Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Records (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in December 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Canadian Ancestors  by Doris Bourrie, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Records[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Early settlement of Newfoundland and Labrador was quite sparse, divided between the English engaged in the fishing industry along the coast between Bonavista Bay and Trepassey, and French settlements in the southern region, with Plaisance (Placentia) as the main French colony. After the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) almost all the French moved to Louisbourg in Cape Breton, although they were allowed to keep some fishing rights.

Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada as the province of Newfoundland in 1949. As this area was self-governing from 1855 until 1949 when it joined the Dominion of Canada, the records for the province differ from those of the rest of Canada.

Provincial Archives[edit | edit source]

Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Rooms
9 Bonaventure Avenue
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1C 5P9
Telephone: (709) 757-8030

The provincial archives website provides a button for Family History, which takes you to a list of resources available at the archives. The button for Related Sites will provide links to various local societies and museums, as well as to other provincial archives. The website for the provincial government has a button for links to specific government departments, one of which provides information regarding ordering of current Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.

Census Records
[edit | edit source]

As Newfoundland did not join the Canadian federation until 1949, the census records for this province are entirely different from the other areas of Canada. Very early records from 1675-1835 contain mainly statistical fishing information and a population count. The Newfoundland Legislative Assembly passed an act in 1836 calling for a census to be taken every ten years, and these continued up to 1945. The first census taken as a Canadian province was taken in 1951.

For additional information, see Newfoundland and Labrador Census.

Vital Statistics[edit | edit source]

Civil registration began in 1891, and microfilmed records for Births 1891-1899; Marriages 1891-1922 and Deaths 1891-1949 are available at the provincial archives. These microfilms are also available through FamilySearch Centers. Earlier records will be found in church registers, available at the provincial archives.

Copies of official records may be requested from the:

Vital Statistics Division
Department of Government Services and Lands
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1B 4J6

Land Records[edit | edit source]

Original crown grants and leases come under the jurisdiction of Crown Lands Administration. A register of crown grants 1830-1930 is available at the provincial archives, although the archives does not have copies of the actual grants. The archives also has Plantation Books, which record ownership of fishing rooms for certain areas, for the period 1804-1806. Later land records come under the Registry of Deeds, while Crown land grants are handled by the Crown Lands Office.

Crown Lands Office
PO Box 8700
Higgins Line-Howley Building
St. John’s, Newfoundland[1] A1B 4J6

Wills and Estate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records date from the 1700s and may be located in three places.

  • Those from 1832 are in the Probate Registry, St. John’s.

The archives plan to enter all wills in their computer, and currently has records for probated wills for the Supreme Court 1825-1900. Check with the provincial archives for current information.

Additional Records[edit | edit source]

Maps, Atlases and Directories[edit | edit source]

Published directories begin c1864. Some cover all of Newfoundland, while others cover only certain larger centers.The Family History Library has several Newfoundland directories on film or fiche.

Genealogical Organization [edit | edit source]

The Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador has an ongoing cemetery transcription program, as well as a parish records indexing program. To inquire regarding your area and time period, and for current costs, contact:

Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
Suite 101A
66 Kenmount Road
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1B 3V7
Telephone: (709) 754-9525

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bill Crant, Research: Newfoundland and Labrador Ancestors.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Canadian Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.