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  • Sources for Canadian Research on Microfilm at NEHGS

    Michael J. Leclerc

    Published Date : March 8, 2002

    Over the past few years, NEHGS has made a solid commitment to expanding its microfilm collection. The goal of the New England and Canada Microfilm Acquisitions Project is to acquire all available land, probate, and vital records for each New England state, as well as Québec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Since the project started the microfilm collection has expanded from 11,000 reels of film to over 40,000. The opportunities to document your research have been greatly enhanced with these records.

    Vital Records

    New Brunswick
    The province of New Brunswick has recently expanded the number of vital records made available to the public. Birth records are available at NEHGS from 1888-1919. There are also late registrations of birth and documentation of those records for the period up to 1887 [CS88/N43/N433]. County marriage books start in 1806 and continue through 1919. Provincial marriage registrations start in 1888 and continue to 1919 [CS88/N43/N432]. Death registrations commenced in 1888 and are available up to 1951 [CS88/N43/N434].

    Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia mandated vital records registration starting in 1864, but continued only through 1877. At that point mandatory registration was discontinued and not started again until 1906. NEHGS has the records from this brief period of registration [CS88/N64/N64]. There are separate indexes for births, marriages, and deaths. They are filmed in alphabetical order for the entire province, and the indexes are broken down within each letter by county. The records themselves are organized by county.

    Prince Edward Island
    Pre-1887 birth records in Prince Edward Island are composed of copies of baptismal records from the churches [CS88/P74/P71]. Marriage records from justices of the peace cover the time period 1831-1888 [CS88/P74/P712]. Marriage bonds for the period 1824-1902 are available, with a few dating as early as 1787 [CS88/P74/P717 ]. Deaths are available up to 1906 [CS88/P74/P713].

    Until the twentieth century, the churches in Québec registered vital records. The Drouin Microfilm Collection [CS88/Q4/I572] contains records of Catholic and Protestant churches and Jewish synagogues located within the province. While many of these records are indexed, there are a large number that are not. The marriages in the Catholic churches have been abstracted and compiled into a separate provincial-wide index. This index, which covers the period 1760-1930, is available on microfiche [CS88/Q4/I572]. There is also a three-volume set of books located on the fifth floor that covers the period 1608-1760 [CS81/D53/1979].

    Land and Probate Records

    New Brunswick
    In New Brunswick both probate and land records are registered at the county level. The records of Albert County are the only land records held by NEHGS as of December 2001. The index covers 1846-1940, but the records are available only through 1887 [CS88/N431/A41]. All available probate records have been purchased and are available county by county as follows:

    Call Number County Index Years Record Years
    CS88/N431/A4 Albert 1846-1957 1846-1904
    CS88/N431/C3 Carleton 1832-1965 1831-1934
    CS88/N431/C5 Charlotte 1785-1965 1785-1942
    CS88/N431/G6 Gloucester 1827-1964 1827-1931
      Kent N/A N/A
    CS88/N431/K5 Kings 1786-1960 1788-1932
    CS88/N431/M3 Madawaska 1894-1966 1894-1930
    CS88/N431/N77 Northumberland 1860-1966 1860-1930
    CS88/N431/Q44 Queens 1785-1976 1785-1941
    CS88/N431/R4 Restigouche 1861-1979 1861-1939
    CS88/N431/S243 St. John 1785-1904 1785-1932
    CS88/N431/S96 Sunbury 1786-1979 1786-1932
    CS88/N431/V53 Victoria 1850-1959 1850-1931
    CS88/N431/W47 Westmoreland 1787-1953 1787-1905
    CS88/N431/Y65 York 1786-1976 1786-1930

    The records of Kent County are not available because they were destroyed by fire.

    Nova Scotia
    In Nova Scotia, the land records are also recorded at the county level. Probate records are registered in probate districts. Some of the counties had two registration districts within the county. NEHGS has recently purchased all of the land records for the province and they are currently available in the microtext department. Following are the records and years available:

    Probate Records

    Call Number County District Index Years Record Years
    CS88/N643/A16 Annapolis   1763-1979 1763-1970
    CS88/N643/A25 Antigonish   N/A 1819-1963
    CS88/N643/C2 Cape Breton   1782-1969 1782-1970
    CS88/N643/C6 Colchester   1802-1969 1798-1969
    CS88/N643/C8 Cumberland   1840-1945 1840-1969
    CS88/N643/D5 Digby   1803-1970 1803-1970
    CS88/N643/G8 Guysborough Guysborough 1850-1967 1946-1969
    CS88/N643/G8a Guysborough St. Mary's 1948-1993 1843-1970
    CS88/N643/H3 Halifax   1750-1968 1749-1968
    CS88/N643/H4 Hants   1767-1955 1761-1900
    CS88/N643/I5 Inverness   1831-1964 1831-1969
    CS88/N643/K5 Kings   1785-1925 1783-1968
    CS88/N643/L9 Lunenburg     1762-1967
    CS88/N643/P6 Pictou   1811-1940 1811-1969
    CS88/N643/Q3 Queens   1760-1970 1743-1970
    CS88/N643/R5 Richmond   1828-1993 1831-1969
    CS88/N643/S5 Shelburne Barrington   1866-1970
    CS88/N643/S5 Shelburne Shelburne 1784-1956 1784-1970
    CS88/N643/S5a Victoria     1851-1969
    CS88/N643/Y3 Yarmouth   1843-1991 1794-1970

    Land Records

    Call Number County District Index Years Record Years
    CS88/N644/A16 Annapolis   1765-1970 1765-1910
    CS88/N644/A25 Antigonish   1784-1969 1785-1907
    CS88/N644/C2 Cape Breton   1786-1966 1786-1969
    CS88/N644/C6 Colchester   1771-1968 1770-1959
    CS88/N644/C8 Cumberland   1764-1968 1764-1967
    CS88/N644/D5 Digby   1785-1970 1785-1958
    CS88/N644/G8 Guysborough Guysborough 1785-1969 1785-1967
    CS88/N644/G8a Guysborough St. Mary's 1815-1911 1815-1969
    CS88/N644/H3 Halifax   1749-1967 1749-1967
    CS88/N644/H4 Hants   1763-1968 1763-1952
    CS88/N644/I5 Inverness   1825-1968 1825-1929
    CS88/N644/K5 Kings   1764-1968 1764-1901
    CS88/N644/L9 Lunenburg Chester 1879-1955 1879-1926
    CS88/N644/L9c Lunenburg Lunenburg 1759-1968 1759-1961
    CS88/N644/P6 Pictou   1771-1968 1771-1924
    CS88/N644/Q3 Queens   1764-1970 1764-1969
    CS88/N644/R5 Richmond   1821-1969 1821-1963
    CS88/N644/S5 Shelburne Barrington 1854-1970 1854-1950
    CS88/N644/S5a Shelburne Shelburne 1784-1968 1873-1961
    CS88/N644/V5 Victoria   1851-1969 1851-1988
    CS88/N644/Y3 Yarmouth   1774-1969 1766-1969

    Prince Edward Island
    Materials in the Land Records Office in Prince Edward Island have been microfilmed for the period 1769-1872 [CS88/P74/L36]. Most of these records deal with land conveyances and mortgages between individuals. Probate records in Prince Edward Island were recorded for the entire island starting in 1771. Records for 1807-1901 are available on microfilm at NEHGS [CS88/P74/W55].

    In Québec, notaries recorded the mortgages and deeds as well as probate records. NEHGS has the notarial records for all areas outside of the cities of Montréal and Québec City. These records are part of the collection held by the Archives Nationales de Québec [CS88/Q4/R44]. The time frame available varies from area to area. There is also a separate set of microfiche with copies of many of the individual notaries' indexes to the records [CS88/Q4/R44]. There is a finding aid available in the fourth floor microtext room to assist you with locating specific notarial records and indexes. For additional information on researching the notarial records, see this article on Québec Recordkeeping.

    Miscellaneous Records
    In addition to the aforementioned records, there are a number of other primary source materials available. For example, there are almost a hundred reels of church records for Prince Edward Island, as well as a few for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Another invaluable Prince Edward Island resource is the Master Name Index [CS88/P74/P7]. Compiled from census records, cemetery transcriptions, newspapers, atlases, and many other sources, this index provides a look at all inhabitants on the island.

    Many early Nova Scotia records were kept in township books. These books included all of the villages within the township. They are available for the following townships: Annapolis, Aylesford, Barrington, Cornwallis, Douglas, Granville, Guysborough, Horton, Liverpool, Maccan, Manchester, Parrsboro, St. Mary's, Shelburne, Westchester, and Yarmouth [CS88/N642/A93 through CS88/N642/Y31].

    The microfilm collections of the Archives Nationales de Québec contain a vast number of resources and are also available at NEHGS. In addition to church records and notarial records one can find surveyor records from the Eastern Townships, court records, family records, and seigneurial records, as well as indexes to adoptions and guardianships in the cities of Montréal and Québec City. A finding aid to the entire collection is available in the microtext department.

    For a more complete selection of materials in the NEHGS microtext collection, search the online catalog. If you are interested in donating to the New England and Canada Microtext Acquisitions Project, please contact the Development Office.

    The Internet and published print materials are wonderful resources for your research, but verifying all statements in original source documents is imperative if you are to have an accurate view of your family. And it is a wonderful thrill to see copies of the actual wills and deeds that your ancestors signed so many years ago. I strongly encourage all members to visit the NEHGS Research Library and take advantage of these wonderful resources. The library is open Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. From December 1 through March 31 the library closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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