Church records contain information on baptisms, marriages, and burials, and usually also give the date of birth and death. Church records are particularly valuable for the period before civil registration began, or when the civil registration record cannot be found. Beyond baptism, marriage, and burial information, church records may provide information about an ancestor’s place of origin, year and place of settlement, family members, etc.
Church registers are kept in the parish or in the archives of the particular denomination. Transcriptions of many church registers have been published by genealogical societies.
Where to find church records
The library has an extensive collection of church register transcriptions for individual parishes in Ontario and Quebec. To find these:
- Search the online catalogue: use the name of the parish or the geographic location plus registers or genealogy (French: registres; répertoire; généalogie). E.g: St. Raphael’s registers; registres Montreal; Huntley genealogy
- Also see Recommended Resource lists:
- Drouin collection of parish registers of all denominations from Quebec; selected Catholic parish registers from Ontario
- Many church record collections from other countries; Explore by Location for the country you are interested in
- Quebec parish registers up to the 21st century
- List of Archives of Ontario’s microfilm holdings of Ontario church records. Sources of Religious Records in Ontario explains where to look for religious records not held by the provincial archives.
- To use church records effectively, you need to know the denomination. Religious denomination can be found in census records.
- Keep in mind that a family’s religious denomination may change over time. Check the denomination in the census closest to the event that you are seeking.