Do you have ancestors from the Great White North and want to research them more thoroughly? You don’t actually have to go to Canada to get started. While a trip to your ancestors’ Canadian homeland might be in order as you get more into your research and decide to take it on the road, you can do a lot of the legwork right from home on your computer. The Internet is full of all kinds of amazing resources for Canadian genealogy research. Here are some of the best of the best sites, both free and subscription-based, to get you started.
Canada GenWeb is a website run by volunteers who are trying to organize all of the Canadian genealogical resources on the Internet. There are pages of advice for conducting online Canadian genealogy research, as well as links to resources, many of which are organized by province and territory. There is even a section just for children who are interested in genealogy. If you are just beginning your Canadian genealogy adventure, this is really good place to start.
This is a new website project designed and run by the Canadian federal government. Its purpose is to provide access to all of Canada’s genealogy resources to anyone who wants to use them. The resources included on the site are both public and private collections. While the site is just links to resources now (which is valuable in itself), it is eventually planned that the site will have pages of content on genealogy research advice, research services, and research tools you can use.
Most of the public record resources on the site are located at the National Archives of Canada and can be found on that organization’s website, too. The only public record collection that is the exception to this rule is the Canadian naturalization database. This is a database of around 200,000 people who became Canadian citizens between 1915 and 1932.
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This site has a searchable database of published local histories of different places in Canada. A lot of these histories are really old and out of print, which makes getting access to them online (or at all) really valuable in your research. You can find some gems about ancestors in these histories that are first-had accounts from the time of publication that aren’t available anywhere else. Sometimes, you may even find photos of your ancestors that have long been lost to your family. This is a wonderful site to use if you are looking for insight into your ancestors’ lives based on where they lived, particularly if they were early immigrants to their city, town, or village.
This is a paid site that has records from all across Canada. Local histories and directories make up a bulk of its contents, but there are other good record sources here, too. You can search the index for free. If you find a match, you can see the full entry for a small, one-time fee that varies per record. Some of the records are even scanned copies of the originals, which is always nice to find when doing genealogy research of any kind.
You can’t go wrong with this Internet genealogy staple. It contains a plethora of Canadian genealogical records of all kinds. From census records to local histories, immigration records, and vita records, you will find it all here. Most of the records are scanned copies of the originals, though some are merely digital index abstracts (in many cases, Ancestry.ca will tell you how to order the original document if all they have is the index abstract). Either way, you will surely find something useful in the vast Canadian record holdings here. Ancestry.ca is a subscription-based website. You can choose to use a 14-day free trial, get a monthly membership, or choose from several levels of semi-annual and annual memberships, depending on your research needs.
There are plenty of Canadian resources out there in the online world. These are just a few of the most useful and well-known. Get online and start doing Google searches for Canadian genealogy. Be as specific as you can with your searches, and you can narrow down your results to very specialized sites that may have information on regional areas and even villages where your ancestors lived. You won’t find this information anywhere else outside of Canada. Try the big sites, look for some of the smaller ones, and you will soon get to know your Canadian ancestors better than you ever imagined.
- Library Resources: U.S./Canada Surname Folder Index
- 1871 Ontario Canada Census Index
- Canadian Genealogy Index, 600s-1900s
- Loyalists in the American Revolution
- Ontario and Nova Scotia Settlers, 1790-1860
- Ontario, 1858-1869 Marriage Index
- Ontario, 1869-1886 Marriage Index Volume 2
- The Ontario Register, 1780s-1870s