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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in April 2013. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian: Vital Statistic Records - Part 1 by Sharon L. Murphy. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Archives of the Anglican Church of Canada - Diocese of Rupert’s Land
In 1820, the first Anglican clergyman, Reverend John West arrived. For many years the Anglican Church was the only protestant religion practiced. Therefore, those who wanted sacraments went to the Anglican clergy.
When James Evans arrived in 1840 the Wesleyan Methodist Church was represented and then the first Presbyterian clergyman, Reverend John Black arrived in Red River in 1851. Remember to search the records that would have been created at the time, not necessarily the religion your ancestors were or are now.
Baptism, marriage and burial records for the Anglican Church will be of great value to those looking for early settlers. Many of those early records, most significantly those first registers kept by Reverend John West, can be found in the Archives of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, Fort Garry, Winnipeg. This is a small archive with part-time staff so calling or writing first is a prerequisite. Their website states that “information is available to the public to the extent that the records have been processed for research.” The search fee is $20 per hour to a maximum of two hours (as of January 2013) for each search (baptism, confirmation, marriage or burial) and $20 for each Certificate of Verification of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage or Death. Fees paid by cash, cheque (payable to Diocese of Rupert’s Land), Visa or MasterCard.
You will need to know a specific geographic location and time period to determine which register will be used. Another thing to remember is that often there was not the benefit of clergy when people needed them and life continued anyway. When Reverend John West arrived he found himself solemnizing marriages and performing baptisms although the actual wedding celebration and births had taken place years earlier.
If you suspect the time period was the early 1800s but are unsure of the location, there is a card catalogue at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba that represents a name index. The time period covered is approximately 1820 to 1930. This is not a complete index, though.
Other records of correspondence and diaries are found at the Diocese of Rupert’s Land Archives. Records of missions located within the Diocese are also there. Check the Guide to the Holdings of the Archives of Rupert’s Land: Records of the Anglican Church of Canada (published in 1986). Some early church records are not found here.
The records of the first St. John’s College and Miss Davis’ School for girls are found at St. John’s Ravenscourt and Balmoral Hall respectively. Lists of pupils for the former native residential schools at Middlechurch and Elkhorn are held with the records of the Church Missionary Society which posted most of the early Anglican clergy to Red River are held at the University of Birmingham in England with copies at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba (there is a finding aid).
A final important note is necessary regarding the geography. Although the Diocese of Rupert’s Land originally covered a huge area and included most of what is now Western Canada, the current area covered by the diocese is much smaller (generally southern Manitoba). As the other dioceses of Western Canada were created they took custody of the records for their parishes.
In Manitoba, there are now two other dioceses; Brandon (from 1913), which covers the western third of the province and Keewatin (from 1899), which covers most of Northern Manitoba and North-western Ontario. The addresses for their archives are given below. The names and addresses of the other dioceses of Western Canada can be obtained from the Anglican Resource Centre in Winnipeg.
United Church Records
The United Church of Canada Archives holds the local church records of the United Church and its uniting denominations (Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian (1925 union); and Evangelical United Brethren—joined in 1968). The records of the churches which did not join at union but remained part of the continuing Presbyterian Church in Canada after 1925 are held in Toronto.
Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives and Record Office
50 Wynford Drive
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1J7
Geographic Distribution: The Manitoba and Northwest Conference includes more than just Manitoba. You will also find records of some bordering municipalities in Ontario. Other United Church local church records are available in Conference archives across Canada.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario - United Church of Canada
University of Winnipeg Library
515 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9
By appointment only
Records of Other Religions
Lutheran Church-Canada Archives - Lutheran Historical Institute
7100 Ada Blvd.
Edmonton, Alberta T5R 0S7
By appointment only
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Vital Statistic Records - Part 1 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.
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