How to Search for Birth, Marriage and Death Records

Did you know that there are two sources for finding birth, marriage and death records?

From early times to the present, baptisms, marriages and burials have been recorded in church parish registers. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, provincial and territorial governments introduced the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths.

As civil registration is not a federal jurisdiction, Library and Archives Canada does not hold copies of birth, marriage and death certificates, but….

…help is at hand!

To learn about how to find these records from other sources, visit our pages on vital statistics: births, marriages and deaths.

Many genealogical societies and individuals have indexed parish registers and published the result of their work. These publications are called “Church Indexes” (known as “répertoires” in French-Canadian genealogy).  Most of the volumes are for marriages but also exist for baptisms and burials.

We hold many of these indexes; here’s how to find them in our collection:

Use AURORA to search not only our collection, but the holdings of libraries across Canada.

1. On the Basic Search screen, select “Title Keyword” from the drop-down menu.  Enter your search terms, such as a place name (province, town, township or county) plus a term for the kind of information you are looking for.


  • Trois-Rivières marriages or Trois-Rivières
  • mariages Edmonton cemeteries
  • Collingwood deaths

2. On the Basic Search screen, select “Subject Keyword” from the drop-down menu.  Enter your search term, such as a place name (province, town, township or county) and the word genealogy or genealogies or registers. Note that subject headings for each publication are in English and French, so you may use the language of your choice.


  • Saskatchewan genealogy
  • Russell genealogies
  • Niagara registers

Did you know?

Published material, such as books, may often be borrowed via interlibrary loan*. Simply provide the bibliographic citation, along with the AMICUS number, to your librarian, and they may request it from LAC.


(*) Update: End of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Services


ILL services at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will end in December 2012. Users of LAC‘s current services should note the following dates:

  • November 13, 2012: End of loan requests from international libraries.
  • November 16, 2012: End of renewals. All items loaned after this date will be non-renewable.
  • December 11, 2012: End of loan requests, location searches, and ILL-related photocopying services.

LAC‘s ILL listserv (CANRES-L) and Canadian Library Gateway will also be archived in December 2012.

LAC will continue to facilitate interlibrary loan activities among other institutions through the ILL form in AMICUS, and through ongoing administration of Canadian Library Symbols.

Through our modernized service channels, LAC will emphasize increased digital access to high-demand content. LAC is working with Canada’s ILL user community in order to inform this approach to accessing the institution’s unique holdings.

For more information, please visit “Interlibrary Loan at Library and Archives Canada“.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

3 thoughts on “How to Search for Birth, Marriage and Death Records

  1. The inter-library loan program is amazing! I’m happy to read that it’s available. I have heard, though, that it will no longer be available after February 2013. Is that true? If it is true, what alternatives are available for we Canadians who can’t make it to Ottawa for our research (personal AND business!!)?

    • The interlibrary loan service of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will be discontinued as of February 15, 2013. LAC is looking at a variety of models for making its holdings widely available within its current budget; further details will be announced in the fall of 2012.

  2. Pingback: Validating your ancestor’s arrival in Canada before 1865 | Library and Archives Canada Blog

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