Public Archives and Records Office
Births, Marriages, Deaths
|Ella and Marion Newbery (Acc3885/77)|
As there was no civil register on Prince Edward Island prior to 1906, vital statistics information is not readily available for that time period from one specific source. With the exception of some civil marriage records, church records provide the majority of early vital statistics information. Unfortunately, the quality of these records varies considerably, and some have been lost to fire, flood and general neglect.
Beginning in 1906, civil records for births, marriages and deaths started to be collected in a consistent fashion. Due to privacy considerations there are restrictions on when these records are transferred to the Public Archives and Records Office to be made publicly available. These restrictions are as follows:
• Births: Restricted for 120 years after the date of the event
• Marriages: Restricted for 75 years after the date of the event
• Deaths: Restricted for 50 years after the date of the event; cause
remains permanently confidential
• Adoptions: Never transferred to the Public Archives and Records Office
For births, marriages and deaths still under restrictions, to seek cause of death information, or to request official copies of certificates and licenses, clients must apply through the
Office of Vital Statistics, 126 Douses Road, PO Box 3000, Montague PE, C0A 1R0 (902-838-0880 or toll free 1-877-320-1253).
The following PARO collections contain vital statistics information:
Department of Vital Statistics Records
Baptisms up to c. 1923: This card file is arranged alphabetically by the name of the child baptized. The information on the cards is taken from available church records and generally includes the child's name, date of birth and baptism, father's and mother's (usually maiden) name and reference to the church record from which the information was abstracted. A searchable database of these records is available on-line at www.gov.pe.ca/archives/baptismal/.
Deaths Prior to 1906: This is an alphabetical listing of death or burial records, taken from church records or newspaper announcements. Information given is very limited and references are often impossible to research to their source.
Death records 1906-1957: In 1906 the PEI government began registering deaths and issuing official death certificates. The original records are housed in bound volumes, arranged by year then in order in which the certificate was issued. Indexes exist to help locate individual certificates within the volume. The originals are restricted from public access for reasons of preservation and privacy as cause of death is considered confidential. Microfilm copies for the years 1906-1930 are available in the reading room for public access. Until the process of microfilming is complete, archives staff will prepare a death extract for clients seeking information on events occurring between 1931-1957.
Marriage Register Books 1832 - 1923: These are books in which marriage returns from the clergy and justices of the peace were recorded. Information is limited, giving name, marital status, and place of residence of bride and groom, date of marriage, names of witnesses and clergyman. These have been indexed in the Master Name Index.
Marriage Licenses 1787 - 1933 & Marriage Bonds 1849 - 1902: These are separate collections of bonds and licenses filmed in chronological sequence and indexed by both bride and groom. Information is similar to that in the marriage register books although the bond does not include the date of the ceremony. Parents' names are not included on these marriage records.
Marriage License Cash Books 1879 - 1970: These are organized by county and provide a chronological listing of marriage licenses issued through the Provincial Secretary's Office. Information includes the names and previous marital status of the parties, place of residence, name of the person to whom the license was issued, the bondsman and the date.
Many churches kept records of baptisms, marriages and deaths. It is from these registers that available baptismal and death information prior to 1906 has been abstracted. The Public Archives and Records Office has microfilmed a large number of church records from parishes across Prince Edward Island. To use these records, you must know the location and religious affiliation of the family you seek. The majority of these records date from 1830 on.
Indexes are available for some records of the Church of Scotland, St. John's Presbyterian Church in Belfast, St. Peter's Anglican Church in Charlottetown and St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church on Lennox Island.
The type and amount of information in these records varies by church. Generally deaths were poorly documented in comparison to baptisms or marriages. Marriage records, particularly those of the Catholic Church, may include parents' names. Restrictions on access to these records vary according to the wishes of the individual church. Catholic Church records after 1900 are closed to the public.
Inscriptions have been copied from existing gravestones for cemeteries in all sixty-seven lots and royalties. As well as dates of birth and death, these may establish family relationships, indicate place of origin, or offer miscellaneous genealogical data. These are indexed in the Master Name Index. Booklets for individual cemeteries are also available for perusal.
Most Prince Edward Island newspapers are available on microfilm at the Archives or at the University of Prince Edward Island's Robertson Library. Announcements regarding births, marriages and deaths are of uneven quality depending on the date and newspaper consulted. It is important to have a specific date or this search can be extremely time-consuming. Index cards referencing vital statistics and other information in selected newspapers are included in the Master Name Index.