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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 ($).
Prince Edward Island Provincial Records
Prince Edward Island was originally settled by French colonists c1719, establishing the colony of Port La Joie, where Charlottetown is now located. In 1763 this area (Island of St. John) was ceded to Great Britain as part of the large territory known as Nova Scotia. The island was divided into three counties, which were then divided into 67 lots of 20,000 acres each (the equivalent of townships). These lots were granted to absentee English landlords, causing problems with later settlers who wished freehold tenure of the land. The island was renamed in 1799 after Queen Victoria’s father, Edward, Duke of Kent. Provincial delegates met in Charlottetown in 1864 to discuss a union of the provinces into the Dominion of Canada. However, the island did not join Confederation until 1873.
Public Archives and Records Office
The Archives has a Master Name Index, card catalogue, which serves as a finding aid to many of the records. Surnames included in the catalogue are transcribed from varied sources such as cemetery transcriptions; census records; passenger lists; marriage registers; selected newspapers; Meacham’s Atlas and funeral home registers.
While census records exist from 1728 to 1901, these records are not complete. Federal census records compiled after the province joined Confederation (1881, 1891, 1901) are nominal census records. There is a searchable database for some census records (1841, 1881, 1891, 1901) on the archives website.
The 1891 and 1901 index was compiled as a joint venture between the Archives and the Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society. The 1891 census is missing the records for Lots 21 and 22, as these records have not survived. There is also a searchable database for the 1841 census, which was a Heads of Family census only. It is estimated this particular census covers approximately 40 percent of the colony. Also on the search page for the database is a map indicating the location of the 67 lots.
An index for the 1911 census with images of the census is on Automated Genealogy.
For additional information, see Prince Edward Island Census.
Civil registration began in Prince Edward Island in 1906. Births from 1900 and Marriages from 1910 are restricted. The Archives holds some indexes which have been compiled from church records and other sources. These include Baptisms prior to 1886 and Deaths prior to 1906. Marriage returns made by the clergy from 1832 to 1923 had been included in the Master Name Index. Other marriage records available include Marriage licenses from 1787-1919 and Marriage bonds from 1849-1902. For records less than 100 years old you must contact:
Vital Statistics, Department of Health
126 Douses Road
Montague, Prince Edward Island C0A 1R0
The Island was separated from Nova Scotia in 1769, so land records prior to that date will be with Nova Scotia records. The land tenure system remained in effect until the Land Purchase Act in 1853. Land records may be divided into three general groups:
- Conveyances: From 1769 to 1873 these are indexed alphabetically. After 1873 they are arranged by county. These are the earliest records.
- Leases were not recorded in registration books. Information regarding the transfer of ownership of a lease was written on the document itself. Some leases have survived and were exchanged for deeds after the passing of the Land Purchase Act.
- Following the passing of the Land Purchase Act in 1853 tenants were able to purchase the land through a series of payments recorded in township Ledgers. Crown Deeds and Township Ledger books record these transactions.
Other land records of interest include Rent Books recording rent paid by some tenants; petitions to Executive Council 1780 to 1837 (these are included in the Master Index catalogue); some Warrants of Survey for loyalist allotments, 1784 to 1830. Until October, 1939 it was possible to transfer land ownership by means of a will, which did not need to be registered in the registry book. Therefore Probate Records should also be checked to locate land transfers.
For records after 1900 apply to the:
Provincial Land Registry Office
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Wills and Estate Records
The Prince Edward Island Court began in 1773. The Surrogate Court was established in 1843 to 1939. Court of Probate (Wills) began in 1773 to 1960. In 1960 the Supreme Court (Estates Division) was created. Probate Court records from 1807 to 1920 are available at the public archives. For later records contact:
Sir Louis Henry Davies Law Courts
42 Water Street, P.O. Box 2290
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 8C1
Maps, Atlases and Directories
Some maps of interest to genealogists may be found at the Archives. These include the 1863 Lake Map; the 1880 Meacham’s Atlas, and the 1927 Cummins Atlas.
These records have restricted access.
Department of Community Services and Seniors
2nd Floor, 11 Kent St
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
The Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society Inc.
P.O. Box 2744
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 8C4C
In conjunction with the provincial Archives, this website offers a number of searchable census databases as well as other records in a Computerized Master Name Index. A list of available researchers, and a list of Society publications is also available. The link to The Island Register provides access to other searchable databases, including a Will database and the 1880 Patron’s Directory.
- ↑ Ronnie MacCarl. Canadian: Wills and Estates Records.
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