Those of you who research in Quebec know that religious records play a much more important role here than in the other provinces. Up until the 1900's church records were the official form of civil registration, as by law the churches had to forward copies of all their entries to the government.
It comes as no surprise that Quebec has the largest Catholic population in Canada. Catholic church records in Quebec go back to the 1600's, when it was called New France. Religion has always been central to the French/English relations in Quebec. For a quick history of the Catholic church, take a look at Marianopolis College's page here. A PDF of Quebec's religious history with Catholicism and Protestantism from reformedreflections.ca is here.
FamilySearch has an indexed collection of records called Quebec, Catholic Parish Records 1621-1979 here. You can also browse the over 1 million images by town, and then parish. Their wiki on religious records for Quebec is here.
Ancestry has the huge Drouin collection for Quebec here. This collection not only has Catholic records, but the many forms of Protestant, Othodox, and some Jewish records as well. It covers the years 1621-1968.
Also on Ancestry is the Tanguay Collection. This is a collection of genealogical records put together by Father Cyprian Tanguay in the late 1800's, It doesn't give original images of documents, but rather is a series of books that lists the BMD events of the early French Canadian families. It is a little cumbersome to navigate, but can help you to fill in gaps. Please note however, that the Tanguay Collection has been known to contain errors. You should look at it as more of a guiding tool, than as absolute proof for the life event.
The best place to go for religious records in Quebec is Genealogie Quebec. Among their vast holdings is The LAFRANCE Collection, which covers records from 1621-2008, and the Drouin. They also have many smaller collections that cover various areas and years. There are both Catholic and Protestant records here. Some of their collections are free, while some you need to pay.
Another place to look is BAnQ, the Quebec Archives. Along with many other genealogical record sets, they also have records for both Catholic and non Catholic parishes. Some collections are online, while some are not. The majority of the site is in French, but they do have an English link, and your internet browser should be able to translate as well.
Library and Archives Canada also has some religious records available that pertain to Quebec. You can take a look at what they have here.
Now while Quebec has always been predominately Catholic, Ontario on the other hand has from the outset been a stronghold for the Protestant faiths. The Ontario GenWeb has attempted to give a history of the various religions in Ontario here. As they themselves stated, it was a hard task to complete, and may be prone to errors. The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) also has a good overview of Ontario church records here.
The Archives of Ontario has on their website a good compilation of religious archives in Ontario. They also have some "original and copied records" on microfilm that are available both onsite and through inter library loan here.
FamilySearch has a database called Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records 1760-1923 here. It is not indexed, but can be browsed by Their wiki on Ontario church records in general is here.
Ancestry has the Ontario Catholic Drouin Collection, covering the years 1802-1967. I found a baptism for one of my step brothers that took place in Ottawa in 1963 in this collection. most of these records are in French, but you will find some in English or Latin.
Also on Ancestry is the Ontario, Canada Marriage Registers by Clergy. The Registration Act of 1896 required that all clergy report marriages to the government within 30 days of the event. The registers cover the years 1896-1948, and are mostly Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist marriages. You can access the collection here.
If you have Wesleyan Methodist ancestors, then there are transcriptions of the registers sorted alphabetically here. These were created by Ida Reed and put up on RootsWeb by Bill Martin. As with any transcription, you should use these as a guide to finding the original record.
If you have Metis ancestors, then you should be looking at the Metis Nation of Ontario's guide to church records. There are links to the various collections that will help you to research your Metis lines.
The OGS has many branches across Ontario. Each branch has put out publications on transcriptions of church records. These can be bought through the OGS store, Each branch also has various records in their holdings. For example, according to the website of the Quinte branch of the OGS, they have in their library the following under the heading of church records:
- Wesleyan Methodist Baptism Registers of Northumberland Co. 1834-1902
- More Obituaries from Ontario’s Methodist Papers 1873-1884
- Obituaries from Christian Guardian 1884-1890
- Methodist Baptisms Sidney & Tyendinaga Townships 1840-1887
- Lutheran Church Records 1783-1832, Fredericksburgh Twp., (Kingston OGS)
- Rev. John Langhorn Anglican Registers 1787-1814 (Kingston OGS)
- Births, Marriages and Deaths of St. Thomas Church, Belleville, 1821-1874
- Minutes of St. Thomas Anglican Church, Belleville
- District Marriage Registers include Ottawa 1816-1853, Prince Edward 1833-1847, Talbot 1837-1859, 1868, Victoria 1839-1858, 1861, Newcastle 1810-1855 and Colborne 1841-1857.
- County Marriage Registers of Ontario include Prince Edward, Hastings, York, Northumberland, Lennox & Addington, Durham, Toronto, Kingston & Frontenac, Lincoln & Welland and Peterborough.
- Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register Master Index (100,000+ names) and Baptismal Registers, United Church Archives (microfilm) also Prince Edward County 1841-1888, Hastings 1840-1904, and Out of Ontario 1826-1900 (transcripts).
- Other Methodist Records include: Early Methodists in Upper & Lower Canada 1759-1828; Niagara Conference Methodist Episcopal Church Baptismal Register Index 1849-1886; Baptisms & Marriages Rev. W. Case 1810-1837; Prince Edward County Baptisms 1800’s & 1841-1888; Madoc Twp., Hastings Co., Baptisms 1843-1876; Kingston City & Township, Frontenac Co., Baptisms 1844-1876; Frontenac Co. Baptisms 1835-1897; Early Methodist Records, United Empire Loyalists Association; and More Notices from Ontario Methodist Papers 1830-1857, 1858-1872.
- Presbyterian Registers and Records include: Communion Roll, Tyendinaga Twp., 1862-1893; Kingston 1821-1869; Rev. Robt. McDowall, Upper Canada; Marriage Register, St. Andrews, Campbellford, 1858, 1886; Baptism Register, St. Andrews, Picton, 1866-1984; Zion Baptismal & Marriage, 1891-1919; and Births, Rev. John Scott, 1842-1919.
- Marriage Registers of Stephen Conger 1803-1823, Rev. Daniel McMullen 1831-1873, David S. Hubbs 1905-1911 and Rev. D. F. Gee 1877-1890.
- Baptisms Registers of Rev. Robert Neill, Seymour Twp, Northumberland Co. 1840-1878.
- Anglican Parish Register of Rev. John Stuart 1784-1911.
- Clarendon Baptist Parish Registers 1877-1939 & Minute Books 1877-1919 (microfilm).
- Westlake Monthly Meeting, Births & Deaths, 1829-1865.
- The Carlisle List, BMDs, Middlesex County, 1839-1866.
- Marriages, Prince Edward County , Persons Married Elsewhere.
- Missing Marriages of Hastings County.
- Marriage Bonds of Ontario 1803-1834.
- Marriage Notices of Ontario 1813-1854, 1830-1856.
- Death Notices of Ontario, 1810-1849.
- Death Notices from Christian Guardian, 1836-1850, 1851-1860.
For both Ontario and Quebec, check out the local library or archive where you are researching. Local history and genealogical societies may have donated transcriptions of church records.For instance, I found the following books at my local library in Lindsay, Ontario. This is just a sampling, they have many more:
- A book of transcriptions from Knox Presbyterian Church in Woodville covering 1844-1915
- A book transcribing Roman Catholic baptisms for Emily and Ennismore Townships
- Abook of transciptions of Marriages and Burials in Downeyville's St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church
Next post, we will look at records for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.