Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Top 10 Canadian Genealogy Web Sites for 2014

On July 28th Family Tree Magazine released their top 101 genealogy web sites for 2014. In that list they included only 4 Canadian web sites they considered as "best". Now I don't know what was their criteria in selecting those 4 as their best sites and I realize that they were covering 15 categories but I find myself disagreeing with some of their selections. For my list I've intentionally only included free sites since I know that our "hobby" can be an expensive one when you factor in subscribing to sites like Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, and Généalogie Québec.

With the hundreds of genealogy related web sites I have in my personal bookmarks to choose from I'm certain I've missed your favourite site. So leave me a message with the URL and why the site I've foolishly omitted is one of the best for Canadian research.

So, in no particular order, here is my top 10 list of Canadian web sites.

Library and Archives Canada
It seems that their web site has been undergoing revisions for so long that their welcome message of "we are currently redesigning our website" has become a permanent fixture but their content, if you can find it, can be invaluable. Regrettably their collections are sometimes hard to navigate but once you do figure it out what they do have is great. Some of their resources include:
  • Free searchable images of the various Canadian censuses from 1825 to 1916
  • Attestation and draft registration papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force personnel from the Great War of 1914-1918. They are in the process of digitizing the service files and will be making them available for free on their web site. There are also digitized copies of the war diaries for Canadian units that fought in that war.
  • For settlers in what later became Canada the land records collections can help track the migration of our ancestors.

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB)
This is my go to place for starting any New Brunswick research. The site is a great example of how an archive can freely share the records and history of their province without any fuss. It isn't flashy but as a researcher I don't want a dazzling appearance, I want functionality and I love free. Here you will find:
  • Vital Statistics from Government Records (BMD) with births from 1808-1918 (a little spotty before 1898), marriages from 1847-1964, and deaths from 1815-1964 (like births the records before 1920 can be hit or miss).
  • The birth, marriage, and death announcements transcriptions from New Brunswick newspapers from 1784-1896 created by the late Daniel F. Johnson.
  • Place names of New Brunswick include not just a description of the location but also cadastral maps showing boundaries, lots, and land grantees.
  • They have also created a searchable database from Wallace Hale's book Early New Brunswick Probate, 1785-1835. Another invaluable resource for learning more about those early settlers to what later became Canada.

Peel's Prairie Provinces
Many of our ancestors made it to the Prairie Provinces due to the allure of free bountiful land. The Peel's Prairie Provinces site has helped make the information needed to locate those settlers available to all. They have resources such as Western Canada newspapers, maps, and Henderson's town and city directories.

Olive Tree Genealogy
I don't use it as often as I probably should nowadays but it is still a place where I go when I am stumped and don't know where to look next. Lorine McGinnis Schulze has created a place where you can find over 1,900 page of free genealogy records.

Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections
John D. Reid''s blog is one I consider mandatory reading for not only highlighting what new collections are available but also what is happening in the world of genealogy and family history research.

Canadian Gravemarker Gallery
Sometimes only the dead can speak to you ... or at least only their grave markers. Although sometimes a challenge to search a common name this may be the only place you will find those grave markers pictures from cemeteries that may have been long forgotten.

British Columbia Vital Records
Initially the British Columbia Archives hosted this page but it has now been rolled under the British Columbia Museum. Images for the births (1854-1903), marriages (1872-1934), and deaths (1872-1991) of those in British Columbia can be found here. But if the image for a death registration is not available, don't forget to check out the "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986" collection on FamilySearch.

Newfoundland's Grand Banks
As Canada's youngest province Newfoundland has also some of the richest history being a colony, a dominion and then a province. This site has created transcriptions of various directories along with census records going back to 1675. If your ancestor came to Newfoundland this is the site you need to use.

Automated Genealogy
When I can't find a person in the 1901 or 1911 censuses of Canada due to possibly messed up transcriptions I come to this site. Here they have transcribed AND linked the people found in the 1901 and 1911 Canadian censuses. They are not just looking at linking census records but they have projects underway to make this place the first stop to locate the other records relating to the person.

Our Roots
When I've exhausted the usual sources of birth (baptism), marriage, death (funeral), census, and directory resources when doing research on Canadians I turn to Our Roots. They have made available searchable books on the histories of local communities within Canada. These local histories also can give an insight into the challenges faced when settling Canada.


  1. Excellent list! Thank you for mentioning my site Olive Tree Genealogy. I appreciate the shout out. I love Our Roots and use it a lot. I will be compiling my own list of fav Canadian Genealogy websites and posting it soon. I suspect some of mine will be the same as yours!

  2. Ken, please do have a look at all the Canadian records, indexes, guides, info, etc. that offers for free. There are currently 80 record databases alone: And as for BC vital events, look to both the BC Archives and FamilySearch for indexes and many of the images of official birth (1854-1903), marriage (1859-1932) and death (1872-1986) registrations. ( That is the BC Archives vital event page you have. The government -unwisely in my opinion- reorganized a number of heritage divisions under the museum banner a while ago.) The BC Archives has many types of records and a good # are name indexed on-line:

  3. I agree that has an amazing collection of records for Canada. I make use of their collections often and mention them in my blog often as a key resource. However, I intentionally left off since I wanted to concentrate on sites that were either run by Canadians or were 100% focused on Canadian records.

  4. Great list Ken and one that does not appear on your list but that is definitely on mine is Genealogy à la carte at a new URL

    Thanks for this listing of sites run by Canadians or were 100% focused on Canadian records!!

  5. Thanks for including Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections. Such great company. I agree with Cindi's comment above.
    There are so many useful sites, this calls for a survey.

  6. LAC also has images of original 1666, 1667 and 1681 census for New France. Also some 1681 to 1785.
    There are also some Aboriginal census, but I can't find where I noted the URL. They are in the same batch as those above.

    And I would add BANQ, since Canada pretty much started in Quebec.

  7. Ken,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Thank you Ken. This is a lovely list, and the additions from the comments are very welcome as well. Very helpful.

  9. Thankyou Ken, I have just this year found my gg grandfather came to Australia from Canada. Not being very familiar with genealogy research in Canada this is a vey helpful post,

  10. Hi, Ken

    You didn't include the Canadian Week in Review!

    It is published every Monday morning, and includes the news stories of the week, social media and all sorts of genealogy, heritage and history news.

    A good way to keep on top of the news in Canada!

    It is at my blog