Last week we looked at divorce pre 1968. Now we'll look at how to find records once they were taken care of at the provincial level. There's a lot of information, so I've decided to break this up into Part 2 (Atlantic Canada), Part 3 (Central Canada), and Part 4 (Western Canada).
Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings
This is a national registry that was set up by the government, so that duplicate divorce proceedings did not take place. All divorces filed after 2 July 1968 are listed in the database. This can help if you're not sure where the divorce took place. You will not get documents pertaining to the divorce here. But an inquiry supplying the names of the divorcing parties will get you the number of the courthouse, the file number and the year. I have been told that you can get this information even if you are not one of the divorcing parties. But, the Department of Justice's web page seems to say that only the divorcing parties, or someone with their written permission and acting in a legal capacity can get this information. If you choose to use this route to try and narrow down if and where a divorce occurred, I would suggest calling first to see about access.
Update June 25: I received a comment from Yithio in Part 3 of the series that confirmed my suspicion that only those involved in the divorce proceedings can use this resource.
As mentioned in Part 1, as of 1969, divorces were handled by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Only the divorcing parties and their legal counsel have open access to the records. If you are not one of these people, then you will have to make a special application to a judge for access. If you are granted access, you are only able to access records at the court house, and under supervision of court staff.
Prince Edward Island
The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island handled divorces from 1947 on wards. The Public Archives and Records Office holds records from 1835 to 1976. These are not online, and you will have to take a visit to access onsite. The rest of the records, as well as an index of divorces is held at:
Sir Louis Henry Davis Law Court
42 Water Street
Charlottetown PEI C1A 1A4
Divorces have always been handled provincially. It is handled by the Court of the Queen's Bench. Divorce proceedings do not seem to have as strict privacy laws as other vital statistics. I have not been able to find any restrictions to access on government websites. Divorce files are regularly transferred over to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. According to Library and Archives Canada, the PANB holds cases from 1847-1979. These are NOT online. On the website home page there is a link on the bottom right to email them. The mailing address and phone number are:
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H1
After 1979, I would contact Service New Brunswick or you can use the pdf download form for a request here. You can also try going through the courthouses themselves. A list of the locations of the Court of the Queen's Bench is here. Listed under each location is the address and phone numbers.
As with New Brunswick, divorces have always been handled at the provincial level. The Family Division of the Province's Supreme Court handles divorces for Halifax Regional Municipality and Cape breton Island. Other areas of the province are handled by the General Division of the Supreme Court. The Nova Scotia Archives has an index online called Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, 1759-1960. The name is a misnomer though. In the Archival Description it says that they go from 1759-1963. When I typed in one of my NS surnames "Boutilier", I got 25 hits that included the year 1962. The results give you the Reference number, case number, names of both parties, and the year. The records themselves can be viewed at the provincial archives in Halifax.
After 1962, you will have to look at courthouses. It seems that divorces do not fall under privacy laws, and anyone can access divorce decisions. However, you may have to go through a process to view the actual court files. The government has a pdf file on public access to court records here. You'll have to scroll down for a bit regarding access to court files.
One great database I found was the Courts of Nova Scotia's website. They have a searchable database of court decisions. The page warns that it is not a complete listing. It also says that it goes from 2003 on wards, but when I typed "divorce" in the search box, I got hits from 1998. Also on their website is the locations of courthouses. Just click on a community name, and it will take you to a page with all the courthouse addresses and phone numbers in that community.
In Part 3 we'll look at records for Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba