Many societies and organizations in Canada and several French Canadian genealogical and historical societies in the United States have valuable family history information. You may find it helpful to join and support one of these organizations.
There are many genealogical societies for Canadian research that publish helpful periodicals, transcripts, and compiled genealogies. They may have special indexes, collections, and projects. Most publish queries about Canadian ancestors or maintain a list of members’ research interests. Some specialize in immigrants to an area.
Each province has one or more genealogical societies. There is, however, no nationwide genealogical society for Canada.
A guide to genealogical societies in Canada is:
- Meyer, Mary K. Directory of Genealogical Societies in the USA and Canada. 11th ed. Mt. Airy, Md.: M. K. Meyer, 1996. (Family History Library Ref book 970 C44m.) A separate section for Canada lists names and addresses of more than 100 genealogy and family history societies and branches. The list is organized by province.
Historical societies in Canada and in some parts of the United States can be valuable sources of information on Canada. Many societies have special collections of books and manuscript material for Canada. See the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline. More than 220 historical societies are affiliated with:
Heritage Canada Foundation
P.O. Box 1359, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5R4
They are listed in:
Canadian Almanac and Directory. Toronto: Canadian Almanac and Directory Publishing Co., annual. (Family History Library book 971 E4ca.)
Addresses of local history societies and museums in Canada and over 100 ethnic heritage historical societies in North America are in:
Wheeler, Mary Bray, ed. Directory of Historical Organizations in the United States and Canada. 14th ed. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1990. (Family History Library book Ref 970 H24d.) This directory lists by province the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of more than 1,100 local historical societies and museums in Canada. It briefly describes their programs, services, and collections. Many of the societies and museums have genealogical collections or services.
Your ancestor may have belonged to an association, lodge, or secret society whose membership is based on:
- ethnic background.
These societies were involved in political, social, andfinancialactivities, including life and burial insurance.
Local histories, biographies, obituaries, tombstones, family records, and artifacts may give clues that an ancestor belonged to a fraternal society, such as:
- Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (Masonic Order).
- Knights of Columbus.
- Loyal Orange Association (Grand Orange Lodge of Canada).
Addresses of fraternal organizations in Canada are in:
Associations Canada: An Encyclopedic Directory. Toronto: Canadian Almanac and Directory Publishing Co., annual. (Family History Library book 971 C44a.) This is an alphabetical list of about 18,000 Canadian organizations. It contains founding dates, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and names of chief officers. A separate subject index groups the organizations by type and has cross-references to entry numbers in main alphabetical list, which contain about 100 fraternal organizations.
For more information about fraternal societies in North America, see:
Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980. (Family History Library book 973 C47sa; computer number 62409.) This gives names and brief histories of fraternal organizations in the United States and Canada. For each organization, it may include the founding date and place, goals and activities, membership requirements, rituals and emblems, and publications. About 400 current and defunct groups are described.
The Family History Library has histories of few Canadian fraternal societies and very few society records. See the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under subjects such as SOCIETIES, GENEALOGY, HISTORY, OCCUPATIONS, and MINORITIES.
Immigrant Aid Societies
A few immigrant aid societies still function in Canada, and may have records of recent immigrant ancestors. Such a society, founded in 1919, is:
Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada
5151 Cote Ste. Catherine Road, Suite 202
Montreal, PQ H3W 1M6
Addresses of a few other such societies are in Associations Canada: An Encyclopedic Directory (see above; lists about 40 such societies under the heading "Immigrants"). Most immigrant aid societies still in existence in Canada were founded in the 1940s or 1950s. See "Archives and Libraries" and "Church Records" for information on ethnic archives and "Emigration and Immigration" for societies that assisted immigrant children.
Lineage and Hereditary Societies
One of your ancestors may have submitted papers to join a lineage society. These papers often include multigeneration pedigrees and information from family Bibles, death records, or military documents. They may also lead you to someone else interested in your family. Unfortunately, these papers have not always been carefully documented, but they can provide excellent clues for further research. Some societies allow only members to use their records. They often maintain libraries and museums that can help in research. Most publish a periodical or newspaper such as The Loyalist Gazette, described in "Periodicals."
Probably the best known lineage society in Canada is:
United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada
The George Brown House
50 Baldwin Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1L4
Other heritage societies include:
Heraldry Society of Canada
Box 8128, Terminal T
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9
Huguenot Society of Canada
Suite 105, 4936 Yonge Street
North York, ON M2N 6S3
Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants
c/o Susan E. Roser, Historian
4137 Tremaine Road R R 6
Milton, ON L9T 2Y1
Many Canadians joined lineage societies in the United States. Information on these societies is in United States Research Outline.
Guides to Societies and Associations
To find current addresses, functions, and membership requirements of fraternal, ethnic, veteran, heritage, and other associations, see:
Associations Canada: An Encyclopedic Directory. Toronto: Canadian Almanac and Directory Publishing Co., annual. (FHL book 971 C44a.) This is an alphabetical list of about 18,000 Canadian organizations. It contains the organizations’ founding dates, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and names of chief officers. A separate subject index groups the organizations by type and has cross-references to entry numbers in main alphabetical list. It lists about 100 fraternal organizations.
To find Canadian government agencies that are not covered in the above book, see:
Canadian Almanac and Directory. Toronto: Canadian Almanac and Directory Publishing Co., annual. (FHL book 971 E4ca.)
Canadian Sourcebook. Don Mills, Ont.: Southam Inc., annual. (FHL book 971 B5c.) Editions before 1998 were called:
Corpus Almanac & Canadian Sourcebook. Don Mills, Ont.: Corpus Information Services, annual. (FHL book 971 B5c.)
Records at the Family History Library
For records of societies, see the Family History Library Catalog, Author/Title section, under the name of the society. See also the catalog’s Locality Search under:
CANADA - SOCIETIES
[PROVINCE] - SOCIETIES
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY] - SOCIETIES
CANADA - GENEALOGY
[PROVINCE] - GENEALOGY
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY] - GENEALOGY