Vital Statistics Records
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
The thing to remember when you're looking for these records is that how you find the record depends on the date of the event.
One date you have to remember is 1869. Canada became a country in 1867, and 1869 was when the Vital Statistics Act was passed and Government Vital Statistics began to be kept. This means there was a major change in record keeping in 1869.
Jump: Records After 1869, Records Before 1869, Records at the Registrar General (still confidential)
Records After 1869
These records are, for the most part, easy to find, but again, you have to think of dates. Early records are kept at the Archives of Ontario.
The dates to remember are:
Anything that falls within these dates can be found on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario. Anything later than this is still in the custody of the Registrar General, but every year a year's worth of records is added. Some Family History Centers in Ontario also have these records on permanent loan, and those outside of Ontario should be able to order them. Here's the way they work: they are indexed, so first you order the index film for the surname. Once you find a name in the index, you will get a six-digit registration number to find the actual record. Then you have to order the film with the actual record. It's easier than it sounds, actually.
Microfilm numbers can be found on Bill Martin's site.
Hey: Read the stuff on Bill's pages - it's worth your time!
Here's the catch: the early records aren't complete. Although registration of births, deaths and marriages was required by law after 1869, it wasn't enforced until about the 1880s. Before this, it was up to the person to do it himself.
What this means for Perth County is that the early records are incomplete, especially in the winter. If you have never visited the area, I can tell you that it lies within Ontario's snow belt, and drifts are often above your head! So in the winter, often the parent couldn't get into town to register a birth. If you can't find a birth record that should be there, maybe the baby was born in the middle of winter and not registered. I've found families who faithfully registered every birth except for one child born in January.
Into the 1880s, registration began to be done by the doctor, not the parents, but still if a baby was born at home with no doctor, then there still may be no record.
If you were paying attention above, you might have noticed that there was something weird about the marriage dates. Fear not, the marriages for 1869-1872 were also indexed and published in a six-volume set of books. You can still find these records at the Archives of Ontario, or purchase the books from Ontario Genealogical Society.
$ You can also purchase the Perth County marriages as a separate book from Winfield Publishing. Winfield has put their surname index online, by the way!
Records Before 1869
Before 1869, you will have more trouble finding records. You will probably have to go to church records, and where they are depends on the denomination. However, don't ignore the following:
County Marriage Registers 1858-1869: The County Marriage Registers of Ontario 1858-1869 is a book series containing marriages from all denominations. This is an index, but it gives you the reference to find the actual record at the Archives of Ontario. Perth County is Volume 17.
District Marriage Registers: Another book series was published by Dan Walker et al. It contains early marriages, and the borders are those of the old districts (the system used before the counties were used).
Some Perth county marriages can be found in Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West, Volume Three: Huron District, 1841-1870. Perth county was originally part of this district. However, only certain denominations were recorded here - there are no Roman Catholic marriages. Roman Catholic Marriages, for the entire province, can be found in a book entitled Roman Catholic Marriage Records of Ontario 1828-1870, compiled by Renie Rumpel.
Records at the Registrar General of Ontario
Later records than the dates given as being at the Archives of Ontario are still in the custody of the Registrar General and are still confidential. You can write and get a copy, but you have to pay a fee. Access to some records is limited to direct descendants. For more information, visit the information web page
(dead link) and write to
Office of the Registrar General
P. O. Box 4600
189 Red River Road
Thunder Bay, ON
Phone number: (416) 965-1687; toll free in Ontario 1-800-461-2156; outside of Ontario long distance (807) 343-7420.
Related Sites within Perth County GenWeb:
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
Copyright © 2007-2008 by ONGenWeb.. All rights reserved. Individual submissions remain property of submitter or author. Last updated
September 22, 2007
Photos in banner courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-051862-D and LC-USF34-031979-D.