Nova Scotia Civil Registration

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Nova Scotia and Canada Archives[edit | edit source]

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Records at may be used free-of-charge at a [[Family History Centers|Family History Center] near you.

My Heritage ($)[edit | edit source]

Nova Scotia Vital Statistics[edit | edit source]

  • Civil registration of vital statistics began in Nova Scotia in 1763 with the introduction of procedures for obtaining a marriage licence; the procedure was optional and the surviving records are incomplete.
  • Formalized registration of births, deaths and marriages began in 1864 and continued to 1877, at which time record-keeping lapsed for births and deaths, but continued for marriages. Compliance was not universal during this period and there are gaps in the surviving records.
  • Since 1 October 1908, birth, death and marriage registrations have been collected and maintained continuously.
  • A 'delayed' registration procedure was also available at the Vital Statistics Office for many years after 1908, to accommodate individuals born in the province before 1908 who wanted their births officially recorded, or who required proof-of-birth in later life when applying for passports, pensions and similar evidence records. The surviving registrations include individuals born in Nova Scotia as early as 1836, but by their very nature (optional, voluntary registration) the records are incomplete.[1]

Adoption[edit | edit source]

Nova Scotia has an Adoption Disclosure Program.

Nova Scotia Archives[edit | edit source]

Records are transferred from the Vital Statistics branch of Service Nova Scotia to the Nova Scotia Archives on the following schedule: Births: 100 years after the end of the year in which the birth was registered Marriages: 75 years after the end of the year in which the marriage was registered Deaths: 50 years after the end of the year in which the death was registered

They are then digitized full information and one million digitized birth, marriage and death records are available online at Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics

Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics[edit | edit source]

For records more recent than the above dates, certificates can be requested from Vital Statistics branch of Service Nova Scotia. Restrictions apply. For instructions, restriction information, and applications are found on their website.

Township Books[edit | edit source]

Births, marriages, and deaths are recorded in township books beginning in about 1760, when settlers from New England came to Nova Scotia. The township books were discontinued beginning about 1860. Townships were never established on Cape Breton Island, and the township books covered only part of the rest of the province. Marriages recorded in the books may be as early as 1702 and as late as 1920. The database at the Nova Scotia Archives offers concise information about the contents of 35 township books or record collections.

Why might it be better to look for the death record of an ancestor first?[edit | edit source]

  • Your ancestor's death is more recent than his birth or marriage. It is usually best to work from recent events backward, from the known to the unknown.
  • The death record usually tells you where your ancestor last lived. Then you can look for other records for that place.
  • The death record may lead you to other documents created in connection with the death, such as the burial and probate of your ancestor. Those records may give new family information.
  • Death records may contain birth, marriage, and burial information as well as death information.
  • Death records exist for many persons born before birth and marriage records began. Death records may contain birth and marriage information not available anywhere else.

What information can I find in vital records?[edit | edit source]

This table tells you the genealogical information contained in birth, marriage, and death records.

Birth Records

Usually Contain

May Contain

  • Name of child
  • Names of parents
  • Birth date and place
  • Sex
  • Date of registration
  • Name and address of informant
  • Name of registration district.
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Name of attending physician or midwife
  • Ages of parents
  • Place of birth for parents
  • Occupation of father
  • Remarks

Marriage Records

Usually Contain

May Contain

  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Ages of couple at time of marriage
  • Residences at time of marriage
  • Birthplaces of bride and groom (town, province, or country)
  • Groom's rank or profession
  • Names of parents
  • Name of person who performed the marriage (possible clue to family's religion)
  • Names of witnesses (possible relatives)
  • Date of registration
  • Religion of bride and groom
  • Previous marriage (if any)
  • Signatures of couple and witnesses

Death Records

Usually Contain

May Contain

  • Name of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Residence
  • Sex
  • Place of birth (town, province, or country)
  • Age at death or birth date
  • Cause of death
  • Name of informant
  • Name of registration district
  • Religion of deceased
  • Name of spouse with maiden name
  • Names of parents with maiden name of mother
  • Province or country of birth for the parents
  • Date and place of burial
  • Military service such as dates served and unit
  • Name, address, and relationship of informant
  • Name of funeral home
  • Time of death
  • Length and type of illness or disease
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Name of attending physician

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics", at Nova Scotia Archives,, accessed 19 November 2020.