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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 Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections  by Michelle LaBrosse-Purcell, B.Sc., MLIS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


So, you’re trying to find information on a person who was a teacher? One rule of thumb to remember is that teachers could change schools many times, but usually remained within one provincial education system. Another point to remember is that females used to only work as a teacher until they got married. If you are able to find the last year a female worked, start using that year as a starting point for looking for a marriage certificate.

Most teachers’ associations have not been in existence for a long period of time—for example, the Alberta Teachers’ Association started after World War I, and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation started in 1944. This isn’t going to be helpful if the person you are searching for taught in the 1800s. All of the teachers’ associations contacted were not willing to give out information on current or past members.

The best place to start the search for a teacher in Canada is with the provincial archives of the province in which the person was a teacher. As teaching is a provincial jurisdiction, the records should be deposited with the provincial archives. The Provincial Archives of Alberta was given the pension records for teachers from the 1920s to the 1940s, and volunteers used the pension records to create a database of teachers’ names and the places they worked. If you’re looking for a teacher in Alberta from the 1920s–1940s, this database is a great resource to start with.

Be sure to also check for any books relating to the history of teaching. Library and Archives Canada has a number of books on the history of teaching in Canada.

Finally, check at the local library, local museum, provincial archives, or Library and Archives Canada for school yearbooks. Besides getting a photo of the person you’re interested in, you will be able to trace what years they worked at a particular school, and what year they stopped appearing in the book.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 31 March 2015, at 20:51.
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