Thank you to Elizabeth Lapoint for contributing this fascinating article about free Canadian family history research.
Genealogy is all about names, events and dates, and Canadian genealogy is no different. All the websites listed below are free, and they cover a wide variety of genealogical subjects in Canada.
The free database of the Ontario Genealogical Society, called The Ontario Name Index (TONI), contains more than 3 million names and is always growing.
All you need to place in the search box is the first name and surname, and where those you are searching for were from.
Most of the records provided are taken from gravestones and cemeteries, but there is a table which tells you where the record came from for ease of use.
The prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta of Canada are represented by 7,500 digitized books, over 66,000 newspaper issues (4.8 million articles), 16,000 postcards, and 1,000 maps.
You can search all of these holdings if you have ancestors who emigrated out west.
Many of the items date back to the earliest days of exploration in the region, and include a vast range of material dealing with every aspect of the settlement and development of the Canadian West.
3. Our Roots (no longer available)
Have you ever wondered where you could find books on the local history of Canada? This may just be the site you have been looking for, as it has dozens of digitized local history books.
Just put your place in the search box (it helps if you put in the province) and see what comes up.
If you want to research newspapers in Ontario, this is the spot for you. They are also expanding into the United States with webpages covering Illinois and Michigan right now, but they do have dreams about going global in the future.
Right now though, you can search newspapers from all over Ontario.
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This site has been around for a number of years, but it is still useful in searching 1851, 1901, and 1911 Canadian census, and the 1906 census, which covers the prairie provinces.
What I like about the site is that it has alternative ways of spelling of surnames that other sites do not have, and is particularly helpful when you can’t find a name in the census.
This is a registry of the more than 118,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who have given their lives serving Canada or the United Kingdom. It was established to allow all Canadians the opportunity to honour and remember their sacrifices.
This is a major immigrant group, especially to Ontario, because between 1869 to the early 1930s, 100.000 British, Scottish and Irish children came to Canada to work as farm labourers, or in the case of girls, as domestics, and they were called Home Children.
A special ‘thank you’ should go out to the British Isles Family History Society of Great Ottawa (BIFHSGO) who have indexed many of the children sponsored by various groups to Canada.
This project was started by McGill university in Montreal in 1998 and mainly covers Ontario. These are property owners who appeared on the township atlases.
This project was carried out by the Nanaimo Family History Society of British Columbia and they have recorded 757, 749 passengers from 31 Jul 1903 to 13 Oct 1910 going to Montreal and Quebec City. Many people who eventually ended up in the United States came from the old country on these ships. A website which is well worth research for those hard to find ancestors.
The official archives of Canada includes a huge wealth of information and searchable databases — including marriage, census, land, and military records, directories, additional resources, guides and much more. Find the ancestor search here.
Elizabeth Lapoint runs the blog GenealogyCanada in which she posts genealogy, heritage, and history news daily. She also offers a research website at www.elrs.biz, which specializes in inter-border migration between the United States and Canada.
Image: North Bay Station in Canada, bet 1920-1950, Library of Congress