How to Locate Your Ancestor in Canada

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This guide will give you suggestions on how to find where your ancestor lived in Canada. Many records in Canada are kept by the province. Some records may be kept by county, district, township, or town agencies. To find the records, you need to determine where your ancestor lived.

What You Are Looking For

The place where your ancestor lived so that you can use the records of that place to find more information about your ancestor, such as birth, marriage, and death information, and names of family members.

What You Need To Know

The more you know about your ancestor and his or her family, the easier it is to find them and to know if you found the right people. To effectively use the the sources given below, you need to know at least:

  • Your ancestor's name.
  • An approximate year when your ancestor married, died, or immigrated, or when he or she would have been recorded in records, such as a census.
  • The names of relatives, such as parents, children, or spouse.


The following 5 steps list sources which may give the province, county, district, or town where your ancestor lived.

Step 1. Check previous research.

Research done by other people may have the information you are seeking. For suggestions on previous research, including Internet sites, see Canada Previous Research.

If you do not find your ancestor in previous research, look for brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts. Often previous research on relatives gives information or clues about your ancestor as well, including where he or she lived.

Step 2. Check the following sources

Check these sources for the province, county, district, township, or town where your ancestor lived. Be sure to look for your ancestor and family members.

  • Major indexes, especially census indexes, are great tools for locating ancestors. There may also be indexes to biographies, land records, military records, probate records, and tax records for Canada or one of the provinces.
  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI) lists records (by place and surname) that were published in over 5,000 genealogical magazines or periodicals. This resource should not be overlooked. It is available on the Internet through and HeritageQuestOnline.
  • Land records
  • Marriage indexes
  • Probate indexes

Step 3. To learn where your ancestor lived previously...

Check the following for the place where you know your ancestor lived. These records might mention where your ancestor lived before coming to this place. The words in parentheses ( ) indicate whether to search for township, town, county, district, province, or national records.

  • Land records (province).
  • Church records (township or town).
  • Obituaries (township, town, district, or county).
  • Public or town records (township or town).
  • Court records (township, town, county, district, or province).
  • Census for 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 (province or Canada).
  • Earlier censuses, if available (township, town, or province).
  • Biographies (town, township, or province).
  • Histories (town, township, or province).
  • Genealogies (town, township, or province).

Step 4. Find information about the relatives of your ancestor.