified. British Columbia was not part of Canada until 1871, so it was first included in the Canadian census in 1881.

  • If at first you don't find a name, try again under another spelling.
  • Photocopy each ancestor's census. Identify where you found it.
  • Look for an ancestor in every census during her or his lifetime.
  • On the family group record show each person's census listings. Add this to the FamilySearch Family Tree.
  • Study others in the same household, neighbors, and anyone with the similar names nearby on the census in community context.

Online Canada Census Indexes and Images[edit | edit source]

Online National Population Schedules of Canada
Free Free at Some Libraries (usually with a library card)* Pay
Automated Genealogy[2] Library Archives Canada[3] Ancestry FHL[4] Ancestry Library[5] Ancestry Home[6]
1921 indexes - - Link Link Link Link
images - - - Link Link Link
1911 indexes - Link Link Link Link Link
images - Link Link Link Link Link
1901 indexes Link Link Link Link Link Link
images - Link Link Link Link Link
1891 indexes Link - Link Link Link Link
images - - Link Link Link Link
1881 indexes Link - Link Link Link Link
images - - Link Link Link Link
  Family Search Automated Genealogy Library Archives Canada Ancestry FHL Ancestry Library Ancestry Home
Free Free at Some Libraries (usually with a library card) Pay

Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • Church records can include baptisms, marriages, burials, membership lists, financial business, and other records for a particular congregation.
  • They may be available online or on microfilm, but frequently they are still with the local church or in centralized archives by religion.
  • Canadian census records, which include the religion of those listed, can be checked to determine which archives to consult.

How to Write for Records[edit | edit source]

Links to Archives[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

See British Columbia Cemeteries for general information about several cemeteries, publications, and the Genealogical Society Cemetery Committee.

Online Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

How to Use the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Microfilm copies of additional church and cemetery records may be identified by searching the online FamilySearch Catalog. Go to FamilySearch Catalog Place Search for guidance in conducting a search for church or cemetery records near a locality where your ancestors lived. Once located, microfilm can be ordered for viewing at one of the worldwide FamilySearch Centers or participating libraries near your home. Introduction to Family History Centers explains how you can receive one-on-one assistance at a Center without charge. Also provided are links to information about the microfilm loan program and how to find a Family History Center.

  • To see all the localities in British Columbia for which the library holds records, Click Here, then click on "Places within Canada, British Columbia."
  • Or you can search or a specific locality:

To search for Vancouver records, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the FamilySearch website.
  2. From the dropdown menu at the "Search" button, select "Catalog."
  3. In the "Place" box, enter "Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver," and click the "Search" button.

Among the search results are three cemeteries collections and four collections of church records. By clicking on the links, two of the cemeteries collections are found to be in "books/monographs" format. For these, a link to the Worldcat website allows the researcher to determine which libraries worldwide have copies of the books. The third cemetery collection includes four reels of microfilm that are available for ordering. By clicking on a reel icon and following the resulting instructions, it can be sent to the Family History Center designated by the researcher. Other reels can be ordered at the same time.

One collection of the church records is in book form. The other three are on microfilm and available for ordering if they are consistent with the time period and religion of the researcher's ancestor.

This example provides a limited view of search options and experiences that can actually be expected. In addition to the microfilm reel icon shown below, one of the other two icons may appear next to the description of a collection. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on this icon will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
FHL icons.png

The results of the example search demonstrate that other record types can also be found in the FamilySearch Catalog. These include probate and wills, land records, emigration and immigration records, and voting records. Finding these record types tends to be a greater research challenge, but should ultimately be pursued in order fully describe one's ancestral history.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. FamilySearch, a free online service of the Family History Library. For a full description of FamilySearch collections, after opening the collection click on the "Learn more" link just below the brief collection description.
  2. Automated Genealogy, a free online service includes links to free images found at the Library and Archives Canada.
  3. Library Archives Canada, a free online service includes links to free images and partial indexes found at the Library and Archives Canada.
  4. Ancestry FHL: is a subscription site that provides online indexes and images to all surviving national and many provincial census records, among other ancestral records. The FHL edition is free only at the Family History Library and local Family History Centers.
  5. Ancestry Library edition of is a slightly smaller library edition that is free only at some public libraries.
  6. Home Edition of is a subscription service for individuals.