Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Records (National Institute)
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 ($).
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Records
Early settlement of Newfoundland and Labrador was quite sparse, divided between the English engaged in the fishing industry along the coast between Bonavista Bay and Trepassey, and French settlements in the southern region, with Plaisance (Placentia) as the main French colony. After the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) almost all the French moved to Louisbourg in Cape Breton, although they were allowed to keep some fishing rights.
Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada as the province of Newfoundland in 1949. As this area was self-governing from 1855 until 1949 when it joined the Dominion of Canada, the records for the province differ from those of the rest of Canada.
The provincial archives website provides a button for Family History, which takes you to a list of resources available at the archives. The button for Related Sites will provide links to various local societies and museums, as well as to other provincial archives. The website for the provincial government has a button for links to specific government departments, one of which provides information regarding ordering of current Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.
As Newfoundland did not join the Canadian federation until 1949, the census records for this province are entirely different from the other areas of Canada. Very early records from 1675-1835 contain mainly statistical fishing information and a population count. The Newfoundland Legislative Assembly passed an act in 1836 calling for a census to be taken every ten years, and these continued up to 1945. The first census taken as a Canadian province was taken in 1951.
For additional information, see Newfoundland and Labrador Census.
Civil registration began in 1891, and microfilmed records for Births 1891-1899; Marriages 1891-1922 and Deaths 1891-1949 are available at the provincial archives. These microfilms are also available through LDS FamilySearch Centers. Earlier records will be found in church registers, available at the provincial archives.
Copies of official records may be requested from the:
- Vital Statistics Division
Department of Government Services and Lands
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1B 4J6
Original crown grants and leases come under the jurisdiction of Crown Lands Administration. A register of crown grants 1830-1930 is available at the provincial archives, although the archives does not have copies of the actual grants. The archives also has Plantation Books, which record ownership of fishing rooms for certain areas, for the period 1804-1806. Later land records come under the Registry of Deeds, while Crown land grants are handled by the Crown Lands Office.
Wills and Estate Records
Probate records date from the 1700s and may be located in three places.
- Those from 1832 are in the Probate Registry, St. John’s.
- Wills from the Burin area are at the provincial archives.
The archives plan to enter all wills in their computer, and currently has records for probated wills for the Supreme Court 1825-1900. Check with the provincial archives for current information.
Maps, Atlases and Directories
Published directories begin c1864. Some cover all of Newfoundland, while others cover only certain larger centers.The Family History Library has several Newfoundland directories on film or fiche.
The Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador has an ongoing cemetery transcription program, as well as a parish records indexing program. To inquire regarding your area and time period, and for current costs, contact:
- Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
66 Kenmount Road
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1B 3V7
Telephone: (709) 754-9525
- Bill Crant, Research: Newfoundland and Labrador Ancestors.
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