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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in December 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Canadian Ancestors by Doris Bourrie, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Alberta Provincial Records
The present province of Alberta was originally part of Rupert’s Land, when responsibility for the area was granted to the federal government by the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1882 the prairies covered four districts, which included the Districts of Saskatchewan and Assiniboia, the District of Alberta, and the District of Athabasca. Settlement was sparse until the late 1880s when various groups of immigrants began to arrive. These included Mormons, from the United States, Germans from Austria, Ukrainians from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Icelanders and Scandinavians.
Church Archives provides information on the various holdings for all denominations; Reference Services provides information on hours and types of services available; Genealogy provides information regarding the types of records helpful to genealogists, with links to other sources such as the Glenbow Museum or the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. The Indian Métis Fact Sheet gives helpful information on sources for Métis research and links to related sites.
The area now known as Alberta was part of the Hudson’s Bay Company holdings from 1670. In 1870 Alberta was part of the North West Territories. The first Nominal federal census was taken in 1881 under Saskatchewan-Alberta.
The first system of civil registration was set up in 1888, with various divisional Registrars being appointed. A second central registry system was created in 1897. Vital statistics from 1870-1983 are organized by locality. Access to vital statistics records requires permission of the Director of Vital Statistics.
Non-Alberta residents may apply to:
The Dominion Land Act of 1871 called for the surveying of the Canadian Prairies, which began in 1873. The Dominion Land Act covered the land which now includes the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as the railway belt of British Columbia. The land was divided into townships (numbered) and sections (numbered). Each section was then divided into four quarter sections. Certain sections of each township were reserved for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and for public schools (the revenue from the sale of the public school land was intended to finance the school system). In addition land was given to the Canadian Pacific Railroad under their agreement to make the prairies accessible for settlement.
Alberta Land Records may be divided into type of transaction, which includes:
- Hudson’s Bay Company Land: Land obtained from the Hudson’s Bay Company, records are included in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.
- Homestead Records: Land granted as homesteads under the Dominion Lands Act. Consult Library and Archives Canada website for an index by surname to property description. Actual records for Alberta homesteads are at the Alberta provincial archives.
- Canadian Pacific Railway Lands: Later settlers who purchased Railroad lands. Limited records exist. Consult Glenbow Museum website (link from Alberta Provincial website).
- Métis Land Claims 1870-1906: 85 reels of affidavits claiming land as Métis. Indexed by last names. Consult the Glenbow Archives and Library and Archives Canada.
- Subsequent land transactions: Handled by Alberta land offices.
Wills and Estates Records
Provincial jurisdiction began in 1906, one year after admission to Confederation. There is no provincial registry for wills; they are kept by the Court House in the judicial district of probate. The provincial Archives of Alberta holds surrogate case files for some early records. To determine which district you require, contact:
Succession Duties Department
Public Trustees’ Office, 4th Floor
J.E. Brownlee Building 10365 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3Z8
Current charge per search is $10/name.
Prior to 1884 when the Territorial Government passed the Public School Act schools were run by various religious organizations. Records may be found in the various religious Archives for the Roman Catholic, Anglican or Methodist churches.
Alberta Genealogical Society
116, 14315 - 118 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5L 4S6
This site provides addresses and information on branch locations. It also includes information on Alberta sources, with links to the Alberta Family History Society. There are pages describing their Master Name Index, and Library location and holdings.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Canadian Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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