Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Vital Statistics Part 5 - Alberta and British Columbia

In the next to last installment of the series, we're looking at Alberta and British Columbia.


Alberta became a province in 1905. However, there are some civil registration records that go back to 1898, when it was still considered part of the Northwest Territories. Older record are in the custody of the Provincial Archives of Alberta. they hold live births older than 120 years old, still births over 75 years, marriages over 75 years, and deaths over 50 years.

One of the great things about the PAA's website is that clicking on the "How to" link for genealogy, it will explain in detail what they have and where to find it. Unlike other sites I've examined, they also have a PDF download on various indexes right on their website. I clicked on the first link "Marriage Registrations 1898-1902 (GR1983.0236)", and on the index it gives the following information:

  • PAA no.
  • Name of the couple
  • Collection it comes from
  • Year of marriage
  • Access code
  • Use conditions
  • Container number
  • Remarks
  • Description on the status of the record
Copies of the record are $10.50. You will not get a photocopy. You will get a typed transcript instead. Also take note that you do not get same day service by going to the Archives in person. All requests can take up to 10 days.

If you are looking for records more recent than the above guidelines, then you need to go through Service Alberta. Here are their requirements to access:

Birth Certificates:
  • Yourself (if over 14 years old), or the parent of the person on the document
  • Guardian, trustee or legal representative (proof required)
  • Person with a court order (proof required)
  • If the person is deceased, only adult next of kin or legal representatives of the deceased's estate can apply. A death certificate, proof of relationship, and/or proof of representation must be supplied. Next of kin is defined as parent, sibling, child, spouse, or "adult interdependent partner". If there are none of the above eligible, then an adult relative may apply. 
Marriage Certificates:
  • Either party of the marriage
  • Guardian, trustee, or legal representative (proof required)
  • A person with a court order (proof required)
  • If deceased, the adult next of kin or legal representatives can apply. Next of kin qualification is the same as with birth certificates, as is the requirement of proof. If there is no eligible next of kin, then an adult relative can apply.
Death Certificates
  • Adult next of kin. Same requirements apply as for birth and marriage certificates. As well, if there are no eligible next of kin, then an adult relative may apply.
  • Legal representative of the estate (proof required)
  • Guardian of the deceased (proof required)
  • A person with a court order (proof required)
  • A person who had joint tenancy with the deceased (proof required)
  • Funeral home representative
There are no eligibility requirements for a search. They will tell you if a record was found, but they will not provide you with any other information.

The FamilySearch wiki on BMD's is here

You can access Ancestry's BMD collection here

Cyndi's List of links for Alberta Vital Statistics is here

UPDATE March 1, 2017: See Shannon Switzer Cherkowski's tip on the Provincial Archives of Alberta below in the comments section. By getting photocopies from them, you can save yourself some money on fees.

UPDATE March 22, 2017: The Provincial Archives of Alberta now has indexes online for vital statistics. You will not see the actual record, or a transcription. What you will get is name, location and registration number and year . Use this information when you submit a request to the Archives. Note that the same restrictions apply for access as before. The indexes can also be downloaded to your computer.

Births 1870-1879:
The indexes are organized alphabetically by surname.

Marriages 1870-1942
There are three indexes. The first is by Bride's name, the second is by Groom's name, and the third is Indigenous Marriages. Each index is then further broken down alphabetically by surname.

Deaths 1870-1967
There are four sets of indexes for deaths. The first two are Deaths 1877-1950, and Deaths 1925-1966. They are both further broken down alphabetically by surname. The third is Indigenous Deaths. 
It is broken down alphabetically, but there is also a sub index labelled "Inuit". The last set is called Overseas Deaths.  

British Columbia
British Columbia became a province in 1871. Civil Registration officially began in 1872. Some records are from earlier than that but not all records have survived. Older records are at British Columbia Archives. They have births 1854-1903, marriages in two databases that together go from 1859-1940, and deaths from 1872-1995. I searched under their genealogy database for the last name BOUTILIER. One of my distant Nova Scotia Boutilier relatives came up under marriages. By clicking on the link, I was able to see the digital image of his marriage registration. I could then save it to my computer by right clicking on the image. I did notice however that not all results had digital images attached. 

Record requests go through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency. After some navigating of the site I was able to find out how to get certificates for genealogical purposes. The fee is $50.00. They will do a search, and if there is a record then you will get a copy. If there is no record, then the $50.00 is considered a search fee.

Here are their access requirements:

Birth Certificates:
  • Person named or parents named on the certificate
  • Guardian (proof required)
  • Person with written consent of any of the above.
  • If the person is deceased for less than 20 years, then a relative may apply (proof of relationship required).
  • If the person has been deceased more than 20 years, and if the record is more than 120 years old, then anyone may apply. You will need to provide proof of death if the record is less than 120 years old.
Marriage Certificates:
  • Persons named on the certificate
  • Written authorization from either marriage party
  • If one of the parties is deceased, then a relative may apply. You will have to show both proof of death and proof of relationship.
  • If BOTH parties are deceased more than 20 years then anyone can apply as long as they show proof of death.
  • If they record was created more than 75 years ago then anyone can apply.
Death Certificates:
  • A relative of the deceased. Proof of relationship is required.
  • Written consent of the above
  • If the death is more than 20 years old, then anyone may apply.
In all three types the definition of relative is parent, child, sibling, spouse, grandparent or grandchild. 

Family Search wiki on BMDs is here

Ancestry's BC BMD page is here

Cyndi's List collection of BC links is here

Part 6 will be the last post of the series. In it we'll take a look at Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.


  1. Currently, at the Provincial Archive of Alberta, one can request a photocopy of a birth/death/marriage registration provided the date falls within the date parameters you mentioned. The photocopy is .35 cents and the mailing fee is $3.00.
    The $10 fee you mentioned is a transcription cost of a document, plus G.S.T.
    That cost would cover a lot of photocopies :-)

    1. Thank you for the tip! I've added an update at the bottom of the Alberta section :)