Friday, December 11, 2009

Civil Registration Records Held By The Archives Of Ontario

If you are looking for the birth, marriage, or death certificates of your ancestors in Ontario, Canada, you need to be aware of what is available at the Archives of Ontario. Civil registration is only a small portion of the records held by the archives, but as they are such a major part of researching in Ontario, you will find an outline below of what is currently available.

Here is a link to the Archives of Ontario's website and their address is:

Archives of Ontario
134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M7A 2C5

The Archives of Ontario is open Monday to Friday from 8:30am - 5:00pm.

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started in Ontario on July 1st, 1869. The Office of the Registrar General maintains the records and issues certificates for all vital events. Each year an additional year of vital records are transferred from the Registrar General to the Archives of Ontario where that year's records are then closed for a year while being microfilmed.

Birth, Marriage, and Death Records Held by the Archives of Ontario

The Archives of Ontario has the Indexes (where they exist) and Registration Books from the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario for:

Births: 1869 to 1912
Marriages: [from about 1801 to 1927] (Please note that there are many gaps in pre-1869 marriage records)
Deaths: 1869 to 1937

All of these records are publicly available on microfilm and you are able to consult the records at no charge either at the archives or through inter-library loan. If you want to make a photocopy, there is a small charge. Each year a new set of records is sent to the Archives for microfilming so they can be made available to the public. During the microfilming process, this year of birth, marriage and death records are restricted until they can be made available. The latest transfer (1913 births, 1928 marriages, 1938 deaths) is being filmed and will be available some time in 2010. Most Ontario libraries already have their own copies of the indexes on microfilm from 1869-1912 for births, 1869-1927 for marriages and 1869-1937 for deaths. If not, then they are readily available through inter-library loan.

For all registrations not held by the Archives of Ontario, you will need to contact the Office of the Registrar General. So if you are looking for the certificate of someone born in 1914 or later, or married in 1929 or later, you will need to contact the Registrar-General's Office to make arrangements for the certificate to be sent.


Birth records usually show the name of the child, their gender, the date and place born, their parents' names, and sometimes other data, such as parents' birthplaces. The Archives of Ontario currently has births on microfilm from July 1869-1912. They received the birth records for 1913 in 2009 and are in the process of microfilming them.


Marriage records are great sources for genealogists because they document an individual in a particular place and time as well as provide details about that person's marriage. Before mid-1869 when civil registration was implemented, ministers, priests, and other persons qualified to perform marriages submitted copies of their documentation to county courthouses. Most of these marriage records includes details about the bride and groom, including place of residence and birthplace. Importantly, each spouse had to give the names of their parents. In a lot of cases the mother's maiden name is also supplied.

A good website you will want to consult if you are researching Ontario marriages is Ontario Marriage Registrations which is arranged by year and then by county.


In addition to the name of the person, death records usually give the marital status (single, married, widowed, or divorced), the cause of death, the date and place of death and burial, and sometimes the occupation, date and place of birth, age, parents' names and their birthplaces (usually county or country), and other useful information. The more recent the death record, the more information you will find.

I've used the records both at the Archives themselves and having the records sent to my local library. The Archives are pretty good with a fair number of microfilm machines available and the staff is very helpful. While at the Archives, you can also check land records, old newspapers, old wills, etc. They have tons of information that will help you with your research.

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