A brief guide to birth, marriage and death civil registration (ie: vital statistics or statutory registration) records in Ontario
Civil registration (birth, marriage and death records) in Canada is a provincial area of jurisdiction. Accordingly, each province or territory in Canada regulates these matters separately, and the rules for the start of civil registration vary across the country, as do the laws regarding access to records.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the provinces and territories began keeping civil registration of births, marriages and deaths, often called vital statistics. Before that time, births, marriages and deaths were recorded in parish registers or even simply in the record books of itinerant preachers. In Ontario, civil registration dates from July 1, 1869 although it was a few more years before it was widely followed.
The Archives of Ontario has the Indexes (where they exist) and Registration Books from the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario for for the years noted below, together with microfilm records. The Archives does not have digital records nor online access for these, however FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.ca have indexed and digitized most of the available years. Records for years subsequent to those noted below are subject to statutory time restrictions before they become publicly available. The Office of the Registrar General of Ontario controls and restricts access for the closed years although their are circumstances pursuant to which qualifying individuals may obtain copies of records.
- Births: [ca. 1830]-1917 . predominantly 1869-1917 (note: these records include registrations for a small number of pre-1869 births)
- Registrations and Indexes, 1869-1917 are available on microfilm
- Registrations, [ca. 1830]-1912 are available online at www.familysearch.org
- Registrations, 1869-1913 are available online at www.ancestry.ca
Due to changes in regulations, 1918 and newer birth registrations and indexes will not be transferred to the Archives of Ontario until 104 years after the year of registration. The 1918 birth registrations and indexes will be transferred to the Archives in 2023.
- Marriages: [ca. 1801]-1936 (Note: There are many gaps in pre-1869 marriage records)
- Registrations and Indexes, [ca. 1801]-1932 are available on microfilm
- Registrations, [ca. 1801]-1927 are available online at www.familysearch.org
- Registrations, [ca. 1801]-1928 and 1933-1936 are available online at www.ancestry.ca
- Deaths: 1869-1946
- Registrations and Indexes, 1869-1942 are available on microfilm
- Registrations, 1869-1937 are available online at www.familysearch.org
- Registrations, 1869-1938 and 1943-1946 are available online at www.ancestry.ca
Availability of the Microfilm Copies of the Indexes and Registrations
Microfilm copies of the indexes and registrations may be:
Consulted at the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd., Toronto.
- Borrowed through the Interlibrary Loan Department of your public library. Quote the appropriate MS and reel #. These reels cannot leave the borrowing library, so make sure to order them from a library that has a microfilm reader.
- The indexes and registrations up to and including the 1912 births, 1927 marriages, and 1937 deaths can also be borrowed from FamilySearch through their Family History Centres. The Family History Centres have a different numbering system than the Archives of Ontario. Use the Archives of Ontario microfilm conversion list to convert our reel numbers to one you can use at a Family History Centre.
Looking Up a Registration on microfilm
The indexes and registrations are not currently available on the Archives Ontario website. They are available on microfilm and, for the years mentioned above, on www.ancestry.ca or www.familysearch.org. The Archives of Ontarios web site provides directions on how to determine which microfilm reels you need in order to find the registrations you are seeking.
Finding a particular birth, marriage or death registration involves the following steps:
- Finding the Index microfilm containing the surname and year of the event that you are looking for. Request that Index reel through a library, archives or other institution that uses the interlibrary loan system or through a Family History Centre.
- Using the Index microfilm, look up the event and record the registration year and registration number.
- Returning to Archives of Ontario web site, find the Registration microfilm containing the registration year and registration number. Request that Registration reel through a library, archives or other institution that uses the interlibrary loan system. Up to the 1912 births, 1927 marriages, and 1937 deaths, this microfilm is also available through a Family History Centre.Note: You may also consult microfilm copies of the Indexes and Registrations at the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd., Toronto, which is located on the campus of York University. The Archives is accessible by road, public transit via the York University subway station and via Go Transit and the York University station.