Alberta Church Records
Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Canadian denomations, view the Canada Church Records wiki page.
The earliest denominations, Wesleyan Methodists and Roman Catholics, came into Alberta in the 1840s. They were followed by the Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Latter-day Saints. The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists combined in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada.
- 1 Provincial Archives of Alberta
- 2 History of Churches in Alberta
- 3 Anglican
- 4 Lutheran
- 5 Presbyterian
- 6 Roman Catholic - Oblates of Mary Immaculate
- 7 United Church
- 8 References
Provincial Archives of Alberta
To assist the churches in preserving their records, the government of Alberta has made several agreements with them, designating the Provincial Archives of Alberta as the official repository for these records.
- Provincial Archives of Alberta
8555 Roper Road
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1
The Provincial Archives at http://www.cd.gov.ab.ca/preserving/paa_2002/accessing_the_holdings/ holds the records for three Anglican dioceses (160 parishes): the Diocese of Edmonton (1889–1981), the Diocese of Athabasca (1874–1982), and the Diocese of Mackenzie River (1859–1966). These records include registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths, as well as confirmations, minutes, newsletters, Bishop’s correspondence, property records, and other related material. The Diocese of Calgary records are located in the Special Collections Library of the University of Calgary.
The Provincial Archives also holds the Catholic records for the Religious Orders of Les Oblates de Marie Immaculée (129 parishes, 1842–1981), Les Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge (1869–1973), the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (1849–1980), the Sisters of Providence (1886–1978), the Soeurs Grises/Grey Nuns (1877-1967), and the Immaculée-Conception Parish, Edmonton (1905–1981). These records include registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, and communions, as well as historical information concerning events and individuals in the parishes. Many of these records are in French.
The Provincial Archives also holds the United Church of Canada records for the Alberta Conference (1853–1982). Included are the records of the three denominations which united in 1925 to form this church: Congregational records (1910–1912), Methodist records (1863–1925), and Presbyterian records (1887–1925). Eighty-six pastoral congregations are represented. These records include some baptisms, marriages, burials, clergy rolls, hospital records, accounts, and correspondence.
The Provincial Archives has only recently undertaken to preserve the records of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (Alberta Synod), but no information on their content is yet available.
The Provincial Archives also holds records of some congregations of Western Canada Synod, Lutheran Church in America from 1898–1983 (76 congregations), which include registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, and confirmations, as well as church minutes, synod newsletters, correspondence, and accounts.
History of Churches in Alberta
Although a few Catholic priests traveled through Alberta prior to 1840, making short stops at prairie forts or in Indian camps, it was Wesleyan Methodist missionary Reverend Robert Rundle who made the first concentrated effort to perform and record baptisms, marriages and burials in District of Alberta. He arrived in 1840 and spent nearly eight years traversing the country between present day Saskatoon and the British Columbia border and from Banff north to Lesser Slave Lake, making Fort Edmonton and Pigeon Lake his headquarters. His travels brought him in close contact with the native people. He kept a diary of his travels and records of baptisms and marriages he performed which are held by the Glenbow Archives, although they are reported hard to decipher.
Another Methodist missionary, Reverend James Evers, worked in the Peace River Country in 1841-1842. Following Rundle’s return to England, the work of the Methodists in Alberta was carried on by Reverend Henry Steinhauer at Whitefish Lake. In 1862 Reverend George McDougall and his son John arrived to establish the Victoria Mission, 75 miles north of Edmonton.
In 1842 the Catholic Church made its first permanent inroads in the area. Father A. Thibault, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, a missionary order from France, established the small mission at Lac Ste Anne. Four years later he was joined by Father Bourassa, who spent the year before in the Peace River country. Although the mission served the native population in the area, it was primarily the home of descendants of Red River Settlement Métis families. The hardships and loneliness of the life caused the recall of both Thibault and Bourassa and in 1852 Father Albert Lacombe was sent to Lac Ste Anne to replace them.
Meanwhile, in 1847, Father Taché was working in the Fort Chipewyan area and was replaced there in 1848 by Father Fafard. Father Rémas was at Lac La Biche while Father Lacombe was at Lac Ste Anne. In 1861 Lacombe established the mission of St. Albert which became a flourishing Métis community. At the end of that decade, Bishop Vital Grandin, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, chose St. Albert as his Episcopal See. The Diocese of St. Albert remained the headquarters of the Catholic Church and the Oblates until 1912 when the Diocese was changed to the Archdiocese of Edmonton with headquarters in that city. The Oblates are still involved in some of the early parishes they established, including St. Albert.
The Anglican Church was not a presence in Alberta until 1858-1859 when Archdeacon James Hunter arrived. He was followed by Reverend W.W. Kirkley who worked in the northern part of the district. Both spent a minimal amount of time in the province, making only short stops on their way further north. The first Anglican Church in Alberta was in Edmonton, built in 1877 by Reverend Newton.
These early churchmen generated records of their baptisms, marriages and burials. Some were meticulous (the Oblates kept very acceptable registers); others did not. Reverend William C. Bompas and Father Grouard are reported to have kept excellent records. Do not be surprised to find a family appearing in two or more different registers. It was not uncommon for a group of Indians to be visited and baptised one day by a Methodist minister, then visited and baptised a few days later by a Catholic priest or vice versa.
As the immigration of white settlers grew, established churches tried to provide them with clergymen. Some settlements, such as Neerlandia (Dutch Reformed Church) and Girouxville (French Catholic), were built specifically for the retention of religious beliefs. In groups such as the Mormons and Mennonites, religion played a very strong role. Communities with no church to serve specific denominations may have been visited by a circuit minister.
The Anglican Diocese of Calgary was formed in 1888 and originally included the present day Diocese of Edmonton which was partitioned out in 1913. In 1968 a 75 miles strip west of the Saskatchewan border was added, extending the diocese across the southern part of the province and north and south from the U.S. border to Ponoka. Although a few churches retain their records, most of the records of the Diocese of Calgary are held by the University of Calgary Archives, however they must be accessed through the Diocesan Office.
- Anglican Church of Canada
180-1209 59th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T3C 0M5
Telephone: (403) 243-3673
Contact the office by mail or by phone, providing the name of the individual and the name of the church or the geographical area. There is a cost per search.
The Diocese of Edmonton, established in 1913, was expanded in 1927 to include a portion of the Diocese of Saskatchewan west of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. The Anglican Church records of the Diocese of Edmonton (1894-1991) which includes registers of births, marriages and burials are held at the Provincial Archives.
The Diocese of Athabasca was founded in 1874 and included the area north of 15 miles south of Athabasca and east-west across the province. In 1884 that territory north of the 60 degree latitude was removed to become the Diocese of Mackenzie River. The same area was returned in 1933, then removed again in 1950 to form the Diocese of the Arctic. Records of the Diocese, including parish registers, are held at the Provincial Archives.
182 churches are represented from the Edmonton and Athabasca dioceses. The Mackenzie River Diocese now forms part of the Diocese of the Arctic; four parishes are represented in the records.
Anglican Diocese of Calgary
University of Calgary Archives
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
The university holds the Anglican Diocese of Calgary records, 1881-1991, for many parishes. Permission for access must be obtained first from the Synod Office:
Anglican Diocese of Calgary
180 - 1209 59th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T2H 2P6
Seeking out Lutheran Church records can be complicated by the number of different congregations (Wisconsin Synod, Manitoba Synod, Independent Synod, etc.) and the unions of one or more of these groups. In Alberta there are two Lutheran Churches: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Lutheran Church–Canada.
- Lutheran Church–Canada Archives and ABC District Offices
Lutheran Historical Institute
7100 Ada Boulevard Edmonton,
Alberta T5R 0S7
Telephone: (780) 474-8156
- Hours: By Appointment Only
The Lutheran Historical Institute holds the archival material generated by and otherwise documenting the history of Lutheran Church–Canada and specifically its Alberta-British Columbia District, Concordia College University of Alberta, and Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton. Holdings also contain records of Canadian units of the Lutheran Women’s missionary League, the Wheat Ridge Foundation, the Lutheran Council in Canada, and private papers of significant Lutheran persons who resided in Alberta or British Columbia. Includes minutes of meetings, correspondence, research materials, religious newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, audio-visual materials and artifacts. Dates range from 1890 to the present.
There are, as yet, no finding aids so obtaining a specific record may take some time. If searching in person, please call ahead to check on the information required. Requests can be made in writing. Charges may include costs but they will be minimal. A self-addressed stamped envelope and a donation would be appreciated.
Alberta Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (1898-1989)
The Synod was established in 1962 to administer Lutheran congregations in Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon Territories. Many of these congregations originated in Swedish, German, Icelandic, Finnish, Danish and American settlements. The records, although often in their community’s native language, represent over 75 congregations and provide insight into these early settlements. Administrative records and registers of birth, marriage and death have been deposited in the Provincial Archives of Alberta.
Congregational records traditionally remain with the church; try the local church first. If the church has closed, contact:
- The Presbyterian Church Archives
50 Wynford Dr.
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1J7
Telephone: (416) 441-1111 ext 310
A small collection of Presbyterian records are at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. These include minutes of the Presbytery (1881) on microfilm and location of churches.
Roman Catholic - Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Missionaries of the Oblate order established missions and churches throughout the province. Many of these remain under Oblate jurisdiction and some of their records are retained as part of the Oblate Collection. Churches still in use may hold their records or they may have been added to the Oblate Collection held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta or the Archdiocesan Chancery Office.
Much of the material generated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan, has been deposited in the Provincial Archives of Alberta. This province extends from the British Columbia border east to Manitoba and from the U.S border to 55 degrees north. Prior to 1921, the area was part of the Vicariate of St. Boniface and included the Dioceses of St. Albert, Saskatchewan and Athabasca Mackenzie. The Oblate collection contains administrative records from parishes and personal papers of the clergy as well as some birth, marriage and death registers. Also included in the collection are the Liber Animarum, or Book of Souls.
In many of the early parishes the priest kept a record of the family, a history giving names, dates of births and deaths, sometimes marriage partners of the children, etc. In some cases these books are an excellent source of genealogical information; in others they are incomplete or were sporadically kept. The Codices Historici are parish diaries kept by the priest. There may be references to parishioners but they are often few and far between. Also in the collection are some parish census.
To determine what is available for each mission or parish, check the published guide. Much of the Oblate material is in French so a working knowledge of the language is necessary. Permission to access some the records within the collection may have to be obtained from the Oblate Archivist.
Records of five religious orders and one parish of the Church are held by the Provincial Archives:
- Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée, 1842 to 1986
- Les Soeurs de L’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge, 1868 to 1987
- The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, 1849 to 1990
- The Sisters of Providence, 1886 to 1978
- Soeurs Grises/Grey Nuns, 1877 to 1967
- St. Joachim Parish-Edmonton, 1891 to 1985
Some oblate records are closed (restricted). For transcripts of such records you will have to contact either the parish office or the diocese (or archdiocese) if you are not sure in which parish the event would have been registered.
Archdiocese of Edmonton
The Archdiocese of Edmonton was formed in 1912 when the vast St. Albert Diocese was divided up. It spans the province east to west from just north of Edmonton and south to include Innisfail.
A recent ruling by the Archbishop of Edmonton has made all parish records off limits to the public. To access a baptism, marriage or death from the early Oblate registers (1842-1860) ask to consult the index card file at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Using the information given a request can then be made to the Archdiocesan Chancery Office.
The public is not allowed access to the records, however written requests and searches will be undertaken if possible.
- The Chancellor
Edmonton Archdiocese Chancery Office
8421 - 101 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T6A 0L1
Telephone: (780) 469-1010
Petitioners are requested to make their inquiries specific and provide as much identifying data as possible. A self-addressed stamped envelope would be appreciated. There is no charge for the service however donations are accepted.
Diocese of Calgary
The Calgary Diocese was formed in November 1912, from the former Diocese of St. Albert. It includes the entire southern part of the province from just north of Calgary.
- Catholic Pastoral Centre
120 - 17 Avenue Southwest Calgary,
Alberta T2S 2T2
Telephone: (403) 218-5500
It is recommended that the parish church be contacted first, if known. Baptismal records at the Chancery Office have been computerized and searches can be requested by telephone or in person. Records predate formation of the diocese in 1912. Marriages and burials are being added to the database.
Diocese of St. Paul
Diocese of St. Paul, formerly part of the Edmonton Archdiocese, was established in August 1948. It is comprised of a 90 mile strip which spans the province from just north of Edmonton, but includes a narrow strip which extends north along the eastern side of the province.
- Chancery Office
4410 -51 Avenue
St. Paul, Alberta T0A 3A2
Telephone: (780) 645-3277
All baptisms and confirmations have been computerized and copies can be obtained for a feeper certificate (prepaid). Marriages and burials are being added to the database, working back. Lengthy family searches will be undertaken at a per hour fee. Personal searches are not usually allowed.
Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan
The area covering the north-west corner of the province was part of the Vicariate of the Athabasca from 1862 to 1927, when it became the Vicariate of Grouard. It was named an Archdiocese in 1967.
- Archdiocesan Office
P.O. Box 388
McLennan, Alberta T0H 2L0
Telephone: (780) 324-3002
The birth, marriage and death records are considered private, but some access is allowed. Requests by mailed will be answered, however the reason for the request must be stated (treaty rights, upcoming marriage, genealogical). As much information as possible on the individuals should be included. Searches are done foran hourly fee ; certificates are issuedfor a fee , payable in advance. Contact the archives for the current fee. Most records are in French.
MacKenzie-Fort Smith Diocese
A small square portion of north east Alberta is included in the Diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories. The only Alberta community within the diocese is Fort Chipewyan. The diocese was formed in 1967.
- Chancellor and Archivist
P.O. Bag 8900, 5117 - 52 Street
Yellowknife, North West Territories X1A 1T7
Telephone: (867) 920-2129
Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton
This district of the Ukrainian Church was established in November 1956 and includes all of the province of Alberta.
- Chancery Office
9645 108 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5H 1A3
Telephone: (780) 424-5496
The Chancery Office has all baptisms for Ukrainian parishes on a database. It is requested that all inquiries be made by mail. A self-addressed stamped envelope and a donation would be appreciated. Marriages and burials must be obtained from the parish church.
In early Ukrainian settlement, before local churches were available, many birth, marriage and death were done at St. Josaphat’s Church in Edmonton or at St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Mundare.
- St. Josaphat’s Cathedral
10825 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5H 2M4
Telephone: (780) 422-3181
No fee charged but a donation would be appreciated
- St. Peter and St. Paul Church
P.O. Box 379
Mundare, Alberta TAB 3H0
:Searches will be done for a fee
|To determine information on Catholic churches in all dioceses including the Ukrainian Eparchy, consult the Alberta Catholic Directory printed yearly and available at most parish offices.|
The United Church of Canada is the union of Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church which took place in 1925. In 1968 the Canadian Conference, Evangelical Brethren Church joined. The Alberta and Northwest Conference is the administrative body of the United Church in Alberta. It is made up of nine presbyteries: Calgary, Coronation, Edmonton, Foothills, Northern Lights, Red Deer, Southern Alberta, St. Paul and Yellowhead. Within each presbytery are a number of congregations. To determine the location of a specific church, consult the United Church of Canada Year Book available at most United Churches.
Most United Churches deposit all but their most recent records at the Provincial Archives of Alberta on an ongoing basis. Besides registers of birth, marriage and death, all administrative records, including correspondence, accounts, clergy rolls, records of educational institutions and hospitals, records of presbyteries and of the United Church Women are deposited.
Collection records date from 1853 and include records of the Presbyterian Church (1887-1925), Methodist (1863-1925) and Congregational (1910-1912) Churches. Over five hundred congregations are represented.
A published guide A Guide to the Archives of the United Church of Canada—Alberta and Northwest Conference (1991) will assist researchers in finding information. Further assistance can be obtain by contacting:
- Alberta Conference Office
8555 Roper Rd. Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1
Telephone: (780) 427-8687
Hours: An appointment is recommended
- Borgstede, Arlene. "Alberta Church Records, Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Alberta_Church_Records,_Anglican,_Lutheran,_and_Presbyterian_%28National_Institute%29.
- Borgstede, Arlene. "Alberta Church Records, Roman Catholic, and United (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Alberta_Church_Records,_Roman_Catholic,_and_United_%28National_Institute%29.
- Murphy, Sharon L. "Alberta Churches, Archives, and Societies (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Alberta_Churches,_Archives,_and_Societies_%28National_Institute%29.