British Columbia Death Registrations (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986 .
This Collection will include records from 1872 to 1986.
The death registrations are recorded on individual, printed forms. They consist of completed statements regarding deaths in British Columbia submitted to district registrars and registered by the registrar or director of Vital Statistics. Each death registration should include a supporting record called “Medical Certificate of Death,” which states the cause of death as determined by a physician or coroner, but this statement was not regularly included until 1896 and not with every registration until 1912.
Depending on the time period, the medical certificate may be a separate form or printed on the same form as the death registration. Note that these registration or medical certificate forms are not death certificates but registrations of deaths. Death certificates contain information from the original registration records and are only available through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.
A stillbirth may have been registered as either a birth, death, or both. The First Nations death registrations, begun in 1917, had special forms created in 1943 but which were discontinued in 1956.
British Columbia became a province of Canada in July 1871, and registration of vital events began in 1872. The only persons excluded from the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Act of 1872 were Chinese and Aboriginals. This was changed by an amendment in 1897, stating the registration would apply to all races. However, the Act was amended in 1899 to once again exclude First Nations from provincial registration until another amendment was passed in 1916, which authorized registration of First Nations to begin again in 1917 with information submitted monthly.
From 1917 to 1956, the First Nations death registrations were recorded in separate volumes. After 1956, the registrations were recorded with the main series. Beginning in 1872, official government registration applied to the whole province of British Columbia except for the Chinese (until 1897) and First Nathions (until 1917).
Early records are very incomplete, chiefly due to the fact that a majority of the population lived great distances from the registry offices and communication was difficult. The “Overseas Casualties, 1940-1945” series contains 3,423 deaths of British Columbians who died overseas during World War II.
The registration of deaths began in 1872. This collection contains death registrations, 1872-1986; First Nations death registrations, 1917-1956 (with delayed First Nations death registrations, 1916-1950); and overseas casualties, 1940-1945.
Registration of deaths began in 1872 in order to keep a written record of the population for use by the government.
Provincial vital registrations are considered a reliable source in family history research because they contain a record of an event usually registered very near the time the event occurred. The reliability, of course, depends on the accuracy of the informant.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- British Columbia Division of Vital Statistics. British Columbia Death Registrations. British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria, British Columbia.
Key genealogical facts that may be found in the death registrations are:
- Name, age, and gender of deceased
- Date and place of death
- Date and place of birth
- Cause of death
- Marital status
- Parents' names
- Name of spouse
- Name of physician
- Registration district name or number
- Date and number of registration
- Religious affiliation
How to Use the Records
Be aware there may be inaccuracies such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
Beginning Your Search:
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- Ancestors name
- Approximate year of death
- Place of death
Searching The Index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Can't Find Information?
- You need to check all sets of marriage and other records for the time your ancestor lived in the area.
- Your ancestor might have lived in a different place at the time.
- The clergyman may have recorded the birth, marriage, or death in a different district. In early years, clergymen traveled over a wide territory, often more than one district or county. Look for your ancestor's records in registers for nearby districts or counties.
- Your ancestor may have used a nickname, or used a different surname, or the registrar spelled the name wrong.
For more information on where to look next, check the Canada Vital Records article.
More Information About the Collection:
FamilySearch indexers did not identify death certificate numbers. In order to track down the death certificates in the Family History Library microfilm collection, which are referenced in this online database, compare Ancestry.com's British Columbia Death Index: 1872 to 1979 ($).
When Ancestry.com independently indexed these records, they indexed certificate numbers (which FamilySearch omitted). Thus, it is necessary to refer to Ancestry.com's subscription index, in addition to FamilySearch's index, in order to find death certificates in the Family History Library's microfilms.
Death registrations are the best source of death information in British Columbia beginning in 1872.
Known Issues with This Collection
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