Vital Statistics Part 2- Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Last week we looked at Newfound and Labrador, and Price Edward Island. Now let\’s look at Nova Scotia and New Brunswick:


Nova Scotia
Civil registration in Nova Scotia is rather convoluted. Marriages began as early as 1763. However, it was optional, and the surviving records are incomplete. Births and deaths didn\’t start until 1864, and these along with marriages continued until 1877. From 1877 to 1908 there is a noted lapse on births and deaths. Compliance was not enforced during this time period, so the records are hit and miss. From 1908 on wards, the records have been maintained continuously. But just because your ancestor falls into the \”black hole\” time periods, don\’t give up hope. For many years after 1908, the Vital Statistics Office offered a voluntary delayed birth registration process. This was so those people born before 1908 could have their birth officially recorded. This was especially helpful when applying for pensions and passports. Some of these delayed registrations go back to the mid 1800\’s.

Nova Scotia is one of the more \”genealogist-friendly\” provinces on access to BMD\’s. Once a specific time period is reached, records are transferred from the Vital Statistics Office, Service NS to the Nova Scotia Archives. The policy is 100 years for births, 75 years for marriages, and 50 years for deaths. The records are transferred at the end of the calendar year that the event occurred.

At the Archives, you can access the records by going to This site has been a huge part of my own research. Use the quick search to start. For instance, I typed in \”Johnson, Freeman\”, my 2x great uncle. I got 4 possible marriages, and 3 possible deaths. His name isn\’t that common though, so there weren\’t that many hits. His father James Johnson is a much more common name. I got 22 births, 69 marriages, and 67 deaths. Now keep in mind they list results chronologically, not alphabetically, so you\’ll have to flip through no matter if they are James A Johnson or James R Johnson. Under the results is an advanced search option if you need to narrow things down a bit. By clicking on \”view\” next to the entry, you can see a digital image of the original record. What I love is that you have the option to buy a copy of the record as well right on the site. A digital copy costs $11.17, and a paper copy $22.39.

If you\’re looking for a record that hasn\’t been transferred to the Archives, then you will have to go through Vital Statistics. These are their guidelines:

Birth Certificates:

  • They will not issue birth certificates less than 100 years ago for genealogy.

Marriage Certificates

  • Short form certificates do not seem to have a restriction.
  • Long form certificates are restricted. 
Death Certificates
  • They will only issue death certificates after 20 years and if the person would be 75 years old or older.
Now, one of the great things about Service NS is that they have a link for genealogists. It explains in detail what you can and cannot apply for. They also offer limited searches for a fee. You can take a look at the fee structure and helpful hints here.

The FamilySearch wiki for Nova Scotia vital records is here.

Ancestry\’s collection of Nova Scotia vital statistics can be viewed here.

Cyndi\’s List\’s collection of links can be viewed here.


New Brunswick
Marriages in New Brunswick began registration in 1812, but births and deaths were not required to be registered until 1888. Originally it was done at the county level. It wasn\’t until 1920 that all registrations were to be forwarded onto the Registrar General. Not all of the original county books from 1888 to 1919 have survived. Missing are the counties of Westmorland, Sunbury, and Madawaska.

The Registrar General annually transfers records to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB). The policy seems to be 95 years for births, and about 50 years for marriages and deaths. Right now on their website, you can access births to 1921, and marriages and deaths to 1965.

Now the PANB is one of my favourite sites. They are one of the most \”genealogist-friendly\” sites out there, As an added bonus, their site is geared to those of us researching from a distance.  Most of the BMD entries are accompanied by a digital image. The absolute best thing is that they can be downloaded to your computer FOR FREE! One thing to keep in mind is that PANB indexes the records with the exact spelling that is on the document. So be prepared to use soundex and name variations. The other good thing is that they\’ve indexed birth records not only by the child\’s name but by the parents\’ names as well. For instance, I typed in Anne MCLAUGHLIN, my great grandmother. In the search results, along with her marriage to my great grandfather Patrice MALLAIS, there were registrations for 3 of their children.

For more recent BMDs, you must go through Service New Brunswick. These are their guidelines on access:

Birth certificates:

  • If it is not for yourself, then you must have written permission from that person, or proof of death.
  • If you are the parent of the person whose certificate you are applying for, you don\’t need permission if they are under 19 years old.
Marriage Certificates:
  • If you are not one of the parties listed on the certificate, then you need written permission from them, or proof of death
Death Certificates:
There does not seem to be a restriction on who can apply for a death certificate. 
Service New Brunswick will do searches for more recent records. There is a fee of $15 for a three year search, and $10 for each subsequent three year search. They will not issue a certificate, but will give you a \”statement of facts\” if a record is located. 

FamilySearch\’s wiki of New Brunswick vital statistics is here.

Ancestry\’s New Brunswick vital statistics are here.

Cyndi\’s List of New Brunswick links is here.

In Part 3 we will look at Quebec and Ontario.

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