|Tracing Your Family Tree in Ontario|
The best source for cemetery records in Ontario are the branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS). Members of these local societies have visited and transcribed many of the cemeteries located within their area and have collected and published these transcriptions. If you aren't sure of the exact cemetery in which your ancestor is buried, the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA) is a free searchable index to over 2 million tombstones in 3800+ cemeteries which have been transcribed by volunteers. By searching the database, you may be able to learn the cemetery in which your ancestor is buried. With that information you can contact the OGS branch for that area to inquire about the availability of the published listings or other sources for tombstone information.
The Family History Library has, in many cases, filmed these transcribed cemetery records with the permission of the OGS branches. You can browse the list of available records for Ontario here and then request them for viewing through your local Family History Center.
If you are unsure of the location in Ontario in which your ancestor died, then you may want to search the Ontario Death Indexes (1869-1927) which cover the entire province. These records are available through the Archives of Ontario and your local Family History Center.
Church records can be a very valuable source for linking generations as they contain such details as dates of birth, baptism, marriage and burial, as well as names of parents and godparents. Records may be held by individual churches, church archives, provincial or local archives or the national archives. The majority of church records in Ontario are still in the hands of the local church or the archives of the various denominations. This is why church records are one of the hardest in which to research - because you often have to make educated guesses as to which church they may have attended at a particular point in time.
The best place to start in the search for church records is with the local churches, the Family History Center or the branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society which serves the area in which your ancestors lived. If you have no luck there, then you can try contacting one of the many churches or church archives located throughout Canada. Here are some important points to keep in mind as you research:
- Remember that many places
have changed their names over the years. Old maps or atlases are a great
resource for learning what a town name may have been at any given period.
- Church registers may be
located in the original church, in the Diocesan or regional archives, in the
local public library or in the Archives of Ontario. Begin your search at the
local level and work your way up. Very often, if the church or parish does
not have the records, they can tell you who will.
- Parish boundaries were
often redrawn and records for an individual church may have been transferred
to a neighboring parish. Again, check with the local church or the local
branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, for clues before getting
- Parish registers, especially in the case of the Anglican Church, have often been microfilmed and several copies exist. Therefore, if you can't find them in one location, then try elsewhere.
Need help with locating a parish or church archives? Try Parish Addresses and Web Sites in Ontario.
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