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Finding Dead People: Obituary Searching

19/03/2019
Morbid as it may seem, obituaries can be a genealogist's favourite reading material.  Not for the literary style, to be sure, but for the research clues they offer.  At the very least, an obituary will tell you the name of the deceased, date of death, survivors' names, and funeral arrangements.  If you are lucky, it may provide much more, like the names of the deceased's parents, mother's maiden name, extended family, employment history, hobbies, and so forth.  Keep in mind that there is no requirement to publish an obituary, so there may not be one for every death.
In some cases, you can find a related newspaper article, as well as a classified death notice.  Locally well-known people, or deaths by accident or crime may be covered in newspaper articles.
 

Where to Find Obituaries

If you know the date of death, check the newspaper for 4-5 days around the event.

If you do not know the date of death, check an index to find if and when an obituary was published.  There are many indexes that cover birth, marriage, and death notices.  You will need an approximate date to find the appropriate index.

Obituary Indexes

  • Websites
    • Obituary Daily Times: 1995 to date.  Covers Ottawa Citizen and many Canadian and U.S. papers
    • Remembering.ca: 2001 to date.  Full text of death notices in major Canadian newspapers, including Ottawa Citizen.  At the results screen, set Filter to "Anytime" to see all notices from 2001 onward.
    • Your Life Moments, c.2003 to date.  Full text of death notices in smaller Canadian newspapers, including Ottawa Sun.  Dates vary by newspapers, roughly 2003 to date
    • Life News, c. 2011 to date.  Ontario Metroland newspapers
  • Library Resources
    • Ancestry Library: Ottawa Journal Birth, Marriage and Death Notices, 1885-1980.  Database on Ancestry; Search>Canada>Ontario>Birth Marriage and Death
    • Globe and Mail Historical: 1844 - 2016.  Searchable digitized version of the Globe and Mail, including birth, marriage, and death notices
    • Ottawa Citizen - Proquest Historical Newspapers : Searchable digitized version of the Ottawa Citizen, from 1845-2010.  Birth, marriage, and death notices included.
  • Print Indexes
    • Birth, marriage, and death notices have been indexed for many community  newspapers for small towns and villages in the Ottawa Valley.  The library holds an extensive collection of these indexes in book format. To find them:
  • Card catalogues
    • The Ottawa Room at the Main Branch holds several card catalogue indexes to local newspapers.  These must be consulted on site.  Note that the dates covered are limited.
      • Birth, marriage, and Death Notices from the Ottawa Citizen: 1880-1884
      • Ottawa Journal Vital Records Index: 1885-1922
      • Ottawa journal Index: 1974-1977.  Selective indexing of articles only.  Birth, marriage, death notices not included
      • Ottawa Citizen Index: 1975-1987.  Selective indexing of articles only.  Birth, marriage, death notices not included.

 

 

OPL Historical Newspapersby OttLibGenealogy

A list of daily newspapers on microfilm, current and retrospective, held at Ottawa Public Library

Newspaper Indexes for Genealogyby OttLibGenealogy

A list of print indexes of birth, marriage, and death notices from community newspapers. Most are from the Ottawa Valley. This list is not comprehensive, so look for more in the catalogue using a place name and "genealogy" for keywords, or contact us and ask!