Are you researching ancestors who lived in British Columbia? On this page, you will find information about records held at Library and Archives Canada and the provincial archives. There are also links to online resources and to other institutions, societies and government agencies.
On July 20, 1871, Columbia became a Canadian province.
- The first peoples were Indigenous.
- European settlement began in the 1800s and was associated with the fur trade.
- British Columbia became a British colony in 1849, except for Vancouver island, which was granted to the Hudson's Bay Company.
- In 1858, the discovery of gold in the Fraser Valley led to increased population growth, along with mining and forestry.
- Vancouver Island became part of British Columbia in 1866.
Civil registration (birth, marriage and death records)
Civil registration is a provincial jurisdiction. In British Columbia, it began in 1872, although there are some earlier records.
The British Columbia Archives (Royal BC Museum) holds the following records:
- births (1854 to1903)
- marriages (1872 to 1944)
- deaths (1872 to 1999)
- colonial marriages (1859 to 1872)
- baptisms (1836 to 1888)
The records are indexed and are also being digitized in their online database:
Genealogy - General Search
Some of those records are also available on FamilySearch:
British Columbia Indexed Historical Records
If the years of interest to you have not yet been transferred to the BC Archives, you must request copies of records from the
British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.
You might also be interested in:
Adoption and divorce
Courts and criminal records
To find out what records are held in different archives, search in the
MemoryBC database. Try keywords such as court, jail, police or prison.
The province is divided into districts.
- Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870 to 1930. Those records can be searched in our database: Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930
- The BC Archives holds many records, including Crown grants, land sales, pre-emption (homestead) records, etc. For more information, see:
- Some of those records are digitized on FamilySearch. They are not indexed by name, so on that page, scroll down to the section called Image Only Historical Records.
Wills and estate records
The administration of wills and estates is a provincial jurisdiction.
Library and Archives Canada information pages and databases
To find out about other types of records for genealogy research, visit our
Genealogy and Family History pages, including
British Columbia Archives
The provincial archives holds many sources for genealogy research. Consult the following links:
Find a public library in British Columbia. Visit
MemoryBC: Repositories to find other archives, historical and genealogical societies.