The area that is now Saskatchewan, together with present-day Alberta and northern Manitoba, all once were part of Rupert's Land, which later became Canada's North-West Territories.
Although the Hudson's Bay Company and the North-West Trading Company both were active in the region from the 1670s, in fur trading with the native peoples, European settlement did not begin until the late 1800s, after the coast-to-coast railway was completed.
The North West Territories were divided into districts in 1870, including Saskatchewan and Alberta. Although settlement began in the 1880s, Saskatchewan did not become a Canadian province until 1905.
Civil registration therefore began in 1905, although there are some incomplete records dating back to 1895 for marriages.
Saskatchewan's Privacy Laws
As with many other jurisdictions, Saskatchewan has privacy legislation in place, which affects the date as of whichrecords can be made available to the general public. With respect to Saskatchewan vital records, those laws restrict accessas follows:
Prior to the commencement of civil registration in 1905, the local church is the most likely source of Saskatchewan vital records.
The Anglican Church in Saskatchewan states on its website that it is in the process of classifying and indexing its holdings of administration records, archbishops' papers, chancery records, parish records, some early sacramental records, and photographs.
Once the records have been processed, they may become available for specified research purposes, with permission of the Chancellor or Archivist, for serious students of history and other worthwhile projects.
The records will be not open to genealogists. Further, Archives staff cannot do research for the public.
For baptismal records, they indicate that the parish church likely would maintain those records, although some may be stored at the Archdiocesan office.
However, the Anglican Church was not the only religious group in the Saskatchewan area. Settlers arrived in the region from Ontario, Quebec, and the British Isles, but also from other parts of Europe.
Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Jewish, and other places of worship were established across the province.
If you do not know the religion of your ancestors in Saskatchewan, the early census documents may be of assistance, as they recorded religious affiliation.
While the 1906 census of the Prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) did not ask about religious affiliation, the 1901 and 1911 censuses, which covered all of Canada as it then existed, did ask this question.
Once you have evidence of a particular religious affiliation, or at least have managed to narrow the possibilities down to a handful, you may be able to approach that group - either the local church, or the headquarters of that area for Western Canada - to determine where the records might be located.
The Saskatchewan government now has a searchable database of available public records, at Vital Statistics.
Not all of the public Saskatchewan vital records are online, as yet. Birth records on the database appear to be complete, to the current privacy deadline of 1910. However, as they indicate on the search page, the requirements as to what had tobe included on the registration have changed over the years, and earlier records may appear to be incomplete as a result.
Death records are partially online, and they continue adding to them on an ongoing basis.
Marriage records have yet to be processed for placement online.
The Saskatchewan Archives Board has Saskatchewan vital records dating from the 1870s to 1905.
There are two locations for the Archives, both in universities:
University of Regina
Street and Mailing Address:
Saskatchewan Archives Board
The Archives Board has staff who will do look-ups of documents for you, but they cannot do in-depth research or what they term "speculative genealogical searches".
Instructions for visiting the Reading Rooms of the two locations in person are included at http://www.saskarchives.com/using-archives.
This page also provides information on researching from a distance, including borrowing microfilms through an inter-library loan.
Lastly, it provides a list of family history researchers available for hire in Saskatchewan.
The Vital Statistics Unit also has some Saskatchewan vital records which date from 1895. There are very few government records earlier than that.
They can be contacted at:
Vital Statistics, Saskatchewan Health1942 Hamilton StreetRegina, Saskatchewan S4P 3V7Telephone: (306) 787-3092Toll Free: 1-800-458-1179 (In Sask. Only)Fax: (306) 787-2288Website: http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/ps_vital_statistics.html
The Saskatchewan GenWeb Project has a large number of church groups listed, with the contact details (address, phone numbers, etc.) for the headquarters or archives which are likely to hold each church group's records.
Even if the location listed does not turn out to house the records, it is very likely that someone there would have some idea of where you could find them.
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