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Alberta Church Records

Historical Background

The earliest denominations, Wesleyan Methodists and Roman Catholics, came into Alberta in the 1840s. They were followed by the Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Latter-day Saints. The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists combined in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada.

Information Found in the Records

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

Finding the Records

Look for online records.

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!

MetaSearch

Indexes

Brethren in Christ

Dutch Reformed

Evangelical Christian

Lutheran

Mennonite

Methodist

Quaker


Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.

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 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, Alberta.
b. Click on Places within Canada, Alberta and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town or the town where the church was, if different.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. 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.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.

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

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.

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.

Provincial Archives of Alberta

To assist the churches in preserving their records, the government of Alberta has made several agreements with them, designating the Provincial Archives of Alberta as the official repository for these records. The Archives can provide contract research services and homestead searches for a fee.

Provincial Archives of Alberta
8555 Roper Road
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1
Telephone: 780-427-1750
Email: paa@gov.ab.ca

  • The Provincial Archives holds the records for three Anglican dioceses (160 parishes).
    • the Diocese of Edmonton (1889–1981)
    • the Diocese of Athabasca (1874–1982)
    • and the Diocese of Mackenzie River (1859–1966).
These records include registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths, as well as confirmations, minutes, newsletters, Bishop’s correspondence, property records, and other related material.
  • The Provincial Archives holds the Catholic records for:
    • the Religious Orders of Les Oblates de Marie Immaculée (129 parishes, 1842–1981)
    • the Les Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge (1869–1973)
    • the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (1849–1980)
    • the Sisters of Providence (1886–1978)
    • the Soeurs Grises/Grey Nuns (1877-1967)
    • and the Immaculée-Conception Parish, Edmonton (1905–1981).
These records include registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, and communions, as well as historical information concerning events and individuals in the parishes. Many of these records are in French.
  • The Provincial Archives holds the United Church of Canada records for the Alberta Conference (1853–1982). Included are the records of the three denominations which united in 1925 to form this church:
    • Congregational records (1910–1912),
    • Methodist records (1863–1925),
    • and Presbyterian records (1887–1925).
Eighty-six pastoral congregations are represented. These records include some baptisms, marriages, burials, clergy rolls, hospital records, accounts, and correspondence.
  • The Provincial Archives has preserved some records of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (Alberta Synod).
  • Also held are the records of some congregations of Western Canada Synod, Lutheran Church in America from 1898–1983 (76 congregations), which include registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, and confirmations, as well as church minutes, synod newsletters, correspondence, and accounts.

Anglican Church Records

Anglican Diocese of Calgary

  • The Anglican Diocese of Calgary was formed in 1888 and originally included the present day Diocese of Edmonton which was partitioned out in 1913. In 1968, a 75 miles strip west of the Saskatchewan border was added, extending the diocese across the southern part of the province and north and south from the U.S. border to Ponoka.
  • Although a few churches retain their records, most of the records of the Diocese of Calgary are held by the University of Calgary Archives, however they must be accessed through the Diocesan Office.

University of Calgary Archives Special Collections
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Telephone: 403-220-7271

  • Diocese of Calgary Fonds The university holds the Anglican Diocese of Calgary records, 1881-1991, for many parishes.
  • Permission for access must be obtained first from the Synod Office. Contact the office by mail or by phone, providing the name of the individual and the name of the church or the geographical area. There is a cost per search:
    • Anglican Diocese of Calgary of Canada
      180-1209 59th Avenue SE
      Calgary, Alberta T3C 0M5
      Telephone: (403) 243-3673
      Fax: (403) 243-2182
      Email: diocese@calgary.anglican.ca
      Find-A-Church: A few parishes have retained their records. The most recent records are still in the local parish.

Anglican Diocese of Edmonton

  • The Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, established in 1913, was expanded in 1927 to include a portion of the Diocese of Saskatchewan west of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.
  • The Anglican Church records of the Diocese of Edmonton (1894-1991) which includes registers of births, marriages and burials are held at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: See above.
  • Find-A-Church: A few parishes have retained their records. The most recent records are still in the local parish.

Anglican Diocese of Athabasca

  • The Anglican Diocese of Athabasca was founded in 1874 and included the area north of 15 miles south of Athabasca and east-west across the province. In 1884 that territory north of the 60 degree latitude was removed to become the Diocese of Mackenzie River. The same area was returned in 1933, then removed again in 1950 to form the Diocese of the Arctic.
  • Records of the Diocese, including parish registers, are held at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: See above.
  • Parishes: A few parishes have retained their records. The most recent records are still in the local parish.

Lutheran Church Records

In Alberta there are two Lutheran Churches: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Lutheran Church–Canada. Seeking out Lutheran Church records can be complicated by the number of different congregations (Wisconsin Synod, Manitoba Synod, Independent Synod, etc.) and the unions of one or more of these groups.

Lutheran Church-Canada

E-mail 12 August 2020: "Lutheran Church registers held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA); As we only acquired them in 2018, these records are still being processed.... The archivist that is working on that... shared the attached file list with me, which outlines the parishes from which we have registers. Unfortunately, we have not yet transcribed the date ranges for each register. They do start in the late 1800s, but each one will cover a different time period (sometimes even by sacrament, as in baptisms 1895-1945; marriages 1901-1966; burials 1899-1945) When it comes to access, the bulk of these records will be restricted under the following time periods (under agreement between the PAA and the church).

Record Type

Restriction
Baptismal 100 years
Marriage 100 years
Burial 20 years
As I previously mentioned, these registers tend to contain baptisms, marriages and burials in one. This means that even for public records, we will often have to locate a person’s name within a mixed register on behalf of a researcher (as opposed to the record being browsed in our reading room). As we are unable to copy or photograph these records, we can supply verbal confirmation or a typed transcript. The cost for this service is currently $10 per transcript + $3 domestic shipping + GST. Natalia Pietrzykowski, Proviincial Archives of Alberta

Alberta Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Archives
Alberta Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
10014 – 81 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T6E 1W8
Canada
Phone: 780-439-2636
Toll free: 1-866-430-2636
Email: abtsynodoffice@elcic.ca

The Synod was established in 1962 to administer Lutheran congregations in Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon Territories. Many of these congregations originated in Swedish, German, Icelandic, Finnish, Danish and American settlements. The records, although often in their community’s native language, represent over 75 congregations and provide insight into these early settlements.

Mennonite Church Records

Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
223-2946 32 Street NE
Calgary, AB T1Y 6J7

E-mail:receptionmhsa@gmail.com
Phone:403-250-1121

Presbyterian Church Records

  • 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. The records for these churches, and Presbyterian records from earlier days, may be at the United Church or Presbyterian archives. If they are not at one, ask at the other.[1]
  • A small collection of Presbyterian records are at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: See above. These include minutes of the Presbytery (1881) on microfilm and location of churches.[2]


  • For other congregations, records traditionally remain with the church; try the local church first. Then try these archives:


The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives
50 Wynford Dr.
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1J7
Telephone: (416) 441-1111 ext 310

Roman Catholic Records

Oblates of Mary Immaculate

  • Missionaries of the Oblate order established missions and churches throughout the province.
  • Records of five religious orders and one parish of the Church are held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta: (See above):
    • Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée, 1842 to 1986
    • Les Soeurs de L’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge, 1868 to 1987
    • The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, 1849 to 1990
    • The Sisters of Providence, 1886 to 1978
    • Soeurs Grises/Grey Nuns, 1877 to 1967
    • St. Joachim Parish-Edmonton, 1891 to 1985
  • Consult A Guide to the Archives of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan--WorldCat
  • Some oblate records are closed (restricted). For transcripts of such records you will have to contact either the parish office or the diocese (or archdiocese) if you are not sure in which parish the event would have been registered. Permission to access some the records within the collection may have to be obtained from the
Oblate Archivist
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, St. Mary's Province Archives
Catholic Pastoral Centre
123 Nelson Rd.
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan, Canada S7S 1H1
Telephone:(306) 659-5840
Fax: (306) 244-6010
Email:archives@saskatoonrcdiosese.com
  • Contents:
    • The Oblate collection contains administrative records from parishes and personal papers of the clergy as well as some birth, marriage and death registers.
    • Also included in the collection are the Liber Animarum, or Book of Souls. In many of the early parishes the priest kept a record of the family, a history giving names, dates of births and deaths, sometimes marriage partners of the children, etc. In some cases these books are an excellent source of genealogical information; in others they are incomplete or were sporadically kept.
    • The Codices Historici are parish diaries kept by the priest. There may be references to parishioners but they are often few and far between.
    • Also in the collection are some parish census records.

Archdiocese of Edmonton

The Archdiocese of Edmonton was formed in 1912 when the vast St. Albert Diocese was divided up. It spans the province east to west from just north of Edmonton and south to include Innisfail.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
Pastoral and Administration Offices
8421 - 101 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta T6A 0L1
Canada
Phone: 780-469-1010
Toll-free: 1-844-469-1010
Fax: 780-465-3003

Search requests for genealogical purposes completed by the Archives will be charged a non-refundable fee of $50 per request regardless of whether or not the search proves successful. In order to comply with the Personal Information Protection Act of Alberta (PIPA), the Archives will only release information contained in records which have been in existence for over 100 years, or information about a person who has been deceased 50 years or more, or with written authorization from the individual.

Diocese of Calgary

The Calgary Diocese was formed in November 1912, from the former Diocese of St. Albert. It includes the entire southern part of the province from just north of Calgary.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary Archives (RCDCA)
Catholic Pastoral Centre
120 - 17 Avenue Southwest Calgary,
Alberta T2S 2T2 Canada
Archivist Telephone: (403)-218-5502

Diocese of St. Paul

Diocese of St. Paul, formerly part of the Edmonton Archdiocese, was established in August 1948. It is comprised of a 90 mile strip which spans the province from just north of Edmonton, but includes a narrow strip which extends north along the eastern side of the province.

Catholic Diocese of St. Paul
Chancery and Archives

4410 -51 Avenue
St. Paul, Alberta T0A 3A2
Telephone: (780) 645-3277

The birth, marriage and death records are considered private. Currently, privacy protocols are strict, and information is given only to the individual named in the record.

Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan

The area covering the north-west corner of the province was part of the Vicariate of the Athabasca from 1862 to 1927, when it became the Vicariate of Grouard. It was named an Archdiocese in 1967.

Archives and Research
Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan
Chancery Office
10301 102 Street Grande Prairie
Alberta T8V 2W2 Canada
Phone: (780) 532-9766
Fax: (780) 532-9706
Email: archives.agm@outlook.com

Personal Information Protection Act of Alberta limits the disclosure and release of personal information to the individual named in the document, except: 1) if the record that contains the information has been in existence for more than 100 years; 2) if the individual identified in the record has been deceased for at least 20 years; or, 3) the individual identified in the record has given written consent to the disclosure.

MacKenzie-Fort Smith Diocese

A small square portion of north east Alberta is included in the Diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories. The only Alberta community within the diocese is Fort Chipewyan. The diocese was formed in 1967.

Archivist
Pastoral Centre
5117 - 52 Street
Yellowknife, North West Territories X1A 1T7
Telephone: (867) 920-2129
Fax: (867) 873‐9021
Email: diocese.mackenzie@theedge.ca

Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton

This district of the Ukrainian Church was established in November 1956 and includes all of the province of Alberta.

The Chancery Office has all baptisms for Ukrainian parishes on a database. It is requested that all inquiries be made by mail. A self-addressed stamped envelope and a donation would be appreciated. Marriages and burials must be obtained from the parish church.
  • In early Ukrainian settlement, before local churches were available, many birth, marriage and death were done at St. Josaphat’s Church in Edmonton or at St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Mundare.
St. Josaphat’s Cathedral
10825 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5H 2M4
Telephone: (780) 422-3181
Email:josephat@telus.net

United Church Records

  • The United Church of Canada is the union of Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church which took place in 1925. In 1968 the Canadian Conference, Evangelical Brethren Church joined.
  • Most United Churches deposit all but their most recent records at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: (See above) on an ongoing basis.
  • Besides registers of birth, marriage and death, all administrative records, including correspondence, accounts, clergy rolls, records of educational institutions and hospitals, records of presbyteries and of the United Church Women are deposited.
  • Collection records date from 1853 and include records of the Presbyterian Church (1887-1925), Methodist (1863-1925) and Congregational (1910-1912) Churches. Over five hundred congregations are represented.

A published guide A Guide to the Archives of the United Church of Canada—Alberta and Northwest Conference (1991)' will assist researchers in finding information. Further assistance can be obtain by contacting:

Archives of The United Church of Canada
8555 Roper Rd.
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1
Telephone: (780) 427-8687 [3][4]

Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives and online collections for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Churches in Canada


Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor

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

  1. Merriman, Brenda Dougall. "Canadian Denominational Background Presbyterian, Reformed, Society of Friends, Methodist, Evangelical, United Brethren in Christ (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canadian_Denominational_Background_Presbyterian,_Reformed,_Society_of_Friends,_Methodist,_Evangelical,_United_Brethren_in_Christ_%28National_Institute%29.
  2. Borgstede, Arlene. "Alberta Church Records, Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Alberta_Church_Records,_Anglican,_Lutheran,_and_Presbyterian_%28National_Institute%29.
  3. Borgstede, Arlene. "Alberta Church Records, Roman Catholic, and United (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Alberta_Church_Records,_Roman_Catholic,_and_United_%28National_Institute%29.
  4. Murphy, Sharon L. "Alberta Churches, Archives, and Societies (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Alberta_Churches,_Archives,_and_Societies_%28National_Institute%29.