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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Manitoba Ancestors by Laura Hanowski. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Manitoba Court Records
The court system in Manitoba has undergone many changes since the time of the fur trade. The Court Records for Assiniboia District for 1844-1872 are available for loan and purchase from the Archives of Manitoba. Many of the court records since 1873 have also been deposited at the Archives of Manitoba. Current records are found in the local courts which are part of Manitoba Justice.
Manitoba Court Records
The Manitoba Justice website has the addresses and phone numbers for all the agencies that fall under Manitoba Justice. If you have a question about where records may be located and how to access these court records you may wish to contact the Winnipeg Court Office toll-free at 1-900-282-8069.
This court is primarily responsible for criminal cases and the Youth Court. The Provincial Court also presides over inquests called by the Chief Medical Examiner. Sessions are held in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, The Pas and Thompson as well as in other regional locations throughout Manitoba.
Court of Queen’s Bench
The Court of Queen’s Bench was established in 1872. Today it is the highest trial court with two divisions: a General Division that hears civil and criminal cases and the Family Division that hears matters involving divorce, separation, child protection, guardianship and adoptions, bankruptcy and probate/estate matters. This court meets regularly in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin and Portage la Prairie. Sessions are held in other centres on a monthly basis.
Family Division - Adoption
The Adoption Act in Manitoba is administered by Manitoba Justice. Manitoba Justice also maintains the Post-Adoption Registry. This registry facilitates the release of information to adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, birth siblings and adoptive siblings who are eligible to register. It also conducts searches for and facilitates contact between parties to an adoption and keeps records about parties’ wishes to have identifying information disclosed about them or to have personal contact with one another. There is a fee for this service.
Child and Family Support
404- 1 Wesley Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4C6
Telephone: (204) 944-4200
Divorces in Manitoba were granted by Act of Parliament from 1876-1919. Notification of divorces granted are listed in the back of Statutes of Canada for the Parliamentary Session in which it was passed. They are listed as “An Act for the Relief of (and then the name of the petitioner)”. Those who wished to obtain a divorce had to publish their intention in their local newspaper and in the Canada Gazette. Copies of the Statutes of Canada are found at the Archives of Manitoba and the Legislative Library. The Legislative Library has microfilm copies of the Canada Gazette. Beginning in 1919 divorces came under King’s/Queen’s Bench. The current records are located in the judicial district where the divorce was granted.
- Gilchrist, J. Brian and Nancy J. Duffy, compilers. Index to Canadian Parliamentary Divorces 1867-1930. Toronto: Audrey Gilchrist, 2001.
Court of Queen’s Bench, Divorce Files 1917-1977
The records for the following courts are found at the Archives of Manitoba:
- Brandon: ca. 1968-1977. Earlier files are with Civil Files.
- Portage la Prairie: 1920-1988
- Winnipeg: 1917-1978
The Archives of Manitoba have microfilm copies for loan and purchase of the Divorce Indexes for the Winnipeg Court from 1917-1984 and the Appearance Book-Divorce Proceedings for 1962-1974. These include the records of divorce applications and proceedings in the Court of Queen’s Bench, including notice of petition, answer and decree absolute. There are nominal indexes for most years.
The Public Trustee of Manitoba
The Public Trustee becomes involved when:
- there is no one to act on behalf of infant trust funds
- a person is not mentally capable of making their own financial or personal decisions
- a Power of Attorney is used to help a mentally competent person with assistance to administer his or her estate
- there is no one to act as an Estate Administrator
Wills and Probate Records
Wills and probate records pertain to the settlement of an estate for a deceased person including applications, wills, affidavits, property inventories and valuations. These records were formerly found in the Surrogate Court but today are part of the Family Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench. There is a central alphabetical index found in Winnipeg which is arranged by year. To have the index searched you must provide the name of the deceased and the date of death. If found, they can advise you about where the records are located. There is a fee for this service.
Court of Queen’s Bench, Estate Files 1871-1988
The records for the following courts have been transferred to the Archives of Manitoba.
- Brandon 1884-1988
- Portage la Prairie 1884-1984
- Dauphin 1918-1986
- St. Boniface 1908-1962
- Minnedosa 1909-1965
- Winnipeg 1871-1978
- Morden 1902-1965
Microfilm copies of the indexes for 1871-July 1984 are available from the Archives of Manitoba through their loan and purchase program. A Researchers’s Guide to the Manitoba Surrogate Court Probate Applications, by Dave Obee is found at: http://www.daveobee.com/books.htm. Microfilm copies of the Surrogate Court records from 1884-1950 are in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
- Not everyone had a will or needed to have their estate probated.
- Be sure to order the whole file.
General Division - Civil Court Records
The civil court deals with claims under $7,500. The records of civil proceedings, including statements of claim, notices of motion, statements of defense and orders are found in the local court. The following records have been deposited at the Archives of Manitoba. Some of the records are available on microfilm for loan and purchase.
|Beausejour County Court||1966-1984|
|Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench||1883-1988|
|Brandon County Court||1883-1984|
|Dauphin Court of Queen’s Bench||1917-1986|
|Dauphin County Court||1897-1984|
|Hamiota County Court||1933-1964|
|Killarney Court of Queen’s Bench||1984-1986|
|Killarney County Court||1965-1984|
|Minnedosa Court of Queen’s Bench||1909-1987|
|Morden Court of Queen’s Bench||1905-1965|
|Morden County Court||1891-1964|
|Portage Court of Queen’s Bench||1883-1984|
|Portage County Court||1873-1984|
|Rapid City County Court||1937-1965|
|Selkirk Court of Queen’s Bench||1984-1985|
| Selkirk County Court
| Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench | 1883-1988 | Selkirk County Court | 1965-1984 |- | Brandon County Court | 1883-1984 | St. Boniface County Court | 1948-1971 |- | Dauphin Court of Queen’s Bench | 1917-1986 | Shoal Lake County Court | 1928,1953-1964 |- | Dauphin County Court | 1897-1984 | Strathclair County Court | 1954-1965 |- | Hamiota County Court | 1933-1964 | Swan River Court of Queen’s Bench | 1984-1987 |- | Killarney Court of Queen’s Bench | 1984-1986 | Swan River County Court | 1903-1976 |- | Killarney County Court | 1965-1984 | The Pas County Court | 1913-1922 |- | Minnedosa Court of Queen's Bench | 1909-1987 | Thompson Court of Queen’s Bench | 1984-1988 |- | Minnedosa County Court | 1882-1984 | Thompson County Court | 1965-1984 |- | Morden Court of Queen’s Bench | 1905-1965 | Virden Court of Queen’s Bench | 1984-1987 |- | Morden County Court | 1891-1964 | Virden County Court | 1887-1984 |- | Portage Court of Queen’s Bench | 1883-1984 | Winnipeg Court of Queen’s Bench | 1889-1988 |- | Portage County Court | 1883-1984 | Winnipeg County Court | 1935-1984 |- | Rapid City County Court | 1937-1965 | | |- | | | | |}
The Winnipeg Court of Queen’s Bench records include a Bankruptcy Index for 1921-1991.
Criminal Court Records
Criminal court records are found in the court where the trial took place. Some records are found at the Archives of Manitoba and are available on microfilm for loan or purchase. The majority of these records are for Minnedosa, Portage and Winnipeg. The Winnipeg records begin in 1872. There are Winnipeg Police Court records from 1873-1916, including the Arrest Book 1890-1893 and 1919. The newspaper accounts of trials can help you establish the dates you need to access the records.
Court of Appeal Records
The Court of Appeal was established in 1906. It hears cases previously heard by other courts. All cases are heard in Winnipeg. Court of Appeal Indexes 1906-1959 are found on microfilm at the Archives of Manitoba and are available for loan or purchase.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Manitoba 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
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page. ____________________________________________________________