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  • UPDATE – Provincial announcement regarding public libraries and pickups


    We greatly appreciate the Province’s announcement that as part of the first phase of reopening libraries can begin to offer pick-up or delivery of materials. 

    There is a lot of work to do be able to offer these services while ensuring the safety of our employees and our customers. Our plan to resume our physical services needs to account for physical distancing requirements, provision of personal protective equipment, enhanced sanitary controls, and new protocols for employees and customers. We are working on offering holds pick-ups as soon as we can safely do so.  

    We will be communicating all new developments in our service offering to you on all our platforms, as soon as we have updates. 

    Thank you for your patience as we move through this rapidly evolving situation. 


    OPL branches, Bookmobile stops and Homebound delivery services are closed until June 30, 2020. The closure is in response to advice from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) with regards to COVID-19 (coronavirus) for the health and safety of our community. We will continue to monitor the situation and reassess as the situation evolves. Currently, please note:  

    • Due dates for all currently checked out materials have been extended and late fees suspended.
    • Book drops are not available since branches are closed. Hold on to OPL items and return them when branches reopen. 
    • Holds are suspended, and pick up expiry dates extended. This includes interlibrary loans (ILL).
    • Meeting room rentals are cancelled, and fees are being refunded; and
    • Computer bookings, programs, events and outreach activities are cancelled.
    • Expired cards, or those about to expire, have been extended. 

    You can use the Library online:

    We thank you for your patience and support, and we look forward to seeing you online and in person again soon.

Finding Dead People: Obituary Searching

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
    • 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 - 2011.  Searchable digitized version of the Globe and Mail, including birth, marriage, and death notices
    • Canadian Newsstand: 1985 to date.  Full text of articles only in Ottawa Citizen and other major Canadian dailies.  Death notices not included, but useful for articles about prominent people, accidental deaths, etc.
    • 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 Newspapers by OttLibGenealogy

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

Newspaper Indexes for Genealogy by 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!