Using the Online Indexes at the Provincial Archives of Alberta

My direct line Campbell ancestors “escaped” Ontario by 1878 to Manitoba at first and then to Saskatchewan. My father, born in the North West Territories [Saskatchewan], came east to Ontario in the early 1940s to visit my mother who was born in Saskatchewan as well. Her father had decided that farming in the west was not for him and returned home with his family.

Movement West in the Prairie Provinces
Most of my Campbell great aunts and uncles married in the west, lived there and died there. Many of their children stayed in the west. I found an interesting movement of ancestors westward through the prairie provinces based upon:
• land opening up for homesteads
• tradesmen moving to new jobs, like those with carpentry skills moving to Vancouver in the early 1900s
• the desire for senior family members to retire to the gentler climate of British Columbia.

When the content of Western Canadian archives, especially related to records of births, marriages and deaths, becomes available online I mine it for all possible records related to my family history research. The latest archive to come online is the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Management of the archive is to be commended for the easy to use process that is in place. The indexes are online, payment for photocopies can be done via a secure site and the photocopies arrive in short order via postal mail.

Provincial Archives of Alberta
Head to the Provincial Archives of Alberta Search Your Genealogy page.
There you will find the list of what records are available on-line:
• Birth records that are older than 120 years
• Stillbirth records that are older than 75 years
• Marriage records older than 75 years
• Death records older than 50 years

Click on the link to Find Birth, Marriage and Death Records to find out how the process works. Then you are ready to check whichever of the indexes you want to access most. Do read the help sections for each so you use the indexes smoothly the first time.

Bride and Groom Indexes
The provision of both a brides index and a grooms index is great. I came across a number of similar names even in the same year so the cross reference is valuable. The registration number is the same for the bride and groom in any marriage occurrence so you have a better chance of getting the correct event record. I found the cross reference was good in two ways. If the clerk did not write his numbers or letters clearly in one of the indexes, often he/she did better in the other index. Second, you can search on the less common name so you don’t have to read through so many entries for the initial search.

My Success
The photocopies that I received were clear and easy to read. In some cases, I received both the registration of death and the medical certificate of death for a particular ancestor.

I had the luxury of having names and dates of events that had been provided by family members. The information I was given was not always in agreement with the dates on the registrations but it was close enough to find them easily.

Not all my searches were successful. I was looking for a marriage registration for a Martin Bredsteen and Margaret Agnes Cameron in 1907. Although I checked both forward and back from the suggested year, I did not find a registration. When I searched for the marriage records of their children Zelma Emma and Grace Evangeline, I was unable to find them as well. Family lore had them all marry in Alberta so I have a challenge. If anyone has possible explanations for this I would be glad to hear from you.

Let me know what your successes are with these online indexes.

By the way, I gambled on a marriage for a Margaret G. Cameron who married in 1907 and am now the proud owner of a marriage registration for Margaret G. Cameron, born Chatham, daughter of Donald and Janet Cameron, who married George James Stockand, born Ottawa, son of George and Catherine Stockand. The first person who contacts me with either of these persons in their family tree will be the recipient of the photocopy at no cost.

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
© 2017