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Congregations are required to keep records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials which they perform. Generally these records are kept in dedicated registers. (Visit the “for congregations” page for more information on Congregational Record Keeping Guidelines.)
The Archives has registers dating back as early as 1838 through to recent years. The holdings at the Archives however are not complete. In some cases old records have been lost, for example by fire. More recent records may still be with the congregation. Please visit the page on Finding Aids for more information on the records held at this archives.
Your first point of contact with the archives should be through an email or a phone call. An appointment is required to visit the archives.
Before calling or emailing to inquire gather as much information as you can:
- Full name of persons involved (including maiden (birth) name, middle name if known and any other previous names)
- Date (as precise as possible)
- Church name (and denomination)
- Church address
- Officiating minister’s name
- Cemetery name
- Names of any witnesses
- Address of persons involved and their parents or spouses
Who is eligible to obtain the information in the records?
Baptismal, marriage and burial records are considered personal information and are protected by privacy legislation. The United Church of Canada recognizes the importance of protecting personal information and has a Privacy Standards Policy.
Researchers must complete a Baptism, Marriage, Burial Form and provide the required identification and documentation which will be assessed by the Keeper of the Archives before a record is released. It may take up to 6 weeks to complete the search.
The following people have access to Baptismal Records
- Anyone if the record is more than 100 years old.
- The person named in the record.
- The parent or guardian named in the record.
- Any person with written authorization of the person named or guardian/parent.
- Immediate next of kin (spouse, child, parent or sibling) where named person is deceased.
- Person with a valid reason where person named and immediate next of kin are deceased.
- Anyone if the marriage is more than 80 years ago.
- Either party to the marriage.
- Person with written authorization of either party.
- Child or parent where both parties are deceased.
- Person with valid reason where both parties and immediate next of kin are deceased.
- Anyone if the burial is more than 70 years ago.
- Any person with a valid reason.
With some exceptions, there is a $20 standard fee for each baptism, marriage, and burial record search whether the record is found or not. In the case that a record is not found, an inventory that details what records were searched will be included. Please include a $20 cheque addressed to “The United Church Archives” with your application form.
If you feel able to make a donation to the Archives, your support of our work would be appreciated. A receipt for income tax purposes will be issued for donations or $20.00 or more. To learn more about making a donation, and about how your gift can make a difference click here.
Other sources of information
Internet: Increasingly statistical records are available on line, not only through membership driven genealogical sites (such as Ancestry) but also through free, open source sites. Thousands of dedicated volunteers have given generously of their time to photograph and document headstones in cemeteries, for example, and are making them available to the public.