Alberta Vital Records:
Births, Marriages, and Deaths

Alberta vital records do not go as far back as the earliest European influence in the area.

Alberta Flag
Alberta Flag

Present-day Alberta was part of what was originally known as Rupert's Land, and more recently, the North West Territories. Its history goes back to the 1600s, when Fort Edmonton was built as a major trading post for the Hudson's Bay Company. The present-day capital city of Edmonton grew out of the location of the Fort.

In 1870, Alberta became a District within the North West Territories, and then, in 1905, joined Canadian Confederation as a province. Civil registration of Alberta vital records officially began in 1905, although some records do exist from the 1870s and 1880s, and a few of Alberta's vital records go back as far as the 1850s.





Alberta's Privacy Laws

Alberta, like many other jurisdictions, has laws in place to balance the privacy of individuals with the general public's "right to know". For births, marriages, and deaths, the following restrictions are in place:


Type of
Record
# of Years
Private
Records Available
in 2011
Births 100 1910
Deaths 50 1960
Marriages 75 1935
Divorces 30 1980


Records more recent than the above deadlines are considered private. Only specified individuals can apply for these documents, with proof of identity.


Farm on Highway 37 in Alberta.
Wikimedia Commons
Alberta Farm


Civil Registration Records

The Vital Statistics Office has all records since civil registration began in the Province. Alberta vital records from 1893 through approximately 1980 are housed at the Vital Statistics Office. Records from 1893 to 1905 are indexed alphabetically. Any records after 1905 are organized by location, so it is necessary to know where the event occurred before requesting copies.

Requests for Alberta vital records located in the Vital Statistics Office must be made through a Registry Agent, for those resident in Alberta. See Registry Agents for a complete list of those authorized to act in this capacity.

Those not residing in Alberta can use e-Registry.ca to order a search at the Vital Statistics Office.

Along with the form, this page provides instructions for completing the form, as well as information on who is eligible to apply for a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or death certificate, and so on.

This site is used both by people applying for their own birth or marriage certificates, and individuals doing genealogy research.

As of 2011, for non-residents, the fee per document, for regular postal service, is $39.95. For priority mail service, there is an additional fee of $25, and for priority courier service, the fee is $39.95 + $25 + the courier fee.

Photocopies of the following types of documents can be ordered:

  • Birth Registration;
  • Marriage Registration;
  • Death Registration;
  • Medical Certificate of Death;
  • Registration of Stillbirth; and
  • Medical Certificate of Stillbirth.

Given the organization of the indices by location after 1905, any requests for searches for Alberta vital records at the Vital Statistics Office must contain as much detail as possible.

In addition to location and approximate date of the event you are looking for, other helpful information includes the full names of the persons involved, and the age(s) of the person(s) when the event occurred.




Heart Mountain, Alberta.
Wikimedia Commons
Heart Mountain, Alberta


When asking for a photocopy of a record at the Vital Statistics Office, be sure to ask for the "long form", or registration, version.

This will result in a copy of the full document with all information provided at the time of registration, rather than the shorter version (such as you receive with a credit-card sized birth certificate, for example). The shorter version is missing many details important to family historians, such as names and address(es) of parents at the time of the event.

The Vital Statistics Office is located at:

Vital Statistics
Government Services
Alberta Registries
Box 2023
EDMONTON, Alberta T5J 4W7

Telephone: (780) 427-7013 (recording)
Website: http://www3.gov.ab.ca/gs/services/vpe/index.cfm
E-mail: vs@gov.ab.ca




Church Records prior to 1905

Any Alberta vital records which exist prior to civil registration in 1905 (other than those government records from 1885 on, and the few from the 1870s) would be located in church records.

The Alberta Public Archives has christening, marriage, and burial records for the following church groups:

  • the United Church of Canada (including Methodist, Congregational, and some Presbyterian church records prior to 1925);
  • some records of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (those of disbanded groups as well as some active congregations);
  • the Anglican Church, Dioceses of Edmonton, Athabasca, and MacKenzie River; and
  • extracts from some of the Roman Catholic parishes and missions served by the Oblate Priests in the southern half of the province

Other known repositories for church records include:

  • Anglican Diocese of Calgary records - University of Calgary's Special Collections;
  • further Lutheran records - Lutheran Historical Institute.

As with Saskatchewan, there were many other religious groups within the province. Approaching either the regional headquarters of the denomination, or individuals at the actual local church, may yield positive results.

If you do not know the religion of your ancestors, check the 1901 and 1911 census records. That question was asked on both of those documents. Hopefully, they will have responded truthfully! (It has been said that many individuals did not regularly attend any place of worship, but were somewhat ashamed to admit that on the census. The denomination named therefore may not be entirely accurate!)


Alberta Legislature,
Edmonton, Alberta. Wikimedia Commons



The Alberta Archives

The Archives holds Alberta vital records for some locations in the province from the 1880s to the 1980s. They have the same indices that the Vital Statistics Office has, but they do not necessarily have the documents listed in the indices. If they do not, then a search must be requested at the Vital Statistics Office.

On the other hand, it has some records, such as donated church records, dating up to 1980, which Vital Records, in its civil registration capacity, does not have.

Whether you are searching in the Archives or asking for a search at the Vital Statistics Office, then, it is essential that you know where the event took place.

The Archives does not allow photocopies of the original documents, but staff will provide transcripts, for a $10 fee per record. (Again, this is the 2011 fee, and may change from time to time).

Given the difference in the fees, it might be an idea to begin your search in the Archives, and then, if the records are not there, go to the Vital Statistics Office.

The contact details for the Alberta Archives are as follows:

Provincial Archives of Alberta
12845 - 102 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5N 0M6
Telephone: (780) 427-1750
Fax: (780) 427-4646
Email: paa@gov.ab.ca

Website: http://www.cd.gov.ab.ca/preserving/provincial_archives/family_roots/genealogical_services/index.asp



Other Sources of Alberta Vital Records

Two resources worth checking into are the Alberta Family Histories Society, and the Alberta Genealogical Society. Both have additional databases available for searching obituaries, as well as birth, marriage, and death announcements in various Alberta-based newspapers covering various years and locations.






Alberta Divorce Records

Alberta began holding divorce courts in 1918.

The Alberta Provincial Archives has divorce records from around that time period (1918) to about 1980, for several judicial districts within the Province. Indices are available for most of the records.

Files under 30 years old are still at the Court which handled the divorce.

To locate a particular file, therefore, you must know the area of Alberta in which the person was divorce.

The following list of current Court Locations and Addresses may be of some assistance, once the approximate location is known.





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