This week we\’ll be looking at divorce records in Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba
As stated in Part 1, divorce was handled federally up to 1968. But, unlike other areas of Canada, a couple could become legally separated through the province\’s civil code. These were done by notaries. A notice of action had to be printed in the provincial version of the Canada Gazette, Quebec\’s Gazette officielle du Quebec. You can find a searchable database on BAnQ. You can download the pages as a pdf or print. The search function is only available in French. The resulting pages will either be in French only, or both French and English, depending on the issue. You will get the name of the petitioner (plaintiff), their spouse (defendant), the court name and district, and the cause number.
As for notarial records, these can also be searched on BAnQ, in their database Archives des Notaires du Quebec des origines a 1936. This also in French only, but is easy to figure out. You cannot search for a particular entry. What you want to do is narrow it down to a particular notary. If you already know who that is, then go through the alphabetical listings under the heading \”Par nom\”. If you don\’t know who, then narrow down by the region, then district. Then, you can scroll through the images of the notary. These can be narrowed down in different ways, depending on which notary you are looking at. It will be time consuming, but pretty interesting stuff when you get into it.
The other place to look for notarial records is Ancestry\’s two databases Quebec Notarial Records (Drouin Collection), 1647-1942, and Quebec, Canada Notarial Records, 1626-1935 The first collection is indexed by notary name. The images may not the actual actes, but the indexes made by the notary themselves. It will give you the type of act, the persons involved, and the act number. These are arranged by year. With this information you can then seek the repositories to find the record. Gail Dever at Genealogy a la Carte has a great tutorial on the second database here.
The Superior Court of Quebec handled divorce cases once it fell under the jurisdiction of provincial courts. In order to obtain the records, you must justify your reason for requesting them. I could not find anything stating what restrictions there were to access the information.You will have to go through the courthouse that handled the divorce, and have proof of identity. You can access the contact information for the various courthouses on Justice Quebec\’s website here
Divorce could be obtained provincially in Ontario from 1931. It is handled through the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. Divorce files from 1931- 1980 are housed at the Archives of Ontario (AO). It is not so simple as just going there and asking to see them however. You need to have the file number, year of divorce, and the location (county or district) that the divorce took place. If you need to consult indexes to find this information, then you will have to go through some steps:
- If the divorce was between 1931 and May 1949, the index could be at the AO, but it may not. Most of the indexes for this time period are held at the courthouse where the divorce was filed.
- If the divorce was between June 1949 and before July 1968, the AO has province wide indexes on microfilm.
- After July 1968, you must will have to look at the indexes compiled by the Supreme Court. These may be at the AO, or they may only be at the courthouse where the divorce was filed.
2 thoughts on “D-I-V-O-R-C-E Part 3 – After 1968 in Central Canada”
Hi there. Great blog. One thing I wanted to relay was that divorce records up to 1985, in Ontario, not just 1980, are now held at the AO. If you go to the local court house, you can't even get a file number or anything – and in fact, THEY can't even obtain that info for you now as it is (now) a federally protected piece of information, protected by the privacy act. The local courthouses sent all their divorce docs to the Central Registry for Divorce Proceedings, and the index books to the AO up to 1985. None of those indexes were digitized. So even if a staff member from the local courthouse calls up the CRoDP to get info on a divorce (like a file number, which you'd need to supply the AO), the courthouse staff are not entitled to the information since the only people who can have access are those party to the divorce, in which case they need to present themselves in person at the CRoDP. So, if you don't have a file number, you need to search through the actual index books. That's fine if you are at the AO, and if the marriage is before 1985. Our courthouse in Ottawa has index books after that year, but not many – they're kind of just sitting willy nilly in the family court end of the courthouse on a table, and not all years after 1985 are represented. If you don't have a file number, you need those index books; if you're not at the AO in person, you're hooped as far as getting a file number to even make a long distance enquiry. That said, I did find the AO staff very helpful – they looked up the divorce for me. Whether they'll always have time to do that is debatable, but I appreciated it at the time!
Thank you for the heads up about the AO having files up to 1985! Privacy laws in Canada are a double edged sword. On one hand, it's good that our personal information is being protected. Especially in the age of identity theft. From a genealogy viewpoint though, it can be so frustrating. I have a couple of lines where I just know a key piece of information is just behind that privacy wall.