Everyone knows about the big search sites for record sets. But when you\’re missing out on a lot if you only stick to Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage and Find My Past. There are lots of other sites that are FREE that you can go to that can give you information. This week I\’m going to point you towards 12 sites that you should add to your internet bookmarks for Canadian research.
I thought at first that this would be a simple post. My trouble was narrowing it down to 12! Canada is the second biggest country in the world, and is quite ethnically diverse. I could probably list 12 French Canadian sites, or 12 military sites, or 12 sites that just deal with a certain geographical area with no problem. We have 13 provinces and territories, and I could probably highlight 12 collections at each one that are wonderful. In the interest of trying to find something that will appeal to everyone, I decided to try and list sites that will give you the most bang for your buck, so to speak. This list is not a \”best of\”, so don\’t be offended if your favourite isn\’t listed. I also won\’t be delving too deeply into any of them. You can explore all they have to offer on your own.
1. Library and Archives Canada (LAC)
If you\’re new to Canadian research, Library and Archives Canada
is our National Archive. No list would be complete without it. Free to use, it has the widest variety of records to help in your research. It\’s very user friendly, and has both online and offline collections. I\’ve highlighted just some of their collections in previous blog posts:
This wonderful website
has digitized collections of government records, magazines/periodicals, newspapers, and books. It also has photographs, brochures, and pamphlets. Canadian genealogists were ecstatic when they recently changed it to a completely free website.
Click on the Collections tab to access three separate collections:
They also have a search engine to find collections from archives and repositories around the country through the Public Collections tab. Clicking on the Student Voice takes you to a portal to search digitization of student newspaper from colleges and universities.
3. Historical Atlas of Canada Online Learning Project
Historical maps are essential in genealogy research. Looking at them gives you clues into further genealogy research. Can\’t find your ancestor in one township or county\’s records? Looking at historical maps can show you boundary changes. Ever wonder why they worshiped at church A, when church B was closer? A map can show you there was a river in between them and church B, so church A was actually easier to get to.
This 3 volume set is on my wish list of \”Things I HAVE to Have\”. However they are kind of pricey. Amazon has them right now at about $90 per volume. Until I can get my hands on them, this website has been immensely helpful. As I said it\’s a work in progress. Keep checking back to see if a map you\’re looking for has been digitized yet.
4. Peel\’s Prairie Provinces
If you\’re delving into research of the Canadian West, you\’ll want to bookmark Peel\’s Prairie Provinces
. Dedicated to the history of the Canadian West, it is hosted by the University of Alberta. According to the website, \”…Peel contains approximately 7,500 digitized books, over 66,000 newspaper issues (4.8 million articles!) 16,000 postcards, and 1,000 maps.\”
It\’s a goldmine of information on the various cultural and ethnic groups that settled in the West. My recent blog post Photographs on Peel\’s Prairie Provinces
gives an overview of what you can find in their postcard and photo collections.
5. Internet Archive
This one is a go-to for genealogy research in general, not just Canadian. The amount of material you can find on here is makes it a rabbit hole. A lot of genealogical and historical societies have uploaded all forms of media onto it. I\’ve mentioned Internet Archive
in many blog posts as a source for different kinds of records. Here are a few:
You will have to play around with search terms and fields, just because of the sheer amount of information on there. My suggestion is to wait until you have a \”genealogy day\” to explore it.
6. Hudson\’s Bay Company Archives
Canada\’s history and heritage is hugely intertwined with the Hudson\’s Bay Company. Founded in 1670, the HBC had posts in just about every corner of Canada. If your ancestor came over during the l600s and 1700s, there\’s a good possibility that they had some contact with the HBC.
The Hudson\’s Bay Company Archives
was given UNESCO status in 2007. There is not a whole lot of their information on line right now, but don\’t despair. Just last month, it was announced that a huge digitization project is going to start. As part of Manitoba\’s 150th anniversary, over 1000 microfilms
from the Archives are going to be digitized and put online for free. You can read about the announcement on the CTV News website
7. Maritime History Archive
If you have Maritime Ancestors, check out the Maritime History Archive
. They have records that cover both coasts of Canada. If your ancestor came from the UK or the US, there are records that can be found for them on here too. I wrote a 2 part blog post about this great site. You can access Part 1 here
, and Part 2 here
8. Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Not all of us have famous (or infamous) ancestors. So why include this one? I\’ve included this one because your ancestor doesn\’t necessarily have to be a politician, explorer, or captain of industry to be included. If your ancestor came in the early years of Canada, there\’s a good chance they might be in here, or at least mentioned in someone else\’s biography. As an example, I typed \”Landry\” in the search box. This is one of my Acadian surnames. 115 entries are on the website that either involve someone with the surname Landry, or a Landry is mentioned in someone\’s biography that doesn\’t have the surname Landry.
At the bottom of each entry are footnotes showing what sources were used. Now you know where to look for the original information. As well, they also list related biographies to your selected person. The Dictionary of Canadian Biography
has 22 volumes at the moment. Volumes I to XV are fully online, Volumes XVI to XXII are only partially online.
9. The Ancestor Hunt
Simply put, historical newspapers are awesome. And not only to find birth, marriage and death notices. Even if they didn\’t do anything heroic or naughty, you can still find them in the everyday activities of their area. Kenneth Marks runs a blog called The Ancestor Hunt
, and has compiled a huge collection of newspaper links for mainly the US and Canada. The link to his newspaper links is here
. He also has links for Canadian obituaries
, and photos
. He has helpfully divided the Canadian links by province to make your searches easier.
10. Canada\’s Gen Web Cemetery Project
This free site is volunteer run, and has information on over 18,000 cemeteries across Canada. It has a very user friendly set up. Please keep in mind that they do not do research or take photo requests. However, volunteers have posted their willingness to help on their own, and not as part of the site.
For each cemetery listed, they have contact information for the cemetery. They have also listed helpful links on the internet and contact information off the internet for groups and societies that have more information. It\’s a nice starting place for your cemetery research.
11. Canadian Great War Project
This site says that it is the largest fully searchable database of Canadian men and women that served in WWI. What I find so delightful about the Canadian Great War Project is that they are so many ways to search. It has information not only on the soldiers, but on war diaries, statistical information, and medal information. This is just a sampling of what it has to offer.
Take note though, in the process of modernizing and updating, the site is going through some growing pains. The University of Victoria is helping the site owner, Marc Leroux, with this. It\’s a work in progress so keep visiting the site to see what new things they have to offer.
The Canadian Legal Information Institute is a database of court cases across Canada. You can search by keyword and/or province. The years covered varies depending on the province. Most of these cases run from the 1970\’s to the present day. However, you can find some earlier years as well. I found one from Quebec dating back to 1902. A good site for more recent events in your Family Tree, genealogically speaking. You can get a good amount of information on cases, either by PDF of documents, or by transcription. This is by no means a complete database. I could not find anything on their site about adding more historical years of cases, but keep checking back.
What\’s your go-to website? Leave a comment with a link to it.